COFFEE AWARENESS MONTH, DAY 17: Three Cheers for French Presses
Perhaps it was fate that led to our main coffee brewer going down for the count. In the past year or so, your humble author has drifted away from the French press, preferring the crisper flavor and easier cleanup of filter brews. But — forced to devise a way to make hundreds of cups for my thirsty customers while we wait for a new coffee brewing machine — in the past 24 hours, I’ve fallen back in love with the French press. Here are three cheers:
1.) CONSISTENCY: Where filter brews can be finicky — grind coarseness is dependent on how much you’re brewing, and water distribution (where you aim while pouring) is of the utmost importance — French presses are just plain easy. Once you find the right grind (generally, a coarse one), it’s as simple as adding 200ºF water, setting a timer, and plunging when the timer beeps. Keep the details consistent and your coffee will be consistent as well. Simple!
2.) BODY: Where filter brews tend to bring out subtle nuances in coffee’s flavor, the French press mutes acidity (tanginess) and replaces it withbody. Science lesson: coffee oils and coffee dust (called “fines”) combine to form what are called “brew colloids.” These colloids are what give coffee its mouthfeel, but paper filters drastically decrease them. In a French press, however, these colloids are given free reign — making for a thicker, “bolder” cup of coffee. You can even see the colloids on the surface of press-brewed coffee — it makes for attractive pictures! They’re why pressed coffee tastes “thicker” than filtered brews; and the aftertaste of pressed coffee, while sometimes a bit harsh, leaves a long-lasting linger that filter brews generally can’t.
3.) SIZE: At this very moment, using two large French presses, we’re able to crank out 3 liters of coffee in just under 5 minutes. There’s no other feasible way to do this, outside of a commercial machine. And while you might not need 3 liters of coffee on demand, a French press is great for dinner parties, long study sessions, or anywhere else you need a lot of coffee but don’t have room for bulky, expensive equipment.