The French press has been around for nearly 170 years and is still widely used today by people all over the world. The simple design has seen many evolutions over the years, and nowadays, you can find all sorts of French presses in different colors, materials, and sizes. However, even among all of these designs, it can be difficult to find a French press that checks all the boxes for making a perfect cup of coffee.
What Makes French Press Coffee Different?
French press is a form of immersion brewing. Rather than using a filter and the flow of water to extract flavor from your coffee, as in pour-over or drip coffee methods, in French press the grounds and water mingle together over a period of time and extraction occurs slowly and luxuriously.
One of the main differences you'll notice is that French press coffee tastes much bolder than drip and pour-over coffee. Where pour-over is characterized by a light body and a high clarity of flavor, French press has a full, rich body and a heavier mouthfeel. This is due to the longer extraction time and the lack of paper filter between the coffee and the water, allowing more of the coffee’s natural oils to extract into your cup. As with any brewing method, you can tweak your recipe to customize the flavor, texture, and strength of your coffee.
What Makes a Good French Press Coffee Maker?
Just a few components go into a French press, but their quality can make or break your cup of coffee. Here are some things you should look for in a good French press.
Is the Material Durable?
French presses come in a variety of materials, including glass, stainless steel, plastic and ceramic. A good French press should be made of a durable material that won't chip or break easily because you'll likely use it a few times a week, if not every day. If you’ve ever owned a glass French press, you may have noticed just how easy they can be to shatter and result in a collection of orphan lids and plungers accumulating in your cupboard.
Does the Coffee Stay Hot?
If a French press cannot keep your coffee hot long enough for you to enjoy every cup you brew with it, then you know something is lacking. Ideally, a good French press can keep coffee hot for hours.
Does It Plunge Smoothly?
A good French press will also have a smooth plunging mechanism with a good filter that doesn't get stuck or leak sediment into your cup. A plunging mechanism should be easy to use and have a firm seal inside the carafe.
Is It Easy To Clean?
Since you'll be cleaning the French press often (hopefully), you'll want one whose components separate easily and can be quickly cleaned.
The Main Features of a French Press and Factors To Consider
The key components of a French press are the carafe, the plunger, the lid and the filter.
- The carafe: The carafe is the container you pour the water into. It’s where the brewing action happens, so you’ll want it to be pretty high quality. Is the carafe made of a shatter-resistant material that will last a long time? Does it hold the temperature of your coffee well? Ideally, you should find a French press that fills these requirements.
- The lid: Check that the lid is leak-proof and easy to pour from. If a lid is too loose, it can be easy for coffee to spill out when you pour it into your mug.
- The plunger: You'll want to make sure the plunger has a tight seal inside the carafe. This seal is what ensures the coffee grounds are kept separate from your drink and is a crucial part of the brewing process.
- The filter: The filter separates the coffee grounds from your cup, and they come in a variety of levels of filtration. Be sure to look at the quality of the filter to ensure it can do its job properly. If a clean, sediment-free cup is your priority, look for a filter that contains an ultra-fine filtration system.
Which French Press Keeps Coffee Hot the Longest?
We designed Clara French Press with unique vacuum insulated walls, similar to our Carter travel mug line. The insulation extends to the lid mechanism, ensuring that your second and third cups stay hot and taste just as good as the first. Clara French Press is ideal if you want to enjoy your coffee over several hours.
Maintaining the temperature inside your French press is also a crucial part of the brewing process. If your French press starts to lose temperature while the coffee is still brewing, this can impact your coffee’s extraction. The temperature of your water controls your speed of extraction, and cooler water can lead to under-extracted coffee, which may taste weak or sour.
These issues are not a problem with the Clara French Press's innovative design. The stainless steel interior is double-vacuum sealed and insulated to keep your coffee in the golden range of temperatures. While other French presses can rapidly cool in just minutes, Clara French Press stays hot for hours on end, making it the best French press for keeping your coffee at the optimal temperature throughout the brewing process, as well as for hours after.
Additional Features of Clara French Press
Clara’s insulated walls are not the only features that make it stand out among French presses. The stainless steel exterior is sleek and stylish, and with the addition of the optional walnut handle and top, it will go perfectly in your kitchen. The inside of the Clara French Press is just as high-quality. We equipped the plunger with an enhanced mesh filtration system that keeps sediment out of your drink while extracting the maximum flavor from coffee grounds. The pouring lid is uniquely all-directional, allowing you to pour your coffee without needing to align the spout, making for a mess-free pour.
Additionally, the nonstick coating on the inside makes cleaning the Clara French press a breeze, saving you time when it really counts. Best of all, the stainless steel material is shatter-proof, ensuring that you won't ever have to replace your press.
The Best French Press?
Many French presses allow you to brew a good cup of coffee, but no French press combines all the best qualities into one as Clara French Press does. It was even named the Best New Product in the Consumer Coffee Preparation and Serving (non-electric) category for the Specialty Coffee Association in 2022.
How to Brew a Perfect Cup French Press Coffee
Brewing a cup of coffee using a French press is a straightforward task, but many variations to the process can alter the end product. Here are the basic steps for brewing a perfect cup of French press coffee.
Heat the Water
Firstly, you'll want to begin by heating your water precisely. For best results, use filtered water and a kettle with precise temperature control. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the ideal temperature for water when brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. While some recipes call for water that's hotter to counteract the heat loss when you pour the water into the French press, you won't have to worry about that due to Clara French Press's insulated walls.
Grind the Coffee
We always recommend grinding your own coffee, not just because it is fresher and tastes better, but because you can alter the grind to suit your brewing medium. As an immersion brewer with an extended extraction time, French press typically requires a coarser grind than drip brewing methods, though you’ll see recommendations anywhere from medium to extra coarse. We suggest starting with a medium-coarse grind, but experimenting to find the grind size that suits your tastes.
Find your Ratio
In Clara French Press, we have pre-marked ratio lines to brew at a 1:14 ratio of coffee to water. We recommend this ratio when brewing with a medium roast. If you’re brewing with a lighter roast, try 1:12, and with a darker roast, try 1:15, but feel free to experiment with your ratios as well.
Bloom the Coffee
This is an optional step, but you may find that blooming your coffee in your French press results in a more flavorful cup. To bloom your coffee, pour just enough water to ensure all the grounds are wet, about twice as much water to coffee, and allow it to sit for 30-45 seconds. This stage allows for the release of carbon dioxide from your coffee, which can sour the flavor.
Top Off the Water and Wait
After 30-45 seconds, fill up your French press and lightly stir it. Now it's time to wait for the coffee to brew. Set your timer for 4 minutes and let the water work its magic on the coffee grounds.
Plunge and Pour the Coffee
The final step to complete the process is to plunge your coffee. It's important to plunge slowly and smoothly, as plunging too fast could exert too much pressure and force some of the coffee grounds through the filter, giving you a poorly filtered cup of coffee. After you plunge all the way to the bottom, that's it. Pour your coffee into a mug, and enjoy it while it's fresh.
For those who like a stronger or weaker cup of coffee, you can modify the process to get a slightly different result. You can experiment with different water temperatures, grind level, ratio, and the duration of the brewing process. Try only slight adjustments at first when searching for your perfect cup since small changes can quickly turn a cup of coffee bitter or sour.
French Press Recipes
Looking for some recipes? We’ve put together several easy French press ideas, custom designed for brewing with Clara French Press:
The Classic - This is your basic French press recipe.
The Weekender - A recipe with a longer immersion time for bolder flavors.
The Bedtime - A lavender and milk recipe, for when coffee’s off the menu.
The Cold Brew - Yes, you can make cold brew in a French press.