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What Is a Thermal French Press?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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A thermal French press, or cafetiere, utilizes the press method of coffee preparation in a container that is designed to keep the coffee warm. This is a departure from the traditional type of French press, which uses a glass carafe. The newer thermal French press is made by a number of manufacturers, comes in different sizes, and may be available in some specialty shapes — like a mug-sized press. Many consumers have popularized the thermal cafetiere because they like the French press style but want their coffee to stay warm for longer periods.

Experts in coffee history date the invention of the first French presses to the mid-19th century. Long popular in France and Italy, these pots weren’t introduced en masse in North America until late in the 20th century. As many coffee aficionados discovered this brewing style and also began to be selective about coffee quality, sales rose.

Unfortunately, the average French press depends on quick consumption after the coffee is made. Many people like to make a pot that will last for at least several hours. This is one of the reasons that the popularity of automatic drip machines that pour into thermal carafes has climbed. Of course, thermoses or the many insulated cups available are ways to keep coffee hot, too.

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To try to meet this demand and extend the period of time coffee could be kept warm for cafetiere method lovers, a number of manufacturers focused on creating a different style of carafe. So that coffee stays hot, pots are usually crafted from double-walled stainless steel, and the cap on the top may seal tight to keep heat from escaping. These extra measures do tend to increase the cost. A thermal French press is often two to three times the price of a glass one.

The expanding nature of this particular corner of the coffee maker market means consumers will have a lot of choices to review when they go shopping. They should be able to find pots that will make as much as six to eight cups of coffee. A few novelty thermal French press styles might be available in travel mug sizes, too. Customers can find thermal cafetieres at specialty coffee and cooking stores, some high end department stores and online from a variety of vendors. To narrow down choices, customers might read online customer comments or any formal reviews of specific cafetieres.

It’s hard to say exactly how long a thermal French press will keep coffee warm. A number of manufacturers suggest that the coffee will be hot enough to drink for a couple of hours. Some pots may be so well insulated that they’ll keep coffee hot all day. These are likely to be more expensive, owing to pricier materials or design.

People just beginning to use a French press are further advised to carefully select coffee for it. The cafetiere method works best with quality beans. For the best results, coffee lovers may want to grind whole beans right before making the coffee.

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