How to French Press like a Pro
The French press is one of the most common household manual brew methods. It has earned this place for many reasons. It is quick, convenient, simple, and inexpensive. That being said, many people are unfamiliar with how to best brew coffee with it. Following a routine will help keep your coffee consistent and delicious.
The most common French press will make a maximum of approximately 24 ounces of brewed coffee. This makes two average cups. Different size presses are available, but harder to come by. Even if you’re brewing for one, a normal French press will work, you’ll just have keep an eye on your measurements.
The French press is an immersion brewing method. This means all the grounds sit in the water for the entire brewing period. Because the French press uses a mesh filter, oils and silt get through it, giving it a strong mouthfeel and full body. This also means that it lends itself to darker roasted coffees from South America to bring out their natural sweetness and nuttiness.
The first coffee press was invented by two Frenchmen in 1852. They would use mesh or cheesecloth attach to a rod and plunge down into boiling water to separate the coffee grounds from brewed coffee. What we use today follows the same principle. Several design modifications were made by the Italians and then patented in 1929. Their patented product very closely resembles what we brew with today. Much better than drinking 'cowboy coffee' with the grounds still in it!
How to use the French press
Use a burr grinder set to a coarse grind. This will help extract the best flavors from the coffee when using a French press. The coffee to water ratio is always important no matter what brew method you are using. For French press, the ideal ratio is 1:16 or 1:15. If you use 20 grams of coffee, you should be brewing with 300-320 grams of water.
After you have heated your water to 195-205F and grinded your beans, it’s best to heat the inside of the French press vessel with hot water. This way your coffee brew temperature doesn’t immediately drop by entering a cold vessel. Let the hot water warm the vessel for 15-30 seconds.
Once the vessel has warmed up, dump that water and then pour the grounds into the vessel. Then pour about 10% of the water you’ll be brewing with onto the grounds, making sure all of them are soaked. You will see the coffee begin to ‘bloom’. This process releases some of the stored gases in the grounds and prepares it for brewing.
Let the coffee bloom for about 30 seconds then begin to add the rest of your brewing water. Give the mixture a stir with a whisk or spoon and place the top of the French press on the vessel. It’s best to plunge the mesh filter until it sits right on top of the coffee grounds. Do not plunge yet! Time your coffee brewing for four minutes.
When four minutes have passed, slowly push down on the plunger until it has separated all the grounds from brewed coffee. This shouldn’t take a lot of pressure, but shouldn’t just breeze through either. The recommended pressure is 10-20 lbs. Go slow and once the plunger has reached the grounds, you can stop. You don’t want to force any grounds through the mesh filter or around the edges.