Coffee Investigator
Collecting information on coffee and the different machines used to grind and brew coffee

What is a French Press?
(Press Pot)?

A French Press also known as a Press Pot or Plunger Pot is an unique easy way to make your coffee. Using this Process will give you an excellent cup of coffee and your friends will be amazed  watching you prepare and brew the coffee right at your dinner table. The French Press is used at the restaurants in the old Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. This was the brewing process used back in the 1700's and everything there brings you back to that time. Colonial Williamsburg brings you back to a time when our country and Constitution was founded and makes for an excellent vacation and history lesson. So much for that.

What do I need?

A French Press and a heat source, coffee, filtered or bottled water preferred. Purchase a French Press HERE.

What type of coffee grind?

The French Press uses a medium to coarse grind. The grind must be large enough so that the mesh filter on the plunger works and does not get clogged. Because of the larger grind, the brewing time is a bit longer than with other methods. I use 5 minutes as a general rule but you can adjust the time a minute or two either way to suite your taste. A grind set between drip and percolator is a good place to start as it varies from one press pot brand to another

What else should I know?

Water temperature is vital and doing it correctly makes a world of difference. You can make what many say is the perfect cup of coffee buy using fresh filtered or bottled water. I do not recommend using an aluminum pot to boil water in. Stainless steel or a Pyrex glass container is preferred. Ideally, you want the temperature between 195 and 200 degrees F. One way to do this is to boil the water and use an instant read thermometer from any kitchen store. Once you remove the water from the heat, see how long it takes to reach 200 degrees. It will probably take about 10 to 20 seconds to cool to the desired temperature. In some places, your water may boil at the proper temperature of 212 degrees. The elevation does have an effect at what temperature the warder actually starts to boil. Do not allow the water to boil more than a couple of seconds. Once you know the timing, you are all set for your future coffee brewing.

Step 1:

Remove the lid and plunger. Use two rounded tablespoons of coffee for each 8 oz. of water. Note that coffee cups range from 5 to 10 ounces. The press in the picture above holds 32 oz. of water, that goes up to the bottom of the silver band. I use five to six rounded coffee scoops depending on the coffee beans I'm using that day.

Put the dry coffee into the clean pot.

Step 2:

Using the proper temperature water, start slowly adding it to the pot. Most of the coffee will float. You can briefly, gently stir the water at this point and many grinds will sink.


Step 3:

The screen should be up against the bottom of the lid. Place the lid on the press. Many lids have a position that does not allow steam to escape, use this position if you have it.

After one minute, if you did not stir in Step 2, you can remove the lid, give a brief stir, and replace the lid.

Step 4:

Now this time depends on your grind so you will need to practice. Timing from the addition of the water, after a total of THREE to FIVE minutes you will need to start the plunge. The finer a grind you use, the shorter the time. I typically brew for 5 minutes plus or minus 1 minute.

Hold the lid with one hand and carefully push the plunger down, the screen will push the grinds to the bottom. If the filter screen is tilted and grinds are escaping, just remove it, give a quick rinse, and replunge. 

It should take about 20 seconds, this is not a fast push, there is resistance and it gets a bit tougher as you go.

Step 5:

You are now ready to enjoy your coffee. Just pour a cup and enjoy.

Note: Don’t let the coffee sit in the pot, it will actually keep brewing. Also, be aware, there will be some grinds in the bottom of your cup, it is best not to go for the last drop!


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