You may already know the answer if you grew up living in a house with a French press. Plunger coffee is another name for coffee made from a French Press.
The technique isn’t complicated. You scoop out an appropriate amount of coffee from a jar, crush a suitable amount of beans, and put them in a French press.
Once they’ve had time to steep, you deploy the plunger or press. That traps the coffee grounds and stops you from getting a mug full of residual coffee.
How Plunger Coffee Compares to Other Types of Coffee
That’s what plunger coffee is, but what makes it better than drip coffee or using a self-timed coffee machine?
The coffee maker has indeed become increasingly elaborate over the years. But there are many reasons why the French press continues to hold its own.
Easy To Make
First, anyone, even the non-coffee drinker, can brew a pot of plunger coffee.
There’s no need for paper filters or long-necked kettles. If you can boil a kettle, you can probably make plunger coffee. The trickiest part is knowing when to press down the plunger.
The other reason that plunger coffee holds its own against ever-fancier coffee machines is that it makes excellent coffee.
Plunger coffee relies on something called the immersion technique. That’s a fancy way of saying you thoroughly mix your coffee grounds with appropriately hot water.
That sounds like drip coffee, but it isn’t quite the same.
With drip coffee, water flows over and through the grounds. That allows it to pick up the flavor as it goes. Coffee ground immersion is more like steeping a pot of tea.
The coffee gets stronger the longer it sits in the water. But once you press the plunger, it stays at that strength indefinitely.
The other reason plunger coffee produces such a good cup is that it uses a metal filter. It isn’t easy to extract the natural oils in coffee from the paper filters common in drip coffee machines.
But the metal disc filter ubiquitous to French presses effortlessly extracts those oils and turns them into a delicious brew.
Finally, plunger coffee always tastes good. Other coffee makers can be hit and miss. You might get a fantastic cup one morning and an indifferent cup the next.
One of the significant drawbacks of water immersion is that if you leave it too long, you produce coffee that is consistently too strong.
With that in mind, how do you brew a good cup of plunger coffee?
The Best Way To Make Plunger Coffee
In theory, brewing plunger coffee is easy. Add an appropriate amount of coffee, pour hot water, and deploy the plunger.
Unsurprisingly, there’s more to the process for coffee lovers everywhere than that. With that in mind, let’s consider how to brew the best cup of plunger coffee possible.
First of all, never use boiling water. Thoroughly boiled water makes for a more astringent cup of coffee than water that isn’t thoroughly boiled.
However, tastes vary. If you like a cup of coffee with a kick, boiling water may improve the taste. But that astringency isn’t for everyone.
Next, pour the water into your French press. At this point, it should be empty. You aren’t worrying about making coffee yet.
Your focus is on warming the press. Fill it a third of the way and plunge several times. Then pour the water out.
Now it’s time to add the coffee grounds. With the press at the right temperature, you don’t need to worry about shocking them.
To ensure you get as much flavor from the coffee grounds as possible, stir them into the hot water.
Stirring the coffee grounds ensures the water and coffee mix, making for a better cup than simply letting the grounds sit in water.
While the coffee steeps, set the French press aside; this is where the timer we mentioned comes in. How long you steep French press coffee determines the strength of your coffee.
A longer steeping time makes for a stronger cup. But the golden rule among coffee drinkers is that four minutes produces the best plunger coffee.
Once you are satisfied the coffee has steeped long enough, press the plunger and pour it out.
Now you know what plunger coffee is and how to brew it. But a few things will help you make the most of a French press when brewing plunger coffee.
Always Brew a Full Pot
One of the drawbacks of plunger coffee is that you can’t make individual cups. Because the plunger relies on immersion brewing, gauging coffee strength when the press is only half-filled is tricky.
French press users agree you need two heaped teaspoons of coffee to one cup of water. That’s still a lot of water, even if you only use a cup.
Easy to Disassemble
Our other considerations have less to do with brewing methods and more about what to look for in a good plunger.
Making plunger coffee should be straightforward. Nothing about the process should be complicated from the moment you fill the press to the moment you pour out.
That’s true of the cleaning process too. The filter might be inbuilt, but if your French press is made well, even the filter will be easy to clean.
Your other consideration when deciding if plunger coffee is right for you is whether or not the press you choose is heat resistant.
Most French presses are these days, but it’s worth checking. No one wants to be scalded while pouring out the coffee.
So, what is plunger coffee? It’s coffee brewed in a French press using a water immersion technique. Many coffee drinkers think it makes a better cup of coffee.
It’s also the kind of coffee almost anyone can brew. Put the kettle on, throw a few heaped teaspoons into the press, and depress the plunger when the moment is right.
The result is a full-bodied cup of coffee that will leave you wondering why you ever answered to other, more complicated coffee machines.