Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > The Gear and Tool Review Board

French Press

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Jack recently posted a french press for the item of the day. What are the advantages of making coffee this way? Why would someone want a french press over a drip maker?

David in MN:
There's a lot of hard science and math going on here. And taste.

If you think of coffee as a scientific process you have a function that reads the ratio of beans to water, the time of exposure of  the beans to the water, the temperature of the water, the process of emulsifying the aromatic oils into the water, the chemical makeup of the water, the process of the beans, the grind, on and on.

A French press gives better control of these variables than a drip. The best process is debated. Some enjoy a proper espresso (I paid $20 for a shot in Milan and it was well worth the experience) while some are going with a nitro chill system (check homebrewing websites).

Bottom line is that it's a question of taste. I like my French press as I haven't yet talked myself into a $1000 Illy Espresso machine. My $15 press is fine. Some prefer the drip but for my one cup every morning I've hit on the perfect press with every step measured out. A press yields ~3 cups (I make 1) while a drip makes a pot. Better accuracy.

Alan Georges:
Cooler temperatures, and a smoother less acidic result.  In many ways it's like one big step toward tea.  I've got a FP, but seldom use it.  It doesn't have the sharp, mind-shattering blast of taste and caffeine that I crave these days.  (maybe I should check into a rehab center, but I'm enjoying real coffee while it's still legal)

Here's why I prefer a french press for coffee:

No waste. If I want I can save all the grinds for the garden or whatever. No little plastic cups, no filters, I put exactly as much coffee into it as I want. If I break it, it's glass, a tiny amount of metal and a tiny amount of plastic. Most of it could be recycled. A drip machine can't be recycled. You can barely even get in to them to repair them.
No electricity needed. I boil my non-electric kettle on an electric range, but if the power goes out I can put the kettle on my wood stove and still have a coffee.
Easy to clean. I can clean one of these just as quick as a glass carafe from the drip machine, but I don't have to clean out the basket on the drip machine and all the little nooks and crannies. If you're in a rush, give'r a good rinse with hot water and let it air dry and it's good to go again.
Space saving. The one I have is not much bigger than my mug, so it can sit in the cupboard with the mugs, not on the counter. I've got a non-electric kettle that I boil water in for anything...tea, coffee, whatever. Why do I need separate machines?
Cost. It cost me $9 CDN at Ikea. I'd still have the one I bought almost 20 years ago, if it weren't for all the moving I've done. They don't break down.
Control. I can control almost every aspect of making a coffee. If you think a french press makes weak coffee, you're not doing it right. Put your coffee in, a good rounded tablespoon per cup, pour your water in, stir it with a spoon, let it sit longer for stronger before plunging the strainer down. I give it a good 3-5 minutes, while I make my toast or eggs.

So if you're considering a french press, that's why I'm a fan of them. Plus, you look all continental and posh when you make coffee for guests. ;)

    I have three. A big one, a one-cupper, and a Stanley backpacking model. I like the coffee they make and I seem to be able to control the strength better. All you need is a separate "hot-pot" to heat your water. I needed a hot-pot to boil water to make tea with anyway so it all works out.


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