The French Press method, also known as “Press Pot,” is a simple and very effective method of brewing a great cup of coffee. In this method of brewing, the water and coffee sit together within a closed vessel, permitting the extraction to take place throughout the entire brewing process. Because the dwell time is considerably longer (3-4 minutes), a coarser grind is recommended.
Coffee and Water
Always use freshly-roasted whole-bean coffee that is kept in an air-tight container away from sunlight or changes in temperature or humidity. Freezers and fridges are not suitable for storage as they are great places for odor and flavor cross-contamination.
- Grind Size
For French Press, we recommend a coarse grind setting. Coarsely ground black pepper is a good reference point. A high quality burr grinder will also give you better results, since grind size and consistency are important factors in extracting optimum flavor from your beans. Less expensive blade grinders produce uneven extraction and bitter coffee. We highly recommend using a good grinder.
- Coffee Amount
There are two different ways to measure the amount of coffee to use, either by mass or by volume. We recommend measuring by mass, because different roast levels will lead to difference in bean densities, which impacts how much coffee is used when measuring by volume only. We recommend using 1.7 grams per fluid ounce of water (30ml). For example, a “3-cup” French Press (which is 12oz or 360ml) would require about 20 grams of coffee. 1.7g x 12oz = 20.4g
Since a cup of coffee contains about 98 percent of water, always use filtered water boiled fresh each time. Water that is continuously boiling or re-boiled will start to taste stale and may have rancid odors. If your water does not taste great, neither will your coffee. Don't use water right at its boiling temperature - that's too hot. Instead, remove the water from the heat source and wait about 30-45 seconds so that the water temperature drops to about 90 degrees Celsius. That's perfect for brewing.
- Water Kettle
We recommend a water kettle that has a long, skinny pouring neck. This will allow you to control the stream of water’s direction and flow rate easily.
We recommend having a count-up or programmable count-down timer that shows minutes and seconds so that you can track your extraction time properly.
- French Press Material
- There are many models of French Press available in the market, ranging from economically priced models to limited edition models created by well-known brands and designers. Let’s take a moment to help find the ideal type of French Press. It’s important to note what the brewing container is made of. The most widely available options are glass, stainless steel, and plastic. Glass is highly recommended (notwithstanding the higher chance of breakage) because it will not absorb odors or flavors. Stainless steel is also acceptable, and is certainly more durable than glass, but it will absorb some odors and flavors during the brewing process. Plastic has a high rate of odor and flavor absorption and will negatively impact future brews even after thorough and regular cleaning.
There are some different choices for filter assembly as well. The traditional filter assembly comprises three different pieces of metal: a fine mesh filter, a brace, and metal rings to create a seal with the walls of the press pot by pushing out on the mesh filter’s edge. Newer designs incorporate nylon or plastic filters that come with a rubber ring around the filter to create a seal with the walls of the press pot. Based on our experience, metal filters are more durable, and resist flavor absorption more than the plastic assembly does. It does require frequent cleaning as coffee residue will build up between the three metal layers.
- French Press Body Style
Maintaining the right brewing temperature is important to getting the best out of this brewing process. For optimal results, we suggest that you invest in an insulated French Press. There are models from major manufacturers that are either made of double-walled glass or stainless steel for better heat retention during the long brewing process. Alternately, there are some French Presses that come with a neoprene (insulating fabric used for deep-water scuba-diving suits) wrap to minimize heat loss.
- Serving Vessel
Ideally, a cup of French Press coffee should be served in a thick-walled ceramic mug that has been pre-heated. Glass cups are also acceptable, but be careful of high temperature, as they will get very hot when you pour in your coffee. Plastic cups, thin-walled ceramics or china, or paper cups allow heat transfer far too easily and you will find yourself sipping cold coffee in a relatively short time.