How Long Should I Steep My Coffee For?

Steeping is one of the simplest methods of brewing coffee. It involves mixing hot water with coffee grounds, waiting for them to infuse, and then removing the coffee solids.

French press or cafètiere is easily the most popular technique of steeping coffee. Cold brew coffee and “coffee bags” however, are also prepared by steeping.

Whatever method you choose, you want to be sure you’re getting the most of your beans. The question that then arises is, how long to steep coffee for?

How To Make Perfect Steeped Coffee

When coffee is prepared by steeping, the coffee grounds are in contact with hot water for a long time as compared to filtration or pressure brewing.

This means that the flavour profile of the beans can be concentrated fully into your cup, providing a smooth and rich taste. However, it also means that controlling the brew time is essential.

It’s easy to ruin steeped coffee by over- or under-extraction. If the brew time is too long, your coffee will be over-extracted and bitter.

On the other hand, a brew time that is too short will result in weak and watery coffee. The ideal brew time for steeped coffee depends on the method being used.

In addition to the brewing time, the correct grind size is another key factor to making a perfect cup of steeped coffee. Whichever technique you use, the grind size needs to be coarse, or you’ll end up with coffee dust floating in your cup.

French Press

The French press can be deceptively simple - although its working mechanism is not complicated, it’s easy to mess up.

There are two things to get right when using this technique: grind size and brewing time.

As for grind size, you need to get it evenly coarse. To make sure you’re getting the steeping time right, you should use a timer.

As with most coffee-related things, there isn’t a rock-solid consensus on what the perfect brewing time for French press coffee is.

Most recipes agree that exactly 4 minutes is the sweet spot, but some contrarians argue that the grounds should be steeped for up to 8 minutes.

It might be a good idea to try different brewing times and compare the resulting cups so you can find the perfect recipe that suits you. In any case, it’s safe to say that you should be brewing for at least 3-4 minutes to avoid under-extraction. Conversely, brewing for longer than 10 minutes will result in a bitter cup.

When you’re done brewing, immediately pour your coffee to a mug, a serving jug or a thermos. If you let it sit in the French press, it will continue to brew to the point of over-extraction.

There are special brewing scales that can be used to simultaneously measure weight and time, but if you don’t want to invest in one, just using the stopwatch on your phone will work.

Watch this video for more advice on achieving that perfect cup:

Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee has been exploding in popularity lately, with a variety of recipes and techniques available..

Some people prepare cold brew coffee with special tools such as the Filtron coffee concentrate brewer or the Yama Glass dripper. You can also use a regular French press to make a cold brew.

However, cold brew coffee can also be made without any special equipment. As it is prepared with a simple infusion method, all you really need is some water, coffee grounds and a container.

a jar of black coffee

To make cold brew coffee, you need to steep the coffee grounds in cold water and then filter the grounds out. Because the water isn’t hot, the extraction takes much longer.

At room temperature, the process takes approximately 12-18 hours. Placing it in the fridge will slow down the brewing process further by a few hours. If the grind size is coarse enough, over-extraction shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t let the coffee brew for longer than 24 hours.

Cold brew is different from regular iced coffee because hot water is not used at any point in the brewing process.

Even if you’re using a French press, it might still be a good idea to strain the cold brew coffee before serving.

Ready To Brew?

Preparing coffee by steeping is a simple way to make a delicious cup. You just need to avoid over- or under-extraction by paying attention to grind size and brew time.

Steeping coffee can result in a smooth and delicious cup, and once you get the gist of it, it’s one of the most straightforward ways to make coffee at home.

Do you have more advice on how long to steep coffee? Let me know in the comments!

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