A French press, also known as a press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger, cafetiere (UK) or сafetière à piston, is a simple coffee brewing device which was invented in France in the late 19th century. It was first patented by Italian designer Attilio Calimani in 1929.
The French press goes by various names around the world. In Italy the press is known as a “Feurn de Leur”, a French name. In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa the apparatus is known as a coffee plunger, and coffee brewed in it as plunger coffee. ItsFrench name is cafetière à piston. In French, it is also known by its brand names, notably,Melior, from an old brand of this type. In the UK and the Netherlands the device is known as a cafetière; the French word for a coffee maker or pot.
 History and design
The French press underwent several design modifications over the years. The first coffee press, which may have been made in France, was the modern coffee press in its most rudimentary form: a metal or cheesecloth screen fitted to a rod, and pressed down into a pot of boiling water. The coffee press was patented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. It underwent several design modifications through Faliero Bondanini, who patented his own version in 1958 and began manufacturing it in a French clarinet factory called Martin S.A., where its popularity grew. It was further popularized across Europe by a British company by the name of Household Articles Ltd., and most notably, the Danish tableware and kitchenware company, Bodum.
The modern French press consists of a narrow cylindrical beaker usually made of glass or clear plastic, equipped with a lid and a “plunger”, made of metal or plastic, which fits tightly in the cylinder and which has a fine wire or nylon mesh filter. The simplicity of the mechanism and its potential for attractive after-dinner presentation have led to a variety of more-or-less aesthetic designs.
A French press requires coffee of a coarser grind than does a drip brew coffee filter, as finer grounds will seep through the press filter and into the coffee. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, stirring it and leaving to brew for a few minutes, then pressing the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker.
Because the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the brewing water and the grounds are filtered from the water via a mesh instead of a paper filter, coffee brewed with the French press captures more of the coffee’s flavour and essential oils, which would become trapped in a traditional drip brew machine’s paper filters. As with drip-brewed coffee, French pressed coffee can be brewed to any strength by adjusting the amount of ground coffee which is brewed. If the used grounds remain in the drink after brewing, French pressed coffee left to stand can become bitter, though this is an effect that many users of French press consider beneficial. For a 1⁄2-litre (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 US gal) French press, the contents are considered spoiled, by some reports, after around 20 minutes. Other approaches consider a brew period that may extend to hours as a method of superior production.
French presses are more portable and self contained than other coffee makers. Travel mugversions exist which are made of tough plastic instead of the more common glass, and have a sealed lid with a closable drinking hole. Some versions are marketed to hikers andbackpackers not wishing to carry a heavy, metal percolator or a filter using drip brew. Other versions include stainless steel, insulated presses designed to keep the coffee hot, similar in design to thermos flasks.
In the same way as coffee, a French press can also be used in place of a tea infuser to brew loose tea. However, the tea will continue to steep even after the plunger is depressed, causing the tea remaining in the press to become bitter and undrinkable.
- ^ “History of the Cafetiere by James Grierson”. Gallacoffee.co.uk.http://www.gallacoffee.co.uk/acatalog/History_of_the_Cafetiere.html. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
- ^ Davids, Kenneth (2001). Coffee. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312246655.
- ^ Millman, China (2009-04-23). “Freshen Up; Manual Brewing Techniques Give Coffee Lovers a Better Way to Make a Quality Drink”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania). http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09113/964681-51.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- ^ Rinsky, Laura Halpin (2008). The Pastry Chef’s Companion. John Wiley and Sons. p. 119.