The French press (cafetiere) coffee maker has been around since the late 1950’s, and is touted as one of the best ways to get an extremely flavorful cup of coffee without any complicated steps.
Coffee connoisseurs across the globe declare the French press as their preferred method to brew coffee when they are doing tastings.
French presses come in several different styles, but they are all essentially the same. A plunger type device with a steel mesh filter attached, that when pushed down, separates the brewed coffee from the coffee grounds, because nobody likes drinking coffee that is full of coffee grounds, unless it is Turkish coffee.
There are, of course, more higher end French presses, that come with double walled heat retention, different types of filters, as well as being made with different materials such as stainless steel and ceramic. The most familiar French press is one with a clear glass chamber, and stainless steel vertical strips attached for looks and structural integrity.
In modern day presses, it is very common to see a glass cylinder with some sort of plastic handle attached to it, that come in at around $20, depending on the size. These $20 ones work just as well as the more expensive ones, so don’t be fooled into spending more money then necessary.
There are a few differences between French press brewed coffee, and coffee made with a traditional paper filter coffee maker. The major one being taste. Coffee made with a French press has a much more full bodied flavor, which is the cause of more of the natural coffee oils and other solids not being stopped from the steel filter that French presses are equipped with.
To use a French press, as far as the simple recipe I follow, grind 4 tablespoons of coffee beans (3 tablespoons for a light roast) on the coarsest setting, and add 2 cups of water just off the boil into the press with the coffee grounds. Allow for the ground and hot water mixture to sit for 4 minutes, and then push the plunger down. It is very important to immediately transfer the coffee into another vessel, as it will continue to be extracted.
The more coarsely ground the coffee the longer the brewing time required to extract the flavor, stirring helps speed up the brew time and extracts more flavor.
The French press is also a pretty versatile device. By adding in loose tea leaves instead of coffee grounds, it works wonders for making batches of tea. Also, using a French press is one of the easiest ways to make cold brew coffee, which is a form of coffee that is brewed for a long period of time with room temperature water.
Overall, a French press is a great way to get into the more serious tasting side of coffee, despite how annoying they can be to clean sometimes. In just the time it takes water to boil and the 4 minute extraction time, you too can have some of the most flavorful coffee possible!