The French Press. It’s the quintessential coffee maker that is found on almost every breakfast table around the world. In many circles, the French Press is thought to make the best coffee around. Here are a couple of reasons why: Paper filters in drip machines remove the oils and flavors. No chance of this with a French Press! As well, the French Press allows for steeping, which in turn gives the best flavor possible.
The classic version of this method is most often a glass vessel with a steel lid and rounded handle of the rod. This contraption is used to then press down into the coffee grinds, thereby immersing them in boiling hot water, to produce a delicious coffee.
We all know the method well, but do we know where it originated and how it made its way to our tables?
There’s only one place to start: at the beginning of course!
Most obviously by its name -the French Press, one would guess that it originated in France, and that would not be a false assumption. However, both the French and the Italians lay claim to this little coffee brewer. So, who was it really? Well, history says that it was a lone Frenchman who discovered this method quite accidentally back in 1850. While boiling water for his coffee, he apparently realized that he had forgotten to put the coffee in and used a metal screen that he got from a passing merchant to put on top of it. He then used a stick to push down the grinds that were rising to the top. Expecting it to taste awful, he was pleasantly surprised at the result and vowed to take this accident and turn it into a new trend.
Many years later, somewhere around 1928, the very first patent was made by the Italians. Hence why they believe that despite this story of its origins, it was their patent on this product that rightfully lays claim to its heritage.
However, regardless of who you believe originally invented it or claimed it, the French Press is no doubt one of the best ways to brew coffee in the world. It is both a commonplace and a specialty brewer.
Commonplace because it can be found in almost every home but still specialty because it’s a step up from your average large pot brewer. It is easy to use and has been a staple for many generations of coffee drinkers. However, it is also more than just these things. Think of the French Press as an entry-level brewer for beginner coffee aficionados! The French Press produces delicious brews that can be customized in many different ways. Despite the fact that the French Press is known as being a messy and somewhat difficult to clean as a brewer (mostly because the grounds get stuck inside the metal plunger) there have been some improvements over the years. In fact, there is even a new French Press called the “no mess” French Press, which claims to remove all the cleaning difficulties from the brewer. Pretty decent!
Easy to use and relatively cheap, the French Press can magically create a coffee that tastes like pretty much nothing else on the market. However, one of the most important things to remember is that without the right grind, it will not have the taste you’ve been expecting. It must be a coarse grind so that it’s strong enough to withstand the steeping. Plus, the fact that really, this is an incredibly user-friendly brewer. You really can’t go wrong with the French Press!
Where to begin?
Let’s go through the step by step process of how to make the perfect French Press coffee.
Tools of the trade: What do you need?
- French Press
- Water (tap water, filtered or bottled water)
- Coffee beans
- Stirring spoon
- Measuring cups
Make sure that you have the right coffee beans. Arabica is always the way to go. Why? Learn more about Arabica beans HERE.
It’s also essential to make sure that the beans you choose are freshly roasted. If they have been exposed to the air for a long time, sadly, they’re no longer fresh. Fresh coffee beans should have a fresh and aromatic smell and even look a little oily. To get beans like this, the bag they come in should be unopened or better yet airtight. If not, then in a package with a roast date clearly labeled on the bag. Make sure not to purchase anything with a roast date that is over a month old.
Time to grind those beans! To get the absolute best flavour, you’ll want to grind the beans right before you use them. Grind too early, and they oxidize. Just be careful how you grind. The best is to have a coarse grind. If you grind too fine, your French Press will get clogged quickly.
Time to figure out the right ratio of coffee to water. First off, it depends on how strong you want your brew. Typically, between 18 to 20 grams of coffee or approximately one heaping tablespoon per eight ounces of water is a good place to start. Then you can adjust to your own taste. If you prefer your coffee stronger, feel free to use two tablespoons of coffee per six ounces of water. Or if you find you’ve made it too strong, just add more hot water to dilute the brew.
Obviously, the water in the kettle must boil, but did you know there is a point at which if the water is too hot, it will actually make your coffee taste bitter? To avoid this, let the water sit and cool off for about twenty to thirty seconds before beginning to brew.
It’s time to use that French Press! Place your coffee ground at the bottom of your French Press then pour a third of the water over the top. Let it steep for about thirty seconds, then gently stir. It’s crucial to ensure that the grounds remain fully saturated for your brew to be as full of flavor as possible. Then add the rest of the water and close the lid with the plunger pulled all the way up.
Here’s where it can get a bit complicated. If your brewing time is too short, your coffee will taste sour but brew too long, and it will end up bitter. The best flavor is about four minutes of brew time. Unless you really like strong coffee, then you can wait a little longer-about six minutes but not longer.
When the timer rings, gently but firmly press that French Press plunger all the way down. Be careful not to apply too much pressure though, it could spray out and burn you if you’re not careful!
It’s important to know that anything left in the French Press will continue brewing, so don’t leave it in there and then expect to drink it later. The French Press will continue to brew anything that’s left in it, and then the coffee will turn bitter and undrinkable very quickly. Not to mention the sediment that will be left in the bottom. This, too, is obviously undrinkable.
Prefer to have a visual aid to help you make your French Press coffee? Try this video. It’s an easy step by step method that shows you how to make a French Press coffee in a simple way.
So now you know how it’s made and what you need to get started. What are you waiting for? The French Press is a classic choice and a great way to start upping your coffee game. And it’s delicious too! So, get yourself one of those pretty, little, transparent cylinders. You know, the kind that has been around for generations! There are easy to use, relatively cheap, and they magically create a type of coffee that tastes like pretty much nothing else on the market!
Just be sure to avoid the last few drops in your cup, as it is normal for some of the sediment to be present. You can make several cups with a French Press, but this is a brewing method that does need a little bit of practice. Some skill is required in order to get it just right, but like anything though, this is a skill that can be learned.
When it comes down to it, using a French Press will absolutely change your morning coffee experience. Although some practice is needed as we mentioned, compared to other methods, it’s a fairly simple place to start in the coffee brewing world, and it will change everything about your morning brew! So get started today!