What is a French Press and Why is it Good?

A French Press is one of the best ways to prepare coffee. They have been around since the late 1800’s but really coming into their own in the early 1900’s. The French Press hot coffee brewing device that at first glance look very simplistic but brew a cup of coffee like no other.

Bodum Brazil 8Cup French Press Coffee Maker

Bodum Brazil 8Cup French Press Coffee Maker

Ask any coffee enthusiast about the French Press and chances are you’re in for a chat that will last longer then just a minute or two.

If you want a good cup a coffee, you will need to keep some of the oil from the coffee bean. Coffee oil is very flavorful and improves the taste of coffee, but it is lost during the normal filtered brewing process. Coffee made with a French press doesn’t pass through a filter so you don’t lose those natural aromatic coffee oils.

It’s the ultimate brewer to create a fabulous smelling, aroma rich, wonderful flavored, coffee.

Start with Grinding the Beans!

Coffee beans that are ground too finely will clog the filter. You will probably be okay with automatic drip coffee grinds but the best way to enjoy French press coffee is to grind the beans yourself. Try to grind the beans to a size a little bigger than automatic drip coffee grinds. This may take some practice to get comfortable with your coffee grinder but it’s worth it.

And remember that once you grind your coffee beans they should be used immediately or kept in an air tight container to keep them from getting stale.

How Does a French Press Work?

A French press coffee maker has two parts: a straight-sided container usually made of glass, and a filter-plunger that pushes through the water to filter out the coffee after it has steeped. This plunger also serves as the lid. There are some models of French Press that are insulated which is good for keeping things hot while it steeps.

To brew coffee with a French Press, you should pre-heat the carafe while you boil your water. When ready, empty the carafe, add your coffee, and then add your brewing water. You may wish to stir the coffee grinds around to be sure all of them are in contact with water. You should now put the plunger/lid on the pot to help retain heat. DO NOT press it down yet, it needs to steep for about four minutes (a little more or less depending the coarseness of the grind).

Once you feel the coffee has brewed enough, slowly depress the plunger trapping the grounds on the bottom. Do not force the plunger. If it doesn’t want to go down, simply lift the plunger up slightly and try again. The filter can jam on grinds that are too fine. Just take your time and it will work.

Despite what some may say, it is usually best to decant the coffee into an insulated serving pot. If you leave the coffee in the French Press it will remain in contact with the grinds and keep brewing. This will quickly ruin your coffee. The other main reason to pour your coffee off is to keep it warm. French Press pots are not well insulated and coffee cools off very quickly.

Play with the brewing time and grind coarseness until you get the taste that you like best. Once you’ve done that you will have some of the tastiest coffee anywhere.

Pros and Cons of a French Press

Of course any device has it’s pros and cons, a coffee press is no different. A die hard coffee fan will surely appreciate the rich flavor textured coffee it produces. Not to mention it doesn’t require any paper filters. Of course there is a downside, coffee from a press should be drank almost immediately to really take advantage of the flavor, also there can be some sediment left at the bottom of your cub due to the coarse grounds that are used. Some believe that the sediment that is left can cause your cup to go bitter.

All in all a coffee press is the original way to make a cup of coffee. While things have changed greatly due to technology, it’s still a standard for many. Of course an electric machine is faster and easier to use, it doesn’t produce the same exquisite taste found from a press. For those that are looking for a time saving option in the morning for their coffee, stick with your auto drip machine, but if you’re looking for that all natural wonderfully brewed cup of joe consider a press, even if it’s just for the weekends.