Whether you are a coffee connoisseur or trying to reduce dependence on electricity, the French press is an essential kitchen appliance. It makes a great cup of coffee and requires no electricity. Even if you are not a confirmed coffee addict, a French press is perfect for herbal tea.
Using a French press is easy. It may take a little experimentation to get just the right combination of grounds and steeping time for your specific tastes, but the process of making coffee (or tea) in a French press is very simple.
- Put some water on to boil.
- Add your grounds to the French press.
- Pour the water over the grounds and allow to steep the desired length of time.
- Use the plunger to trap the grounds at the bottom and pour yourself a cup of coffee.
When I was looking for a French press, I became pretty frustrated when I couldn’t find one made in the USA. Every single model was made in China, except for one made by
Frieling, which was manufactured in Germany. The Frieling was made from polished stainless steel. It is insulated, and keeps the coffee warm much longer than the glass ones would. And, it can also keep drinks cold when necessary. The Frieling was also the largest French press available, and I believe that’s still the case.
With the Frieling being made from stainless steel, it did cost a lot more than the glass presses from China. Steel is, however, far more durable than glass. We take our press with us each trip up to our cabin, and we never have to worry about it breaking. There are no plastic parts on the Frieling, which are on all of the glass presses. Any opportunity to eliminate the use of plastic, I happily take.
When we make coffee in our Frieling, this is specifically how we do it:
- Boil four cups of water. (We use filtered water in the city, and spring water at our cabin.)
- Add three heaping tablespoons of coffee grounds, a pinch of salt (prevents bitterness), and a dash of cinnamon into the press.
- Pour the water over the grounds, cover, and steep for 10 minutes.
- Plunge slowly (you don’t want hot water splashing out from plunging too quickly), and pour.
- Add cream and honey if desired.
Of course, when considering what is and is not sustainable, coffee is an imported product. However, there are other roasted root alternatives, including roasted dandelion root and roasted chicory that can be used instead. They produce a roasted-flavored drink, but they do not taste like coffee. They are, however, easily grown just about anywhere in the US, caffeine free, have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, and both roots assist liver function. Chicory root has the unique benefit of special carbohydrates (fructans) which feed the helpful bacteria in the gut.
If you really want to take this to the next step of sustainability, coffee drinkers can also get a manual coffee grinder and purchase organic, fair-trade coffee beans in bulk. A manual coffee grinder is an added step and more labor. However, the way then blades in a manual grinder operate bring out more of the coffee bean’s oils than than the electric grinders.
In the same vein as cast iron cookware, the French press is one of those sustainable items that produces a better end result than it’s less sustainable counterparts.