Why Your French Press Plunger Gets Stuck? And How to Fix

By Evelina •  Updated: 07/05/21 •  5 min read

The Short Answer:

There is too much coffee in the French Press and the plunger can’t go down all the way. There are two common ways to fix this problem: 1) Use the right grind size or, 2) Clean the filter more effectively.

Making coffee with the French Press has become a passion for millions of coffee lovers. It is a simple yet attractive way to make a great cup of coffee at home.

The French Press has many advantages over other coffee makers such as espresso machines, and the automatic drip machines. The French Press does not require special coffee flavorings or expensive beans since the machine is made to create a great cup of coffee with little effort.

Read Also: French Press vs Drip Coffee Machine

But when it comes to the plunger of the French Press, there are always some problems. This is because not everyone knows how to use a French Press correctly.

In this article, we will discuss one of the problems that many people face when using a French Press which is when your plunger gets stuck.

The French Press

french press plunger stuck

The French Press was designed to brew a great cup of coffee quickly and easily using only two ingredients: fresh ground coffee and hot water. This is why people who want to make their coffee fast can’t find a good reason to switch from the French Press to another method.

French Press Plunger Stuck Problem

Have you ever used a French Press and found that your plunger gets stuck half way down? If yes, then you are not alone. Many people run into this same problem without knowing how to solve it.

1. Clean the Filter More Effectively

french press plunger stuck

 One way to solve this problem is cleaning your filter more effectively.

This is important because some French Presses are not built quite as well as others, causing them not to hold up well under strain.

You can clean the filter by using a toothpick or knife to dislodge any coffee grounds that are stuck inside the filter of the plunger.

Then, wipe it down, making sure that your filter is completely clear of any grounds.

Using water, or even better yet, vinegar is recommended for cleaning purposes.

2. Use Less Coffee

french press plunger stuck

If you still have the same problem after cleaning your filter, then you will have to reduce the amount of coffee grounds that you fill your French Press with.

This can be done by only using enough grounds to cover the bottom of the carafe in a thin layer. This should also fix this problem and allow your plunger to move down.

3. Pick The Right Grind Size

The ideal grind size for the french press is coarse, and the reason is that it allows the water to go into the plunger quickly without having to wait for too long. A coarse grind is the perfect size because it gives you just enough grounds to cover the bottom of your carafe and filter.

If you like using pre-ground coffee, then go with a coarser setting than if you prefer whole beans. Experiment with both and see which one works best for you.

Read Also: French Press Brewing Guide

4. Clean The Screen

As mentioned above, some French Presses do not hold up well under strain. This type of problem is often caused by the screen which gets full of coffee grounds and crumbs after brewing.

The screen can be cleaned easily and simply by using a small brush to remove any remaining grounds that are stuck inside the screen. Then, wipe out any remaining particles with a damp cloth or paper towel.

This will help the plunger move freely.

Read Also: How To Clean The French Press

5. Stir The Coffee Grounds Gently

When brewing, after pouring the coffee grounds and the hot water, stir the mixture gently. The reason for this is that if your mixture of hot water and grounds are mixed together in a single motion the French Press plunger can clog up.

This will help to prevent clogging and ensure your plunger is working well.

6. Use A Higher Quality Model

The French Press plunger getting stuck, can be caused by a very cheap model or one with a poor quality filter.

If you can afford it, buying a better model can be a good idea because it will allow you to enjoy your French Press without worrying about having your plunger getting stuck again.

Also, the filter can be bought separately and replaced with something better.

Read Also: All About French Press Sizes

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ


How long do you wait to Plunge a French Press?

Some people like to wait as long as 1 minute before plunging a French Press. Others like to plunge as soon as the coffee grounds have finished soaking.

I personally prefer to plunge sooner, most of the times after 20-30 seconds.

Why does my French Press get stuck?

This is because you have put in too much coffee or you have ground the coffee too medium.

What temperature should French Press water be?

When making coffee in a French press, you want to use water that is 200 degrees F. At this temperature you have hot water that will dissolve all the flavor out of the coffee grounds.

Last Thoughts

If you are having a problem with your French press plunger getting stuck, it is important to troubleshoot the problem as soon as possible.

You must make sure that the plunger can move freely and that there is the optimal amount of coffee grounds in the bottom of the carafe.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of french presses out there and some of them might not work as well as others.

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Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.