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French press

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A French press

A French press, also known as a cafetière, cafetière à piston, caffettiera a stantuffo, press pot, coffee press, or coffee plunger, is a coffee brewing device, although it can also be used for other tasks. The earliest known device was patented in 1852 in France by Jacques-Victor Delforge and Henri-Otto Mayer.


In English, the device is known in North America as a French press or coffee press; in Britain and Ireland as a cafetière, after the brand, La Cafetière; in New Zealand, Australia,[1] and South Africa[2] as a coffee plunger, and coffee brewed in it as plunger coffee. In Italian, it is known as a caffettiera a stantuffo;[3] in German as a Pressstempelkanne,[4] Stempelkanne ("stamp pot"), Stabfilterkanne, Kaffeepresse ("coffee press") or Bistrokanne; in French as cafetière à piston,[5][6] or simply as cafetière (also the usage in Dutch),[7] though some speakers might also use genericized trademarks, such as Melior or Bodum.

Design history[edit]

Mayer & Delforge's 1852 patent

Over the years, the French press has undergone several design modifications. The first coffee press, which may have been made in France, was the modern coffee press in its rudimentary form—a metal or cheesecloth screen fitted to a rod that users would press into a pot of hot water and coffee grounds. In 1852, two Frenchmen, a Paris metalsmith and a merchant,[8] Henri-Otto Mayer and Jacques-Victor Delforge,[9] patented a forerunner of the French press, that did not create a seal around the filter.[10] A patent was filed by a Frenchman, Marcel-Pierre Paquet dit Jolbert, officially published on 5 August 1924.

In 1928,[11] a coffee press was created by Milanese designers Giulio Moneta[12] and Attilio Calimani which had a spring to seal the filter, and patented it in the United States in 1929.[13] It underwent several design modifications through Faliero Bondanini, who patented his own version in 1958 and manufactured it in French clarinet factory Martin SA under the brand name Melior.[14] Its popularity may have been aided in 1965 by its use in the Michael Caine film The Ipcress File.[15] The device was litigated and further popularized across Europe by Melior-Martin, a French company, Household Articles Ltd. (La Cafetiere), a British company, and Bodum (Chambord), a Danish tableware and kitchenware company.[16][17][18][19]

The modern French press consists of a narrow cylindrical beaker, usually made of glass or clear plastic, equipped with a metal or plastic lid and plunger that fits tightly in the cylinder and has a fine stainless steel wire or nylon mesh filter.


Preparation of a cup of coffee with a French press

Coffee is brewed by placing coarsely ground coffee in the empty beaker and adding hot water, 93–96 °C (199–205 °F), in proportions of about 30 g (1.1 oz) of coffee grounds to 500 ml (17 US fl oz) of water, more or less to taste. After brewing, the plunger is depressed, holding down the coffee grounds while the coffee is served.

A French press works best with coffee of a coarser grind, about the consistency of cooking salt.[20] Finer coffee grounds, when immersed in water, have lower permeability, requiring an excessive amount of force to be applied by hand to lower the plunger and are more likely to seep through or around the perimeter of the press filter and into the coffee drink.[21] Additionally, finer grounds will tend to over-extract and cause the coffee to taste bitter.[20]

Some writers give the optimal time for brewing as around four minutes.[22] Other approaches, such as cold brewing, require several hours of contact between the water and the grounds to achieve the desired extraction.

Plunging slowly prevents accidental scalding of the brewer and is purported to maximize the extraction of the oils and flavonoids from the ground bean.[23] The mesh piston normally does not compress the coffee grounds, as most designs leave a generous space—about 30 mm (1.2 in)—below the piston in its lowest position. If the brewed coffee is allowed to remain in the beaker with the used grounds, the coffee may become astringent and bitter, though this is an effect that some users[who?] of the French press consider desirable.


A French press made of stainless steel

French presses are more portable and self-contained than other coffee makers. Travel mug versions 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 and backpackers 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. Coffee filters commonly used in South Indian households are a stainless steel version but without insulation. The decant known as decoction is mixed immediately with milk and sugar to make kaapi.

One variation also called "French pull" or "reverse French press" uses a pull-design: the coffee grounds are placed in a mesh basket, which is then pulled into the lid after brewing, trapping the grounds out of the coffee. Others produce a similar effect by having shutters that can be closed via the top of the press, sealing the grounds off from the coffee entirely. French presses are also sometimes used to make cold brew coffee.

Another variation using a basket to hold the coffee grounds is called "American press", where the hot water is filled in first and then the basket is slowly pushed down (and sometimes also pulled up again) through the water column.

An all-in-one French press consists of a heating element that can receive its power from a 12-volt power source.[24]

Other uses[edit]

In the same way as coffee, a French press can also be used in place of a tea infuser to brew loose tea. To some extent the tea will continue to steep even after the plunger is depressed, which may cause the tea remaining in the press to become bitter. It might thus be advisable to decant the tea into a serving vessel after preparation. The same French press should not be used for both tea and coffee unless thoroughly cleaned, as coffee residue may spoil the flavor of the tea. However, this method is more suitable for light teas and is not suitable for Indian Chai (which must be boiled) or Chinese tea (which tends to be diffused for a long time, with tea leaves reused as a rule).[25]

A French press can also be used for straining broth from shellfish or other ingredients.[26]

Further reading[edit]

  • Urgert, R.; Meyboom, S.; Kuilman, M.; Rexwinkel, H.; Vissers, M. N.; Klerk, M.; Katan, M. B. (1996-11-30). "Comparison of effect of cafetiere and filtered coffee on serum concentrations of liver aminotransferases and lipids: six month randomised controlled trial". BMJ. 313 (7069): 1362–1366. doi:10.1136/bmj.313.7069.1362. PMC 2352912. PMID 8956701. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  • "History of the Cafetiere". Galla Coffee. Archived from the original on 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  • Zhang, Chen; Linforth, Robert; Fisk, Ian D. (November 2012). "Cafestol extraction yield from different coffee brew mechanisms" (PDF). Food Research International. 49 (1): 27–31. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2012.06.032. S2CID 56221623. Retrieved 2023-05-02.


  1. ^ "Plunger / French Press Brew Guide". Code Black Coffee. 2020-10-06. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  2. ^ "French Press / Coffee Plunger". Buna Coffee. Archived from the original on 2023-07-11. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  3. ^ it:caffettiera a stantuffo
  4. ^ de:Pressstempelkanne
  5. ^ "Cafetière à piston, mode d'emploi pour de délicieux cafés". Blog (in French). But.fr. 2020-10-06. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  6. ^ fr:cafetière à piston
  7. ^ nl:cafetière
  8. ^ Engber, Daniel (2014-05-30). "Who Made That French Press?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  9. ^ "Was French Press Coffee Really Invented in France?". World Goo. 2018-11-29. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  10. ^ Pavlovich, Sasha (2021-10-13). "10 Best French Press Coffee Makers Reviewed. Detailed Guide!". CoffeeHow. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  11. ^ "The Birth of the French Press". Sheldrake Coffee Roasting. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  12. ^ "I sistemi di estrazione del Caffè seconda parte". fibsardegna.com. Retrieved 2023-05-02. Furono, infatti, Attilio Calimani e Giulio Moneta nel 1929 ad aggiungere la molla elicoidale per fare aderire il filtro al corpo della caffettiera in vetro, e Bruno Cassol a rivestire il filtro di un'ulteriore rete metallica, come ai giorni nostri.
  13. ^ Apparatus for preparing infusions, particularly for preparing coffee Google Patents
  14. ^ "The Melior Way of Brewing Coffee and Tea" (PDF). Melior Line. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-02.
  15. ^ Jeffreys, Henry (2015-02-20). "The coffee house: beating heart of a city". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "The History Of The French Coffee Press". Alternative Brewing. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  17. ^ "Bodum, Chambord French Press Coffeemaker". Museum of Danish America. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  18. ^ "French Press History". The Cooking World. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  19. ^ "History of the cafetiére". retrowow.co.uk. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  20. ^ a b Brew Perfect French Press Coffee with this Recipe - Crema.co, retrieved 2017-04-10
  21. ^ Millman, China (2009-04-23). "Freshen Up; Manual Brewing Techniques Give Coffee Lovers a Better Way to Make a Quality Drink". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  22. ^ Rinsky, Laura Halpin (2008). The Pastry Chef's Companion. John Wiley & Sons. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-470-00955-0.
  23. ^ "Coffee Science: How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  24. ^ "French press using solar power". CNET.
  25. ^ Tong, Liu (2010-06-01). Chinese tea - the definitive guide (2nd ed.). Beijing: China Intercontinental Press. ISBN 978-7-50851667-7.
  26. ^ Bilow, Rochelle (2015-05-09). "Why You Should Be Making Broth in Your French Press". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 2019-05-29.

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