Known as a plunger coffee maker or French press, this method of coffee preparation has had various origins. Throughout history, different patents were issued, the French one being one of the most popular. In 1852, the first patent was developed by the Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge.
It did not have the sealing that the device has today, so it is safe to say that it is not the original prototype. Years later, in 1929, the Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta patented the model that is now the French press. Finally, in 1958, the Italian Faliero Bondanini created the most popular model, which was exhibited in France under the name of Chambord.
Origin of the French press
It is here that the controversy over the real origin of the French press arises because although some of its creators were Italian, the coffee machine took off in France. Subsequently, the Danish company Bodum bought the rights to the Chambord name and factory to distribute the device in Denmark without any problem.
Despite Bodum’s purchase, the trademark remained with its original owners. This dispute has led to various legal issues between the two parties, hindering the marketing of the French press in markets outside Europe and the patenting of new models.
How does the French press method work?
The French press or plunger press is a total immersion preparation device with a wire mesh filter. It also consists of a glass carafe, a lid located at the top of the carafe and a plunger with a rod emerging from the same location.
This method of coffee preparation provides a viscous or gritty extraction. The coffee resulting from this device is characterised by a strong body and an increase in texture, as a result of most of the oils in the bean remaining in the final extraction, as well as a decrease in coffee particles.
Depending on the capacity of the coffee machine, the coffee should be prepared with approximately 225 millilitres of water at a temperature between 89 and 93 degrees Celsius. It is also recommended that the amount of coffee should be about 15 grams and that the grind should be coarse, aiming for a granular appearance.
Coffee grinding is one of the most important aspects of the French press method. The coffee machine could be affected if the coffee grind is too fine, causing a clog on the surface of the brew. As a result, the plunger would get stuck when lowered, and the coffee would come up over the edge of the filter. To avoid this inconvenience, it is recommended to use a grinder with conical grinding wheels and not one with blades.
How to prepare coffee with the French press?
The French press method is one of the easiest and most practical to use, as it only requires practice in the use of the coffee machine. This method allows all the liquid to be impregnated with the oils and flavours of the coffee beans. Below, you will find how to prepare coffee with the French press in a few simple steps.
Water and milling
In order to obtain a higher grade beverage, it is recommended to use bottled water in case the water to be used is not 100% potable. As mentioned above, the temperature should be between 89º Celsius or a maximum of 93º Celsius. For this, you can use a thermometer or a gooseneck kettle. As for the grinding, it is recommended to use fresh beans, approximately 30 grams or up to 2 tablespoons of ground coffee.
Infusion and turbulence
First, add the amount of water needed to saturate the ground coffee. After waiting about 30 seconds to 1 minute, continue to slowly pour the water in until the water to coffee ratio is right. If you wish, you can push the plunger up and down several times.
Contact and pouring time of the cup
It is important to wait between 4 and 6 minutes without manipulating the appliance; everything varies according to the desired intensity. Then carefully press the plunger downwards to prevent the hot coffee from rising and spoiling.
Finally, once the plunger is all the way down, the coffee is immediately poured into the cups or into a thermally insulated carafe. It is also common to taste a little coffee to make sure that the coffee has not been completely extracted; otherwise, small turbulence can be made by raising and lowering the piston in order to be able to serve.
Tips and advantages of the French press
- If you sometimes find it difficult to lower the filter, it is because the grind is too fine. On the other hand, if the filter sinks and there is not much resistance, it is because the grind is too coarse.
- With the French press method the resting time is shorter than with drip methods and the pressure needed is minimal.
- The cleanliness of the coffee machine plays another crucial role, as old coffee beans can get trapped in the filter, affecting the cup profile that fresh beans would provide.
- Finally, it is recommended to serve coffee immediately after brewing to avoid extracting more bitter flavours.
As you can see, the French press method involves simple preparation but requires care and precision to preserve the quality of the coffee. Through this method, you get a coffee with all the sensations of the coffee variety you like to brew.