French presses brew coffee without the need for a coffee pot. They work well with loose-leaf teas as well. The coffee or tea brews inside the French press; then the plunger is depressed to extract both the flavor and the grounds from the finished brew before pouring. The result is a strong and flavorful cup of coffee or tea.
Most French presses have glass carafes, though plastic and metal types are also available. Carafes vary in size, from single serving models to those designed to hold enough liquid for four cups of brew. The carafes come in a variety of shapes, including cylindrical types and those shaped like tea kettles. A handle and pouring spout help simplify the serving of the finished drink.
Plunger and Lid Assembly
The plunger allows you to strain the coffee or tea leaves from the finished brew. The plunger rod protrudes through the lid, where it’s topped with a handle. At the bottom of the plunger rod is the filter assembly. Move the plunger up and down without removing the lid to filter the finished brew before serving.
A fine mesh metal screen strains the majority of the leaves and grounds prior to serving. The screen must be cleaned after each use; otherwise grounds clog the mesh and prevent proper straining. Some French presses have two screens with varying sizes of mesh to further aid in removing as much of the grounds as possible. The screen is the only part of the press that may require periodic replacement.
The structure disc connects to the bottom of the plunger and holds the filter screen in place. It has a coiled wire around its circumference that holds the screen in place and prevents grounds from straining through the sides as the plunger is depressed. The structure disk is fully removable to provide easy access to the filter screen for cleaning.
References and ResourcesBoston College: The French Press
Columbia University: Coffee -- Resources for Home Espresso