Developed in the late 1800s, the French press is a very simple method of steeping coffee grounds in water for a few minutes and then pushing a fine mesh plunger down in the water, separating the grounds from the now brewed coffee. Because the coffee does not pass through a paper or other filter, the resultant brew is naturally a bit larger in body and lends itself to full-bodied, earthy coffee. Tea can also be brewed in a French press.
The device has undergone many modifications since its invention. Contemporary French presses are usually composed of a cylindrical pot made of clear glass (although now plastic) that is fitted with a lid and metal plunger. The plunger fits snuggly to the cylinder. The lid is centred around a rod on which the fine mesh (either metal or nylon) plunger is also centred.
Personal Pet Peeve - there are a lot of garbage french presses out there that have a plastic screw to keep the filter on the stem. If you push too hard on the plunger, the plastic will break and you have a muddy mix of coffee and water. Boo.
When using a French press, it’s important that you begin with boiling water. Coffee brewed with a French press has more body is more strongly flavoured than coffee made through a drip method; therefore it is important that the coffee be poured into your mug or put in a carafe as soon as it is pressed to prevent over extraction and bitterness.
What You’ll Need:
- A French Press
- 30-35g of ground coffee for every 525g of water. I use a coarse grind because too fine of a grind will clog the mesh and cause extreme pressure to build when you push the plunger.(See pet peeve above)
- A Kettle
- Cold Water. Use filtered water for best results.
- A Digital Scale. Not really necessary but if you’re serious (and you probably are if you’re reading this) it’s a good idea to have one - especially the first few times.
- A timer of some kind.
- Your favourite mug.
Let’s Get Started
Boil a kettle of cold water and grind your coffee.
Place the French press cylinder on a flat, heat-proof surface and carefully remove the plunger. Pour the ground coffee into the french press.
When your water has boiled, remove the kettle from the heat and let stand for about ten seconds; you want to use water that is 90ºC to 95ºC.
Carefully pour the hot water into the pot, leaving an inch of space at the top. On a typical French press this will be just to the top of the metal band.
Gently stir the grounds into the water. This step allows the grounds to mingle and settle into the bottom of the pot.
Return the plunger unit to the pot, placing carefully on top of the cylinder to keep the heat in. The mesh sieve should be at the top of the pot and the rod should be sticking completely up through the lid.
Allow the coffee to brew for four minutes.
Holding onto the french press handle and using gentle weight, apply even pressure to the top of the rod and begin pushing the plunger down into the hot liquid. Don’t put too much pressure on the plunger or wiggle it at any point. It should slowly and evenly depress downward. If the rod is crooked or gets wiggled, grounds will leak into the liquid (see pet peeve again). Patience is the name of the game here.
If your pot has a pour spout, turn the lid to open and pour the coffee into your mug.
Don’t let the brewed coffee stay in the french press too long because it will continue to brew. If you are not pouring it immediately, pour the coffee in a carafe.