The French press is, for me and I’m sure for many others, the first foray into making “culinary coffee.” What I mean when I say Culinary Coffee is coffee brewed with careful consideration and in such a way as to bring out the maximum flavor while minimizing harsh, bitter notes. The French Press makes it easy (some might even say fun) to brew a great cup of coffee with minimal fuss, and what I think is even more important, without a significant upfront cash outlay for the purchase of a coffee maker.
I purchased my first French Press when I was living in San Francisco. It was a Bodum, and the large 8 cup version. I’ll be honest: I was cheap and was looking for the least expensive way possible to brew some coffee which I purchased from a local roaster (Graffeo Brothers). I bought the French press, threw in way too little coffee (in retrospect the coffee was also ground far too finely for the French press) and let it steep for about 10 minutes. It was undrinkable.
In time I learned how course a grind a needed to use, how long to let it steep, and can now make a pretty great cup of coffee quickly and easily. I now use a Hario hand grinder to grind my beans right before brewing. I use an OXO kitchen scale to weigh out my beans (in grams) and how hot water (in oz) and use a timer to make sure I get all the details right.
The brew you get from a French press is very different from what you can get from a pour over stand with filter. The filter will catch a lot of the oils released by the beans and most of the sediment, so the filter gives a very light (some would say floral) tasting coffee, whereas the press gives thick, dense, rich coffee. Having both kinds of grinders (again, we aren’t talking about spending thousands, or even hundreds of dollars for this kind of setup) I can chose exactly what kind of cup I feel like having on any given day.
I’ll write up a review of the Clever Coffee Dripper device soon; its kind of in between a press pot and a pour over.
Thanks for reading,