We often hear that one of the easiest, and therefore – best methods to brew a delicious cup of coffee at home is using a french press coffee maker. Why is that so? Mostly because french press coffee maker is a manual coffee brewer that does not require extensive knowledge or barista skills. It makes coffee brewing easy and quick. However, there are some tips, tricks, and best approaches on how to make a cup that will taste better than your standard drip coffee. Although the French press method is considered easy, some practice is necessary to get to the results you wanted. And the best part is – this maker is cheap and very affordable. And, since it does not require electricity to run on – it can be taken with you anywhere.
What is the French press?
I bet you have heard this phrase before. In England, you might hear them call it cafetière, in other parts of the world – simply as the coffee plunger. A French press consists of a carafe made of glass, metal or plastic, that is covered with a lid. Under the lid there is a mesh plunger that, once the brewing time has passed, is pressed down to filter out the coffee grinds, pressing them at the bottom.
A brief history of this coffee making method
While the name might suggest, that the origins of this coffee maker come from France, in reality – that is not true. An Italian man with the name of Attilio Calimani, a designer from Milan, who patented this coffee maker in 1929.
Although the two countries, Italy and France, are still in dispute over who has the rights to call it its own invention. To be honest – history tells us that a version of the french press coffee maker was first used in France around the 1800s. However, the design has changed, and the maker was not patented then, until 1929. In its earliest model, when it was not called a French press yet, the man who came up with the idea covered his cup with a beautiful mesh screen to avoid ingesting coffee grounds while drinking his coffee. Word of mouth got out about this practice, people got the hang of it, and the design then traveled to Italy, where the French press, very much like the one we know use, was created.
In 1958 another man named Faleiro Bondanini fitted the french press with a better filter and applied for a patent himself, which he was granted.
That is the french press that we use nowadays, with some variations in the material of which it is made.
What beans work best for a French press?
A French press requires medium to coarse coffee beans for the perfect cup. As the brewing time is reduced to two to four minutes, the flavor extraction process requires all the water surface it can get, to get the best possible taste. If the grind is too fine, the grounds might also escape the filter when plunging it down, creating a more bitter taste and leaving coffee residues in the press or the cup. The feeling of a cup of coffee brewed with a french press should be flawless, smooth, and creamy. Stray coffee grounds can ruin that.
When preparing to brew with french press and choosing the beans for your coffee, your first decision will be whether to use pre-ground coffee beans or grind them yourself.
While the first option seems the easiest one (and it is) and makes more sense, the latter approach is better in case you want the best possible outcome.
Pre-ground coffee often is too fine, and it is hard to find something that would be in a coarse or even medium ground, as in most cases pre-ground coffee is made for drip coffee makers or espresso makers.
Grinding your beans yourself does involve additional effort, tho. For example, you need to own a grinder. There are some grinders that, though not explicitly made for this intent, are perfect grinders for a french press. If you do not want to spend money on a grinder, you can always ask your local coffee shop to grind the beans for you, and in some supermarkets, you can find a public grinder for your beans in the coffee section. Though these grinders are not always best, as they are often worn out and would not provide a consistent grind that is essential for any brew.
In addition – whenever possible – use light roast beans, as otherwise, the coffee might taste bitter, when using the dark roast beans.
French press coffee makers – how to choose the right one
There are a ton of french press coffee makers out there, most you can buy for around 20 USD, some are cheaper, some are more expensive. Although they all might look the same to you – they aren’t.
The main difference between them is the material. Some of the best models are made of glass and stainless steel. Cheaper models are made of plastic. Not to worry – none of them (at least nowadays) consist of any chemicals, the plastic ones are BPA free and safe to use.
You might think that plastic is cheap and good for nothing. However – you must consider what you will be doing with it. Plastic ones will be perfect for camping trips or taking it with you outdoors.
Glass and stainless steel ones will fit in perfectly with the interior of your kitchen.
Brewing your perfect cup
Brewing is relatively simple for this method and will only take 5 minutes.
You will need about 30 grams of pre-ground coffee beans.
Put them in the French press.
If you want the taste to be a bit better, you can add some cinnamon and mix it with the grinds.
Then – our over hot water. The temperature of the water should be around 93–96 °C (199–205 °F).
You should add 500ml to 30 grams of coffee. However, by experimenting, you will find the best proportion ratio for the strength of the brew that you like best.
Once you have poured the water, cover the french press with the lid, but don’t press the plunger yet.
Brewing time is two to four minutes.
Again – here you might want to experiment, try various brewing times to see what works best for you. The taste and strength of the brew is the direct outcome of the time you allow the grinds to brew in the water and the type of beans you chose (dark roast will be bitter, the light roast will be smoother), the grind size also affects the taste.
Once the brewing time has passed – push down the plunger. Be careful to do it slowly so that the coffee particles do not squeeze past the plunger, which might happen if you press it down too quickly.
There you go – you have your french press coffee ready. Now, take some time to do some experimenting with the grounds, brewing time and beans until you have it perfected.
French press coffee brewing might be one of the easiest, yet one of the best brewing methods there are. The best part? You don’t need barista grade skills or knowledge to brew the perfect cup. Just some free time on your hands, a french press, beans, and patience. French press coffee maker can be your best tool when you are going on a camping trip – everyone enjoys a good cup of coffee. And its the perfect coffee maker for when you need to caffeinate your friends.