Making the case for the classic french press

Colleen Kelly

A good cup of coffee leaves quite the im-press-ion. 

For the average person, solace can be found in the early morning hours in hearing the coffee pot gurgle and steam as it brews our daily fix. Coffee is a part of millions of Americans’ morning and even mid-afternoon rituals to make the day more bearable. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to put our best cup forward?

Allow me to make the case for the french press, an essential in any coffee lover’s kitchen. The french press is basically a sealed glass pitcher with a lid and plunger attached. The idea is that it brews a specific amount of coffee (or tea for that matter) using precise pressure, heat and time.

All you have to do is add about one tablespoon of coffee grounds per four ounces of hot water you plan to use, pour the water evenly over all of the grounds, wait 4-6 minutes depending on how strong you want your brew to be and press down the plunger to strain out the grounds so it’s ready to serve. The end result is a stronger, bolder flavor, as well as better portion control. 

Coffee can be an expensive habit to indulge, but a standard french press will run you around $20.

 They also don’t require you to purchase coffee filters. You just pour the water and grounds into the pitcher together and allow the plunger to separate them for you.

The trade-off for the inexpensiveness of it, though, is that you need to clean it between each use. Another aspect I love about the french press is that it requires your coffee to have been ground courser so that it can be strained out in the brewing process. It forces me to actively seek out and try different whole bean coffees to find my favorite. Whole bean coffees will rarely run you more than 20 dollars in a grocery store or cafe, and most locations will offer to grind your beans for free.

A traditional drip brewer is a classic appliance for a reason: it’s convenient. However, unless you want to splurge on higher end models with added features, you’re generally getting the same pot of coffee every day– no variation in strength or flavor and lacking in portability. 

An obvious answer to these problems would be to buy a Keurig to exert more control over your coffee choices in the morning. The Keurig has garnered criticism, though, seeing as its pods are neither biodegradable nor recyclable. 

Other studies have surfaced stating that the contents of the pods can have negative longterm effects on our health.  

If you want something that comes in a variety of flavors, but is more expensive and poses possible health and environmental risks, go for a Keurig. If you want something that offers control over strength and portions, is portable and poses zero health risks, but requires regular cleaning, pick the fresh press. 

There are plenty of coffee brewing methods out there that I have not listed here, but suffice it to say that my heart will always belong to the french press. 

 There are a variety of choices out there in terms of brewing, and everyone has the right to be a bit picky. Just don’t be afraid of trying something out of your comfort zone.