French Press coffee makers allow you to enjoy coffee in its purest form. In general, to make French Press coffee, you pour hot water over the ground coffee beans that have been freshly prepared with a quality coffee grinder such as a burr grinder or blade grinder.
Once brewed in the French Press, you use pressure via a plunger to force the coffee to the bottom of the pot. The result is a deep, dark, and full-flavored coffee. Anyone who likes coffee is likely to enjoy the result of the French Press method, but true coffee aficionados appreciate the pure coffee result of the brewing process.
French Press coffee does not use paper or plastic filters, like automatic coffee makers, which means you’re able to preserve and protect the natural oils in coffee. You also don’t need to worry about the residue that builds up and affects the taste of your coffee over time when you use an automatic coffee maker.
Lastly, you won’t need to worry about burning your coffee grounds, which is a common mishap when using other coffee making methods. There are different types of French Press makers available. Many of them are made with a glass carafe, which is a great option when you want a single cup of French Press coffee. If you want to make a pot of French Press that stays warm while you sip each cup, try a metal French Press, such as the double-walled thermal stainless steel model Freiling coffee maker.
Choosing the Best Coffee for French Press
It’s possible to make French Press coffee with just about any type of bean, but there are a few things you need to know to ensure the best possible cup of coffee with this traditional style of brewing process. One of the most important factors affecting the final result when using the French Press method is the grind of the bean.
French Press tends to turn out better when the beans are coarsely ground so they are larger and less likely to slip through the press filter. Muddy coffee is one of the biggest complaints among those who are new to French Press and most of the issues with muddiness can be resolved just by using a coarser grind.
If you’re grinding your beans at home, you’ll want to choose the coarsest setting on your grinder. Aim for a grind that produces salt or steel-cut oat-sized particles and if you find your coffee is too weak, adjust to a finer setting little by little. Use a water-to-coffee ratio of approximately one to tablespoons of coffee per 8 ounces of water.
This might need to be adjusted a bit too as you sample cups of coffee and refine to your personal taste, but somewhere within this ratio usually works well. Let the coffee brew for about four minutes and then press. If you prefer stronger coffee, go longer than four minutes and for weaker coffee, press before you reach the four-minute mark.
As mentioned before, just about any type of coffee works with French Press, as long as its ground properly, but there are a few favorites out there. Some online companies offer coarsely ground options, including Terrior, Coava, Water Ave., and Stumptown. Some even have a subscription service that makes it convenient to stay stocked on your favorite beans.
These companies offer a variety of different flavors, so you’re able to experience if you enjoy different options. You’ll want to avoid the espresso blends for French Press and brew longer if you’re looking for a strong cup. Despite being able to use any coffee for French Press, most people prefer to choose a higher quality coffee.
Lower-priced “grocery store coffees” often lack the rich taste coffee drinkers prefer; so while you might be able to grind beans to suit your French Press if you’re beginning with low-quality beans, the final product is going to show it. The great thing about using a French Press to make coffee is that it allows you to enjoy the nuances of coffee.
It’s really one of the best methods of brewing for people who love the taste of coffee—as opposed to those who love the taste of cream and sugar and just want to use coffee as the vehicle for consumption. Investing in high-quality coffee beans is going to enable you to enjoy the best possible taste when brewing a cup of French Press. Think of it this way: If you’re going to invest the time in grinding and pressing, why not invest a little extra in the quality of your beans?
Avoiding Common Mistakes
The French Press process is easy but, for many, it takes a great deal of trial and error to perfect. This is due, in part, to the fact that “perfect” is subjective when it comes to coffee. You can make a great cup of French Press coffee right from the start, but it could take you years to find your own special perfect cup.
The most common mistake usually happens during the grinding process. The best grind, as mentioned already, is a coarse grind. It should be as even as possible and begin with the freshest beans you can find.
It might also take some time to get the coffee to water ratio correct.
Most people prefer a 1:10 ratio or even the one tablespoon per 8 ounces of coffee mentioned above, but you’ll need to experiment with a few ratios until you get it right for you. Keep in mind the grind of the beans and the brewing times are more important than the water to bean ratio, so if your coffee isn’t to your liking, begin by adjusting those issues before adjusting the coffee to water ratio.
Another problem that can change the taste of your French Press coffee is leaving the grinds in the press after pressing. Even if you’ve pushed the grinds to the bottom, the coffee will continue to brew and you’ll end up with a bitter, over-extracted coffee.
So, once you’ve pressed, pour and drink as soon as possible. Making the exact amount of coffee you want per serving is your best bet. It’s less convenient, but it makes for better tasting coffee. If you prefer to make a larger batch, pour into a carafe after pressing to ensure you aren’t a victim of over-brewing.