Which came first, the vacpot or the press pot? It might surprise you, but the press pot came later. It is, of course, a much simpler design than a vacuum brewer, but there were problems. In the 1840s, when the vac pot and balance brewers were first introduced, the concept of a press, or plunger brewing system was around, but the technology to make a tight enough fitting filter didn’t. Even the first models by Mayer and Delforge in France were met with limited success.
By the early 1900s, the press pot, called a “Cafeolette” starting becoming more popular and was showing up on grocery store shelves. In the 1930s, Melior introduced the first model with a stainless steel filter and a metal body, then soon they introduced a model reminiscent of Bodum’s current day “Chambord” line. Why is it reminiscent? Because Bodum bought that design!
In fact, Bodum is probably more responsible for the common day occurrence of the press pot than any other company. In the seventies, they started introducing their whacked out colours in their plastic, metal and glass press pots. In the 1980s, fueled by their profits, they bought lines like Chambord and brought out more classical-look press pots. The rest is, as they say, history.
With a press pot, particle size of the grounds is as important as it is for espresso. The difference is, you want uniform large particles, instead of uniform tiny particles.
The fineness of the grind also determines how easy or hard the plunger is to press – the finer the grind, the harder to press. The difficulty in pressing evenly increased with the size of the pot as well.
A French press requires coffee of a coarser grind than does a drip brew coffee filter, as finer grounds will seep through the press filter and into the coffee. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, stirring it and leaving to brew for a few minutes, then pressing the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker.
Because the coffee grounds remain in direct contact with the brewing water and the grounds are filtered from the water via a mesh instead of a paper filter, coffee brewed with the French press captures more of the coffee’s flavour and essential oils.French pressed coffee can be brewed to any strength by adjusting the amount of ground coffee which is brewed.