Common throughout the Anglo-Saxon world and widely used in the countries of northern Europe, the French press infusion system is not well known in Italy, despite the fact that behind its invention and success there were two Italians. Let’s find out more about the characteristics and the correct use of the French cafetiere thanks to the training manager of the Espresso Laboratory Filicori Zecchini, Filippo Spimi, and discover what the simple steps are for obtaining a balanced and aromatic drink: not only coffee, but also tea and infusions are suited to the extraction using the French press …
How is the French press or Coffee plunger made?
The infusion and extraction system of the coffee plunger is made of a jug in cylindrical form, in Pirex glass or other resistant material, also plastic, and a lid which has a filter attached at the bottom. When the plunger is pushed down and presses on the mix of hot water and ground coffee, it separates the drink from the grounds.
The French press is used all over the world and, based on the country where it is used, assumes different names: in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa it is known as a coffee plunger, in France as a cafetière à piston, while in Great Britain and Holland the French term is used, or rather cafetière.
The origins of the French cafetiere
Today it has evolved in many forms, especially in terms of materials, because the shape and structure are still exactly the same as they were in the past. The first version of this cafetiere was made of a cylindrical receptacle and a plunger which had a tin filter with holes in and flannel discs attached to the end of it: the system for the “filtering of coffee via a piston” was patented in France in 1852 by Meyer and Delforge, a goldsmith and a tradesman. More than 50 years passed and an Italian, Attilio Calimani, patented a more modern version of the French press in 1931, which was subsequently perfected using Pirex glass and a filter in metal mesh by another Italian, Bruno Cassol, and by the famous company Melior, with the Chambord model.
How to prepare a coffee using the French coffee plunger
The coffee obtained using the French press is not intense like an espresso, but long, pleasing and full of flavors. To get the perfect balance, the quality of the raw materials is fundamental, as are the right quantities and the grinding. The grinding in particular is of fundamental importance, because the fewer particles are left suspended in the liquid, the better the final result will be. In fact a coffee ground too finely, risks blocking the filter of the cafetiere and, on the other hand, if the ground coffee is too coarse, the drink will be too dilute. The ideal grinding is that known as “regular”, which allows both of these inconvenient situations to be avoided. Also the water temperature must be carefully controlled: it must be very hot but not boiling, to avoid burning the coffee and making it bitter.
The right quantities
Behind every delicious cup of coffee there are expert hands at work and expertise in the knowledge of the ingredients. Let’s see which aspects we must keep in mind when using the coffee plunger:
● Ratio: 36 g of coffee powder / 530 g of water
● Grinding granulometry: 1000 – 1200
● Water temperature: 92 – 94°C
● Infusion time: 4 minutes
How to use the French Press
1. First of all, remove the plunger from the cafetiere and warm the jug by pouring hot water into it, which you then throw away immediately.
2. In another kettle, heat the water for your coffee.
3. Make sure that the cafetiere jug is on a flat surface, not wet or slippery. Pour the ground coffee into the cafetiere, according to the reference proportions.
4. Pour in the hot water, not boiling, and stir.
5. Cover the jug with the plunger, leaving it just touching the water for about 4 minutes. If you prefer a stronger coffee, you can leave it to infuse for longer.
6. Immerse the plunger, pushing down in a steady way, in order to obtain your long coffee.
7. Pour the coffee into the cup immediately, while still hot.
8. Wash and dry the jug carefully after every use.
Cold infusion and extraction
The French press is much more often used with hot water, but this system can also be effectively used cold and it’s perfect, for example, for summer drinks. The steps to follow are exactly the same as for hot drinks:
1. Pour the ground coffee into the cafetiere, according to the reference proportions.
2. Add the room temperature water. Mix with a spoon and cover the mix with the plunger, letting the lid just rest on the water.
3. Wait at least 12 hours before pouring and drinking. To chill the drink, put the French cafetiere in the fridge.
French press system french press is suitable for all types of infusions, and so can be used not only for coffee. Barley, herbal teas and infusions are perfect for this extraction method, and the same goes for tea, such as bancha, a green tea made with more seasoned and larger leaves, pleasantly sweet, with notes of hazelnut.