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Cafetieres - French Press Coffee Makers

Updated on June 24, 2014

Why Cafetieres Make Delicious Coffee

How to make the best coffee? That was the question that I needed to answer when I set up my Bed and Breakfast in France.

I've always liked a nice cup of coffee and for me the best coffee is milky, not too strong or bitter. You can see I'm more a coffee aficionado than a coffee connoisseur so I had to learn about what makes a seriously good cup of coffee because I wanted to put my guest house on the map!

The answer that came back to me was "use a cafetiere" - sometimes called a French press or 'La Cafetiere'.


This work by Barbara Walton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Please note that all images, unless otherwise attributed, are the property of Barbara Walton

Design Classic - A touch of class!

A poem in glass and chrome!

Ok, I jest, but I do think this shows the beauty in functionalism and in simple materials. Not only do I love the utility of the classic FPs, but I also love the sheer functional beauty of it. Don't we all adore a machine that actually works?

It was William Morris, that famous artist and leader of the Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the 18th Century said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful". How wonderful it is to be able to have both utility and beauty artlessly united in one small and accessible household object. And unlike many of William Morris's exquisitely crafted items, the classic French press is yours for a song!

The mark of a true classic.

La Cafetiere Optima 8-Cup French Press (Chrome)
La Cafetiere Optima 8-Cup French Press (Chrome)

This is the design classic - black and chrome with glass beaker. Chic and so very cotinental. You can imagine sitting in front of a Paris cafe, the waiter bringing this to your table, the busy Parisienne street life passing by .....

It is elegant and has received 4.5 stars from satisfied customers. Care must be taken, though, with the glass beakers as some clients have found them to be more fragile than they would like.

Stainless steel frame YES

Stainless steel plunger Yes

Heat Resistant borosilicate glass YES

Replacements beakers? YES

Dishwasher safe? YES

 

How Do You Make Coffee? - What do you use to make that perfect cup?

Share your beverage-making secrets here with me. Everyone has their own special methods and you can tell us all how you make your cuppa.

Do you have a coffee maker?

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How to Go About Finding Out Which are the Best Coffee Makers?

This is what I did

After reading quantities of material on line from the salespeople I decided that to get to the truth I had to tackle it from the other side - the drinkers and retailers.

I went to my gourmet friends and acquaintances (of which I have many, living in France) and I asked the experts and professionals - other people whose reputation rested on making good coffee. I sought out my well-traveled and well-fed friends with a passion for the stuff. Friends who knew how coffee was make in Arabia, in Africa and America as well as in Europe. I sought out connoisseurs and vendors (vendeurs here in France) of the prized beans.

The verdict? The French cafetiere, also known as the French Press and Press Pots. La caftire is the creme de la creme of the coffee makers. Cafetiere coffee is, officially, the best and that's what I use in our B&B.

I'm pleased to say that I'm very often complimented on the coffee I serve, even by the French who pride themselves on their cuisine.

What is a Cafetiere?

A little French coff-e potted history

The cafetiere is a French word and this classic coffee maker is also known as a press pot, coffee plunger, French press, cafetire (in the UK) or cafetire piston in French, although here in France they often use the trade mark names such as 'Melior' or 'Bodum'. (I'm going to test this out on my French guests and find out what they would actually call it.)

The French press is a gloriously simple coffee brewing gadget which goes back to the early 20th century. The first presses may have been created in France, but it was first patented by the Italian designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. Over the years several design modifications were made and in 1958 Faliero Bondanini patented his own version of the cafetiere and began to manufacture it in France. Household Articles Ltd., a British company, was the next to take up the French press, followed by the best-know, Danish company, Bodum. This latter has become so popular that the name 'Bodrum' is used to describe the cafetiere in popular parlance.

Amazingly, in our guest house we find it's the French who often don't know the French Press. I have to explain to them how to use them and also tell them that, to the English, the cafetiere is quintessentially French!

Why Do They Work So Well?

The technology behind the taste

The French press uses just-off-the-boil water, coarsely ground coffee and is served after a few minutes of 'brewing'. It's simple, quick and served FRESH. This method of making coffee is perfect for showcasing the rounded flavours, the aromas and for avoiding bitterness by boiling or by leaving the grounds in for too long.

By infusing the course grounds well, the full flavor and the oils have time to fully infuse into the nearly-boiling water. Finel grounds shouldn't be used as they can seep through the filter which has a rather open mesh compared to a paper filters.

I checked out what our English guests liked, our Australians, Americans, Italians, Brazilians and, yes, even Chinese guests liked our coffee and so I think it's a good bet that we've got it right with our cafetiere.

How Clarissa Dickson Wright Makes Coffee

Celebrity chef Clarissa tells you how to do it in her book: Rifling Through My Drawers

The Piston Has A Filter - The secret of the French Press Coffee Pot

Cafetiere-French-Piston
Cafetiere-French-Piston

How Do Cafetieres Work?

The secret is in the piston

The modern French press consists of a glass or plastic carafe or beaker, a lid made from metal or plastic and the all-important plunger. The plunger must fit very tightly in the cylinder otherwise the grains will get into the liquid. The plunger is made up of a central metal support with an insulated lid at the top and three metal layers at the bottom. These metal layers, all disc-shaped, consist of a wire or nylon mesh which acts as a filter.

The mechanism couldn't be more simple. The lid and piston part of the cafetiere are removed. The grounds are placed in the glass beaker, the water is poured on, stirred and the piston or plunger is put on. The lid is closed on the beaker and the filter separates the coffee from the grounds..

In the picture above, you can clearly see how the piston is made up and you can see the metal mesh filter, a support for that filter on each side and a plunger with a simple handle on top. The metal supports at each side of the mesh filter serve merely to keep the mesh taught. They have holes in various decorative patterns to allow the water to penetrate, while the filter allows the flavors and aromas to infuse into the water but prevents the grounds from rising into the coffee.

10 Good Reasons Why You Should Choose A French Press Coffee Pot - You know it makes sense!

Why invest in a big and bulky coffee making machine when you can buy a simple but effective cafetiere? Complicated machines are expensive to buy, need electricity, need filters, take up extra space, take space to store, are difficult to clean, are noisy and often they just don't make the best coffee.

These are just some of the reasons that I chose to use a cafetiere and these are the reasons that I think you should choose cafetieres too!

  1. They make the best coffee
  2. They are simple to use
  3. They are gorgeous and stylish
  4. They are good value for money
  5. They are small and easy to store and great for travelling
  6. They're easy to clean
  7. They come in different sizes
  8. There's a price range to fit every pocket
  9. No need to buy filters
  10. No need to access electricity

Large, Medium or Small? - How do you choose the right size for you

cafetier
cafetier

The Classic Cafetiere comes in 3, 4, 8 and 12 cup sizes, but the most popular are 3, 8 and 12, so how do you choose the best cafetiere for you? This 'cup' size is infinitely confusing, especially for a world audience, but a rough guide is this:

3 cup cafetiere for one person who enjoys a good mug of coffee or two 'lady-like tea cups'

8 cup cafetiere for 3 - 4 people

12 cup for 4 - 6 people

The thing is, let one person have a dainty little coffee pot. Serve more people with an 8 cup cafetiere but be prepared to bring them a second pot - remember the coffee should be served fresh and hot and grounds shouldn't be allowed to sit in the pot until they become bitter.

It follows from this that it's nice to have a selection of sizes. You could begin, for example, by serving a group of people with a large pot, then making fresh coffee for the one or two who would like more in smaller pots. Serving one person - or yourself? Get a small pot. Why not have a whole shelf full of pretty cafetieres! The ones in the picture below are just so decorative.

And So Beautiful - They are decorative items that enhance your kitchen

cafetieres
cafetieres

These cafetiers adorne a shelf in Bentham Lodge Guesthouse in York. Pretty as a picture but a great deal more useful.

Because these pots are such classic designs, because they are so elegant, simple with such clear cut shapes and beautiful materials (what could be more classic than glass and chrome?) these little contraptions are very decorative. I love this shelf full of them.

The owner of this B&B couldn't do with their pots. Professional providers of breakfast choose the French classic cafetiere.

Bentham Lodge Guest House
Bentham Lodge Guest House

How Do You Like Your Breakfast Cuppa?

By Nikki from Bentham Lodge Guest House in York UK

This is a little informal research, left as a message in the box below, drawn from observations by Nikki from Bentham Lodge (see the pictures above) about nationalities and their love of strong, or not so strong coffee. I thought it was fun so I'm quoting her here:

"At Bentham Lodge Guest House in York, we only serve coffee in cafetieres primarily because different nationalities like different strengths. A crude survey of my guests show that the nationalities liking the very strongest drink are the Swedes, Finns and Romanians and those who like it the weakest are the Northern British and Germans."

So now you know. If you don't fit into these coffee-drinking patterns, leave a message below.

Remember if you're ever staying in York to drop by Nikki's and sample a cup of her fantastic coffee.

More below on how to make the best coffee with a French press

Image courtesy of Nikki Williams

These Thermal Pots Are Hot - Combine elegance and efficacy

thermal-cafetieres
thermal-cafetieres

Don't these cafetieres look lovely? They remind me of Edwardian silver service tea sets, but these are great little machines. They make excellent coffee, keep it hot and grace your breakfast table at one and the same time. Who could ask for anything more?

What a shame my photography isn't up to scratch too. I'll just have to go back and take another photo of these pots next time I'm in York.

Cleaning a Coffee Maker is a Pain

It's easy to keep cafetieres clean

Most cafetieres are dishwasher safe - check this before you buy - but I wash mine by hand in warm water with a little washing up detergent added. I then rinse it thoroughly. That's all there is to it!

Why worry about how to clean a coffee maker that is big, bulky, expensive to buy and expensive to run when a cafetiere is so easy to clean?

How to Prepare Perfect Coffee - French press instructions for the perfect cup of coffee

I always like to SEE just how to do things as well as to read instructions, so I've chosen this video because it shows you simply and easily, exactly how to use your FPC pot.

How to Make Good Coffee With A Cafetier - French press instructions

  1. Gently pre-heat the glass beaker with warm water
  2. Add coarsely ground beans - approximate one dessert spoon per person
  3. Slowly pour just-off-the-boil water over the coffee grounds
  4. Stir the well - this is important to help to stop the press spilling over when pushed down
  5. Put on the lid, but don't press down the piston yet
  6. Wait about four minutes, it's ready when the piston can be pressed down easily. (If you force the piston, the coffee can rise up and spill out of the cafetiere.
  7. Serve immediately

Replacement Glass Carafe - The glass part is sometimes called a 'beaker'

Is the traditional, classic cafetiere tough and long-lasting? Yes, but if you drop it on a very hard floor the glass will break! I haven't dropped one yet but I have cracked the glass carafe of one of my cafetieres by not following the cafetier golden rules to the perfect cup of coffee!

I was in a rush to get drinks onto the breakfast table for my guests and poured boiling water into the glass - fast. More than it could stand. I've learned my lesson and more. I found out that you can buy replacement carafes for your press.

You can also buy replacement filters.

Check List - Before you buy check this out

A few things to check before you buy your cafetiere - make sure you buy the right cafetiere for you.

  1. Is it dishwasher safe?
  2. Can you buy a replacement beaker?
  3. Does it have an unbreakable beaker?
  4. Does it have a heat-resistant beaker?

Just For Fun I Found Out a Bit More About Bodum

How did the company become synonymous with the pot?

On the company website you'll find a video about Bodum where Jorgen Bodum tells the story of how his father, Peter Bodum, set up the Bodum company in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1944 just after the war and it was taken over by his son, Jrgen Bodum in In 1978. Jorgen also moved the company to Switzerland, more centrally placed in Europe.

Jorgen Bodum says that there were so few good products out there that it was easy to sell. Thomas Perez, the president of Bodum, goes on to tell us how much Bodum has changed over the intervening years.

Jorgen Bodum says that his father began with coff** and that the good thing about the French Press is that if the coffee is good it gets better ....

Today the company has many more product lines, but all these electrical and kitchen goods are designed to be simple, "with as little design as possible". Less really is more here. Bodum actually uses the words 'form follows function' but at the same time they want the products to be eye-catching.

Emphasis is put on the fact that their products are easy to use, intuitive is the exact word, and their designs are timeless. All these are elements that lead to great design classics.

Where Else Can You Buy Your Cafetiere? - I'm making a little list!

As I come across good places to buy I'll list them here. It's always nice to know of suppliers that can be trusted.

Where in the World Are We? - In Limousin, a hidden corner of South West France

It's about six years ago since we opened our B&B in Limousin, South West France. We had moved here in 2002 and set to work transforming an old farm into a guest house and a gite. We had various animals to begin with, geese, hens, goats and sheep, but over time as the guest house took off, so we had less and less time to maintain, let alone develop, a smallholding. So as our gite and bed and breakfast became more popular, so we had to cut down on our farmyard pets. Pity.

If you are interested to come and see how we are getting on, take a look at our website on www.lestroischenes.com or send an e-mail to info@lestroischenes.com

show route and directions
A markerOur b&b is in this little hamlet -
Videix
get directions

B markerLimoges and Angouleme are the nearest big cities -
Limoges
get directions

Have I Convinced You That The Cafetiere Is Best? - Let me know if you are a convert

Will you switch to a cafetiere?

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Let me know what you like to drink, when and how you make it. Do you agree that cafetieres are best or do you stand by another method. It's always good to have a bit of feedback and some other opinions on a subject.

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Tell Me About Your Best Beverages - I'd love to hear from you

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    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Nice coffee lens with extra tips to make the perfect French Press coffee. Thanks so much for sharing:=)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      We use a French Press occasionally. I'm not sure what my husband prefers. (I don't drink coffee.)

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      I like coffee with milk.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I bring a cafetierre when we go for work in other countries. It is often not available in the countries we worked in so I always pack one. For us, it makes the best coffee. I bring my own grinder as well to make sure the coffee grounds are right for the press.

    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 4 years ago

      I have a French cafetiere and I will never change it!! Great lens.

    • profile image

      vanderwick 4 years ago

      good choice from u

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @AgingIntoDisabi: Do come and see us AgingIntoDisability. Would love to serve you a pot or two of coffee from out cafetieres.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @Natural_Skin_Care: Thanks Natural_Skin_Care. But is it French roast?

    • AgingIntoDisabi profile image

      AgingIntoDisabi 4 years ago

      Your bed and breakfast seems classy - would love to have coffee served from one of these.

    • profile image

      Natural_Skin_Care 4 years ago

      I associate these with French roat - great stuff.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @anonymous: Gosh, this is fascinating, Nikki. I have never noticed this. Everyone seems to like it and most comment on how good it is. I suppose you could serve a jug of hot water with it so they can dilute it a bit if they like.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 4 years ago from France

      @MaggiePowell: They are winners all round, Maggie. Thanks for sharing your cafetiere experiences.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      At Bentham Lodge Guest House in York, we only serve coffee in cafetieres primarily because different nationalities like coffee at different strengths. A crude survey of my guests show that the nationalities liking the very strongest coffee are the Swedes, Finns and Romanians and those who like it the weakest are the Northern British and Germans.

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 4 years ago

      I started using a French Press/ Cafetiere on a camping trip (it doesn't require electricity, and it's fairly shatterproof)... and I loved it. I use it every day now.

      My teen daughter is hooked too.