A French press coffee maker is one of the best and most popular coffee brewing methods. Its popularity is due to several good reasons.
The French press is especially loved for its uniqueness in that you can control the ingredients you put in manually.
You can choose the amount of ground coffee to use when brewing, the brewing time, and the water temperature.
In case you prefer a flavorful and full-bodied brew, then you should invest in a French press coffeemaker.
Fortunately, there are several French press coffee makers available in today’s market. The French press, as known in the United States and the North American region, has several names. It’s known as a plunger coffee maker in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
Also, it’s known as a cafetiere In Netherlands and UK. Others call it a plunger pot, French pot, press pot, cafetière à piston, coffee plunger, or coffee press.
Essentially, a French press brews coffee manually. It features an inbuilt filter that percolates coffee grounds, a carafe, and a plunger. You only need to steep enough ground coffee with hot water for a few minutes to make French press coffee.
Its brewing process is gentler than stovetop and drip brewing methods, which often scald the grounds as they use hotter water. When using a French press, the brew won’t be placed on a heating plate.
That way, the brew won’t overcook. Hence, it won’t turn out bitter. On the other hand, drip coffee pots, also known as drip makers or drip machines, heat water continually, thereby forming a brew with significant bitterness.
French press coffee equipment also brew more nutritious coffees than espresso machines. Thus, coffee drinkers can enjoy a stronger brew from a French press than an espresso maker due to enhanced extraction. Also, French press coffee has lower acidity than other coffees such as cold brew coffee.
According to the history of coffee in the world, the French press was designed and invented by an Italian known as Paolini Ugo in 1923. It was patented in 1929 by Giulio Moneta and Attilio Calimani. Although it’s known as a French press, it got a patent in Italy.
Later on, the French press underwent numerous modifications in design by faliero bondanini. He patented his own design in 1958 under a brand name known as Melior in France. He retained it’s working principle depsite a difference in design.
It goes by the French name since it’s believed that its basic operating principle was discovered by a Frenchman. Although its working principle remains the same, there’re numerous design modifications depending on manufacturers.
How does a French press work?
Basically, a French press works by immersing coffee grounds in hot water for a few minutes. Next, the grounds are separated from the brew by pushing down the plunger handle. The required temperature for the water is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum flavor extraction. If you use hotter water, the brew will have a burnt taste.
Also, if you use cool water, you’ll get an under-extracted brew that’ll taste watered-down and flavorless. The reason behind this is that cool water won’t extract rich coffee flavors and essential oils from ground coffee beans.
Why You Should Use a French Press
The French press coffee brewing device makes very tasty coffee. Your local coffee company, barista, and other professional coffee brewers can attest to this. There are several reasons why it brews delicious coffee including:
You can steep coffee
French press coffee tastes great because it brews by steeping ground coffee for some minutes rather than filtering with coffee filters. It’s comparable to steeping tea. As a result, there’s optimum extraction of coffee flavors from the steeped grounds.
Maximum extraction of coffee oils and flavor
Essentially, brewing with paper filters eliminates some coffee oils and flavors. A French press doesn’t use paper filters like drip coffee makers. As a result, you’ll get a brew with maximum coffee oils and flavors for the best taste. The majority of ingredients making up coffee will end up in your cup of coffee. Thus, you’ll be able to experience the best taste that coffee can offer.
There’re no impurities
Another reason why a French press makes great coffee is that it’s typically made of glass or metal. Thus, your brew won’t get any impurities from plastic components. Also, grounds are separated from the coffee using a metallic strainer rather than a paper filter. A paper filter may add impurities to the brew. Thus, you’ll enjoy drinking pure coffee without any impurities.
Constant brewing temperature
The French press coffee brewing method steeps coffee grounds at a consistent water temperature. On the contrary, a percolator or drip coffee maker is placed on a heating plate such that water heats up and cools quickly during the brewing process. Since the French press doesn’t continue heating water when brewing, there’s consistent brewing temperature, thereby avoiding over-extraction and under-extraction.
Grounds are fully saturated
With this coffee maker, coffee grounds are completely saturated in water. Thus, coffee oils and flavors are extracted from all the grounds. On the contrary, drip coffee makers may fail to completely soak all the coffee grounds. Thus, French press coffee is more flavorful than coffee brewed with a percolator or drip machine.
What Is Required To Brew French Press Coffee?
Although the user instructions for a French press are quite simple, it’s important to know everything you’ll need to brew a perfect cup of French press coffee. Regardless, you can make French press coffee in your own kitchen and taste as good as the one brewed by baristas in coffee shops. You’ll need supplies such as:
- Coffee beans – It’s recommended to grind your own coffee beans rather than buying pre-ground beans for the best-tasting cup of coffee. When buying coffee beans, choose freshly-roasted and top-quality beans for a rich-tasting brew. Although the type of roast you’ll choose is up to your taste preferences, dark and medium roasts are more ideal for French press coffee brewing as they allow f cold brewor optimum extraction of character, flavor, and oils.
- Coffee grinder – You’ll need a coffee grinder to grind coffee beans at home. Although you can use pre-ground coffee, it may not have a rich flavor and freshness due to oxidization. Also, it may absorb foreign smells if stored improperly. A burr grinder is one of the most reliable grinders as you can set a specific grind size. It produces even grinds for a more balanced and fuller brew. You can also use a hand grinder. When shopping for a grinder, limit your selection to top brands from your local store.
- Filtered water – The kind of water you use when brewing coffee matters a lot. You should only brew coffee with water that you can drink. Preferably, brew with filtered water as it doesn’t have odors and impurities that may affect your brew’s taste.
- Kettle – You’ll need a kettle to heat enough water. Either an electric or stove-top kettle can get the job done. Also, a kettle will assist you to pour water into your French press safely and easily. If your kettle doesn’t have a temperature indicator, consider getting a thermometer to ensure you’re brewing with the recommended water temperature.
- Coffee scoop or scale – Although it may sound a little complicated to measure ground coffee with a scale, it’s the only sure way of getting the best tasting brew. It takes practice to know the right amount of grounds to use when brewing coffee. You can also use a measuring spoon or scoop to measure the grounds. Ensure the grounds are leveled on the coffee scoop for consistent coffee brews.
How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home
Now that you know the required supplies for making coffee in a French press, it’ll also help to know how to brew the best coffee with a French press. The best French press coffee ratio is to brew with 1-ounce coffee (6 tablespoons) and 16 ounces water (2 cups).
Also, use coarse grounds to allow for slower extraction. Using fine grounds with a French press will result in an unpleasant brew that’s bitter and harsh. Also, the metallic filter may clog.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to add sugar, milk, chocolate, creamer or other sweetening products. However, you may add them if you find it hard to drink the brew while plain.
There’re several recipes that a coffee brewer can try with French presses. Here’s a simple recipe for making French press coffee.
Basic French press coffee recipe:
Step 1 – First, preheat the French press by adding hot water into the device. Allow the hot water to sit in the French press for about 1 minute. That way, the device will keep the brew hotter for a longer period.
Step 2 – Pour out the water and allow the French press to dry.
Step 3 – Boil water in a kettle to a temperature of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, allow the water to boil and set it aside to cool for approximately 30 seconds to gain the right temperature.
Step 4 – Add coffee grounds to the carafe. Next, add hot water. The grounds will float after about 1 minute to form a crust. Break the crust with a spoon by stirring the mixture gently. Upon breaking the crust, the coffee grounds will settle at the bottom.
Step 5 – Pull the plunger up and place the lid over the carafe. Allow the brew to steep for about 3 minutes.
Step 6 – Gently press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the ready brew. Serve the brew immediately. Don’t leave any extra brew sitting in your French press after brewing as it’ll over-extract and become very bitter.
Pros of Using a French Press
- Easy to clean
- User-friendly, even for beginners
- Small footprint
- Unmatched convenience
- Can make both hot coffee and cold brew
Cons of Using a French Press
- Comes with some health concerns related to high cholesterol
- You’ll need to monitor the brewing time, grind size, and water temperature
- You’ll need additional equipment such as a scale, thermometer, and kettle
- It should be served as soon as the brewing process is complete to prevent any over-extraction
How Often Should You Clean Your French Press?
It’s advisable to clean a French press after every use. Oil residue and stuck coffee grounds on the filter and carafe can make your next brew bitter. Follow the instructions that came with your device to clean it and disassemble the filter to get rid of any residual oils and deposits.
Is French Press Coffee Bad For You?
Coffee beans have oily substances known as diterpenes. They contain kahweol and cafestol, which are classified as bad cholesterol. The problem with a French press is that its filter system allows these oils to get into your cup of coffee as it doesn’t filter them.
Only paper filter systems filter out these oils, such as the paper filters used on drip coffee makers. Since French press coffee contains significant amounts of harmful oils, you should drink it moderately.
Although brewing coffee with a French press requires more attention on the process than an automatic coffee maker, you’ll get very rewarding results. French press coffee is very aromatic. You’ll definitely love it when served hot. You can as well make iced coffee out of a French press to bring out the bold coffee flavors of cold brewing. Regardless of how you prefer serving it, a French press coffee maker is a sure way of brewing tasty coffee at home. Thus, if you’re still making coffee with a drip coffee machine or percolator, consider investing in a French press and enjoy the rich taste that coffee has to offer.