The French Press is always being questioned about its history and its name. In 1852 “a first attempt” was made by two French men, Mayer and Delforge, though it was just a basic device that went then patented and improved in 1929 by the Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta. Several patents have then been designed with the one by the Swiss man Faliero Bondanini in 1958, as the most successful one. It was manufactured in Chambord, central France, which also gave the name at the device.
About the French Press
French press, cafetière, coffee press or coffee plunger are some of the most popular names which you may have heard around the globe, depending on where you were at that time.
Regardless of their name, the french press (that’s the one I prefer) is one of the easier way to brew coffee at home or even in a coffee shop.
A hand pressure is made through a piston that force the coffee to the bottom (similar to the Aeropress brewing method) but it’s easier, it doesn’t require any kind of filter and any particular skills, once you know how to play with the variables (coffee dose, water and time).
Just before going on with the article, French press delivers a full, velvety body so in case you are a big fan of V60 or Kalita pour over with that tea-like body, it might be the time for you to leave just here or, perhaps, to go on and to try a different experience.
As I said, the french press doesn’t required any filter which means all the oils are not absorbed, but instead, are part of final brew which results in a stronger cup. That’s what really distinguishes the french press from any other brewing method.
Six steps for brewing the perfect french press
It takes only around 4 minutes from the moment you pour the water. But let’s be more precise.
- preheat the brewer with hot water: the french press needs to be warm it up to have a constant temperature during all the infusion;
- grind the beans to a coarse grind. We grind coarse for two reasons: first, coarser grind help avoiding too much grit in the cup as too much fines would pass through the mesh filter. And second, finer grind helps over-extracting the coffee which results in bitter taste. More simply put, a large ground of coffee is going to absorb more water (water takes more time to permeate the ground) which is reflected in more flavour, even extraction and no bitterness. I would start with a ratio of 60-65 grams per 1 litre of water.
- use the scale and put the coffee in the french press. Then start the timer pouring enough water (between 88-92 degrees) to cover all the ground of coffee (usually twice the amount of the coffee dose is enough). We just give a little stir to make sure we are wetting all the particles. After 30 seconds of blooming we can pour all the water and wait from 3 to 5 minutes. Let’s say 4 minutes as a standard brewing time but then it’s just a personal taste that it’s also influenced by the roast profile and the brew ratio we are using.
- Just before the last step we can stir the top in which the coffee grounds are floating and then skim the foam off the top using a spoon.
- It’s time to place the lid and press the plunger. We are going to press gently as we don’t want to make any turbulence or stress again the coffee. In case of too much resistance we should stop because it means that the coffee is too fine. In case of lack of resistance, it means the coffee is too coarse.
- After pressing down the coffee we should pour out all the coffee in a (preheated) server because over steeping the coffee cause over-extraction which results in bitterness in the cup.
- Enjoy your cup!
And lastly, don’t forget the water. Remember to play not only with the coffee dose or the brewing time, but also try different water.
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.