From the streets of Paris to the cafés of London, the French press – sometimes known as a cafetiere, plunger or press pot – has enjoyed decades of popularity among coffee lovers. But what exactly is a French press? Why do coffee enthusiasts love it, and how does it compare to other brewing methods? In this blog we will deep dive into the world of the french press, how it came to be and one it’s one of our favourite brewing methods
History of the French Press
The French press's origins are a topic of debate. While it’s often thought to be French in origin (hence the name), it was an Italian, Attilio Calimani, who patented the first design in 1929. However, the French press we recognise today has undergone multiple modifications and improvements, evolving into the convenient and efficient brewer many adore.
The Anatomy of a French Press
At its core, the French press is elegantly simple:
- Cylindrical Carafe: Traditionally made of glass, but also available in stainless steel or ceramic. This is where the coffee steeps.
- Metal or Nylon Mesh Plunger: After steeping, pressing the plunger down separates the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee.
- Lid: Keeps the heat in during brewing and houses the plunger.
Why do we love a French Press?
So, why choose a French press over other brewing methods? Here are some reasons:
- Full-bodied Brew: Unlike paper-filter methods, the metal mesh allows natural oils from coffee grounds to mingle with the brew, resulting in a rich and robust flavour.
- Simplicity: No electricity, no paper filters, and no intricate steps. Just coffee grounds, hot water, and a bit of patience (approx 4 minutes to be exact!)
- Versatility: You can make your french press as strong or as weak as you like, although most people go for the old adage of one heaped teaspoon per person!
- Eco-friendliness: Without the need for disposable filters or pods, the French press is a greener choice for the environmentally conscious. It can be washed up and go in the dishwasher time after time and last for years.
Brewing with a French Press
Here’s a super simple, basic guide to brewing with the cafetiere or french press.
- Coarse Grind: Start with coffee beans ground to a coarse consistency. A fine grind can slip through the mesh and make your coffee gritty. Too coarse and you won’t be able to extract the coffee from the grounds!
- Proportions: A general guideline is 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 200 ml of water, but you can adjust according to taste. At Rise, we always go with one heaped teaspoon per person
- Add Coffee: Place the coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe.
- Water Temperature: Boil water and let it sit for a minute. The ideal temperature is around 90-96°C. Pour the water over the coffee grounds.
- Stir & Steep: Give it a quick stir and cover it with the lid, ensuring the plunger is fully up. Let it steep for 4 minutes. This duration can be adjusted based on personal preference; longer for a stronger brew and shorter for a milder one.
- Plunge & Pour: After steeping, we give it a quick stir before slowly press the plunger down. Once fully pressed, pour your brewed coffee into your mug and enjoy!
Take a look at our French Press brew guide here
A few tips to brew the perfect French Press:
- Fresh is Best: Always use freshly roasted beans and grind them just before brewing. Or if you buy ground coarse coffee from us, you don’t have to worry, this will have been ground very recently for you
- Water Matters: Use filtered water if possible. The quality of your water can significantly impact the taste of your coffee.
- Clean Regularly: To ensure each brew tastes its best, thoroughly clean your French press after each use. Coffee oils can linger and turn smelly.
Our recommended cafetieres/ French Presses
Best all round cafetiere: Bodum Classic 8 cup Cafetiere - £21.95
A classic piece of equipment that is highly durable and never lets you down!
Best cafetiere for one person: Procook 3 cup - £21
Stainless steel and super easy to use/wash.
Best piece of luxury kit: Alessi 8 Cup - £115
A piece of art in its own right! Definitely one to keep out on your kitchen surface top year round.
To wrap up…
The French press, with its timeless design and simplicity, remains a beloved method for brewing coffee. Its ability to deliver a rich, full-bodied cup without the bells and whistles of more modern machines is a testament to its enduring appeal. In fact, we often recommend the cafetiere or french press to coffee newbies who don’t want to splurge on expensive equipment!
If you haven't yet indulged in a cup of coffee from a French press, perhaps now's the time. Whether you're a seasoned coffee lover or a casual drinker, the French press might just become your go-to method for a perfect brew. Cheers to many delightful cups ahead!