Coffee aficionados agree, the French Press is one of the best ways to brew a delicious cup of coffee.
But why is that?
Here are a Few of the Main Reasons That People Think French Coffee Tastes The Best
These are just a few of the main reasons I think. Let’s look at each individually.
Generally, a French Press requires a coarse or medium-coarse grind coffee to avoid particles in the cup.
The size of your grind will depend on the size of the mesh strainer in your French Press.
Grind size can be adjusted to change the flavor profile of the coffee.
Finer grinds can offer more access to unlocking flavors, but they also over-extract quickly and require additional filtering.
Coarser grinds can reduce the bitterness caused by over-extraction and allow for fuller flavor development.
Freshly ground coffee is a big part of the reason French Press coffee tastes so much better than other kinds.
When your beans are freshly ground , the oils from the coffee bean are contained inside until just before you are ready to brew.
This is a stark contrast to pre-ground beans than have been left on the shelf, oils oxidizing and freshness fading away.
Using fresh beans and a burr grinder for optimal consistency in the grinding process, a much more flavorful brew is achieved.
A blade grinder is a better choice than pre-ground beans, but the grind will be inconsistent compared to a burr grinder. This option is more economical, however.
Another significant reason people enjoy French Press coffee and hail it over other styles of brewing is due to the coffee particles left behind from the brewing process.
These particles add a bolder, more full-bodied flavor profile to the coffee, giving it that punch most people enjoy about French Press coffee.
These particles cut down on the acidity of the coffee providing a more pleasant experience for the drinker.
The Brewing Process
Attention is paid to the timing of a brew in the French Press, which can also contribute heavily to the superior flavor achieved.
A percolator or single cup coffee machine does not allow for the coffee to be immersed in hot water. The water filters through the coffee quickly, picking up some flavor notes and leaving others, that require time to develop, behind.
A significant loss of flavor that comes with the percolator style of brewing is the loss of oils to the filter paper.
Especially with a freshly ground coffee you want to retain those oils, so you can enjoy the full flavor and freshness of the coffee.
And that brings us to a relevant question that I get from time to time:
Do Coffee Oils Have a Taste on Their Own?
If you’ve ever looked inside a frequently-used coffee grinder or simply noticed something shimmery in your coffee, you’ve probably wondered what causes this greasiness and how it might affect the flavor of your coffee.
Here, we’ll go over what coffee oils are, factors that influence their levels in coffee, and what effects they have on how your coffee tastes.
What Are Coffee Oils, and Where Do They Come From?
Essentially, the oils found in coffee that are present in your french press brew are the result of the caramelization stage of the roasting process.
In this roasting stage, the intense heat will develop a flavor compound known as coffoel. This, in other words, is the oil that you see coating the insides of coffee containers and equipment, as well as that shiny stuff floating in your coffee (source).
Does Coffoel Have a Taste?
In short: most definitely!
If you noticed in the last section, we referred to coffoel as a “flavor compound.” In fact, it’s coffoel’s role in coffee chemistry that makes it so important to store you coffee sealed tightly and away from other strong aromas and flavors. This is because coffoel tends to absorb other flavors quickly and easily (source).
Are Oilier Coffee Beans More Flavorful?
It’s true: the oilier the coffee beans, the more intensely flavorful the resulting brew. This is due to the length of roasting. For instance, darker roasts go through a much longer roasting process. That’s why darker roasted beans will always have a much shinier and oilier surface.
Further, just as longer roasting times lead to darker, oilier coffee beans, it also leads to more sugar burn off. This is why darker roasts are significantly more bitter than lighter roasts.
Pro Tip: You can gauge the freshness of dark roasted beans based on their surface oils! If you have dark roasted beans that are relatively dry, you can be fairly certain that they have gone bad (source).
Are Coffee Oils Bad for Your Health?
Yes and no. While there are certainly many health benefits to drinking coffee, there are some downsides as well. Some research suggests that coffoel could be responsible for elevated cholesterol levels, but the jury is still out.
As with anything good in life, coffee is best consumed in moderation, if you can help it. Sometimes we can; sometimes we can’t.
The Ritual of Using a French Press is Part of the Appeal!
Perhaps some part of the reason the cup of French Press coffee tastes so much better has a bit to do with the small ritual we perform along with it on top of the actual coffee and oils that are so obvious.
Taking a few moments out of your hectic morning, or day to care for yourself and make a special cup of coffee can be meaningful self-care.
When we get involved in the process of making something, we become that more attached with it.
It may be that our cup of French Press coffee tastes just that much better knowing that we’ve put a little extra love, time, and care into not only making it … but making it exceptional.
Of course there are also some simple ways to make it taste even better so let’s look briefly at the most important one, minimizing the amount of sediment that isn’t filtered out when you press the plunger down.
Reducing French Press Sediment Will Make it Taste Even Better
Many people have a hard time brewing quality French press coffee the first few times they try, despite the relatively simply brewing process.
The biggest complaint new French press users have is that their brews tend to include a lot of sediment, creating a cloudier and less smooth cup than desired.
How to Reduce Sediment in Your French Press Coffee
Lets go over some tips and tricks to limit the amount of sediment in your French press coffee and get you the smooth cup you’re after, without sacrificing any strength or flavor.
1. Perfect Your Grind
One of the biggest mistakes people make when brewing French press coffee is using the wrong size coffee grounds. Since the French press uses a mesh filter to push the grounds to the bottom of the carafe, it’s imperative that you use a rather coarse grind. The grounds must be coarse enough that they won’t pass through the filter.
This is also why it’s important to use a quality burr grinder over a blade grinder, as burr grinders produce a much more uniform grind. Uniformity is key to preventing ‘fines’ (small coffee particles) from passing through the filter.
2. Settle Down!
You’ll notice that these fines tend to float on top of the liquid after you’ve plunged the large grounds down to the bottom. But if you have a bit of patience, you can wait for these fines to settle toward the bottom of the carafe, leaving you with a much smoother, clearer cup when you pour.
3. Strain Again
Finally, if you don’t have the patience to wait for the sediment to settle at the bottom, you can always pour your freshly brewed French press coffee through a second strainer. If you have a fine mesh strainer, you can hold it over your cup and pour the coffee right through it. Just be sure to pour carefully to give the coffee enough time to filter through, or you risk overflowing the strainer.