French Press Coffee

How to Make the Perfect French Press Coffee

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.

What is a French Press Coffee Maker?

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.

French Press Maker

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.

Preparation for French Press Coffee

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.

French Press Coffee Preparation

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.

Getting the Correct Temperature for French Press Coffee

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.

Right Temperature Coffee

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.

Choosing the Right Beans for Your French Press Coffee Maker

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.

Right Beans for Your French Press Coffee Maker

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.

Steps to Making the Perfect French Press 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.

Making Right Coffee

  1. Measure out your ground coffee beans to match how much you’d like to make. A general rule of thumb is a heaped tablespoon to eight ounces of water. If this is too weak when you taste the final product, you can add another heaped tablespoon next time you make a brew.
  2. Heat your water using your preferred method, be it stovetop or microwave. Once you’ve reached the optimal 195 degrees, it’s ready to go. For darker beans and decaf, this temperature should be about 10 degrees lower again.
  3. Put your ground coffee in the carafe and fill with half of the water, allowing it to sit for about 30 seconds. Stir gently so the flavor can develop and then add the rest of your water.
  4. Place the lid onto the carafe with the plunger in the up position and start your stopwatch or phone timer. The ideal time is four minutes, however for something a little stronger you can add an extra minute or two.
  5. Slowly push the plunger down into the coffee, being careful not to burn yourself with hot water. Pour into your cup to enjoy straight away, and don’t leave any to sit and steep
  6. Once you’re done pouring, it’s essential to give your coffee maker a quick clean. Most French Press makers require a simple rinse with water after use and then put out to dry, but every now and then you can perform a thorough clean.

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.

The Electric French Press

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.

French Press Coffee Maker 1

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.

Benefits of Making the Perfect French Press Coffee

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.

Brew with French Press

  • As French Press contains a higher level of caffeine and its natural oils, its health benefits far outweigh others. According to LiveStrong, enjoying French Press coffee can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and heart disease. Everything in moderation, though, as too much coffee has serious side effects.
  • Coffee made with a French Press device keeps all of the natural oils, unlike other forms which extract it or trap it in filters. This means a richer and bolder tasting coffee every single time.
  • Operating a French Press maker is simple, and so too is caring for it. These simple designs mean there’s no special training needed to operate them in order to achieve the perfect cup of coffee.
  • Using a French Press maker is a cheaper alternative to most methods. Not only does the device itself cost next to nothing, but there’s no need to purchase additional filters or waste money on beans that are brewed and then thrown out.
  • You have complete control over your coffee with French Press. Whether you want to make a large batch for everyone, enjoy a small cup, want a stronger brew or a lighter one, there are so many variations you can achieve with the one device.
  • A French Press coffee maker is portable, so you’re able to enjoy a coffee from virtually anywhere. They require no power or fancy tools to use, making them one of the most low-maintenance but effective brewing methods.

Why French Press is Best

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.

French Press Coffee Maker

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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