French press might be one of those astonishing and prominent cups to enjoy, but it is considered one of the best and most straightforward methods to brew coffee in the morning.
However, why do some people think that making coffee with this device is sometimes challenging? You may also ruin your coffee if not done right.
French press is also a manual brewing method. You’re not letting any machine do the work for you, which means it requires at least a little bit of effort. So, brewing coffee with a French press may not be as easy as brewing with an automatic drip.
In this post, we’ll guide you further to one of the popular coffee brewing methods and learn more about it. And before getting started, we need to know what exactly it is and how it works.
Table of Contents
What is a French Press? (A Brief History)
A French press, coffee press, or coffee plunger is actually a coffee-making device that has been around since 1852. It’s considered one of the most popular and heavily used coffee makers across family households. Since the French press is cheap and easy to use, most coffee enthusiasts or even individuals probably have it at home.
Nowadays, the modern French press we often use and see more frequently at coffee shops consists of a narrow cylindrical tube, which plays the device’s primary body. The body is generally made out of glass or transparent plastic and secured by a metal or plastic lid around. It also has a plunger that perfectly fits the cylinder and a fine filter screen or metal mesh that presses down hot water through the coffee grounds.
From the famous book of James Hoffmann, ‘The World Atlas of Coffee,’ the two Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge patented this brewing device’s first design in 1852. However, the first innovation was a simpler version, and it was definitely not like the one we know today.
In 1928, the first improved French press design was patented by the two Italians, Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta. Their first innovation and patents registered in the United States resemble the one we use today, but their design was similar to the very first designs by Mayer and Delforge.
Fortunately, the French press development continued over the years, as it was modified and even enhanced several times. Some significant changes were also added to the original and basic design of the French press. But behind those previous innovations was a similar principle.
It was not until 1958 that the French press’s most famous design was patented by the Swiss man Faliero Bondanini. Bondanini, an Italian designer, redesigned the basic model of the device and achieved recognition. This later innovation was first known in France, where a French company Martin S.A manages its production and distribution. It was manufactured under the name ‘Chambord,’ which gained its popularity and French identity on the European market.
To cut the story short, the Chambord reached the UK market under the name ‘La Cafetiére Classic.’ Later on, the company was bought by the Danish Bodum Holding and later became Denmark’s largest distributor of the Chambord in 1991. Nowadays, the Chambord design is still one of the most recognized home-brewing coffee devices. Thanks to the company Bodum that has kept the innovation and design alive even having a wide range of household products since 1991.
How Does French Press Work?
French Press works by steeping the grounds in hot water inside the French press carafe. Then letting it sit for three to five minutes. After then, you can press the plunger down until the coffee grounds are compressed at the bottom.
If you have all this equipment, all you need to do is explore how to use them. And if you’re fun of grinding your own coffee beans at home, then you probably have a burr grinder as well.
Moving on, here’s a simple video on how to make a French Press Coffee at Home.
7 Tips to Make a Great Coffee Using French Press
Before you start brewing your French press coffee, start first to identify the necessary variables that you’ll be needing, such as the type of coffee beans to use, grind size, and so on. There are some essential factors that you need to take into consideration before you brew.
1. Choosing the Type of Coffee Roast
Is there any roast degree best suited for a French press coffee? There’s no right or wrong type of roast, except burnt.
They say that medium-dark to dark roasts are the most suitable to brew the perfect French press coffee. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
They prefer it mainly because of the high amount of lipids and sugars. I would also probably recommend a medium-dark roast as it’s my favorite type of roast. But that doesn’t mean that is only the roast to try.
Everyone has their own taste preference when it comes to coffee. And choosing the type of roast for your French press will depend on you. Some people like a medium-dark roast, but there are also some individuals who don’t love it. In the end, what matters is the coffee beans’ freshness and grind size.
We recommend to grind your coffee beans at home, choose a grind size that matches your brewing method, and grind your beans as close in time to brewing. You want to start with these basic principles before brewing your beloved coffee.
When it comes to the grind size, whether you’re making French press, pour-over, AeroPress, etc., choosing the wrong grind can significantly impact the taste of your brew.
Each brewing method operates differently, and each requires a specific grind. For example, having a size similar to table salt or flour, which is a fine grind, is best for espresso and moka pot. This grind size has something to offer, making it the best grind for these types of brewer or brewing methods.
So, what is the best-recommended grind for French Press?
Coarse to medium-coarse grind is recommended and indeed the best for French press. French press involves percolation, steeping of grounds, or immersion method. And using a coarser grind slows the brewing process and avoids over-extraction of flavors.
Grinding your coffee beans at home is one of the best ways to achieve a great tasting coffee. It lets you have control over the grind consistency and get the grind to any size you want. This way you can explore how a particular grind influences the taste of your cup.
5. Grinding the Beans as Close in Time to Brewing
The most important in brewing French press is getting the maximum freshness and aromatics of coffee.
Coffee beans stay fresh for about 2-3 weeks or even longer after being roasted. But once ground, the coffee can only last for a short amount of time. That is because the aroma is one of the essential traits of any roasted beans, and sometimes it is the first thing you lose when grinding them.
Therefore, it’s always best to grind your beans as close in time to brewing or just before you brew it. That is to ensure you’re getting the maximum potential of your coffee.
Water temperature is also an essential factor in making French press coffee. But is there an exact water temperature to follow?
To obtain the best water temperature for your brew, you need to understand how your coffee maker works. Since French press is an immersion method, you may want to allow the water to rest for at least a minute after boiling.
A temperature below 90 degrees Celsius is recommended to avoid over-extraction. But since you’re also using a coarse grind size, which is difficult to extract if the water isn’t hot enough, it would be best if you even considered this aspect. Just maintain a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius or more.
However, water temperature isn’t only the factor that affects the coffee taste. You can experiment with different techniques according to your taste preference.
7. Letting the Coffee Steep for Enough Time
The amount of time to steep the coffee may depend on the strength you want to have in your cup. If you prefer a strong and caffeinated drink, then you may steep it a little longer. On the contrary, you may steep your coffee for a shorter time if you want a less intense flavor.
Some brewing experts suggest that the average brewing time to achieve the right balance of flavor (not too strong and not too weak) is about 3-4 minutes.
Steeping alone is not enough to quickly extract the flavor. Aside from pouring enough water, gently stirring the grounds to agitate the coffee is also required. Wait for about 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom. After then, finish the brewing process with the remaining water and serve.
Remember that the bottom line here is don’t steep the grounds for too long and even too short. Once your coffee is brewed, always serve it immediately or transfer it instantly to a thermos to keep it hot.
Also, avoid leaving the coffee in the French press carafe after you have pushed the plunger down as much as possible. And don’t wait for too long to press down the filter as well. If you pay attention to these guidelines, there’s a chance to avoid over-brewing the grounds.
What Makes a French Press Coffee Special?
There are a lot of factors that make people really enjoy French press coffee. If you want to utilize the full potential and flavor of coffee grounds, French press coffee might be the best option in terms of simplicity.
This simple machine can be used to fully extract the flavor and percolate the coffee grounds, resulting in a mouth-watering cup of joe. But on the contrary, it may also ruin the coffee taste if not done correctly.
The good thing about French Press is, again, its simple beauty. A cylindrical pot with a plunger and built-in filter screen is a unique design that offers a low-maintenance approach yet develops a distinct and consistent coffee flavor.
Besides, the French press is a popular method of choice for many coffee lovers worldwide because it gives you total control over your brew. In that case, you may still achieve the consistency you want in a coffee.
So, why French press coffee? Aside from being a simple brewing method and doesn’t cost that much, what most important is anyone can do it. You can easily make a good coffee with a French press.
Does French Press Coffee Have More Caffeine?
The amount of caffeine on a French press coffee mainly depends on the bean’s variety and grind size. The type of coffee bean you used to brew coffee is one factor that influences caffeine in it.
Among the most consumed coffee beans available, Robusta contains caffeine the most. It has nearly twice the caffeine content of an Arabica bean.
Furthermore, using a finer grind in the French press may also influence your cup’s caffeine content. Finer grinds have more surface area to which the water and grounds contact each other, making the extraction faster. This thing increases the amount of caffeine to be extracted as it saturates the coffee grounds quickly as possible.
In conclusion, if you used Robusta beans and a finely grind size on your French press brew, expect it to offer a strong caffeine kick in your cup. But if not, then your coffee may contain a less amount of caffeine in it.
The final verdict. It’s already highlighted above why we need to try the French press. But furthermore, below are the other advantages and positive influences that contribute to the right aspect of a French press coffee.
Simplicity – Once again, this method provides a simple and easy approach to brewing good coffee. After all, anyone can do it because it gives you total control over your brew.
Cheap – There are many reasons why a particular coffee is so expensive. But making a French press doesn’t cost that much, and it’s not that time consuming either. You can buy a decent French press coffee maker for under $20. As we’ve said before, a French press is actually one of the easiest and cheapest ways to enjoy a cup of coffee every day.
Quality – As mentioned above, the French press is low-maintenance equipment yet offers a distinct and consistent flavor. Although a French press is usually made of glass and plastic, you can still assure its durability.
Flavor Profile – Following the right guide and steps to make the perfect French press brew will produce a delicious coffee cup. French press coffee pairs with either milk or cream to have a more classic flavor than any other method…which is very French indeed!
Efficiency – You can brew coffee that is good for several people at once using the French press. In this case, you can save a lot of time as there’s no need to do this process many times. So, unlike with the pour-over method, you can make about 2-3 cups of coffee in just a single brew.
Suitability – Due to its flexibility, it’s somewhat suitable for those individuals that enjoy the luxurious and great taste coffee experience but having trouble brewing their cup every morning. There’s no need to have expensive coffeemaker machines at home to brew a good coffee.
Requires Proper Technique -The French Press coffee requires steeping, just like any other method. But sometimes, it’s hard to perfect the process. With that being said, it can leave an oily texture and bitter taste in your mouth if not brewed appropriately and adequately.
Over-extraction – The coffee grounds are soaked, steeped, and plunged in hot water. With that being said, over-extraction might happen during the process. The complex compounds found in coffee, such as the oils, caffeine, and bitter compounds, might be over-extracted. And this can lead to a few extra-bitter flavors lingering up in your mouth.
Right Grind Size – The water temperature, extraction time, and grind size are the main factors that affect your brew. However, in a French press method, it’s sometimes fussy when it comes to the grind size – and choosing the wrong grind size can significantly impact the taste.
But after all, if you brew it gently and carefully, then you’re probably doing it right. In that case, we’ll still love the flavor of a creamy-bodied coffee that comes from French press.
Besides, coffee brewing is something that you can easily learn with practice. There’s no right or wrong coffee brewing method; it’s how you execute that particular technique.
French press coffee is worth trying for. Sure, the French press might produce simple results, yet it has its own unique characters and elegance. It might be considered a cheap and straightforward brewing device, yet it can make delicious brews if done right.
The French press was a fantastic innovation over the years. As it underwent several design modifications, its great potential to brew a tasty cup of coffee has been improved as well. So, if you have a French press at home, all you need to do is explore how to use it.