If you have a coffee enthusiast in your circle of friends, you’ve probably heard a lot about French Press coffee and how amazing it is. You may have found yourself wondering if French Press is actually better than drip coffee. Ultimately, of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but in my opinion, it’s actually far superior.
What is French Press?
A French Press is a contraption used to brew coffee. It consists of a glass cylindrical pot, with a metal or plastic handle on the side and a press with a filter that forms a sort of lid with a long metal rod that’s topped with a knob. Coffee that’s brewed using a French Press is actually water that’s soaked in the ground beans, rather than just water that has been run through a pile of grounds, as is the case with drip coffee.
Coffee brewed using a French Press is also called French Press coffee, or just ‘French Press’ for short. Sometimes a cup of coffee that’s brewed using the French Press is also just referred to as ‘French Press’, which is what people want when they order ‘a French Press’ at a coffee shop. It’s a bit confusing; I know – basically, it’s the contraption you use to brew it, and also everything that comes out of it.
Why it’s objectively better
First of all, French Press coffee just tastes better. The grounds soak in the water that becomes the coffee, and that brings out so much more flavor. You can taste subtle notes that you’d never notice with drip coffee, and it adds a robust-yet-smooth quality to the overall flavor. If you use flavored beans, it also makes the flavor much stronger than it is would be with other brewing methods. It even helps the flavor cheap coffee.
The second reason French Press is better is that is much easier to make than drip coffee is. You don’t need electricity or a complicated machine to make it, and it’s small, which makes it at least somewhat portable and perfect for family camping trips or vacations, if you need more than one cup at a time and don’t want to make a thousand trips to the nearest cafe.
You can also use a French Press (the machine) to make awesome loose-leaf tea that can serve more than one person at a time.
I would like acknowledge, before you go out buy a french press, that there are a couple of downsides to using one. The first downside is one that I’ve already mentioned: although they come in different sizes and typically can make around a liter at a time, they don’t make as much as a drip coffee machine does, so they’re not ideal for serving more than 1-2 people at a time.
Secondly, if you tend to drink your coffee very slowly and have a whole press to yourself, the coffee might cool down more than you’d like while you’re making your way through the pot. Since it’s not on a heated pad and glass isn’t exactly known for it’s heat-retaining qualities, it does cool down more quickly than is ideal. If you drink coffee quickly – like I do – or usually share it with another person, you don’t have to worry about it. If you don’t though, I’d recommend going with a pour-over instead, which is kind of a cross between a French Press and drip coffee, but only makes one cup at a time.
The last downside is the cleaning process, which makes re-fills take a little longer. In order to make more coffee in your press, you have to clean it out completely first, and since the grounds are in the bottom of the pot and not in a nice, removable filter, cleaning it out is a little extra work. As coffee grounds and plumbing don’t mix well, you’ll have to throw out (or recycle) the grounds first, and might have to dig them out. Afterwards, wash the carafe, the press, and the lid completely with soap and water before letting dry and reusing.
What you need to make it
Making French Press coffee is incredibly easy. All you need to do the job are a few simple things:
- Coffee grounds – I recommend freshly-ground beans. Flavored roasts are also great!
- Hot water – You can use an electric kettle, a traditional teapot, or even a microwave if you need to.
- A French Press – meaning, the contraption used to do the actual brewing.
- A muddler or mixing implement (Optional)
How to brew it
- First, get your materials ready. Heat up your water. Grind the beans if you need too; otherwise, pick the ground coffee you’re going to use. If you are grinding them, make sure to use a coarse setting on your grinder.
- Next, pour or scoop the grounds into the bottom of the press (the glass carafe /pot). You should experiment with the boldness you prefer, but make sure you put in at least enough grounds to cover a complete layer of grounds on the bottom of the carafe. I usually prefer the layer of grounds to be about a half-inch thick, but you definitely don’t need that much if you don’t like really strong coffee.
- You can either use water that is almost boiling, or let it reach a boil and then cool down very slightly. Pour the water over the beans. You can fill the carafe almost completely (as I always do), or just to the level that matches the quantity of coffee you want. Just make sure that you leave enough room at the top so that it doesn’t overflow when you put the top on. If you aren’t sure, a good place to stop is typically at the metal ring that goes around most presses at the top of the handle.
- If you have a muddler or stirring implement of some kind that’s handy, stir/muddle the water and the coffee grounds. I will admit that I’m guilty of skipping this step most of the time – I just let it steep a bit longer instead. This isn’t a super essential step in my opinion, but it will improve the coffee consistency and flavor if you do it.
- Put the lid on and let it sit for several minutes. Do NOT push the press down yet.
- After you’ve let the coffee steep for about 3-5 minutes, slowly push the press down.
- Pour into your cup and enjoy!
I hope that all of this has convinced you to try using a French Press, or that it’s helped you determine whether or not it’d make the perfect gift for the coffee-lover in your life. I’d love to hear about your experience and your opinions on French Press Coffee. If you’d like to share, or have any remaining questions, please, leave a comment below!