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Common questions about the French Press

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Making French press coffee doesn't need to be a riddle. Read our answers to cut through the noise.

Finding answers to the most common French press coffee questions help to improve results and get a tastier cup.

Find below the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about French press coffee.

Why Is It Called French Press?

Some people call it coffee plunger, others cafètiere, but the most popular name for this coffeemaker is French press.

Its origin and its unique mechanic for coffee extraction play a role in its name.
Most experts agree on the French origin of this coffeemaker. However, two Italians patented a more modern and apt device. Furthermore, the Italians’ design improved the original brewer, making it the French press we know today.

According to the records, two French inventors, Henri-Otto Mayer and Jacques-Victor Delforge, patented this pioneering coffeemaker in 1852. That first cafètiere was similar to most of its modern versions. Its main shortcoming was a design flaw: coffee grounds quickly passed through the plunger.

Later, two Italians, Atilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta, patented an improved version in 1929. Faliero Bondadini, a Swiss, made further improvements to Calimani’s design, patenting his version in 1958: the now-classic ‘Chambord.’

Likewise, Bondadini commercialized his coffeemaker under the Melior brand, using a French company to run his business. Then, the French press became famous worldwide. Much of its success was thanks to Bodum -a Danish company- which eventually positioned its coffeemakers as the original ones.

So, is the French press that French?

Mayer and Delforge 1852 cafètiere patent. Source: Wikimedia

What Is Special About French Press Coffee?

Brewing tea with a coffee plunger

French press coffee is best for people who value a bold taste and a round body. It’s somewhere between espresso and drip coffee, making it a unique coffee brewing device.

Although considerably slower than most coffeemakers, it’s so easy to use and reliable that it’s worth waiting.

In my experience, French press coffee is special because:

> Tasty: the mesh lets coffee oils pass through the cup, providing a richer taste and more intense texture than drip coffee. That’s why professional tasters use cuppings to analyze coffee samples. Moreover, it’s easier to learn more about the differences between specific coffee beans through immersion methods like the French press.

> Easy-to-use: this coffeemaker is slow but straightforward and reliable. Additionally, making French press coffee is easy! It may take some extra minutes to get a good cup of coffee with a French press, but it’s hard to compete with its reliability.

> Affordable: it’s not a problem to find a decent cafètiere below 30$. Sure, there are +100$ alternatives, but that isn’t the standard.

> Portable: I know that a glass cafètiere in a backpack doesn’t sound like a great idea. But there are excellent portable versions. They’re lighter and more practical than packing a Moka pot or a dripper.

> Versatile: you can also use the French press to make hot coffee and cold-brew coffee.

Still, remember that to get a really good cup of coffee, the most important thing is to get good coffee beans.

What Grind Is Used For French Press?

Most people out there prefer using coarse grounds for French press. But we aren’t like most people. I recommend trying a medium grind size first, and then try coarser grounds if you feel it’s too bitter or hard to manage the brewing process.

Using our French press brewing guide, inspired by James Hoffmann’s advice, it’s easy to get a bolder and more tasty cup of coffee with medium-sized coffee grounds.

Why Is French Press Coffee So Weak?

Girl brewing French press coffee

The most common reasons to get a weak cup of French press coffee are:

> Coffee-to-water ratio: it can be hard to find the best brew ratio for French press coffee. If you like your coffee to have a more intense taste, you can always adjust the ratio depending on your preference. I recommend using 30 grams of coffee for every 350 ml of water, around a 1:12 brew ratio.

> Water temperature: it’s better to use boiling water for French press coffee. If the water isn’t hot enough, it won’t extract all the flavors and aromas we want from coffee grounds. Our recommended technique takes around ten minutes.

> Steeping time: cutting corners won’t make it here. French press coffee takes a few minutes, and rushing the brewing process will likely ruin the result.

> Grind size: using coarse grounds usually produces a weaker coffee cup with a sour taste. It’s better to use medium grounds for French press coffee.

> Roast: light and medium roasts take longer to express their character. Sometimes, it may be better to let the coffee steep a bit longer. For lighter roasts is better to use boiling water and the full ten minutes of steeping time.

Finally, this doesn’t have anything to do with the coffeemaker but with our expectations. Some coffee beans provide a more intense and bitter taste. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that coffee is stronger or has more caffeine. My recommendations refer to the taste and the texture of coffee -its body.

For a punchier, more bitter, and stimulating cup of coffee, it’s always better to pick Robusta coffee beans or blends with some Robusta in them. They don’t have the tasty nuances I love, but if you prefer a more intense caffeine kick, so be it.

Why Does French Press Need More Coffee?

Steeping doesn’t exert any pressure on the coffee grounds. The plunger makes little difference, and it basically filters the coffee. For this reason, it’s always better to use more coffee than we use too with drip coffee.

Still, we expect our French press coffee to be tastier and bolder than drip coffee.

What Equipment Do I Need To Make French Press Coffee?

Besides your French press, a thermal carafe or mug and a grinder are all you need. The thermal carafe is optional if you aren’t serving all the coffee right away. In that case, it’s better to transfer French press coffee to a thermal carafe because if you let it in the coffeemaker, it will get cold and overly bitter.

A good French press coffee grinder is a must, because it’s easier to find your favorite grind size, and you can get the best of coffee when it’s freshly ground.

How To Avoid Sludge In The French Press?

Getting sludge in your cup is more common when using a medium grind size. But don’t fret. If you let the coffee steep for more than 6 minutes, most coffee grounds will sit at the bottom of the coffeemaker.

Additionally, remember to avoid plunging all the way and serve the coffee carefully. In that case, the sediments will stay at the bottom and won’t ruin your cup of French press coffee.

What Is The Appropriate Temperature Of The Water For French Press Coffee?

Both drip and French press coffee taste better with water off the boil. For French press coffee, this is crucial because the brewing process takes longer.

For more details, read our article about water and coffee.

Can A French Press Be Used For Tea?

Yes, you can make tea using a French press. As you would expect, cleaning your French press very well before brewing tea or coffee residues will overwhelm them.

Bear in mind that some tea varieties require boiling (i.e., Chai, black, herbal), so the French press doesn’t work for all kinds of tea.

The cafètiere works better for green, white, and mate, which are more delicate.

Should You Stir The Grounds In A French Press?

Yes, right after adding water, it’s good to give it a good stir. Then, remove the top crust with a spoon.

Stirring helps get more taste out of the coffee grounds and a more balanced extraction process.

Final Thoughts: Any Other Questions?

Picture  by Anete Lusina on Pexels

If you have more questions about French press coffee or a different opinion or comment about our answers, drop a comment below. We’ll be happy to answer!

Credits

Featured image by Izzy Rivi on Unsplash.

Disclaimer

French press coffee sponsored this article.

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