What is French Press?
To some, it may seem like a silly question to ask, "What is French Press?" Most coffee drinkers probably know exactly how it works, and many prefer this brewing method over any other. But for many of you out there, French Press coffee brewing is a mystery that you don't know much about. If you're anything like me, there was a time when coffee brewing with paper filters was all you knew, and perhaps all you cared to know. But if you're becoming more knowledgeable about coffee brewing methods, then French Press brewing is sure to come up. So what is French Press brewing, anyway? It may sound like a foreign invention reserved only for specialty coffee shops. The truth is, it's an easy and effective way to produce fantastic gourmet coffee; anyone can do it! The picture above is what a typical French Press looks like. Also known as plunger brewing, French Press actually came from Italy in the 1930s. The reason it's called French Press and not Italian Press is that it flourished in France after World War II, where it became a staple in coffee drinkers' homes. French Press has become increasingly popular in the United States as the market for specialty coffee has expanded. A French Press brewer usually consists of a glass cylinder that is supported by a plastic or metal frame (metal is better quality, but a little more expensive). The mesh-filter plunger fits snugly into the glass cylinder. To make French Press coffee, you add coarse or medium-ground coffee to the French Press, as opposed to finely ground coffee for paper filters. You then add water that's close to boiling. Put the plunger in without pushing it down. Wait approximately four minutes for the coffee grinds and water to mix. This allows the coffee flavors to open up in the warm water (steeped). When the time is right, push the plunger down, forcing the coarse grinds to the bottom. Then it's ready to serve! French Pressed coffee is usually heavier and bolder than finely brewed coffee. Some people prefer the more subtle flavors of a fine drip, but many prefer the bolder French Press style's punch. You can't get that kind of flavor any other way! Some pros and cons of French Press coffee brewing:
- Pros: Great, bold flavor; can brew and serve at the table for guests, rather than having to bring it from the kitchen; several different, unique styles of French Presses (trendy/chic); simple and effective.
- Cons: A cheap French Press may not last long; the glass can break if mishandled; sometimes difficult to clean.