French Press or Press Pot
French-press brewing gives the operator complete control. While it may be more labor-intensive than autodrip, the brewing variables can be easily and directly controlled. Coarsely ground coffee is placed in the glass carafe, then water at the desired temperature is poured over the grounds and the top is placed on. When brewing is complete, the plunger (a mesh filter on a stick) is pressed down, pressing the grounds to the bottom and leaving the coffee liquor on top to be poured off. The filter is not as tight as a paper filter and because of the larger pores, a coarser grind is required so the grounds are filtered out, and the plunger does not become almost impossible to press down. The mesh of the filter allows the coffee oils and all those delicious dissolved and undissolved solids through without a problem. Also, because a coarser grind is required, a longer steep time is required (because of the decreased surface area to volume ratio). A brew time between 3 to 6 minutes is common for French-pressing. This prolonged, direct contact of the grounds with the water allows for a more complete, more controllable, and even extraction. Unfortunately, even with the highest quality burr coffee grinder or mill, a coarse grind will still result in some very small coffee grounds. These grounds are not filtered by the French-press filter and thus end up in the cup. A cup of French-pressed coffee with be noticeably fuller, with much more body, and often with more flavor, it will often also have the tell-tale sediment at the bottom of the cup.
Alexander Haas’s description is very accurate – the flavor is really impressive when coffee is made in a French press. The grounds can really get me all riled up sometimes, though. More often than not, however, I can take that.
What is your favorite means of brewing coffee?