Coffee is a very personal thing to many of us, and for those serious lovers of coffee, they will likely have their preferred method of brewing and stick with it for life. As one of the oldest and most respected methods of brewing, French Press coffee has enjoyed many years of popularity among amateur coffee lovers and professionals alike.
In the day and age where everything seems to be rushed and automatic, the French Press represents the value of putting in a little bit of time and effort for far greater results. While it may take a few minutes to achieve the perfect brew, this time is worth it to many who prefer the bold flavor and authentic coffee taste they get from their French Press maker.
Perfecting the French Press coffee recipe can be a matter of trial and error, as everything from the way you grind the beans to the temperature of your water needs to be exact. Once you’ve mastered the art, though, you’ll never be satisfied drinking any other type of coffee.
With so many benefits available to the coffee drinker, enjoying a good French Press is as simple as finding the right device for you and perfecting how to make French Press coffee. Using the right tools and supplies with a little bit of love and attention will ensure you get the perfect brew every time, so you can enjoy coffee the way it was meant to taste.
The History of The French Press
The French Press is known by many different names depending on the country you’re in. Some common variations include a coffee plunger, coffee press, cafetiere, or press pot, but the most popular term is French Press.
- Coffee Plunger
- Coffee Press
- Press Pot
Believed to have been invented in France, the initial design of the French Press maker differed a little from the model we know today. With a very basic design of cheesecloth attached to a screen that was then fitted to a rod, this device allowed you to plunge out the particles of coffee that might linger around your drink.
The modern design uses the same basic principle but in a far more efficient and stylish way. The cylindrical beaker is generally made of glass and has a metal lid with a plunger attached with a very fine mesh filter.
Although there are other variations, including a plunger which pulls or an insulated press to keep your coffee hot, this is the most common type seen today and the one closest to the original intended design.
How Does a French Press Work?
So what is a French Press coffee maker exactly, and how does it work? There are a few basic parts to the French Press maker, including a glass carafe, lid, plunger with stem, and mesh filter. All of these parts work together to create your coffee, but can all be separated when required so that cleaning and maintenance are easier.
- One main area of difference with a French Press relates to how fine the grounds have to be, as these have a higher permeability when immersed in water. This finely ground coffee can also pass somewhat through the filter and give French Press its unique taste.
- The French Press device holds hot water and coffee grounds within the glass carafe which is then left to steep, depending on the flavor you hope to achieve. After a few minutes of brewing time, the plunger at the top is then pushed down by hand to remove the grounds with a vacuum effect and leave you with a hot and tasty cup of coffee.
- Extra caution needs to be taken with French Press devices, though, as leaving the water too long in contact with the beans can have a dramatic effect on its taste. For this reason, French Press is best enjoyed as soon as it’s been brewed and not a minute later.
Different Types of French Press Coffee Makers
Within the French Press maker category, there are many different subtypes. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages to the user, so it’s really a matter of choosing what suits your circumstances best. Because French Press makers are generally affordable, it’s common for coffee drinkers to even have a few different types at home to meet their changing needs.
A durable and shatterproof French Press coffee maker is a cheap way to enjoy this type of brewing, however, it may not be as great at keeping the water hot.
Although ceramic French Press makers are certainly durable and able to keep the heat within, you won’t actually be able to see the brewing process taking place. For many, this is half the fun of having a French Press, so may not be as popular as glass models.
The glass steel French Press is by far the most popular, constructed of a glass carafe with the steel casing and plunger. These designs allow you to see what you’re brewing and it feels a lot sturdier than the plastic models.
Stainless steel is favored as it’s durable and easy to clean, and won’t impart any tastes or odors into your coffee. It’s also great at trapping heat, but you should be careful not to let your coffee over brew or it will become bitter.
An automatic French Press device does exactly as its name suggests, taking care of every step of the process for you. A relatively new concept, though, and one that may be shunned by traditional French Press lovers.
For those who are lacking on time or just want to take their French Press around with them, you can buy a thermal travel mug which has all of the working parts of a standard device within, so you never have to go without your favorite style of coffee again.
How French Press Coffee Can Benefit You
There are a few good reasons why coffee aficionados love French Press makers and stick steadfastly to their favorite brewing method. With so many great benefits to be had when compared to modern instant espresso machines or slow drip coffee, the French Press is by far one of the most popular choices for those who are serious about a good tasting coffee.
- Affordable: Considering most American workers spend over $1,000 a year on coffee from places such as Starbucks, using a French Press maker can save you an incredible amount of money. Not only are the actual devices cheap and efficient, but using freshly ground beans means you’re not wasting anything as you brew.
- Easy to Use: Although there are a few steps involved in creating the perfect French Press coffee, these steps are incredibly simple. You can brew your coffee in just a few minutes, including steeping time, and cleaning them is a breeze as well.
- Rich Flavor: The entire process of a French Press coffee is what gives it its unique flavor, and the number one reason many caffeine lovers choose this method. As the coffee is never filtered, it provides a strong and rich aroma that captures the very best of the beans.
- Healthier: Due to this process of “pressing” out the beans, you’re leaving all of the best stuff within. This means a French Press has more of the good antioxidants left behind for your body to enjoy.
- Customizable: A French Press brew can be fully customized to meet your requirements, each and every time. You can make one or four cups, have it strong or weak, enjoy a French Press iced coffee, or mix in creamer or soy milk; there really are a multitude of options.
- Portable: The French Press coffee maker is one of the only coffee brewing methods that you can take with you in your bag, so you always have your favorite type on hand. Whether it’s a travel mug or your regular carafe, the French Press is lightweight enough to take along with you to work, holidays, or visiting friends.
How to Brew The Perfect French Press Coffee
Although there are many different recipes available for how to use a French Press, there is a consistent method you can follow to make a great tasting coffee every time. As coffee is often such an individual thing, everyone is likely to enjoy their flavors and temperatures at varying degrees so there’s never going to be one set way to please all coffee lovers.
French Press coffee takes just a little preparation and time when compared to automatic and instant coffee, but this extra attention is well worth it for the coffee you create. You’ll need to ensure you have on hand your French Press maker, a jug for boiling water or stovetop saucepan, fresh coffee beans, a burr grinder, and anything else you’d like to add at the end such as sugar or creamer.
Considering the timing of your water contact is crucial, it’s also a good idea to have a stopwatch handy. As most people don’t have these lying around, the simplest solution is to use the clock feature on your smartphone and set it according to how strong you want your coffee.
Remember that making French Press coffee is often a matter of trial and error. For first timers especially, it’s unlikely that you’ll perfect your brew exactly to your liking on the first try so remember to be patient. Something as simple as lowering the water temperature or grinding your beans just a bit finer can have dramatic effects on the taste, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Selecting The Right Beans
When making any type of coffee, no matter the brewing method, the choice of coffee beans is a crucial one. Making French Press coffee, in particular, requires not only the right choice of beans for your flavor but also perfecting the grind amount so that it can be soluble in water.
Choosing coffee beans is an extremely personal decision, and with thousands of flavors available, it will likely be one of the most complex parts of this whole process. There are light and fruity roasts, traditional blends, dark and intense beans, and the list goes on. However, once you find the right blend for you then there’s no need to ever change.
Before you start to brew, consider how much coffee you’ll need. One of the best things about French Press makers is that you can make exactly the right amount to suit your requirements so there’s never any waste left behind. To know how much coffee for French Press, here’s a simple guide from The Kitchen:
1 cup – 2 tablespoons of beans and 8 ounces of water
2 cups – ¼ cup of beans and 16 ounces of water
4 cups – ½ cup of beans and 32 ounces of water
8 cups – 1 cup of beans and 64 ounces of water
Using your burr grinder, you’ll need to achieve the right consistency. For French Press, the grinds should be evenly sized and big enough so they don’t get through the filter. If your coffee tastes too bitter, then you’ve likely ground them too fine. Aim for a breadcrumb-like consistency and this should be pretty much close to perfect.
It’s essential to use freshly ground coffee beans, so whether these are ground for you at a coffee shop or you do so at home then it has to be recent. Without fresh beans, your coffee will suffer dramatically, and this is true for all types of brewing methods.
The Best French Press Coffee Recipe
You’ve measured your coffee beans and ground them to perfection, so now it’s time to get brewing. Knowing how to use a French Press is just a matter of a few simple steps so there really isn’t that much to it.
- Heat your water according to your desired method, aiming for below boiling.Some people prefer to use a thermometer and measure exactly 195 degrees, however, you can simply boil it and then let it sit for a whole minute to achieve this yourself.
- While you’re waiting for it to cool, scoop your ground coffee beans into the French Press maker according to your desired serving size.
- Add your water to the French Press, depending on how many cups you’re serving.
- Stir vigorously to ensure the coffee and water have mixed well, using an up and down motion.
- 5. Steep your coffee, or let it sit. The average time for a robust brew of French Press is four minutes, but again you might like to tweak this to meet your taste. This is part of the trial and error process that will get you the perfect cup of coffee.
- As soon as your timer goes off, press the plunger down with force but care, until it hits the bottom.
- Pour your coffee instantly and do not let it sit. Any longer in there and it’s effectively adding to your brewing time, resulting in a very bitter cup of coffee.
How to Make French Press Iced Coffee
For those hot days when you’re still in need of a caffeine fix, you can learn how to make French Press iced coffee for a refreshing beverage. Recent years have seen the cold press coffee system explode, and now there’s a simple way to enjoy it at home for just a fraction of the cost.
- Measure and grind your coffee to a 7:1 water to coffee ratio, the ideal serving for cold brew drinks. Use the same grind consistency as you would with a hot French Press coffee, and pour the beans into the carafe.
- Add room temperature water to the carafe which will aid in better extraction over a longer period, and then stir together vigorously.
- Let your coffee sit now for 12 hours at room temperature, or more if you desire a stronger brew.
- Once done, push the plunger down just slightly and pour this mixture into another vessel such as a mason jar. Ensure the jar has a paper filter on the top if you want to remove the fine particles.
- Pour the finished drink into a glass tumbler, add some ice, and enjoy. For extra sweetness, you can even top with a little bit of condensed milk for a unique and refreshing flavor.
Finding The Best French Press Coffee Maker
Now that you have all of the know-how, it’s just a matter of finding the best French Press coffee maker to suit your needs. Since everyone enjoys their coffee differently, there are a few factors to consider when purchasing your device.
How Much Coffee do I Need to Make?
Depending on where you make your coffee, be it at home or in the office, you’ll need to consider how many cups you require from each brew. If you’re drinking alone, then just enough to satisfy your servings, otherwise, for those making coffee for a large crowd, you’ll need to go bigger. Keep in mind that French Press can’t sit around, so only make exactly what you need at the time.
Is it Important That I Watch The Brewing Process?
For some, watching their coffee brew is half of the fun, others don’t mind as long as it creates a quality drink. Glass models allow you to see the action happening, otherwise something sturdy like stainless steel or ceramic is recommended.
Am I Happy to Make it Myself?
Most French Press coffee lovers enjoy the process of creating their brew, but if you’re running short on time each day you might want to invest in an automatic French Press. There are varying degrees of automation, so it just depends on how much convenience you’re after.
Are There Other Features I Find Important?
There are additional features available such as travel mug capability, added insulation, or double wall glass that might be important to you. Although these don’t affect the taste of your coffee, they can add some convenience where you need it most.
Is The Material Important?
The most common material used for a French Press maker is glass, and this will generally last a few years with care. However, since they’re so cheap many people are happy to go with plastic and replace it every 12 months or so when it starts to lost effectiveness.
The Importance of a Good Coffee
Knowing how to make French Press coffee that you’ll enjoy is the easiest way to benefit from all of coffee’s advantages. Just one cup of coffee each day can give you a whole range of mental and physical benefits, so it’s a great way to start your morning.
With surprising health benefits such as a reduction in your risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, and even liver disease, it’s such an easy way to add a delicious health kick to your life. Not only is coffee good for your body, but it can put you in a positive mood and give you a boost of energy that many rely on to get them through their morning.
French Press is one of the simplest but flavorsome methods for brewing coffee, and there are no special skills required to learn how to perfect it. With just a few simple tools, the right coffee beans, and a bit of love and affection, you too can enjoy your morning coffee the way it was intended.
If you’re tired of drinking instant caffeinated drinks at work or spending upwards of a thousand dollars a year on coffee shop drinks that lack the authentic taste, a French Press is the device for you. For an affordable, stylish, and authentic way to brew your coffee, there really is no better way.