July 25, 2010 0

The Pro’s and Con’s of French Press Brewing

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French press cafetiere with coffee on Coffee R...
Image via Wikipedia

The brewing of coffee can be both a pedestrian chore and a high art form. With a myriad of coffee makers on the market today, coffee lovers can easily become confused on just how to make that perfect cup of coffee.

While espresso machines and drip coffee makers have changed drastically in the past decades, the French Press had remained largely unchanged since it was first patented by Attilio Calimani in 1929, and yet it has remained a favorite vehicle for brewing coffee all that time.

The French Press, sometimes known as a cafetiere, consists in its most basic form, of a cylindrical beaker, with a “plunger” made of metal or plastic, which fits tightly inside the beaker. This plunger is covered with a fine wire mesh filter, which pulls the coffee grounds away from the coffee. That filter is also the secret to the millions of French Press devotees.

Unlike drip coffee makers, in which coffee is pulled thorough the grounds and the paper filter at the rate of gravity, a French Press allows the coffee to mellow in the grounds for a longer period, allowing the oils in the beans to emerge and the mesh filter, while keeping the grounds from passing into your cup, does not filter away these flavorful oils.

While most coffee experts will agree that French Press Coffee is among the most flavorful, it does have a few downsides. In today’s rushed world, a French Press takes time. Unlike a drip coffee machine, you cannot set it on a timer and you must allow the coffee a few minutes to steep. Water must be boiled and then allowed to cook slightly – the optimum water temperature for French Press coffee is 200 degrees- and unless the beaker is insulated, a relatively recent option, the coffee must be decanted to a thermos to retain it’s heat.

On the other hand, the French Press has other benefits beyond superior taste. Generally made of smooth glass, a French Press is easy to clean and relatively small, taking up less space than a traditional coffee maker or espresso machine. A French Press is also more economical and environmentally friendly, requiring no filters and minimal electricity consumption (only enough to boil water). In recent years portable French presses have emerged, ranging from light weight and durable styles for camping to small hand held presses that feature drinking holes in the lid so that coffee lovers can make their ideal cup of coffee on the go. Additionally a French Press can be used to brew teas or herbal infusions.

Taken as a whole, most coffee lovers will agree that a few extra minutes of wait is well worth a flavorful and rich cup of coffee every time.

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