The French Press, a method of making coffee that’s been around for over a hundred years, has been experiencing a sort of resurgence in recent times. What may seem like a complicated way of brewing a cup of joe is actually quite simple – if you know what you’re doing.
First Things First
Let’s make a couple of things clear first though. A French pressed cup of coffee doesn’t simply involve putting your favorite grounds in hot water and pressing them down. You should actually put some effort into using this device if you want to get exceptional results. Once you get the hang of it though, making coffee using a French press won’t be as effortful and time-consuming as the first couple of attempts.
As much as possible, use coffee that has been freshly roasted and newly ground. Use a burr grinder if you can find one, as this helps produce the best results. Using fresh grounds is important because French press coffee can develop a bitter flavor due to the fact that the brew is sitting on top of the used grounds for some time. Use coarser grinds if you can, too. This reduces the grittiness of the drink.
It’s also important that you bring up your water up to a temperature that’s just right so you don’t produce coffee that has a burnt taste or has under-extracted flavors. A good tip to follow is to let the water sit idle for a couple of minutes first after it reaches its boiling point before you pour it over your grounds.
What is a French Press and How Do You Choose One?
Before we go any further and discuss the steps involved in making the perfect French pressed brew, let’s first talk about the mechanism its parts. A French press has two basic parts – the plunger and the filter screen. The former consists of a rod and a handle, and is used to make the coffee as well as to clean the apparatus. At the end of the plunger is the filter screen, which is attached to a disc. There could be multiple filters attached in order to ensure that the grounds stay under the screens as you plunge.
You may have heard of something known as the “carafe” when people talk about French presses. However, that’s just a fancy way of referring to the body of the French press. These are typically made using borosilicate glass, which is made from a mixture of boron trioxide and silica. Combining these two in a specific ratio creates a material that is durable against even the most sudden of thermal shocks. Plastic carafes are also available. Although they are cheap, they’re not very long lasting. Choose one that’s made from food grade materials.
If glass or plastic carafes don’t tickle your particular fancy, there are also ones available that are fashioned from ceramic or stone. You can find them in a wide range of colors and designs, though they usually come with quite the hefty price tag as a result. Meanwhile, you can also find some that are made using stainless steel – probably the most durable material that could be used to make a French press. Carafes made using this are well-insulated since they’re vacuum-sealed and multi-walled. They’re also available in a wide range of finishes.
Steps to a Perfect Brew
Now let’s get into making the coffee itself. Begin by making sure that your countertop is flat and dry before placing your carafe on top. This will help prevent accidents, which could result in a broken French press. To remove unwanted flavors, it’s also advisable that you rinse the carafe with a bit of hot water first before you start brewing.
Once that’s done, place a tablespoon of fresh coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe. Weighing the coffee yields more consistent results, so if you have a kitchen scale, measure around seven to eight grams of coffee for one serving instead of eyeballing it.
For every serving you’ll make, add 6.7 ounces or 200 milliliters of hot, but not boiling, water to the grounds. If you have a thermometer, the ideal temperature for the water is somewhere around 205º F. Add half of the water first and stir in order to let the coffee bloom. Set this aside for a minute. Once 60 seconds has passed, add the rest of your liquid then push the plunger down to a level just above the water. Let it steep for at least three more minutes. Leaving the water in the French press for a longer duration will result in a stronger coffee flavor.
Once the coffee has steeped to your preference, press down on the plunger as slowly and as carefully as possible. It would be for the best if you were able to keep steady pressure while pushing, again, for more consistency in your end product. Push on the plunger as far as it can possibly go.
How to Clean a French Press
To make the best coffee possible using a French press, you need to keep your device clean at all times. In a lot of cases, simply using a sponge and a couple drops of dish soap won’t do. To clean out your French press, start by removing the plunger. This will allow you to get rid of any leftover residue. Carefully move around some warm water in the carafe to loosen gunk that’s gotten stuck in hard-to-reach places. Dump the water out of the French press over the used mesh strainer then throw it away.
Afterwards, take a mixture of liquid detergent and warm water and pump it in the French press using the plunger. If there are any stains left over, you can use baking soda to get rid of them. Finally, rinse your device then dry it carefully with a clean cloth.
Now you know how to make the best cup of French pressed coffee you’ve had in your life. You’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know from how to pick the right French press all the way to the proper method of cleaning one. We’re certain you’ll be using this handy kitchen tool to brew your coffee every day from now on.