The French press, which first debuted in 1806, is a wonderfully low-tech way of brewing a full-bodied cup of coffee without a filter. You simply pour hot water over very coarsely ground beans, give the grounds a stir to ensure that they are all evenly saturated, wait approximately 4 minutes, and then depress the plunger to force the grounds to the bottom of the carafe. While the method is effective at extracting the essential oils and flavors from the coffee, it does leave grit and residue that can be somewhat of a hassle to clean.
Knowing how to clean a French press correctly will ensure that your French press remains in top condition and produces a great cup of coffee with each brew.
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Why Cleaning a French Press Is Important?
Keeping your French press clean involves more than just dumping out the grounds and giving it a quick rinse. Over time, the coffee will leave behind an oily residue on the glass carafe and plunger screen that cannot be removed with hot water alone. These oils can turn rancid and result in a bitter cup of coffee. Dumping the grounds, rinsing thoroughly, and drying with a paper towel may work for a few days, but you should give your French press a thorough cleaning at least once a week.
The Coffee Ground Dilemma
Perhaps the most difficult part of cleaning a French press is figuring out the best way to get rid of the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. You should not dump a whole carafe of used grounds down your garbage disposal since this could cause a major clog in your sink. It is best to use a wooden or plastic spoon or spatula to scoop most of the grounds into your garbage. The few grounds that remain can be safely washed down your sink.
A company called Tambaroo has developed a device called a “French Kiss” that is made from food-grade silicone and is designed to simplify the ground removal process. The French Kiss works in the following way:
- You place the coffee into the French Kiss.
- You drop the device into the French press. The French Kiss will settle at the bottom of the carafe.
- Follow your normal brewing process.
- Once your coffee has finished steeping, push the plunger down as normal.
- Magnets along the rim of the French Kiss will attach to the plunger screen.
- When you pull the plunger out of the carafe, the French Kiss, which holds the majority of the grounds, will remain attached to make for easier cleaning.
How to Clean a French Press
- Disassemble all of the pieces, including the lid, plunger, and plunger screen.
- Let the various pieces soak in warm water with a tiny amount of dish soap, baking soda, or a coffee machine cleaning powder. If you choose to use dish soap, you should make sure that you rinse all of the pieces thoroughly to ensure that you do not leave soap residue that can alter the taste of your coffee. Baking soda tends to work better on carafes made from polycarbonate plastic.
- Scrub all of the components and carafe to make sure that all grounds and residue are removed. You can use a soft brush to clean the plunger and plunger screen. Do not use anything abrasive on the carafe since it can scratch easily.
- Allow the separated parts to dry on a towel or rack.
Washing a French Press in a Dishwasher:
Most French presses are marked as dishwasher safe; however, you should exercise care since glass models are rather fragile. If possible, use a gentle setting, and place the carafe on the top shelf.
Miscellaneous Tips for Using a French press
- Always make sure that the carafe and plunger are free from residue and old grounds.
- Make sure that you pour the water evenly over the grounds. After the grounds have been allowed to steep a couple of minutes, use a spoon to push down any floating grounds.
- Use a timer so that you do not forget that you are brewing coffee. Four minutes is typically the right amount of time.
- Once you have plunged your coffee, serve it immediately or decant it into another carafe to stop the extraction process.
- Never use metal spoons in your French press since they can crack the fragile glass.
Finally, you may want to limit your consumption of unfiltered coffee if you suffer from high cholesterol. There is some evidence that drinking large amounts of unfiltered coffee, such as Espresso or French press coffee, can increase cholesterol levels.