One of the most beautiful things about coffee is that the end result is seemingly infinite. There are so many factors that can affect a cup of coffee that it's a combination of elements that tend to make up the perfect cup. You want to consider who is growing the coffee, where they are growing the coffee, how that coffee is being processed, who is roasting the coffee, how they are roasting the coffee, how you are grinding the coffee, and finally, how you are brewing the coffee.
Assuming you've taken the time to select the best coffee, or maybe you simply subscribe to an incredible, single origin coffee club, the big decision for you now is the brew method. One of our favorites of all time is the French Press.
Brewing with a French Press is classic. It's simple, it's beautiful, it makes for a wonder morning ritual and it returns your work with an absolutely stellar cup of joe. But, what is the best coffee for a French Press? Well, let's just tell you right up front before we get into the nitty gritty.
In our humble opinion, the best coffee for a French Press is a medium to dark roast, single origin coffee, with a medium acidity and a relatively course grind. Where the best coffee for a French Press comes from is really up to the user, however. Some people prefer their coffee to have that luscious, slightly smokey quality that comes from some of the classic washed coffee beans from Central America (like these) while other people prefer the fruity and floral character that can come from more exotic, higher elevation coffees that are either honey or natural processed (like these).
Either way, the key is to find coffee that suits your palate as brewing with a French Press is going to instill some deep, lingering character into your cup, complete with oils and sometimes a bit of silt. This is coffee in a true, simplistic form. We love it and we know that you do as well.
Let's dive into the entire process of the French Press a bit more, including how to best use a French Press, before we give some exact details on what the best coffee for a French Press actually is.
In the simplest of definitions, a French Press is a pitcher with a lid that includes a plunger with a screen mesh at the end. It was firstdeveloped in a different form in France back in 1852 and was then developed into more of what we see today during the 1920s.
The concept is simple enough. Ground coffee is added to the pitcher along with hot water. It steeps for a short period of time before the plunger is dropped down, pushing the coffee grinds through the hot water to the bottom of the pitcher. It is then poured out into a cup for a beautiful morning brew.
It's easy to skip over this factor when considering what coffee is best for a French Press. Let's start with the basics... what is so good about a French Press to start with?
For one - the French Press is one of the simplest methods of brewing a cup of coffee. For a second, a French Press is one of the cheapest methods of brewing coffee. The device is made of just glass and metal, or sometimes nothing but metal. It's just a couple of pieces, and the overall process is quite rudimentary.
As for simplicity, this is something that can be used while camping, in a small apartment, or at a fine dining establishment as a beautiful way of serving coffee on a white table cloth. It's a testament to the simplicity of the drink itself. Don't get absorbed in the light of a $1,000 automatic espresso machine or the effort needed to complete a perfect pour over brew. The French Press is coffee as many believe coffee should be - simple.
Many people would also argue that the French Press provides a very true and traditional cup of coffee. As it's essentially just steeping coffee grounds in hot water and then filtering them out when you pour it into a glass, it's quite similar to the ancient tradition of making tea.
You can expect a high level of oil in a French Press coffee to come through when compared to other methods that use a paper filter and because of the simple screen, oftentimes a bit of coffeesilt will also come through. This isn't a bad thing, it's just a sign of the brewing method.
As stated previously, we find that the best coffee for a French Press is one that is going to express its true spirit. Because of this, you’ll really want to be working with a single origin coffee bean. While blends are great for consistent coffee, week after week, a single origin coffee bean will allow you to taste the dynamics of coffee in each cup.
When we talk about “easy” coffee beans, we’re speaking to those classic, comforting coffee flavors. These will be coffees to showcase that classic, roasty, nutty, dark chocolate flavor that all coffee drinkers appreciate. These are typically coffees that will come from Central America, grown at a relatively low altitude - something under 1,800 meters above sea level - and we would recommend staying away from anything that is overly roasted (just say no to that big brand char!). The best coffee for French Press systems are coffee beans that you want to highlight, so just be sure it is coffee from a reputable roasting company who isn’t going to burn all of that delicious natural flavor out of it.
For those who prefer their coffee a bit more fruity or floral, something in that whole “third wave” world, we recommend the coffees that we consider to be “playful”. These are coffees that are using interesting processing likehoney processing or natural processing. Combining these fruit forward processing techniques withbeans that grow at higher altitudes in interesting climates like Ethiopia, you wind up with really intriguing flavors that can really shine when brewed with a French Press, which is why we tend to think that these really are the best coffee beans for a French Press. If you really want to see what coffee can taste like, this is an opportunity like no other.
We get it, it’s a lot of words for straightforward answer. And here it is… the best coffee for a French Press is a rotation!
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