Using a pour over to prepare coffee has become something of a fad over the last few years. However, the French Press, also called the cafetiere or Coffee Press, is still an easy way to make your delicious hot or cold beverage at home.
There are many ways to prepare coffee. There is drip coffee, pour over and espresso to name a few, and the amount of brewed coffee you are trying to make and the coffee grind will affect how quickly the water will flow through the coffee.
However, with a French Press there is more freedom between these variables. Rather than water passing through your ground coffee, the coarsely ground coffee steeps in hot water until it is pressed away with a fine metal meshed plunger.
The Science of Coffee Brewing
There are three phases to the brewing method: wetting, dissolution, and diffusion.
COFFEE BREWING STEP 1: WETTING
"Wetting is the process of fully saturating the coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are made up of cells, and each of those cells holds some of the coffee solids that we want to extract. In fresh coffee, carbon dioxide gas is also trapped in those cells, and wetting releases that gas in a moment we call a "bloom."
COFFEE BREWING STEP 2: DISSOLUTION
The second step, dissolution, is all about dissolving the solids that will make up the coffee-part of our beverage with our solvent, hot water.
COFFEE BREWING STEP 3: DIFFUSION
The final stage is diffusion: the movement of that coffee-water concentrate out of the grounds into the surrounding liquid. Dissolution and diffusion are typically grouped together by the more common term "extraction," but I think it's helpful to look at those as separate processes." (SeriousEats.com)
The French Press Brewing Process
Have your coffee ground at the coarsest setting. Ideally, this is done at home. Learn all about the grind and equipment in our blog "How to Grind for Cup Perfection". Make a note of your grind size. If your brew was too weak then you can grind a bit finer. If it is unpleasant, bitter and over-extracted then go coarser or steep for less time.
- While there's a maximum amount that your French press will make, there isn't really a minimum. Measure 2 TBSP. (30G) of ground coffee per each 8 fluid ounces (240ML) of water. Decide how much brewed coffee you want to make and weigh out the right amount of coffee. Ideally use filtered water so the flavor of your coffee is not affected.
Pour water immediately after boil. If you have an insulated press wait about 30 seconds to pour because the heat is retained and you don't want to over brew. If you're brewing dark-roasted coffee or decaf, it's better with water about 10 to 15°F lower than boiling.
- Start your clock when you add your water. Don't walk away yet or you will get an under-extracted brew. The release of CO2 gas will cause your grounds to rise up and float on top of your water. About 30 to 40 seconds after pour give it a good stir with wooden spoon. When your grounds sink to the bottom then you can place the lid/plunger. Place plunger into the French Press and gently press down a quarter of the way and then pull back up so it is just covering the top of the coffee.
- You may have heard 3 to 4 minutes for French Press, but for a full bodied flavor start with 6 and 8 minutes. Anything less and you'll want to go with a finer grind. Keep playing with the timing until you get to your perfect cup of coffee.
- When you hear that "ding!" from your alarm it's time to plunge. You don't want to ruin your brew by pressing aggressively down on your French Press. Gently press the plunger down to the bottom. If there is any resistance, wait, (you should be able to push the plunger down with just one finger). If there is resistance then it is not ready. Back it up an inch or two and then resume plunging. The plunger should go down with the press of 1 finger, press it to the bottom and it is ready to serve.