How Do You Remove Grounds from Your French Press

A French press is a real go-to for anyone who enjoys a rich coffee with a fuller flavor.

This unique piece of coffee brewing equipment combines coarse, ground coffee with boiling water, allowing it to steep within its carafe before plunging the grounds to the bottom of the chamber.

Of course, as with any piece of equipment used to create a good cup of coffee, a French press requires proper maintenance to keep it in good shape and to guarantee a delicious beverage each and every time.

Part of this maintenance involves removing used grounds and properly cleaning the press between uses.

Here’s some guidance on how to achieve this.

Why Remove Grounds from Your French Press?

Using a French press can get pretty messy pretty quickly.

Unlike cleaning a drip coffee makers, the grounds used in a French press aren’t neatly contained to a paper filter that can be easily removed and thrown away after use. Instead, they tend to clump at the bottom of the carafe and require a bit more work and effort to remove properly.

Emptying grounds is an essential step for any French press user to take, as it removes used grounds and frees up space for new grounds for your next brew.

If you leave any used grounds in the carafe of the French press, they will be exposed to hot water when you create your next drink, which results in overextraction and a bitter tasting drink.

What You Will Need

It’s important that you have the right tools to properly clean your French press before getting started. To properly clean your press, make sure that you have:

  • A non-metal spatula (rubber is ideal)
  • A mesh sink strainer
  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • A sponge and/or bottle brush
  • Baking soda

How To Remove Grounds from Your French Press

Removing grounds from your French press is the first step that you need to take to properly clean the tool. Here are two approaches that you can try out.

Option 1: Dislodge and Empty the Grounds

One way to empty grounds from your French press is to remove the lid, turn the press upside down over your trash bin and gently tap the bottom.

This should help to dislodge any grounds that may have stuck, helping them to empty out into your bin. If you find that some grounds still remain, and won’t dislodge with a harder tap, you can make use of a long spoon, spatula, or brush to dislodge them or scoop them out.

Protip: 

While it can be tempting to simply rinse your press and wash the grounds down the sink, this can result in blocked and clogged pipes, so is strongly discouraged by the majority of coffee drinkers - and plumbers.

That said, make sure to rinse your French Press after emptying the grounds and it will be as good as new. This removes all leftovers even in small gaps. 

The rinsing liquid can then be dumped down the drain or used to water a plant. The residue coffee grinds give a punch of fertilizer into every watering.

Option 2: Use a This Hack

While the above step may be simple and straightforward, it can still be messy. Many people have been searching for a solution for some time now and many companies have catered to this.

The above video illustrates this idea well, but simply fill your Press with water and give it a swirl to loosen the grinds.

Dump the liquid into a strainer over your sink and then dispose of the grinds into a compost or waste bin. 

Due to the course grind recommended for French Press brewing, the strainer should easily hold the grinds.

Cleaning Your French Press

Of course, removing the grounds isn’t the only step you’ll need to take when it comes to cleaning your French press thoroughly.

The following steps will help you to complete the job of cleaning your French Press to a high standard.

Step 1: Disassemble Your Press

Disassemble French Press for Cleaning

Sure, you might not want to go through the effort of disassembling your French press for cleaning after every use.

But this is something that you should definitely do every once in a while.

Take some time to carefully separate all of your French Press components including:

  • the lid
  • spring
  • plunger screen (mesh)
  • cross
  • cylinder

Step 2: Soak The Components

Fill your dish bowl with warm, soapy water and submerge all of the different elements.

If you are concerned about the impact dish soap residue could have on your next coffee, you can always use baking soda or a specialist French press cleaning product like this Urnex French Press liquid cleaner instead of dish soap.

You can the let the elements soak for roughly ten minutes. 

Step 3: Gently Scrub

Scrub French Press for Cleaning

Use a small, soft dish brush to gently scrub any areas of your French press components that has stains or oil that hasn’t budged during the soak.

Make sure that the brush you are using is non abrasive, to prevent damaging any element of your French press.

A toothbrush is also a useful alternative.

By now, all remaining grounds should be removed.

Step 4: Dry Your French Press

Dry French Press after cleaning

You should make sure that your French press is fully dried before putting it away. This will prevent issues such as corrosion or rust.

You can allow the components to air dry by lying them out on a drying rack, or you can dry them thoroughly with a soft, dry cloth.

Step 5: Put the Pieces Back Together

While the pieces can be stored separately, most people prefer to reassemble their French press following cleaning.

This ensures that it is complete and ready to go as soon as you want your next cup of coffee.

Bottom Line on Cleaning Your French Press

While emptying grounds and cleaning your French press may seem complicated to start with, you’ll quickly get a hang of the process, incorporating it without thought into your daily routine.

Stick to the steps above and you should maintain a quality press that produces quality drinks.

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