Few beverages hold a place as cherished and diverse as coffee, it’s a culture, a science, and an art form. The French press method of coffee brewing is a tradition that has stood the test of time. It’s a method that elevates the act of brewing from mere utility to an art form, a celebration of flavours and aromas that unfold in a slow, deliberate dance.
How Does a French Press Work?
The French press, known as the cafetiere or coffee press, is a cylindrical container, crafted from glass, sometimes from plastic or steel. It uses a plunger mechanism with a mesh filter, which permits the passage of liquids while preventing coffee grounds from passing through. With a French press, you have the flexibility to brew either a large or a small batch of coffee, grind your coffee to your preferred consistency, and control the brewing time, whether it’s as short as 10 seconds or as long as 10 minutes, adjusting one of these variables does not impact the others.¹
PERFECTING THE ART OF A FRENCH PRESS
What are the Do’s and Dont’s
- Clean the filter after every brew – It’s essential to maintain the cleanliness of the filter after each use. Simply rinse it with warm water and use your fingers to remove any trapped coffee grounds.
- Soak all grounds evenly – To brew a balanced and flavourful cup of coffee, evenly saturate your coffee grounds. Uneven distribution can result in either over-extraction or under-extraction or even a combination of both. Ensure that your coffee grounds are uniformly soaked before the brewing process begins.
- Set a timer – It’s easy to become distracted and forget about your coffee brewing. Without proper timing, the result can be an unpleasant brew. Typically, four minutes is the standard duration for French press brewing.²
- Use a metal spoon – A metallic spoon can easily break the walls of a French press, It is advised that a wooden spoon is used when stirring or removing ground coffee.
- Don’t press and wait – Leave the coffee in the French press after plunging, essentially a slow, going extraction process is permitted. To maintain the ideal flavour, it’s crucial to promptly pour the coffee into a mug or another container.
- Don’t use soap when cleaning – There are instances where French press coffee tastes like soap. This occurs when the press is washed with soap and not rinsed thoroughly. If you find it necessary to use soap for cleaning, do so sparingly as it’s often not required. Rinse the French press thoroughly, paying particular attention to the filter, as it tends to capture soap bubbles.³
Step-by-Step Process of Brewing Coffee Using a French Press
- Start by bringing water to a boil. It’s essential to use fresh, filtered water, and you should boil an extra amount because you’ll need some to preheat the brewer.
- Preheat the French press – Glass and steel French presses benefit from preheating to maintain a consistent brewing temperature, ensuring that the water effectively extracts flavour from the coffee grounds. You won’t require a large amount of water for preheating, simply pour a small quantity, then grasp the French press with your hands and wait until it feels warm to the touch.
- Measure your beans-to-water ratio – depending on your liking.
- Bloom your beans – by pouring all of your water over the coffee grounds and allowing them to sit together for approximately one minute. Blooming coffee serves the purpose of enabling the release of some of the carbon dioxide (CO2) naturally present in the beans. This step is essential because excess CO2 can disrupt the extraction process.
- As coffee is blooming, use a spoon or a wooden stick to gently stir the coffee. Stirring helps to disperse any dry clumps and ensures that the coffee grounds are evenly saturated. Place the plunger on top of the French press, but refrain from pressing it down at this stage; this will help to retain the water’s heat. Allow the coffee to sit for an additional three minutes.
Brewing coffee with a French press is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the rich and nuanced flavours of coffee in a way that drip coffee often cannot replicate. By following the step-by-step guide, understanding the differences between French press and drip coffee, and adhering to dos and don’ts, you’ll be on your way to becoming a French press aficionado.
- Nick. C. Coffee Science: How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home. Available at: https://www.seriouseats.com/how-to-make-better-french-press-coffee-tips-technique-grind-timing. Date Accessed September 21st, 2023.
- Lucky Day Coffee. Dos and Donts of a French Press. Available at:https://luckydaycoffee.com/blogs/news/dos-and-don-ts-of-french-press. Date Accessed September 21st,2023
- Garret.O. French Press: Dos and Don’ts. Available at: https://coffeebrewguides.com/french-press-dos-and-donts/. Date Accessed September 21st, 2023
- Ashley. R. How to Make French Press Coffee, According to Experts. Available at: https://www.foodandwine.com/how-to-make-coffee-using-a-french-press-6889978. Date Accessed September 21st,2023.
By Sylvia Jemutai.