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6 Disadvantages of Using a French Press to Brew Coffee

Paul's passion for making and consuming coffee goes back over 30 years. An extensive traveler, he currently lives in Florida.

A Secura coffee maker: my personal favorite. Read on for my six downsides of using a French press to make coffee.

A Secura coffee maker: my personal favorite. Read on for my six downsides of using a French press to make coffee.

Don't get me wrong, I love my French press and the coffee it produces. Overall, I believe that they are the best brewing devices as far as flavor goes. They are also generally very affordable devices, as well as are easy to use and clean.

However, this article explores six potential downsides of using a French press. As far as coffee makers go, they are not suitable for everyone. Some people will prefer another type of brewer, such as a drip machine or a stovetop espresso maker.

Below are six negatives of using a French press to make coffee:

Note that this type of brewing device can also be called a cafetière, cafetière à piston, caffettiera a stantuffo, coffee press, press pot, or coffee plunger.

6 Downsides of Using a French Press to Make Coffee

Here are six cons of these brewing devices:

  1. Coarse ground coffee is needed
  2. The glass beakers can break
  3. It won't keep your coffee hot (unless you buy a thermal)
  4. Some people don't like the taste
  5. The grounds get in your drink
  6. The used grounds can block a drain

I examine each of the disadvantages in more detail below.

1. Coarse Ground Coffee Is Needed

Most of the ready ground coffee that's available in stores is designed for drip coffee makers and doesn't work well with presses. That's because presses require coarsely ground coffee and drip makers use finely ground.

Essentially, the finely ground coffee is prevented from entering the drip maker's carafe by paper filters. However, the plunger on a French press is designed for filtering only larger grounds.

Finding coarsely ground coffee can be challenging and you may face fewer or no options.

One way to get around this problem is to buy whole beans and grind your coffee yourself. Freshly grinding the beans will maximize the flavor of your drinks, as well as give you more control over the entire process.

Also, some stores have in-house grinders, enabling you to have the beans ground to the correct coarseness.

2. The Glass Beakers Break

This doesn't apply to stainless steel models, which are much more robust. I'm referring here to the French presses that incorporate a glass beaker.

I went through a lot of these presses before I realized that it made more sense to buy a stainless steel maker.

All it can take for a glass device to break is for it to be accidentally knocked over, dropped, or receive a knock from another piece of crockery, particularly when it's sitting in the kitchen sink.

If a breakage does happen, you're faced with cleaning up all of the resulting broken glass, as well as spilled coffee. You generally have to replace the entire French press, as it's rarely cost-effective to just replace the beaker, in my experience.

3. It Won't Keep Your Coffee Hot (Unless You Buy a Thermal)

Depending upon its design, a French press may not be able to keep your coffee hot. This can be frustrating if you make yourself a full beaker, but don't consume it quickly enough.

By contrast, most drip coffee makers have a hot plate that the carafe sits upon, keeping the liquid heated.

If you are keen on French presses, though, you should consider buying a thermal model. These are typically made from stainless steel, use double-wall construction to insulate, and are effective at keeping the coffee hot, in my experience.

4. Some People Don't Like the Taste

While most coffee connoisseurs would generally argue that French presses are the best devices for making the flavorsome beverages, not everybody likes the taste.

Due to the brewing process, a French press produces a bold flavor, which can be overbearing for drinkers who're used to milder-tasting beverages, such as those produced by some other coffee makers, such as drip coffee machines.

5. The Grounds Get in Your Drink

A French press plunger does not remove a hundred percent of the grounds from the brewed liquid. Many smaller grounds are not filtered, and some grounds will often float on the surface after plunging.

While stirring will cause many of the surface grounds to sink to the bottom of the beaker, some will stay around and inevitably find their way into the beverage.

It's important not to drink the entire cup of coffee when it's made in a French press, as typically there will be some grounds to be found at the bottom of your cup.

While the grounds can undermine some people's experience, they do contribute to the wonderful flavor of the coffee drinks produced by a French press.

6. The Used Grounds Can Block a Drain

Care should be taken when disposing of the used coffee grounds. It's important to never try and wash away them away down a kitchen sink drain, when cleaning out the press, even if you have a garbage disposal.

The grounds can clump together when exposed to water and, over time, form into clogs that will block up a drain. They can also combine with other food waste such as grease, discarded pasta, rice, or eggshells.

I use the old grounds as compost for my outdoor plants. If this isn't possible, then the grounds should be disposed of in a garbage can.

If this article hasn't put you off and you wish to buy a French press, my suggestion would be that you buy a stainless steel, thermal model. This is because:

  • They are durable and don't tend to break.
  • They keep the coffee hot.
  • They're easy to clean.

For sure, with a press that features a glass beaker you can watch the brewing process happening inside, plus they are often slightly cheaper than a stainless steel coffee maker. However, I would still say that a stainless steel, thermal press is a better choice for most people.

If you're looking for a specific suggestion for a reasonably priced product, then I would heartedly recommend the Secura French press. I've had one of these in my office room for over five years. It has an attractive but practical design and does everything that I want from a French press. It's also affordable, you can pick one up for under $30.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.