For some, making the perfect cup of coffee in the morning may look like popping a pod into a machine or pouring black coffee out of a pot. For others, the morning starts out with a bit of a longer process as they get their French press set up for use. The longer prep time is often rewarded with a robust cup of coffee that doesn’t include any of the grit or bitterness that traditional coffee pots and pod machines leave behind in your mug.
While you might think that a sleek French press is a kitchen unitasker, they can actually be used for so much more. According to Giorgio Milos, Master Barista for luxury coffee brand illy, there’s plenty of good reasons a French press should take up precious counter space in your kitchen.
What should someone look for when buying a French press?
Also known as a cafetière or press pot, a French press is an immersion brewing device with a plunger filtration system inside a carafe. It allows any coffee or tea to be steeped then pressed to get all of the solid particles out of the drinkable liquid. “The most important thing to look for when shopping for a French press is the seal of the plunger against the surrounding glass. The fit should be just right to move up and down smoothly, but also not let any grounds come out around the sides and into your cup,” Milos says.
While its design has relatively stayed the same since its invention, not all French presses are the same. Some French press filters are made with a metal plunger that allows for some grounds to pass through the mesh; while others have a more advanced filtration system that have a plastic ring around the plunger that ensures no coffee sediments get into the liquid and into your cup. Milos also mentions that glass carafes produce a cleaner cup of coffee over plastic or steel, which can produce chemicals that can get into your coffee.
Are French press coffee pots expensive?
Depending on its size and the type of filtration system you pick, a French press can be an affordable option for your morning coffee routine. Pots using a simple metal plunger from a quality maker can cost around $30, while models that have a more robust filtration system can be over $140.
What’s the best way to use a French press?
There are quite a few ways to make a fantastic cup of coffee in a French press. Milos said, “The very first step before adding your ground coffee to the carafe is to pour in about five ounces of hot water to warm it up. Swish it around and discard the water.” After your carafe is warm, pour in your ground coffee and add anywhere from two to five ounces of water and stir the two together.
After stirring, wait about 30 seconds for the coffee to release its flavor, then add the rest of the hot water and stir. “Let it steep for two to four minutes. Steeping time varies according to the grind size. For a medium-fine grind, steeping time should be between two and three minutes. For medium-coarse grind, three to four minutes,” Milos said.
He also mentions that buying whole beans versus pre-ground coffee will make a better cup. “Pre-ground coffee tends to be a finer grind that can seep through filters and create more sediment in your coffee.”
How do you clean a French press?
Because coffee naturally has a lot of oil, cleaning your French press after every use is vital to preserving your coffee's natural flavors. The oil can also become rancid if it’s exposed to air for too long. Milos broke down how to clean your French press in four easy steps:
- Remove the coffee grounds and rise the carafe and plunger.
- Unscrew the mesh from the top.
- Rinse away the remaining ground coffee inside the mesh.
- If it's recommended by the manufacturer, wash all pieces and the carafe in the dishwasher. If not, use a neutral soap and hot water.
Are there other things besides hot coffee you can make with a French press?
Absolutely! Milos uses his French press to make cold brew coffee by letting coarse coffee grounds and water mix together in the carafe in the fridge for 12 to 14 hours. “If the French press has been cleaned properly, I’ll also use it for steeping tea when I have loose leaves and I need to make bigger quantities of tea for guests,” Milos says.
Best French presses for coffee
There’s a reason this French press has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon (almost 10,000, to be more exact): It’s cheap, made with good-quality materials and lasts for years. The press comes in three sizes, from a single-serve 12-ounce version to a whopping 51-ounce model.
At just under $20, the Veken French press is a sleek and super affordable option for the casual coffee connoisseur. The glass is heat-resistant and has measurement indicators in both ounces and milliliters. The press comes in three sizes — ranging from 12 to 34 ounces — in a beautiful copper finish.
One of the more affordable and highly-rated on Amazon options is the Kona French press. The coffee pot has an all-over, stylish plastic design that shields your hands from hot glass. The glass is resistant to chips and cracks, too, which makes this model a durable option for those who may be more chaotic in the kitchen.
For those who want a large amount of coffee from a brand many coffee experts praise, consider the Bodum Chambord French press. This model makes eight cups and comes with a copper or silver finish.
This press from Stanley is particularly perfect for people with office jobs or those who love to enjoy the outdoors. Once made, the coffee inside the stainless steel press will stay hot for up to four hours (or up to 24 hours iced). An added bonus is that the press is dishwasher-safe, so there’s no need to wash everything by hand.
The same people who brought the iconic enamel-finished Dutch oven into your kitchen also make adorable French presses. This stoneware press from Le Creuset is resistant to staining, chipping, odors and cracking, making this a great long-lasting coffee pot option. The French press is also available in many of Le Creuset’s legendary colors including Marseille and Flame.
On the high-end of the price scale is this French press from Espro. The press features a double-walled stainless steel carafe, two micro filters and a silicone lip that creates a vacuum seal inside the container. The seal stops the extraction process so your coffee is brewed just the way you like it to enjoy throughout the morning. The French press comes in two sizes and three colors including white, matte black and polished.
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