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WHAT IS A FRENCH PRESS AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

18
Jul
2020

For coffee lovers, the day doesn’t just begin with a good, hot cup of coffee—it seems almost impossible without it. It’s not only the dose of caffeine that does the trick, although that does help. It’s also the ritual that surrounds it—the smell, the sound, even the wait are all a part of how coffee gets the day started right.

Every coffee lover has their favorite method of brewing, and every coffee lover feels lost without it on the go. To keep you from the depths of gas station coffee sorrow—or, worse, the complete absence of coffee—we’ve rounded up some of our favorite ways to brew coffee while traveling. Some of these options are also great for people who want to brew a cup at work, so they don’t need to rely on the office Keurig.

Here’s a little secret about French-press coffee makers: They all basically work the same. You add the coffee grounds, you pour in hot water from your kettle, you stir, you cover and wait about four minutes, you plunge, and then you pour into a mug and enjoy. And unlike drip coffee makers, which will only make coffee as good as the machine, the quality of coffee you get from a French press relies pretty heavily on your skill and process, as well as the quality of beans that you’re using. That’s why it can be hard to tell if the coffee was made in the best French press 2020 that costs $10 or $100, just by sipping it.

WHAT IS A FRENCH PRESS AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

The French press in spite of its name isn’t particularly French. An Italian designer patented the design in 1929. In France, the device is known as a ‘cafetière‘. I lived in France for almost a year, and I rarely saw it used. Most Frenchmen seemed to prefer espresso.

One of the most iconic designs of the coffee brewer known as the ‘Chambord‘ did come from the French company, Martin SA. However, the Danish homeware brand Bodum acquired the rights to the brewer in 1991. Today, the Chambord-design is almost as iconic as the striped Breton sailor shirt or the baguette.

In the last decades, all French presses seem to have followed a similar design blueprint: a simple glass vessel and a plunger with a fine mesh filter at the bottom. However, more recently, we have seen some new and exciting interpretations. Most notably, the Espro Press, which has a genuine innovative design.

This year I also tried, the interestingly named ‘It’s American Press’ for the first time, and it’s indeed an innovative brewer. It’s not just a rehash of an old design, instead, there is a little container for the coffee grounds that is connected to the plunger. That way you get easier cleaning and more control over-extraction.

  • GSI Outdoors Javapress

Make no mistake—there are fancier camping coffee makers on the market, but the Javapress from GSI Outdoors is our top pick due to its ability to make a reliable cup of coffee outdoors. This device resembles your favorite French press coffee maker—toss in ground coffee, add hot water, let it steep, then plunge and pour. But this Javapress adds a few camp-friendly features that make it ideal for travel applications, including a double-walled insulated lid and a ballistic nylon wrapping that keeps your coffee warm for long periods of time. The carafe itself is BPA-free, lightweight, and shatter-resistant making it a great coffee maker for outdoor use, but the patent-pending plunger may inspire you to use the Javapress at home as well. It uses a silicone ring to eliminate coffee blow-by (the term for when steeped grounds sneak past the filter when you press down) to deliver flavorful coffee. And if the 30-fluid-ounce capacity feels modest, you can also upgrade to the 50-fluid-ounce model.

  • Jetboil Flash Java Kit

Jetboil’s Flash Java Kit includes all the tools you need to make the perfect cup of coffee. This system includes a 1-liter cooking cup, french-style press, stove, fuel igniter, a cup, and a bag of coffee grounds. The kit is easy to set up, all you need to do is clip the stove onto the fuel ignitor and then place the cooking cup on top. The cooking cup features Flex Ring technology that can boil water in under 2 minutes. To save on fuel efficiency, the cup also includes a temperature reading so you know when the water is close to boiling. Jetboil’s french press has a silicone ring that seals tightly onto the cooking cup, and the microfilter reduces sentiment at the bottom so you’ll pour a smooth cup of coffee every time.