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Jul 15, 2014 08:42 AM

French press question

Hi all -quick question about the French Press. is it normal after brewing for some of the grinds to be stuck to the top side of the wire mesh filter? The vast majority are on the bottom of the filter or left in the pot but some end up on the top of the filter. I'm not grinding so fine that the grinds can slip through the mesh, so I am gathering that the filter is not tightly pressed against the edge of the pot and so some are floating up past the sides of the filter. Is this normal or have I perhaps re-assembled it incorrectly after cleaning?

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  1. If you overfill the FP, then some grounds float into the pour spout. When you press the screen down, those grounds can end up on top of the screen. Could that be what is happening?

    1 Reply
    1. re: tcamp

      Hi tcamp, thanks for your response. I'm basically filling the french press with about 18 oz of water which is for this particular one only filling it a bit over half way. After 4 minutes pass I press down the plunger and leave it there while pouring. I then lift the plunger up and remove the assembly from the pot and this is when I'm finding grinds on top of the filter. So I don't think its overfilled but I may not be understanding correctly what you are describing.

    2. Hi, Marvin:

      If you're not overfilling (grounds sneak through the spout), getting true grounds in your FP coffee means they're passing between the screen and the wall during the press.

      To work properly, these presses require a fairly strong, wrinkle-free spring-tension fit twixt glass and screen. The screens get bent and the backing spring coils eventually lose their oomph.

      Let me ask you this: How are you storing your press when not in use? If you are storing it with the plunger in place (as it would be at the bottom of an actual press), then you are hastening the process I've described above. IMO, it's always best to store the plunger assembly upside down in the pot when not in use. It is also good form not to leave the spent pot sit overnight with the plunger depressed.

      Now then, I used "true" grounds above for a reason. If all you're seeing on top of the filter/press plate is accumulated mud, then everything's fine. IME, fines often pass through the screen and then settle out, so that by the time you're finished and remove the plunger, the mud is sitting atop the plate. The same thing happens in your cup.

      Nota Bene: This "mud" is *really* good for you. There is a compound in it, called cafestrol, which shows great promise for a variety of health purposes, notably in preventing/forestalling/palliating Parkinson's disease.


      4 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Hi Kaleo, and thank you for your reply. Its actually true grounds on top of the filter, not the 'mud' that one usually gets at the bottom of a french pressed cup of coffee. They are not nearly fine enough to have seeped through the filter directly, they would have had to go around the sides. I'm also not seeing / tasting any grounds other than the 'mud' in the coffee I'm pouring, so for whatever reason they're not floating up off of the top of the filter.

        Regarding how the plunger is stored when not in use, I received the press as a gift about a year ago and only started using it a few months ago. I don't recall how it was when I opened it, but if they shipped it from the factory with the plunger in place then perhaps it was not good to leave it boxed like that for many months. Beyond that I have generally stored the plunger as you've just said not to do so I will stop doing that. I do normally disassemble and wash everything shortly after I'm done brewing.

        In any case when I get home I will try to examine what's going on in more detail. Right now when the plunger is not in the pot the edges of the filter are not in direct contact with the spring which I think is normal. I suspect that when placed in the pot the filter is pressed inward by the walls of the pot and the spring should be pushing back at that point.

        1. re: Marvin

          Hi, Marvin:

          You're welcome.

          When you get home, try assessing how easily the plunger moves within the empty pot. If it slides down easily, without much force at all, it's probably too loose a fit.

          Or, make a pot and assess how much resistance there is to *withdrawing* the plunger after the coffee is gone. FWIW, my FP has a tight enough fit that I must hold the glass pot when I withdraw the plunger (i.e., it's tight enough that the pot wants to lift out of the holder along with the plunger).

          Finally, check for a wrinkle or kink in the screen.

          My suspicion is that replacing the screen (and then storing the plunger without compressing) will solve your problem.


          PS Another thought just occurred to me. Are you stirring before plunging? If so, sometimes grounds can hang high on the pot's walls. Then if you "cam" the plunger into place before plunging, grounds can actually *start* above the plate--so that's where they finish, too.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          Interesting info, Kaleo. I have been storing the plunger in the pot but it is used daily, sometimes 2X/day. But TTTT, I don't really mind mud or grounds in limited quantities. I tend to be a slow coffee drinker and it all settles to the bottom.

          1. re: tcamp

            Hi, tcamp:

            I'm with you, I kinda like the mud. If I need to serve very clear coffee, I add crumbled eggshells to the coffee and let the fines precipitate out.


        3. I'm following this thread since I have been making my morning brew in many cheap-expensive French presses for 20+ years.

          The only time I have ~ever~ had grounds in my coffee is when I the beans too finely.