A French press is a coffee brewing machine invented in 1929 by Attilio Calimani – a renowned Italian designer. While it retains the same name in the US, France and Canada, it goes by various names in different geographies like caffettiera in Italy, coffee plunger in South Africa and Tasman neighbors New Zealand & Australia, cafetière in UK & Holland. Some of the prominent versions of French press are – Travel mug, hikers or backpacker mug, metal percolator, stainless steel, thermos flask and pull design.
The French press is known for brewing a delectable handcrafted coffee which is rich in taste and cheaper to make. It brings the best of both the worlds as it has the flavors of espresso and can be made quickly and conveniently just like a drip coffee maker. Making French press coffee is an art and not a science. There are few standardized steps to be followed but eventually every individual will have his own taste and customization. Here is the step by step fundamental guide for making your favorite French Press Coffee.
Guide to Handcrafted French Press Coffee
Water at slightly lower temperature than boiling:
Either boil the water for 1-2 minutes or take boiled water and allow it to cool or mix some cold water in it. Make sure that water you use is fresh and has never been boiled before to avoid poor taste. Fresh water or tap water we often call it, has gases dissolved in it which makes the water aerated and tasty. By boiling the water we remove these gases and as a result water has a blunt or flat taste. It is also advisable to pre-warm the French press by putting some hot water in it just before you start preparing your coffee.
Grind Coffee Beans on your own:
Fresh ground coffee has clearly a much better taste, aroma and overall experience than pre-ground coffee. The difference is so much evident that even non regular coffee drinkers are able to differentiate. Knowing the importance of freshly ground coffee, go for whole beans instead of pre ground beans. If you don’t have budget to buy burr grinder then you can grind it with a cheaper local blade grinder.
Coffee should be grinded uniformly with pieces large enough so that they do not pass through the mesh filter. However, the grinds should also not be too large so that you miss out on the aroma and awesomeness of the coffee. You need to understand that finer the grind, the stronger the coffee, so if you are strong coffee lover, adjust your mesh and grind size accordingly.
Coffee to Water Ratio:
There is only one mantra here, always use 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water used. However, if you like a strong coffee then you can make some customization as per your taste by using 2.5-3 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water.
Mixing it up:
Pour hot water uniformly all across so that there is no coffee grind untouched. Stir it well so that entire coffee is immersed in water and all the aromatic flavors and delicious compounds are well extracted. It is recommended to use chopsticks instead of metal spoon for stirring. Metal can create micro cracks in the flask of French press and may even break it up completely. Also ensure that French press filter does not get in contact with brew during steeping as it may overly cool the brew leading to loss of taste.
It is enough to steep the brew for 4 minutes as a standard practice. However, if you prefer a stronger coffee then you can also steep if for 10 minutes. For 3-4 cups on small French press, steeping for 2 minutes should be enough. Infact the inventor of French press recommends to not steep at all as it produces a less bitter coffee. However, if you want a stronger coffee with less bitterness then more of ground coffee. Some of the experiments with steeping you can do:
- Extra Strong: 10 minutes steeping
- Standard: 4 minutes steeping
- Quick Steep: 30 seconds to 1 minute
- No Steep: Stir and dip immediately
Press the Plunger:
While keeping the plunger straight press it down real slow. Grounds will slip out of the sides if the plunger is not kept vertical. Just use gentle arm pressure to avoid any dust entering the grind.
Pour, Sit back and Enjoy:
Now that your coffee is ready, just pour it in your cup and leave a little bit of water in the French press to avoid taking in dust particles, if any. Now just sit back, relax and enjoy your delicious dark brew.
Once you are done, do not forget to clean up your French press well or else you will loose on taste in your next coffee cup!