The French press aka the Cafetiere, coffee plunger, press pot or coffee press is a fairly cheap method of brewing coffee and as a result the most common with the majority of households probably laying claim to one. Despite its name the French press was actually patented by the Italian Attilio Calimani in 1929, although both the French and Italians lay claim t it.  This method of brewing has gone through many transformations over the years but generally speaking involves the use of a plunger and either a nylon or wire mesh filter being used to separate the brewed coffee from the coffee grounds.  The large holes in the coffee filter mesh means that more non soluble material gets through into the cup which gives a richer, larger body and texture.  Coffee brewed by this method is much stronger than other methods and is sometimes criticised for being dense and heavy. To improve the quality of a coffee brewed by the French press method fresh coffee must be used as well as good quality filtered water. A coarser grind of coffee is preferred due to the larger holes in the filter and the correct dosage and steep time of the brew should be taken into account. Below is a recipe and method from Blue Bottle Coffee which should help you brew the perfect cup of coffee using a French press.
- Step 1: The first thing to do is to bring the water to the boil. If you are using a 17oz French Press you will need about 400 grams of water.
- Step 2: While the water is heating, grind the coffee bearing in mind this method calls for a coarser grind. The standard coffee to water ratio is 1:10 so 400 grams of water will equal 40 grams of coffee.
- Step 3: Set your French press on the scales and add the 40 grams of coffee and then zero the scales. Gently pour twice the amount of water over the coffee. So for the 40 grams of coffee 80 grams of water should be added.
- Step 4: Give the grounds a gentle stir with the chopstick and let the coffee stand for 30 seconds.
- Step 5: Add the rest of the water and then place the pots lid gently on top of the grounds. Do not plunge yet but let the coffee steep for exactly four minutes, use the timer for accuracy.
- Step 6: Gently remove the French press from the scales and slowly press the filter down. If its difficult to press down the grind is too fine and if its too easy to press down the grind is much too coarse. Immediately serve the coffee once you have finished the press to stop the coffee brewing further.