French press coffee is loved by some and looked down upon by others.
There is a raging feud that will only end in, blood, tears and caffeine!
But what is a french press?
This coffee maker is a glass or metal cylinder with a mesh plunger that brews your morning cup by fully immersing your coffee grounds into the water and allowing them to steep for anywhere from 4-8 minutes.
Why French Press Coffee?
A french press is pretty foolproof, You don’t need any electricity(which makes it great for camping or hiking) and it requires way less concentration than a pour over.
French press coffee is super convenient in the morning right when everybody is rushing around hoping not to be late.
You can grind your coffee first thing in the morning, set a timer, add your grounds and water and walk away while continuing to get ready, just be sure to keep an ear out for your timer.
French press coffee makers are inexpensive. You can get one for under 20 bucks for sure on Amazon.
There are single serve or larger french press coffee makers that you can buy which makes them awesome for whatever situation you’re in, entertaining or sipping alone.
You also don’t need a special coffee grinder to make french press coffee. Any old burr grinder will give you a decent french press grind.
How does french press coffee work?
French press coffee is different from other brewing methods because it is a full immersion method of brewing.
What this means is that the coffee grounds stay in constant contact with the water for the entire brewing time.
Pour over brewing allows the water to flow freely over the grounds and the Aeropress is a hybrid of sorts, allowing the grounds and water to steep and then letting the water flow through.
No paper filters
Since brewing with a French press doesn’t involve any type of paper filter this means that all of the oils that the coffee has to offer end up in your cup.
This is where part of the feud comes in.
All of these oils give your coffee extra body and some would say a muddy flavor.. If you don’t know what body means when describing coffee I think the easiest way to explain it would be to compare whole milk to skim milk.
It’s basically the thickness of the drink.
The way that it feels in your mouth. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)
Some people enjoy the extra body that this method offers while others say that a french press will make a muddy cup.
I have had both a great tasting french press and a muddy shitty french press.
It’s personal preference and also a matter of taking the time to tweak your brew and really getting it dialed in.
Brewing French Press Coffee
Brewing with a french press is super simple.
It’s important to nail your grind on any brew and a french press isn’t any different.
Generally you want to have a coarse grind, close to kosher salt, for a few reasons.
The first one being that if you grind too fine you will have loads of grinds in your cup even after plunging.
This is because the mesh filters on the plungers of most french press brewers will allow smaller grinds to slip right through.
This is no bueno and will give you that muddy cup we talked about earlier.
Reason number two is that your cup will be over extracted because of the extended brew time that usually accompanies french press brewing.
A coarser grind gives less surface area for the water to grab onto which isn’t a bad thing for full immersion brewing.
With a finer grind you are able to extract all of the good that that piece of coffee has to offer very quickly.
So if you are brewing for between 4-8 minutes, which is normal for a french press, you will pull out the good flavors and then some. Hiding all the goodness with bitterness if your grind is too fine.
Blooming your coffee
Something that french press coffee has in common with pour over brewing methods is the need to bloom.
Blooming your grounds simply means pre wetting them with a small amount of water(usually a 1:2 ratio) to allow the water to seep into the coffee.
Without blooming your grounds at first you will miss out on tons of good flavors.
This is because during the bloom you are allowing CO2 to release from the bean, during this time it is hard for water to soak into the coffee cells and start pulling out all of the goods in the bean.
Unlike pour over brewing or drip coffee, grind size isn’t directly related to brew time when it comes to the french press. You have total control over how long the coffee brews, you could brew for 30 seconds or ten minutes.
Generally speaking, you’re looking to brew anywhere between 4-8 minutes on a french press.
Best roast profile and beans to use for french press.
This is definitely a personal preference. Beans that I think taste great for a french press might not suit your buds. No matter what bean you choose when brewing with a french press you will have a cup with a more body due to the oils not being absorbed by paper filters.
For this reason I personally like lighter, more floral coffees. Beans from African growing regions like Ethiopia.
But if you like a bold, huge bodied coffee maybe you would like a medium roasted south or central american coffee.
Serving French Press Coffee
If you are brewing for more than one, before serving your french press coffee, it’s good practice to slowly pour your brew into a separate decanter so that your liquid is separated from the grounds.
This stops the brewing process and it also mixes the brew.
Since a french press allows all of the oils from the bean to stay in your cup there is natural separation that occurs since water and oil don’t mix.
All of the oils will float to the top of your brew if you don’t mix it giving you off flavors.
So just be sure to give your cup a little stir before sipping.
Wrap it up
French press coffee is probably the easiest way to prepare coffee beside drip coffee.
You can easily grind your coffee fresh, set it and forget it for a few minutes while you go about your day.
This is something that you can’t do as easily with a pour over maker or aeropress.
French press coffee has a name for being muddy however, somewhat hiding the flavor of the coffee bean.
The bean, grind type and recipe used can affect the outcome of your cup.
If you get a muddy cup adjust a few things, like grind size or brew time.
Dial it in.
It’s important to stir your french press before serving.
This is because the coffee will settle and the oils containing the bitter notes of the coffee will float to the top, while the sour notes will settle on the bottom, if you simply give your brew a stir that will give you a better tasting cup.
Regardless of the coffee you brew with when making a cup with the french press you will have more body in your cup compared to other brew methods like a pour over.
This is because french press coffee is made by immersion brewing which means that the coffee and water sit together, Water doesn’t flow right by the grounds like in a pour over.
Overall French press coffee will have more body than a pour over, while some don’t prefer what the french press produces others love it.
If you don’t know if you will like it or not I would say give it a try, You can get a really nice french press coffee brewer for cheap on amazon and who knows it might be your new favorite brewing method.