French Press is the name of a coffee brewing method and also the name of the piece of coffee equipment (a coffee maker) that allows coffee grinds to soak directly in hot water. The spent grounds are then separated from the brewing coffee by pushing a mesh plunger to the bottom of the coffee pot.
Optimal Brewing Using the French Press Method
Anatomy of a French Press
A typical French Press coffee maker is a cylindrical glass container with a round, metal screen filter/plunger which is tightly fitted to the cylinder.
Using the French Press to Brew Gourmet Coffee
To brew the coffee, first remove the mesh plunger from the French Press and place the ground coffee in the bottom of the glass container. Generally a course grind size is used in the French Press method. Next add the hot water, and then perhaps stir or shake it up a bit.
Because the French Press method does not filter the coffee through a paper filter, the coffee’s volatile oils are not removed, and this helps the coffee retain its natural body. The French Press method is also the best brewing method for controlling the coffee’s temperature and brewing time.
Pushing Down the Plunger to Separate the Extracted Coffee from the Grounds
After about three to five minutes the French Press coffee will be ready. At this time you may push the mesh plunger down, forcing the water through the screen mesh to separate the extracted coffee from the coffee grounds.
The French Press is also called Bodum, Cafetiere, or Plunger Pot.
Cold Brew Coffee From French Press
French presses are also a fantastic way of making cold brew coffee – simply add your coffee to cool water, cover, and store in the fridge for 24 hours. When it’s done, make it just like a regular coffee, by depressing the plunger, and pour your perfectly extracted cold brew. Cold brewing with a french press is great for people with sensitive stomachs, as the long, slow extraction makes for a great low acid coffee.
Bonus tip: pour the cold brewed coffee into an ice cube tray to make cold-brew ice cubes that won’t dilute your other drinks, and can be used to infuse coffee into cocktails.
Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips
For tips on brewing the perfect cup of French Press coffee see our section on Coffee Brewing. You can also read detailed coffee flavor profiles of Gourmet Coffees and instructions on preparing Espresso Drink Recipes. Running your french press under water or through a washing machine isn’t enough to completely remove the coffee oils that build up on the inside of your french press, make sure to read up on how to clean a coffee maker.