How Does a French Press Work? Controversy Exposed

You may have used a French press to make your favorite Joe, but do you really know how does a French press work? A lot of people are always thinking of France when they hear the French press, but they aren’t really related. The first press was used and patented in Italy (in Milan, exactly) 80 years ago. One thing for sure, the press is used to make natural, flavorful, and rich coffee –most likely perfect to accompany the French toast you are having. So, how does the thing work, anyway?

The Way the French Press Works

Basically, you put the coffee grounds inside a beaker along with the hot water. You need to steep the grounds first. When the process completes, you need to press a mesh filter (made from metal) to the bottom side of the beaker. This action will separate the liquid coffee and the coffee grounds. The mesh filter enables the fine coffee particles and natural oils to pass through the system so you can enjoy the rich and thick texture.

French Press Works

French Press Works

When you steep the water and coffee together (for a certain extended period of time), it is called immersion brewing. As the name suggests, the coffee ground is being immersed in water. It is different from drip brewing – a process where water would flow through the grounds.

The advantage of immersion brewing is that you can get uniform extraction because the water and coffee are combined together. However, such a method has its own flaw. It would be easy to experience over extraction if the steep process is taking too long or if the coffee grounds are too small. Check out our article on How to Brew Coffee at Home with The Right Way.

The Structures of the French Press

French Press

French Press

Besides knowing how does a French press work, you need to know the basic construction and structure of the device. Basically, you will find two main parts there:

  • The plunger, lid, and filter. As it was mentioned before, the device has the metal filter to enable the fine particles and natural (coffee) oils to pass through to your cup. Without these particles, your coffee will be bland and plain. Try comparing the coffee with the French press and the paper filter. You will notice that the previous one has this hearty and rich texture. The filter itself is connected to the plunger – a device used to press the filter, keeping the beans on the bottom. The lid should fit snugly to the beaker. When you pour the coffee, you can do it easily without having to worry about spilling the coffee.
  • The beaker, handle, and base. The beaker can be made from plastic. Ceramic, metal, or glass. The main function is to contain the water and coffee while steeping – as well as making the pouring process easier.

Additional Considerations and Items

As you can see, using the French press is relatively easy and simple. You don’t need to buy any expensive coffee machine, paper filter supplies, or long neck kettle. If you have the French press, you only need to have the ground coffee and hot water.

If you like the regular cup of Joe, then having the regular coffee grounds should be enough – without any cream or whatsoever. However, the coffee quality you make will vary, depending on the extra tools or extra additions that you have. For instance, if you have a burr grinder coffee so you can grind the beans freshly, it will make your coffee super tasty.

For the record, the longer the coffee has been ground, the less quality it has. Once the beans have been ground, the oxidization process will start and it will affect the flavor. Such a grinder will also result in consistent grind – which is important to make the quality coffee from the French press. If the particles are uneven, the bigger ones won’t be extracted well enough while the smaller ones will be overly extracted, resulting in bitter flavor.

How to Make Coffee with French Press

How to Make Coffee with French Press

How to Make Coffee with French Press

So, how does a French press work? How can you make the quality coffee? Here are the simple stages to follow:

  • Heat the water first. Make sure to use filtered and clean water (if possible, the one with low content of mineral). You can boil the water in maximum way but you can also consider 205 degrees of Fahrenheit to do it.
  • The water can be used to clean and preheat the press. However, this step is important if you haven’t used it for a while. If you have used the press quite often, skipping this stage is okay.
  • Measure your coffee beans and grind them. There is a chart ratio as well as French press size guide to help you with the creating process. The different size and mix will result in different taste and flavor. You can experiment with it.
  • Pour the ground coffee and add hot water. Once you are sure that the coffee grounds have been wet, set the timer and let the steep process begins. Not more than 4 minutes should do it.
  • Once the process completes, you should see the crust on the surface. If you want to have a full body, you can use the spoon to break it and stir it. If you want to have a light body, the spoon can be used to scoop it.
  • Press the plunger down. You can pour it to your mug.
  • Don’t pour the last content – leave 10% of it because it contains silt. The same principle goes to your cup of coffee so don’t drink to the last sip.

Making coffee with the French press is pretty easy and simple, right? Now that you know how does a French press work, will you consider having one?

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