French Press and Press On

You’ve heard of the French Press, but…what is it? And, why would you use it?

It’s elegant and will probably impress your in-laws, but when putting dollars on the line to purchase another product that may not be the best reason to give it a try. But what it you could serve them coffee from a fancy new contraption while explaining that unlike a paper filtered drip machine, this brewing method preserves the coffee’s natural oils? That, indeed, may make it worthwhile.

In layman’s terms, the French Press is a steeping method for brewing coffee; hot water is added to coffee grounds, and after they steep for a few minutes (“approximately” four, according to the experts), you carefully and gently plunge them down to the depths of the carafe.

Though it’s considered the best way to preserve the integrity of your favorite coffee, pressing may not be ideal for the weak of heart, or taste buds.

Things to Consider Before Using a French Press

Pros:

  • Preserves coffee’s natural oils, providing its best taste
  • Complete saturation of grounds, producing full flavor
  • Won’t scald coffee on its warmer
  • May also be used to steep tea

Cons:

  • Coffee cools quickly
  • More steps are involved than a drip brewer
  • Possible sediment at the bottom of each cup

To get started with your press pot, remove plunger mechanism and fill press with hot tap water – warming up the container will help keep the coffee hot longer.

Heat water to approximately 200 degrees.

Empty press, discarding tap water, and add coarsely-ground coffee to the carafe (grounds need to be coarse enough to be held back by the mesh plunger).

Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds, being sure to saturate them all, leaving two inches of space at the top of the carafe. (Note: it’s typically recommended to use about 10 Tbsp of coarse grounds for an 8-cup press.)

Loosely place the plunger on top of the carafe to retain heat.

After four minutes, gently and carefully press down on the plunger to separate the grounds from the water.

Let it settle for about thirty seconds, pour into your favorite mug, and sip away!

If this doesn’t blow your socks off, next time you can adjust the intensity by adding more (or, gasp, less) coffee grounds, and by adjusting the steeping time. To retain your coffee’s heat if you’re not going to drink it immediately, pour it into (and store it in) a water-warmed thermal carafe.

Which Press Should You Get?

That all depends on a variety of factors: what your budget allows, how often and for what purpose you’ll be using it, or if your curiosity is simply getting the best of you. Many French Presses are made out of glass, though it’s possible to find some constructed of plastic. If more money allows, insulated stainless may be preferred. Though plastic will likely be less expensive up front, it is more prone to absorbing essences of various roast varieties, and will stain more quickly than glass, whereas the glass and stainless presses won’t soak up oils or absorb nuances, and tend to clean up more thoroughly.

While there are hundreds of coffee press brands and styles available, we did french press reviews and you can shop around and read reviews. Whichever starter press you choose, you will quickly form the habit of utilizing your French Press to press on through your day.

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