A French Press is a glass container with a wire mesh attached to a plunger. Some French Presses will also have an optional nylon fine filter that will help to catch dust produced while grinding.
To make coffee, you first allow water to come very close to a boil but just short of this point. If you do hit boiling point don’t fret it – simply let it sit for 1-2 minutes so that the temperature drops.
You are looking for around 195 to 205 degrees. For more information on temperature see the section on water temperature. The press should be pre-warmed before preparing coffee in it to keep the glass from absorbing as much heat when the hot water is put into the press thus making for a warmer coffee extraction. This also helps prevent shattering the french press due to thermal shock.
The press should contain approximately the same amount of very coarsely ground coffee as you would use for drip coffee. Let it brew for 2-3 minutes or until it is easy to press the plunger down.
French Press Grind
Coarse ground coffee is a must here or there will be a great deal of sediment in the cup. The wire mesh on the plunger is the filter. You will have a small amount of sediment no matter how great a coffee grinder you have so if you can not stand the idea of a little bit of mud in the bottom of your coffee the press pot may not be for you.
If you give your coffee about one minute to rest after you press the plunger down this can help to reduce the sediment that ends up in your cup. Due to the fact that there is no paper filter, all oils make it into the cup – this is a great cup of coffee! You should resist the urge to take that last swallow unless you enjoy the sensation of fine coffee particles in your mouth, but there’s nothing harmful about it.
French presses are one of the better brewing methods to allow unique single origin coffees to shine through, and will really make it easy to differentiate between a Colombian, Kenyan and Sumatran coffee.
Bodum really is not a proper name for this device. It just happens to be the predominant brand of press pots in the United States so they sometimes get called a Bodum. Cafetiere is a similarly an old trade name for press pots.
A number of new innovations have happened over the last few years in the production of press pots.
- There are now “unbreakable” versions. These are made from a plastic. I have not tried one of these but I have a concern about the plastic picking up odd flavors and I have never broken a press so it’s not a real concern for me.
- A couple of companies are making steel pots. This may help to hold temperature a little better while the coffee is steeping and they are probably nearly indestructible but I’m not willing to spend the extra money. One real plus I do see is that they look nice.
- Similar to the steel pots Nissan makes a thermal press pot. Realistically the coffee should be poured out of the press as soon as it is done steeping. Even though you push the coffee down at the end you will still have some residual steeping and that’s not good. If you are making large quantities of press coffee to drink over an extended period I would recommend investing in a good vacuum pot.
- A number of companies are making presses that are almost art pieces. I like the looks of these even if looks do nothing to improve the product. If purchasing an art piece be sure that the glass can be removed from the metal frame for cleaning.