French Press: The Ultimate in Simplicity

While I am not particularly fond of French dressing (too sweet), I am grateful to the French for two other things: their Fries and their Presses. French fries are self-explanatory—only a culinary killjoy would dare question the awesomeness of these deep-fried lovelies—but the press may require a few more words of defense.

It is really quite amazing that such a simple device has withstood the test of time (it was patented in 1929). But then again, coffee is actually a really simple beverage—98% water and 2% coffee—and any device that overcomplicates this simple recipe should be immediately suspect. Great coffee doesn’t need to be over-thought.

The best thing about the French Press is its short learning curve. If you have never used one before, you can be up and running with it in less than five minutes. If you can make tea, you can make coffee in a French Press. A detailed step-by-step can be found here, but the summarized version is as follows: Heat water to near boiling (195-205°F), grind coffee beans to a coarse fineness (similar to sea salt), steep the water and coffee in the beaker for 4-5 minutes, press the coffee, drink the coffee, repeat as necessary.

The beauty of the French Press is that there are no “consumables,” like paper filters or plastic pods. The press is truly self-contained in that no further purchases (other than coffee beans, of course) are required to make coffee every day. It can be bit of a pain to clean out, but I have found that using a mesh colander (like these) makes clean up much easier.

Another side benefit of French Pressed coffee (aside from its richer taste and full body) is that it delivers a very satisfying cup. One or two cups from the press can quell that desire to keep going back for more. The slight amount of sediment in the bottom of the cup is a reminder of all that a paper filter leaves out. Some may not appreciate this reminder, but no paper filter method can quite compare to the intensity and mouthfeel of the French Press.

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