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The beauty of using a french press to brew your coffee is that you have full control over the variables that affect the taste. This means that you can perfect your process over time to get your cup of coffee tasting exactly the way you like it.

Using a french press doesn’t make your coffee less acidic, but a french press gives you full control over the brewing process, allowing you to make small changes such as brewing your coffee for a bit longer or using slightly hotter water, which will reduce the acidity of your brew.

In this article, we’re going to look at why using a french press makes managing the acidity of your coffee easier, and go over all the different ways you can increase or decrease acidity using a french press.

Does Using a French Press Affect Coffee Acidity?

A French press doesn’t affect the acidity of your coffee, however, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s easier to mess something up in the brewing process with a french press than it is with an automatic coffee machine, resulting in coffee that tastes too acidic.

Why Does Coffee From a French Press Taste Acidic?

The most common reasons that coffee from a french press tastes acidic are that it’s easy to use water that’s not hot enough, and it’s tempting not to let your coffee brew for long enough.

If your french press coffee tastes too acidic for you, here are common problems that may be the cause:

1. Underbrewed Coffee Grounds

One of the most common problems with french pressed coffee is that there’s nothing to tell you when your coffee is ready, you just have to learn.

On an automatic drip coffee machine, the machine uses its internal temperature sensors and timer to ensure your coffee is perfectly and consistently brewed every time. A french press has none of these features, so you need to learn how long to brew your coffee according to your taste.

If you’re interested in learning more about automatic coffee machines, check out our complete guide to automatic coffee makers, where we explore the different models, features, and advantages of this type of machine.

2. Not Hot Enough Water

A french press has no internal heating element, meaning you have to heat your water externally before pouring it into the press. This means it’s easy to accidentally use water that’s not hot enough to properly brew your coffee, resulting in an acidic taste.

According to the National Coffee Association, your water should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90.5 – 96.1°C) to maximize the extraction of flavor compounds from your beans.

Optimal Coffee Brewing Temperature Table:

Brewing TemperatureEffect on Coffee
< 195°F (90.5°C)Insufficient extraction results in sour-tasting acidic coffee.
195 – 205°F (90.5 – 96.1°C)The optimal temperature to create a balanced, full-bodied coffee.
> 205°F (96.1°C)Overextraction, resulting in bitter-tasting coffee.

You may wish to invest in an inexpensive coffee thermometer to assist you in creating perfect coffee with a french press.

3. Dirty Equipment

When was the last time you cleaned your french press?

A dirty french press can spoil your coffee, resulting in an overly acidic bitter-tasting brew. This is because the old beans and coffee that are leftover from the previous brew will be brewed again and the harsh flavors of over-extracted coffee will make their way into your brew.

Cleaning a French press is pretty straightforward. In most cases they are dishwasher-safe so it’s as simple as breaking them apart and putting the parts into the dishwasher.

We have lots of coffee machine cleaning tutorials right here on the website for you to check out if you need help.

4. Inappropriate Grind Size

If you grind your coffee beans yourself, one additional thing to think about is your grind size… When you’re brewing your coffee with a french press, grind size is completely up to you, so you can experiment with finer or coarser grounds depending on your preferences.

A coarse grind size will create a more acidic tasting coffee, and a finer ground size will create a more flavorful, less acidic coffee.

A finer ground size helps improve extraction by increasing the total surface area of the grounds, where the water comes into contact with the grounds to extract the flavors.

Is French Press Coffee More Acidic than Drip Coffee?

Coffee brewed in a french press may taste more acidic than drip coffee due to the oils present in french press coffee which are usually caught by the paper filter present in a drip coffee machine.

Drip coffee usually passes through a fine paper filter, which helps remove some of the oil that comes out of the beans before they make it to your cup of coffee.

A french press usually has a metallic filter with a larger aperture than a paper filter, meaning that more of the oils can make their way into your coffee, resulting in a stronger flavor than coffee that has passed through a fine paper filter.

A 2007 study by Baylor College of Medicine found that french pressed, Scandinavian brew, and espresso had the highest volume of oils. 

Using a paper filter can help reduce the oils and cholesterol in your coffee. If you need help picking a paper filter, check out my guide to bleached paper filters vs non-bleached paper filters.

Pouring a French Press Coffee Maker

How To Fix Acidic Coffee in a French Press

If your coffee is too acidic, the problem is probably not down to your french press, but the way you’re brewing your coffee. Though this sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually good news because it means you can easily amend your brewing process without changing your entire coffee machine.

Here are eight quick and easy solutions to help reduce the acidity of your coffee while using your french press.

1. Pick a Different Bean!

If your coffee is too acidic tasting but you’re doing everything else right, the problem might not be your french press, but the coffee itself.

Different beans have vastly different flavor profiles, and there are some beans that are well-known to be less acidic than others.

Dark roast coffee beans from Sumatra tend to be less acidic than beans from Africa. Well-known Sumatran bean varieties include Mandheling, Lintong, and Ankola.

2. Make Sure Your Beans Aren’t Stale

As coffee beans age, they become stale. No matter how great your brewing method is, coffee made from stale beans will never taste as good as freshly roasted beans.

Freshly roasted beans last for a few months before the quality starts to degrade.

Help keep your roasted beans fresh for longer using an airtight coffee container.

3. Add Milk

Dairy milk contains calcium and proteins that can help neutralize acids. Adding cold milk to your coffee can help to reduce acidity.

Another option is nut milk, especially almond milk, which is more alkaline than regular cow’s milk.

4. Just Add Water

Adding more water to your coffee can help ensure adequate extraction of flavors from your ground beans.

If you’re not adding enough water, the full flavor profile can’t be extracted, leaving you with sour-tasting acidic coffee.

In a french press, the amount of water you can add depends on the size of the vessel. If you’re still not able to get full extraction when your french press is full, try reducing the amount of coffee to increase the ratio of water to beans.

5. Use a Finer Grind

Another way to help reduce the chance of acidity caused by under extraction is to grind your beans into a finer size before adding them to your french press.

Finer grounds have a higher surface area, allowing for a full range of flavors to be extracted and reducing the chance that your coffee will be too acidic.

6. Increase the Temperature

French press coffee requires hot water in order to extract the full flavor profile from your coffee beans. This is a common mistake and results in acidic tasting coffee.

Make sure your water is between 195-205°F (90.5 – 96.1°C) for the optimal flavor profile.

7. Clean Your French Press!

Leftover coffee in your french press can cause a bitter taste in your coffee because the leftover grounds get brewed for a second time and spoil the fresh coffee.

Cleaning a French press is straightforward, they are usually dishwasher-safe and a quick run under the tap will clear out any leftovers quickly.

8. Brew for Longer

Coffee usually tastes acidic due to under extraction, which can be caused by pouring your coffee before the water has had a chance to extract the full flavor profile from your ground beans.

Extending the length of your brew time can help reduce the chance that you’ll end up with acidic coffee, but it’s also important to make sure your water is hot enough, and your beans are ground finely enough, otherwise extending the length of brew time will have no effect.

FAQs:

What Can You Add to Coffee To Make It Less Acidic?

If your coffee is too acidic, there are a number of things you can add to help neutralize the acidity, including:

  • Milk
  • Creamer
  • More Water
  • Baking Soda

What Temperature Water Should French Press Use?

The optimal water temperature for a french press is between 195°F and 205°F (90.5 – 96.1°C). Hotter water will result in bitter, burnt coffee, and colder water will result in acidic, sour coffee.

Conclusion

To sum up, using a french press doesn’t directly affect the acidity of your coffee, but it gives you full control over the brewing process, which means there are plenty of opportunities for errors that may affect the end product.

The most common errors with french pressed coffee are water that’s not hot enough, and beans that aren’t brewed for long enough. Both of these common errors can cause your coffee to taste sour or acidic.