Can you use pre-ground coffee in a French press?

french press with ground coffee
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There are several different ways to brew coffee, and a lot of those methods use different devices to brew it. One popular device for brewing coffee is the French Press. Naturally, because the French Press is popular there is a lot of debate on the best way to use it.

Part of that debate is what types of coffee are best used for this type of brewing. Is it ok to use pre-ground coffee with a French Press? We will explore the answer to that question below as well as what the best types of coffee to use with a French Press are.

Is it ok to use pre-ground coffee with a French Press?

Technically, nothing is stopping you from using pre-ground coffee with a French Press. That being said, it is not ideal to use pre-ground coffee. It is typically ground too finely for standard French Press mesh filters. Because of that, grounds can either clog the filter or go through it all together and end up in your cup.

To better understand why pre-ground coffee can be an issue with a French Press, it is best to start by understanding the brewing process. From there we will see why pre-ground coffee is not ideal and what the ideal types of coffee are for a French Press.

What is a French Press and How Does it Work?

A French Press is a device used to brew coffee. It is composed of four parts, a beaker, a handle, a plunger, and a base. The beaker is attached directly to the base and the handle. Hot water and ground coffee are added to the beaker and stirred, then left to brew for a few minutes. After the coffee has been allowed to brew the plunger, which has a mesh filter attached to it, is pushed down. From here the coffee is finished and can simply be poured from the beaker.

Now that we know a little more about the French Press and how it brews coffee, we can better understand why pre-ground coffee is not a good choice to use with one. As mentioned above, finer grounds have a better chance of going through the mesh filter and mucking up your coffee.

The properties of coffee should also be kept in mind when you consider using pre-ground coffee. Coffee beans stay fresh for a few weeks after roasting, but once they are ground they are only fresh for a matter of minutes. When you use pre-ground coffee, you are typically using stale coffee that will not provide as good of a flavor with this brewing method.

Pros and Cons of Pre-Ground Coffee

While we have lightly touched on some of the cons, there are some pros to using pre-ground coffee with your French Press as well. Now that we have explored how a French Press works, let’s dive into the pros and cons of pre-ground coffee.

There are actually some advantages to using pre-ground coffee with your French Press. Because pre-ground coffee is typically ground more finely, more of its surface area is exposed to water. That means during the brewing process, your coffee will actually brew more quickly.

It is also significantly easier to use pre-ground coffee. There is no need to bust out your trusty grinder and then grind coffee beans to just the right size, you can just scoop the grounds directly from the bag to your French Press. Additionally, standard pre-ground coffee is easy to find and is typically less expensive.

That being said, pre-ground coffee has its flaws. The filter on most French Presses simply isn’t meant for finely ground coffee, and most pre-ground coffee is finely ground. This is because it is typically intended for use with drip coffee makers. When using it, you run the risk of getting grounds in your coffee cup or clogging your filter.

Also, because pre-ground coffee does brew more quickly than coarse ground coffee you run the risk of over extracting the coffee. If you’re not careful, it can result in a more bitter cup of coffee.

What Type of Coffee is Best With The French Press?

The type of coffee used in a French Press is one of the most important aspects of it. What size grind, where to find it, and potential alternatives are all things that should be taken into consideration when deciding what coffee you are going to brew.

What Size Grind is Best?

Coarse-ground coffee is your best choice when using a French Press. If possible, freshly ground coffee is also preferable. Because it is fresh, it will provide the best coffee flavor you can hope for with this brewing method. The slightly larger size of the coarse ground coffee won’t clog your filter or be able to get through the filter into your cup.

Where Can You Find Pre-Ground Coffee?

Standard, finely ground coffee can be found almost anywhere. There are whole sections dedicated to it in grocery stores and no shortage of small companies online that sell it. Pre-ground coffee is so popular that you can even find it in stores that don’t sell food or coffee as their primary product.

Coarse pre-ground coffee can also be found in grocery stores and online, but it will not take up anywhere near as much shelf space as finely pre-ground meant for drip brewers. As long as you pay close attention while you are shopping, this is a good option if you want to use pre-ground coffee with your French Press.

Alternatives to Pre-Ground Coffee

The preferred alternative to using pre-ground coffee is to grind whole beans yourself that have already been roasted. The reason for this is that coffee, once ground, goes stale very fast. Roasted coffee beans stay fresh for a few weeks though, so you can get a much fresher experience if you brew coffee with beans you grind yourself.


The French Press is a delightful way to brew coffee, however using pre-ground coffee will not always produce delightful results with this method of brewing. If you do want to use pre-ground coffee, using coarse pre-ground coffee will give you better results. Coarse ground, freshly ground coffee is your best bet when using a French Press.