The French Press is one of the most loved and traditional methods for brewing coffee, but one that doesn’t get as much attention as its flashy counterparts the espresso or pod coffee machine. While making a French Press coffee may be seen as a labor of love, it embodies everything that coffee is about and this is evident with its rich flavors.
Making the perfect French Press coffee is usually a matter of trial and error, as everything from the grind of your beans to your water temperature will make a different tasting brew each time. Thankfully, we’ve compiled some simple steps to help you achieve a perfect cup of French Press coffee with a few hints about where you may have been going wrong.
This method of brewing coffee is not for those who want something instant and don’t have much care or consideration for the flavor. If, however, you prefer to spend an extra few minutes preparing you morning coffee and you care about the taste more than anything, French Press coffee is for you.
Once you’ve mastered the art of making a French Press coffee, you’ll never want to go back to any other method. This traditionally loved form of brewing coffee is one that has consistently remained a favorite both overseas and at home, and with good reason.
French Press coffee makers are also commonly known as a coffee press or plunger, relating to the method in how this device operates. Generally crafted from a glass carafe, but sometimes steel, this cylinder features a plunger and lid with a filter attached to the piston.
This piston is made from stainless steel mesh and allows the water to travel through and bring with it the flavors of the ground beans, while hopefully not taking too many along with it. However, if you do happen to get a few minute grounds in your coffee these will hopefully accentuate the flavor further.
Using a French press ensures that you get everything out of your beans, including all of the good oils which give the coffee flavor. Having the coffee grounds saturated with this immersion process also helps to bring out more of the aromas than simply letting the water drip over it as other methods do.
The process of making French Press coffee is designed to be gradual, allowing the water to slowly diffuse the coffee grounds and create a bolder flavor. While it’s nice to have the quick convenience of pour-over coffee or a pod machine, the taste simply doesn’t compare to this technique.
Before you can even begin to brew the perfect French Press, you’ll need to be prepared. A quality French Press coffee maker doesn’t need to be expensive, provided the glass and stainless steel are durable and the plunger is easy to operate.
There are many styles available, so you have the option to find one that matches your aesthetic. Most offer a basic design, however, there are higher end models if you feel so inclined. The size will also matter somewhat, depending on how many cups you plan on making each day. To serve a group, bigger is better, but if it’s only you enjoying it then a standard size will do.
You’ll need a few other items such as a stopwatch or your phone’s clock function and a coffee grinder for your beans. In addition, an electric jug is required so that you can bring the water to boiling point before you make the coffee, or you can do this on the stovetop if you wish.
Have a space cleared on the bench, and ensure your French Press maker is cleaned and the filter has been emptied of any old coffee grounds. You can have your coffee mug ready too, as well as additional cups if you’re planning on serving others.
Most coffee is made using close to boiling water, and research has shown that is especially the case with French Press. For a French Press, you’ll need to have water heated to just the right amount to allow the best flavors to come through.
If your water is boiling, it will burn the coffee grounds and will leave a horrible taste. For water too cool, you won’t get the correct heat for extraction and your coffee will be weak. The best way to ensure you reach the desired 195-degree temperature is with a thermometer, but this isn’t always convenient.
Another easier method is to boil your water in an electric jug or stovetop, and then allow it to sit for 30 seconds to a minute so that the temperature drops. This should give you the ideal range to work with, but it may need adjusting according to external factors.
Having the right beans for your coffee is just as important as the device you use and the process you take. Every coffee lover knows that for optimal taste, your beans need to be fresh and have had as little exposure to air as possible. Fresh beans should appear a little oily and have a strong aroma to them.
Depending on your personal taste, your choice in beans may differ. According to The Kitchn, the type of beans isn’t as important as the freshness so selecting something general is a good idea. Always select a bean that hasn’t been ground, as these pre-ground beans are normally designed for espresso machines.
The two most popular styles of coffee are dark and intense, or light and fruity. This may take a bit of experimentation to determine what taste you prefer but provided the beans are fresh and ground on the spot the actual flavor shouldn’t matter too much.
To grind your coffee to the right consistency, you want to aim for a coarse feel to the beans. This will allow the best flavor to come through without having too many fine particles present in your coffee. Something a little smaller than kosher salt is ideal, ensuring that you only grind right before you’re ready to start making your coffee.
Now that you’ve got the right beans and done your preparation, it’s time to make the perfect French Press. Here are a few simple steps to achieving the perfect brew with this much-loved device.
The beauty of French Press is that you can make exactly how much you need, so there’s minimal waste to be had. As leaving the coffee grounds in the water will continue the extraction process, trying to pour yourself another cup even minutes later will not taste as good. If you’d like to keep some for later, pour it into a thermos or other mug and reheat in the microwave if needed.
If you’re really short on time but still want to enjoy French Press coffee, there are some electric models now available. For many fans of this method, though, there’s no comparison to making the brew yourself so they may not appeal to everyone.
An automatic French Press uses a pressurized brewing system to reenact the process of making your own and even has an electric plunging feature. The coffee then drips into a carafe so it can sit for a while without steeping further, meaning you can enjoy it for longer than a manual machine. For a machine that takes the love out of this process, the end result still tastes very similar.
Some people might be happy to enjoy a cup of coffee no matter how it was prepared, but for those fans of French Press coffee, it’s usually because of the numerous benefits that this method has.
Once you’ve perfected the art of making French Press coffee, there’s no doubt you’ll be a convert to this widely loved method of brewing. Not only are the flavors bolder, but there are so many more benefits to be found.
Making French Press coffee can take a few minutes longer than instant blends or pod machines, but the result is certainly worth your time and effort. After learning the basic steps for brewing coffee with a French Press, you’re able to fine-tune the process so that it suits your taste exactly.
French Press coffee has been loved for many years, and even in this age of quick fixes and instant espresso machines, it’s still treasured by many as the only way to enjoy a real cup of coffee. Best of all, there’s no barista training needed to achieve the perfect brew so it really is that easy for everyone to enjoy.
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