UPDATE: We just posted some video on the history of coffee. Check out Part 2, which specifically addresses the French Press.
The first time I saw a French Press coffeemaker, it was at a B&B some years ago. I thought it was a quaint way to serve coffee, a sort of casual way to serve a few cups. At first, I didn’t even realize that it was the coffeemaker itself. What I eventually learned is that it brews coffee that tastes more flavorful than just about any other brewing method.
When I first started working at Enjoy Better Coffee, Inc., it was, and is, the preferred method for brewing exceptional coffee. By then, I had seen and enjoyed coffee prepared in the French Press, but I had never made it myself. I always thought it would be too fussy, that there might be grounds swirling in your cup, and that it would be a messy ordeal to clean the French Press after use, none of which appealed to me.
Along comes my youngest brother who has long been a French Press brewer, as it were. He claimed it wasn’t messy and that the coffee has great flavor. I thought he was fibbing to get me to the dark side. (He also prefers medium to dark roasts, and holds a quiet disdain for “flavored” brews.) I was suspicious of his agenda, but eventually relented. When I did finally brew my favorite roast in a French Press, I immediately saw the advantages.
I started with my favorite roast, Davidoff Fine Aroma, so that I would have a baseline for the flavor differences, if there were going to be any. It is a medium roast, but now I found the flavor to be much more complex, more nuanced. The subtle cocoa notes seemed intensified, but not overpowering. I love this coffee, but now I felt as if I was getting a better sense of it!
In addition to the new, balance of flavors, I like that the French Press brews a small, manageable amount of hot coffee, something that you might drink as you are scanning the paper or gulping down as you run out the door! And, most importantly, there wasn’t a trail of coffee grounds in my cup or my countertop. I am not saying you won’t find a stray ground here or there, but overall, the sludge stays together and that helps keep it more manageable.
Now I own a beautiful La Cafetiere French Press (they are as beautiful as they are functional). I prefer brewing my top 5 or so favorites in my French Press, but I know that any coffee will have the full flavor notes and tones the roaster intended.
To use a French press, follow these easy directions:
- Water should be heated to around 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, just before it comes to a boil.
- Use a medium grind coffee. Measure up to 2 rounded tablespoons of coffee into the main pot.
- Pour the water slowly into the pot. Give it a few gentle stirs with a spoon. Place the top on the pot, filter up and brew for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Use the plunger to slowly push down the grounds to the bottom. If you find the filter is askew and grinds are escaping, remove the lid and filter, rinse in hot water and try again.
- Remember that the coffee that remains in the pot after pouring continues to brew.
What do you think of the French Press? Do you find it convenient? Is the coffee better made in a French Press?
Regardless of how you brew, as always, enjoy better coffee!