How to Make Great Coffee Using a French Press


Using a French press for brewing coffee results in a slow, gradual brew — a good reason to slow down and enjoy the great-tasting coffee. The simple brewing device originated in France, but an Italian from Milan, Attilio Calimani, patented the design in 1929. The French press is also known as a “coffee press” or a “press pot” here in the U.S. and Canada. In other parts of the world it’s called a “cafetière” or a “coffee plunger.”

The press

French presses come in a variety of sizes and most measure cups in four-ounce measurements called “tasse” (pronounced “tas”), French for ‘cup.’ If you’re buying a French press, I suggest you get a size that’s more than sufficient for your use so that you can increase the amount if you have company over. As an example, if you regularly serve 16-ounces of coffee in your household, you should probably double your capacity and get an eight-tasse press. Eight-tasse presses can hold up to 32 fluid ounces of brewed coffee.

The parts

A French press consists of three main parts:
A cylindrical beaker, also called ‘carafe’ (usually glass, sometimes plastic, steel or ceramic)
A lid and plunger assembly (plastic or metal)
A filter assembly (usually mesh and wire screens with a connecting disc at bottom)

The grind

This brewing device requires a coarser grind than a drip brew in order for the grounds to be caught by the filter. Some finer grinds might seep into your cup, but this adds to the uniqueness of the brew.

If you don’t want any sediment, known as “fines,” in your cup, use the finest even grind that will not pass through the filter using a conical burr grinder. (Another option is to leave 1/2-1 inch of coffee in the French press and leave most of the sediment there when you’re pouring.) On some grinders the French press setting might be the second-to-last setting like it is on mine — percolator being the last — but feel free to experiment with the setting to find a grind that suits your preference.

Use about 1.6 to 2.3 grams of ground coffee for every ounce of water you will use to brew depending on your taste. If you’re using 16 oz. of water, grind 25.6 grams of coffee, or up to about 36.8 grams if you like it stronger. Note: If you don’t have a kitchen scale, try one (measuring) tablespoon of coffee for every three ounces of water then adjust the amount of coffee next time you brew, if necessary.

The brew

Tip: About a minute before you start your brew, warm your beaker and coffee cups/mugs with hot tap water and let sit. This will help keep your brew temperature a little longer.

1. Heat the amount of filtered water you will use to 195 to 205°F.
2. Place the coffee grounds in the empty beaker.
3. Set your timer to four minutes — a minute or two longer if you used a very coarse grind.
4. Pour 1/3 of the hot water into the beaker and allow the coffee to bloom for a few seconds. (If the grounds don’t bloom, you have stale or old coffee.)
5. Pour the rest of your water into the beaker. Do not overfill.
6. After about 45 seconds, stir the grounds (top inch) gently with a plastic or wooden spoon.
7. Place the lid/plunger on top to cover the beaker. Do not push the plunger down just yet.
8. Allow the coffee to brew until your timer goes off.
9. Push the plunger down slowly. If you feel some resistance, pull it up a little and gently push down to the bottom of the beaker.
10. Pour the entire brew. Allowing your beverage to continue to sit with the grounds will cause the coffee to continue to brew, resulting in a bitter tasting cup.
11. Serve immediately and enjoy your coffee!

Did you know: You can also brew tea using a French press in a similar manner. Just make sure to pay careful attention to removing coffee residues from the mesh filter! Use one teaspoon of loose-leaf tea per six ounces of water.

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Angela Greenberg is a Christian, a homeschooling mom of four, and a coffee lover. She roasts coffee as a hobby and loves learning about coffee. You can follow her on Twitter (@tazzadiluna).

This was my fifth post as a blogger for the Colorado Springs Independent newspaper.  The original content was published here:  [Video] How to make great coffee using a French press

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