The Secret to Coffee Plungers: How to Use One and Why They are a Cult Classic
There are hundreds of types of coffee makers in the world, but all of them come second to the humble coffee plunger when it comes to simplicity, romance, and nostalgia.
This deceptively simple coffee brewer has completely transformed the way people make and enjoy their daily coffee—across the planet, in nearly every culture—and it’s at zero risk of being replaced as the undisputed world favorite.
Consider this article your Coffee Plungers 101 crash course. We’ll quickly walk you through everything you need to know about coffee plungers, like…
- 3 reasons coffee plungers are a timeless classic (hint: unbelievable flavor is one)
- How plungers make coffee that’s very different from regular coffee pots
- Recommendations on how to pick a coffee plunger for your morning routine
By the end, you’re going to know exactly how to upgrade your daily cup of coffee with the world’s most treasured coffee brewer—and your morning brew will never be the same.
What Is A Coffee Plunger, And How Does It Work?
Coffee plungers—also called “french presses” in several areas of the world—are simple, manual coffee makers that… you guessed it… use a plunger in the brewing process.
The core concept is this…
Coffee plungers work by steeping coffee grounds and hot water together in a carafe for 3-4 minutes, then plunging a fine metal filter into the mixture to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.
Sound familiar? You’ve undoubtedly seen it on TV, in the movies, or in advertisements. They’re everyone's favorite, so naturally they’re everywhere.
There are typically three parts:
- A cylinder carafe that holds the coffee and water
- A fine mesh filter attached to a tall rod and lid (the plunger)
- And a handle, so you don’t touch the carafe and burn your fingers
That’s it. No wires, electricity, or complicated mechanics. Coffee plungers are simple. Deceptively simple. Because when you taste the coffee, you realize just how powerful this kind of coffee maker can be.
What Does Coffee Taste Like From A Coffee Plunger?
French press coffee is a getaway to wild coffee flavors. It’s the “Aha!” moment for millions of people every year—and once you taste it, you can’t go back.
Coffee plunger brews are exceptionally rich, full-flavored, and full-bodied. If you want to experience the full shazam of a coffee’s flavor, there’s no better way to make coffee.
If you normally drink coffee from an auto drip pot, or you tend to enjoy instant coffee, you might think that coffee from a plunger just tastes “better”. But french press coffee isn’t just better… it’s on a whole other level.
It’s like going from dried herbs to fresh herbs when cooking. Or like splurging for that expensive bottle of wine. Or switching out the 200-pound box TV with a flat-screen beauty for the first time.
You know, the kind of upgrade that makes you think, “I wish I knew this existed earlier!” 🤯
Ready to dive into the world of coffee plungers (and the world of exceptional coffee flavor as a result)?
We’re happy to help!
And when you break down the simple mechanics of how a coffee plunger works, it’s not hard to see why.
The Secret To How Coffee Plungers Make Incredible Coffee
The coffee plunger’s success lies in an inconvenient truth: regular coffee pots are not optimized to produce the best flavor they possibly can.
Auto drip pots are designed to be replaced. They are typically made with flimsy plastic parts. The electronics are only reliable for a year or two. Their ultimate destination is the garbage (so you’ll have to go buy another one).
Coffee pots are generally designed to increase profits, not coffee quality. And this causes the big-name brands at big-box stores to cut some corners in their brewers.
But coffee plungers, on the other hand, don’t have to cut these same corners—it’s not really even possible to because of how simple they are. And the difference in flavor is remarkable.
- Coffee plungers never brew with water that’s too cold. Most coffee pots are notorious for not reaching the ideal brewing temperature of 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, so the coffee turns out flat and thin—and there’s nothing you can do about it. With a coffee plunger, you boil the water in a kettle, then pour it in. You’ve always got the perfect temperature, which helps brew a balanced cup of coffee. ✅
- Coffee plungers aren’t stuck on the same rigid technique. Coffee pots usually follow a single pre-programmed recipe. Even if you change the water and coffee amounts, the pot only knows how to do things one way. With a coffee plunger, you have complete control over how long the coffee brews. Brew for three minutes, or four—whatever makes the coffee taste best. You get to decide according to your tastes (instead of letting the robot decide for you). ✅
- Coffee plungers allow the natural coffee oils (and their A+ flavors) into your cup. Drip coffee pots use paper filters that soak up the natural coffee oils, which is a bummer. Those oils contain your coffee’s most delicate flavors and aromas. We’re talking rich spices, deep chocolates, sweet flavors, fruits, and more! French presses use a fine mesh filter—not paper—so you can taste and enjoy those mind-blowing flavors. ✅
In the end, coffee plungers produce a brew that’s noticeably richer, bolder, and more likely to feature exotic or wild flavors that have always been hidden by paper filters. It’s no wonder they’re the cult classic of the coffee world.
Don’t Forget About The Coffee Romance Factor
Coffee pots aren’t really “atmospheric”. They perform a function.
Coffee plungers win on taste alone, but they’re also the coffee brewer of choice for the aesthetically-gifted, wander-lusters, dreamers, and photography-inclined.
They brew coffee and good vibes.
It’s why plungers so frequently show up in the media—seeing them on a table, surrounded by good food and coffee mugs, just makes you feel good.
Scroll on Instagram and you’re sure to see someone soaking in the beach with a coffee plunger at their side. Or a globetrotter enjoying a morning brew from a french press before they leave the hotel and explore some foreign countryside.
How To Start Brewing With A Coffee Plunger
If you’re interested in exploring the world of coffee plungers—if you love good coffee, we’re pretty sure you are!—we have a few tips for you.
- Firstly, beware of the cheapest coffee plungers out there. Those bottom-rung models are generally made with unreliable plastic frames and glass that’ll break soon. We suggest looking for higher-end glass parts, like carafes from Schott-Duran.
- Secondly, decide if you even want glass. Glass carafes allow you to see the brewing in real-time, which is awesome, but even heavy-duty, shatter-resistant glass won’t last forever. There are also many stainless steel coffee plungers if you’d prefer a Buy It For Life coffee maker that retains heat better.
- Thirdly, check the metal filter fineness. Cheaper coffee plungers have metal filters with big holes, and they can let tiny coffee grounds into your mug. We suggest looking for ultra-fine french press filters that give you all the rich flavor and aroma—but not the grit.
At the end of the day, nobody makes coffee plungers like we do at ESPRO.
Our coffee plungers are designed with ultra-fine mesh filters that are 12x finer than traditional plunger filters—so you can enjoy all your coffee grit and worry-free.
We wish you a delicious and fun adventure into coffee plungers, and we’re here to help if you need anything along the way.