Nothing quite says European-style coffee than the flair of the French Press coffee maker. Some coffee experts believe Espro is the cleanest cup of French Press ever produced. Too bad you can’t see inside to watch the magic happen when pushing the plunger. From what we’ve seen, the Secura is a great looking press maker that has been tested to be rated among the best. Depending on the way you like to enjoy French Press, you’ll want to know some pro tips to brew a better cup for yourself at home.
Who really invented the French Press?
There’s an ongoing argument about who can officially say is the inventor of the French Press brewing method. There are essentially two countries that take credit for this innovation but only one of them is the real McCoy. It might be obvious that it’s called the French Press because it’s a French invention, however, the Italians also play host to a neck and neck race for coffee brewing rights.
A legend is born
Some stories talk about the fish that got away, but many local legends dating back to the 1850s, a French man discovered how to improve his coffee by accident. According to the story, the Frenchman was brewing coffee while he was on the road. He forgot to add his coffee grounds to the water first and this resulted in the coffee floating to the top. Luckily, a traveling Italian merchant on the same road, selling his wares, happened to show up.
The Frenchman bought a piece of metal screen from the Italian which was then placed into the pot that held the coffee. The Frenchman carefully pushed the screen over the inside edges of the pot, pushing the coffee grounds down to the bottom with a stick. He shared the coffee with the Italian and both were amazed at how great the coffee tasted. Now before you ask which came first from that tired chicken and the egg joke, it’s a total Catch-22 story!
Was that the end of the story?
This is where the squabble began over who had the rights to say who had become the original inventors! If the Italian was not present to sell the screen mesh, His contribution wouldn’t have created such great coffee. While the Frenchman could easily argue that he thought of the idea to use the metal mesh to filter the coffee all along. But why spoil a good story any further.
According to a publication in 1842 called the “World Atlas of Coffee”, Two Frenchmen by the names of Mayor and DelForge‘ have patented their design for the French Press coffee maker. Not for another 76 years that passed in 1928 that another clever patent emerged from Italy. This time it was credited to Attilio Calimani and Giuilio Moneta. Their version had some improvements over the plunger.
It was built so that the plunger would spin on a rotating filter as it was pushed downward. This design was essentially the same as the French had introduced in 1842 but somehow took off due to the novelty of a spinning filter. In recent years, the Canadian’s now have their version of the French Press called the “Espro” which uses a double filter. It’s also made from stainless steel which looks so futuristic instead of a traditional glass chamber you could see into.
How does French Press make great coffee?
Two different kinds of French Press coffee produce different tasting results. The original uses a metal filter that keeps out grit and heavier sediment from your coffee. Since there isn’t a paper filter, the oils that are released produce a cup of coffee with incredible bite. You might say this is what gives coffee such a good kick in the morning when you drink it.
Aside from that, there are certain nostalgic feelings when using a traditional French Press coffee maker. Then there is the new generation of French Press pots that have paper filter inserts to keep out oils including cafestol, which reduces the sharpness of coffee flavor. The result is coffee that tastes smoother. Yet that doesn’t mean that it will totally remove diterpenes from brewing coffee.
If you allow coffee to sit in a French Press for too long, this releases more cafestol into the hot water. It depends on the grind of your coffee as well but isn’t the biggest complaint about the sharpness in flavor. Many younger people today are more concerned about cholesterol and the healthy aspect of green living. To be honest, ask that question to someone who enjoys a bright cup of coffee in the morning instead.
Is there really a difference between French Press coffee makers?
The reality is not really much different unless you’re buying an expensive version like the Espro coffee maker. The cost alone of investing in a double-filtered French Press unit isn’t always going to be a good idea for some. There is more cleanup, it doesn’t eliminate all the grit, and still requires a filter pour-over to remove the cafestol. You can buy any decent French Press for as little as 12 dollars while this new variant will set you back $140!
So, is there is a method for brewing French Press coffee that will satisfy both sides involved? You bet, since the method for brewing this type of coffee is so foolproof you don’t need much to make it perfect each time. Here’s how to do it right:
Making French Press at home like a boss
Before we start, you need to take care of two important things.
Ground Coffee quality
Boiling water scorch the grounds while tepid doesn’t extract fully. Also, if you pick badly ground coffee with an excess of fine grit, it will make the coffee muddy and bitter.
For water temperature, once it reaches a boil, take it off the stove and let it sit for a minute before your brew.
-For coffee grounds choose a professional blade grinder that grinds coffee perfectly for French Press. I like this one since it takes care of the ground size.
You may use your regular grinder, but that may not work for French press coffee since it relief on evenly-sized grains of coffee. Smaller-sized grains will pass through the filter and will spoil the taste.
I would recommend using Burr Grinder. It has multiple grinding options, and you can customize it according to the type of coffee you are preparing.
A final thing to consider before we move on to the ingredients and preparation is “Water & Coffee Ratio” for French press. Here is a small table that gives you a clear idea.
|1||8 fluid ounces||2 tbsps.|
|2||16 fluid ounces||1/4 cup|
|4||32 fluid ounces||1/2 cup|
|8||64 fluid ounces||1 cup|
Here are two methods to get great coffee from a French Press. The first is unfiltered and the second is filtered. Both will have differences that will satisfy both sides of the fence when it comes to coffee fans.
Method A: Unfiltered
1. Boil your water
You need a kettle to use this coffee maker. Place filtered water into your electric kettle and bring the temperature up to 200F to 205F degrees. If it has a built-in thermometer this is fine. Buy a digital thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature of your French Press chamber.
2. Grind your beans
Ideally, you want to have beans that are a medium grind. If you have a machine that’s a Burr Grinder, this will remove much more sediment from your finished coffee. It’s better if you buy a hand crank version for better control while grinding instead of an electric grinder. This is too easy to pulverize your coffee beans into dust!
3. Add water to French Press
Once you reach an optimal temperature of 205F degrees you can pour the hot water up to the water line in your vessel. Now let this sit for a while until it cools down to 200F degrees. Do not add any coffee grounds before it’s this temperature. You don’t want to burn your coffee grounds!
4. Add ground beans
Normally you’re adding about 560 grams of water to a larger pot so the ratio of ground coffee can range between 35-40 grams. Depending on how strong you like your java, add more as you like. No more than 40 grams to yield 4 to 5 cups of coffee. Dump this into your vessel and let it soak for a few seconds. Mix it with a wooden chopstick for a few seconds.
5. Let it bloom and steep
The best advice for getting great coffee is to let this coffee mixture bloom and steep for 4 minutes at most. Over 5 minutes will release more cafestol into the coffee making it too bitter. This all depends on the coffee roast since darker roasts are always stronger-tasting. You also need to secure the lid on the top so the water doesn’t cool down so quickly.
5. Slowly push down the plunger
Now you can push the plunger down using a slow and steady hand. The point is to keep the plunger nice and straight so you don’t get a loose seal. The coffee is pushed to the bottom and all the filtered coffee sits at the top. Don’t try to swirl your coffee in the vessel, this can stir up loose sediment you don’t want to drink!
6. Serve and drink your coffee
Grab a coffee cup or mug and pour your coffee, after that you can enjoy the real flavor of French Press.
Method B: Filtered
1. Boil your water
This is the same process for filtered, so be sure to use filtered water before you start. Use an electric kettle to monitor the temperature keeping below 205F degrees.
2. Grind your beans
The important rule here is to reduce the amount of grit, so use a burr grinder to keep this out of your finished coffee. An electric grinder will be too harsh on your coffee grounds so a quality hand grinder will work just fine. Set your grinder to have medium ground that looks like beach sand,
3. Add water to the French Press
When your water has reached 205F degrees, you can fill your vessel and let it cool off for a bit. This is good if you haven’t ground your beans just yet, but keep a digital thermometer to get the right temperature of 200F degrees.
4. Add your coffee beans
Do not put coffee grounds into water that’s over 205F degrees, you can easily cause them to burn and it will taste like Starbucks coffee. A good-sized vessel contains enough water for 4 or 5 cups so add at least 35 grams of ground coffee. Pay attention to your coffee roast since darker roasts will taste much stronger.
5. Let them steep
Once you add your beans you want to give them a good mixing after they soak for 10 seconds. Use anything handy to help mix it more for a few seconds after that, including chopsticks or similar items. Before you put the top of your lid onto the French Press, wrap a coffee filter around the outer edge of the gasket. This will filter out cafestol and possible grit. Now place the filter into the vessel carefully and attach the lid and wait for 4 minutes.
6. Extract your coffee
This is going to be critical so go slowly to not tear your coffee filter. Let the initial coffee soak into your filter and then push down as straight as possible. This method will remove the sharper tones of your coffee and you won’t need to cool it further by filtering it afterward. If any coffee escapes as you push the plunger down it will further soak up cafestol oils
7. Serve and drink
You’ll notice that your coffee is much smoother and mellow with lots of noticeable flavors you could miss with unfiltered French Press. You don’t have to worry about sediment so this is the only time you can swirl your coffee without getting sediment into your main vessel. Now grab a cup and enjoy your coffee.
Making Cold-Brewed French Press
Who doesn’t like the idea of cold brew coffee? Wait, you didn’t expect a bonus recipe in here did you? Here is how to make it using a process that you didn’t expect was possible.
1. Add your water
Using room temperature water, you fill up your French Press vessel to the top line for water. This is usually 560 grams of water and makes between 5 or 6 cups. If your cups are larger than 2 cups total for cold brew iced coffee recipes. Make sure you use fresh filtered water and not tap water!
2. Add ground coffee beans
Now use a burr grinder to grind between 35 and 40 grams of coffee beans on a medium setting only. You’re going to steep for a whole day or more, so be patient on the grind selection, it must look like granulated sugar and not table salt! Now add this to your vessel and allow it to soak. No mixing is required at this point.
3. Let it steep
Cover your French Press with plastic wrap and put it aside in the fridge for one day or more. Two days will make a nice and strong cold brew. Keeping it covered will prevent air from affecting the steeping period. It would be better if you could vacuum seal it, but this method works fine for small batches.
4. Ready to extract
Remove your steeped coffee from the fridge and give it a good mix. Now add a coffee filter over the plunger and place this into the vessel. This is when the cap slops over and you can push the plunger down. Keep a steady hand so the plunger doesn’t go side to side. This will allow sediment into your filtered coffee. Go slow and steady until you reach the bottom. Give it a mix with a nice swirl to get all the coffee mixed together.
5. Drink and enjoy
Now you can grab a tall glass and pour your cold brew into the glass. Add ice if you like or drink it straight. This version will have a much more mellow flavor that will have very little oil released and more notes of flavor that you can’t get with hot water brewing. Enjoy!