Using a French Press is one of the easiest coffee preparation methods. Insert coffee grounds, insert hot water, wait for a few minutes, push the plunger down and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. The nice thing about using a French Press, is that anyone can master the technique.
A French press is a cylindrical beaker made of glass or plastic, with a plastic or metal lid. A plunger with a nylon or wire mesh filter is connected to the lid, fitting tightly into the cylinder.
The Origin of the French Press
Where did the name come from? Well, rumor has it that the first version of the press was made in France, so the name just stuck. The original patented design dates back to 1929, by Attilio Calimani, from Milan, who perfected the design.
Originally the French press was basically a metal or cheesecloth screen connected to a rod, which was used to extract the coffee by pressing the coffee grounds through the screen in a pot of boiling water. By 1958, Faliero Bondanini patented his own design and started to manufacture the popular coffee gadget in a French clarinet factory, called Martin SA.
In 1965 Michael Caine boosted the French Press popularity by using it in a film called The Ipcress File. Across Europe it rapidly increased in popularity, a British company called Household Articles Ltd. marketed it quite well. It was such a popular product of the Danish tableware and kitchenware company, Bodum, that the name became associated with the device. Some people still call the French Press a Bodum.
How to Use a French Press: Basic Steps
The most important part of using a French Press, is getting the grind consistency right. You need to use medium to coarse ground coffee. If your coffee grounds are too fine, they will pass through the filter and into your cup of coffee.
Firstly, place the coffee grounds into the beaker, for the average cup of coffee you can add one heaped tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup that you will be making.
Depending on personal flavor you can add more or less coffee grounds.
Next, slowly add hot water, just below boiling point (195 to 205° F). After adding the water, stir the coffee grounds. Check that all the coffee grounds are mixed into the water. Make sure the plunger screen is pulled up all the way before placing the lid on the beaker. Let the coffee grounds and water infuse for between three to five minutes, depending on your strength preference.
Carefully push the plunger down. Do not force the plunger down too fast, the pressure could cause the lid to pop open and the hot content to spill onto your hands. The plunger screen pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom of the press. Finally, pour yourself a lovely cup of coffee.
Warning: studies have shown that unfiltered coffee is bad for people struggling with high cholesterol. It can cause your LDL cholesterol, the harmful type, to raise significantly.
Tips for Using a French Press Correctly
Even though using a French Press is fairly straightforward, there are a few tricks you can use to ensure that you produce the perfect cup of coffee every time. The type of coffee you use will also make a difference, so try to invest in high-quality gourmet coffee.
Soak all the grounds evenly
The coffee grounds and water need to be infused properly to create a well-balanced cup. If you don’t stir the coffee grounds properly into the water, some of the coffee will be over-extracted and some under-extracted.
One method of making sure that the coffee grounds are extracted evenly, is to gently swirl the French Press halfway through the brewing process, roughly two minutes into the process.
Set a timer
The convenience of a French Press, is that you don’t have to keep a close eye on the brewing process. You can do all the prep work and wait for the infusion of coffee grounds and water to work its magic. To make sure you don’t brew the coffee too short or too long, invest in a good timer.
This cute kitchen timer by eTradeWinds is perfect. It has a magnetic back and kickstand for easy placement and includes a large display and loud alarm to let you know once your coffee is perfectly brewed. It also has a memory function which makes it ideal to use for many kitchen tasks.
Quickly remove the used grounds
Cleaning up is never fun, but resist the laziness after enjoying your cup of coffee and don’t let the used coffee grounds sit in the plunger for too long. Leaving them too long, you run the risk of the coffee grounds staining the glass or plastic. The residual coffee oils in the beaker can affect the future cups of coffee you want to enjoy from your French Press.
Clean the filter
Definitely more crucial for hygiene reasons. After brewing, clean it by holding it under running warm water, rub your fingers across the filter to dislodge any stubborn coffee grounds clinging to it or use a special cleaning brush. You need to clean the filter after every brewing session.
It’s worth investing in a good set of multi-purpose cleaning brushes like these ones from LabRat supplies. Ensure that the brushes are treated so that they won’t scratch your coffee pots and come in a range of sizes.
Use a metal spoon
You can take the risk of using a metal spoon, but you might crack the glass if you’re not careful. It’s better to rather use a wooden or plastic spoon. What you could do, is use your measuring spoon to stir the coffee grounds into the water as well.
Press and wait
The extraction process continues after you’ve pressed the plunger down. You need to pour out the coffee immediately after the brewing time is finished and you’ve pressed down the plunger. Rather pour any remaining coffee into another container.
If you rinse out your French Press immediately after brewing, you don’t need to use soap. When using soap, you need to rinse out the French Press very thoroughly. Rather only wash it with soap after every five brewing sessions or so. Also pay special attention to rinsing out the filter properly.
Take It All Apart For a Proper Cleaning Session
Depending on how often you use your French Press, you should try get into the habit of regularly taking the whole French Press apart and soaking it for a few minutes, preferably once a week if you use it every day.
Mix in a table spoon of baking soda into the water to deal with any lingering coffee oils that might have been left behind in the beaker.
How to Properly Dispose of Used Grounds
It’s still debatable if it’s good or bad for your drainage system to pour the used coffee grounds down the pipes. It mostly depends on your drainage system. Some new pipes handle the coffee grounds better than older ones and don’t get clogged so easily. If you’ve got a special garbage disposal system installed, it’s best to check the instruction manual or contact the manufacturer to make sure that you can pour the used coffee grounds down it.
The problem with used coffee grounds and drain pipes, is that the coffee grounds will stick to any greasiness left behind in the pipes from other discarded foods. When you do pour out the French Press into your sink, make sure you have hot water running down the drain at the same time. To be on the extra safe side, you can pour boiling water down the drain after emptying the French Press.
There are many DIY uses for used coffee grounds including plant fertilizer, body exfoliating products, pan scrubber and de-greaser, fridge or freezer deodorizer and more. Read this article for various DIY uses for coffee grounds.
The Tambaroo is a fancy little gadget you can purchase to help you clean your French Press even more easily. It will catch all the coffee grounds for you, so that you can just chuck it out into the dustbin or into your recycling bin after brewing.
Recommended French Presses
There is a reason why the French Press has stuck around for nearly a hundred years. Coffee brewing techniques have undergone many transformations, but the simplicity of the French Press makes it an all round favorite.
The above are three high-quality French Presses you can consider if you are buying your first French Press. Choose between a traditional glass French Press or a fancy stainless steel one. And if you need your morning cuppa to start feeling like a human being, why not consider a traveling mug with a built-in French Press.
This article was contributed by the team over at HomewareStuff.com. HomewareStuff.com is a blog that aims to help people make their house a home, by providing practical advice as well as guides on how to choose the right items for your needs.