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Choose the Right French Press

The French press (also known as a cafetiere) is beloved by many coffee drinkers, present company included. Many brewing processes, including drip coffee makers, pourovers, and the Chemex use paper or fabric filters that trap many of the solids and lipids (oils) associated with coffee. The French press uses a mesh filter (usually metal, though some presses use plastic) that lets the oils and some fine particles to pass through. The result is a cup of coffee that is rich, flavorful, and full-bodied. Also, because the French press doesn't rely on an external heat source, your coffee won't taste burnt or syrupy, all else being equal. How do you choose the right French press? There are a few things to consider. Budget French presses can be had very cheaply for a model that's small and basic. You can also spend as much on a press as you'd spend on a competent drip coffee maker. While Bodum is practically synonymous with French presses, other brands -- including mass-market stalwarts like Thermos and Oxo -- also offer presses. Decide on your budget ahead of time. Bear in mind that buying online, even though it usually saves money, may not represent as much of a savings as buying from shops that carry overstock and discontinued items (like Marshall's or TJ Maxx). Shop around! Size The sizes listed on many French presses can be deceiving; though they typically range from one to eight cups, bear in mind that the cup size is four ounces, which may be much less than you're used to having at a single setting given that the typical coffee mug ranges from eight to sixteen ounces. Therefore, your best bet is to figure out how much coffee you'll need from a single pot in fluid ounces, and find a pot that matches that. Style
Bodum Brazil French Press
Here, you're in luck, since French presses come in a variety of styles from late modern to contemporary to Art Deco. While this is largely a matter of personal taste, it's a good idea to see how closely form follows function; if the press looks gorgeous but has issues in its construction, you might do better to buy something that's stylistically not as exciting, but that delivers when it counts. Material Let's start with the pot. Glass pots are the most common. The advantages: they clean easily, they don't retain flavors, and the usual glass-and-steel construction is attractive. The downside, as I can personally attest after breaking four or five of them, is that they're not particularly durable. Plastic is lighter, more durable, and less expensive, but tends to stain, scratch, and retain flavors over time. Stainless steel is highly durable and easy to clean, but the fact that most stainless presses are double-walled is a double-edged sword. It'll keep your coffee warmer, but it will also ensure that the grounds brew longer because of the lack of heat transfer. Next, take a look at the filter assembly. The filter mesh should be fine enough to keep whole grounds out of your coffee. It should be a common size in case it needs to be replaced later. It should also form a good seal against the sides of the pot. Some presses use a silicone gasket instead of a spring assembly; while it gives a tight seal, it also tends to stain and pucker over time. Finally, look at the base. Some presses have a simple, shallow base, while others have a more elaborate metal or plastic assembly in which the pot sits. Ideally, the pot should seat securely in the base, but not too tightly; especially with thinner glass pots, it's better to avoid something that needs a fair amount of elbow grease to be yanked out. Accessories
Bodum Columbia Stainless Steel French Press
Some of us like more than one cup of coffee in the morning, or might want to set aside our leftovers for iced coffee. It's important that you don't keep coffee in the press once you've brewed it; even though you've already depressed the plunger, the coffee that's left is still brewing. By the time you get to it, that coffee will be muddy and bitter. Buy an inexpensive carafe to store your leftovers. If you have a smaller press, a bottle brush is also a good idea, since cleaning the glass can be challenging otherwise. Coffee The last thing has nothing to do with the press itself, and that's your coffee. Start with good, fresh coffee like our whole bean coffee or custom-ground coffee packs. Also make sure that you're using the right grind. A general-purpose grind is typically a bit too fine for a French press; you can use it if it's all you've got handy, but it will take some practice to get the water-to-coffee ratio and brew time right. Coffee preparation seems to get more expensive with every passing day as grinders, drip machines, and even pourover cones get more sophisticated. The French press, meanwhile, has mostly retained the same form for the last two hundred years. Its simplicity, and the wonderful coffee it gives with time, practice, and just a little patience makes it a good choice for a great cup of coffee. Learn More: Nicholas Cho: Making a delicious french press redux. For nerds. French Press vs. Aeropress Howcast on making French press coffee: