On the surface, the French Press is one of the simplest brewing methods around: grind the coffee, add hot water, scroll Instagram for a handful of minutes, and plunge. What could be easier? That said, there’s a crucial step that you should put some thought into: picking the best coffee beans to complement this method. From the origin of the beans to the type of roast to the flavor profile, keep reading for a breakdown of what to look for when you’re on the hunt for beans to make in your French press. But first, a short history lesson.
The Origins of the French Press
Predictably, it was a Frenchman who engineered what’s become known as the first French press, although it might have been an Italian at that, depending on which branch of coffee mythology you subscribe to.
Like many inventions, it was birthed by necessity when the Frenchman realized he forgot to add his coffee to his water, which was already boiling, and needed something to press the coffee down into the water or else it would simply float on top. He found a passing merchant, bought a piece of metal screen, found a stick, and the first plunge commenced.
From stainless steel finishes to the perfection of the double mesh metal filter to minimize sediment in our cup, the French press has come a long way in the ensuing century and a half. Today, it’s one of the most recognizable home-brewing devices around with a consistent full-bodied, rich cup of coffee.
French Presses, How Do They Work?
Unlike many of today’s most common brewing methods (e.g., Chemex, V60, Kalita), the French press is an immersion brew. This means the ground coffee and water are hanging out, rather than a pour-over in which water is continually passed through.
With an immersion brew, you can expect a complete extraction, and specific origins and roast profiles will lend themselves better to this style of brewing. Have no fret; we’ve identified key factors to look for and even have a few of our coffees to recommend for French Press.
What Coffee Origins Are Best For French Press?
At Equator, we source coffee from countries worldwide and can decisively tell you no one country produces beans best for French Press. The best coffee bean for French Press is based on your flavor preference.
That said we do generally recommend coffees from Central, South America, and Indonesia for French Press. Why? The French Press will deliver a more robust, rich, and full-body cup of coffee due to the immersion process, and coffees from these origin countries will generally lean towards more of the chocolate, nutty flavor profiles that complement this method.
How to Find Your Favorite French Press Roast
Medium to dark roasts are generally best suited to brewing with a French Press. The darker roast will complement the French Press if you enjoy adding milk and sugar to your coffee—a dash of milk really complements the deep, chocolatey, and earthy flavors.
Are There Flavor Notes That Will Complement Immersion Brewing?
Yes! As a French press makes a fuller-bodied coffee, we recommend keeping an eye out for rich and nutty flavor notes like dark chocolate, hazelnut, and almonds.
Our Top Three Coffees for French Press
- Equator Blend: Our namesake blend, which also happens to be our best-seller, features coffees from some of the world’s best-known growing regions, Sumatra, Kenya, Colombia, and Brazil. This medium-dark roast has a flavor profile of mellow and complex cedar, apricot, marzipan, milk chocolate, and nutmeg.
- Mocha Java Fair Trade Organic: A rich and full-bodied medium roast coffee with dark chocolate, almond, and berry-like fruit flavors.
- French Roast Fair Trade Organic: Our darkest roast, with a rich and smoky profile that still retains a sweetness and fruit-toned chocolate profile. Expect flavors of bittersweet chocolate, dried plum, and walnuts.
Looking for that golden French Press ratio of coffee to water? Check out our French Press Brew Guide.
- Grind Size: If you want to extract the most flavor and enjoy all the subtle nuances of the bean, we recommend grinding your coffee right before brewing. Utilize a medium to coarse grind (think Maldon sea salt). The coarse grind supports flavor extraction to get the most out of your brew.
- Clean Equipment: It goes without saying, but always clean your equipment! Especially the mesh filter of your French Press. With an immersion brewer, you want to give this a good rinse and wash to ensure no oils are left on the filter, resulting in future bitter brews.
- Meditate: Use the 4-5 minutes while your French Press is brewing to sit and think about the day ahead or the fantastic chain of well-being that brought this great coffee to you; we guarantee it will be time well spent, and the coffee may even taste better.