Stories about the French press and its origins date back to the mid-nineteenth century. A patent filed in 1852 by two French inventors, Mayer and Delforge, was the first to describe such a device, though we have not found evidence that this design entered production at the time. Around 50 years later, a new French press device appeared which was made from silver plated brass. It was designed for the stovetop and intended for brewing coffee in milk rather than in hot water. It was called the Caféolette and was invented by L. Forest. Reportedly, it was very popular in the early 20th century. (E Maltoni and M Carli 2020)
A major turning point came in 1929, when an Italian, Ugo Paolini, licensed his design to his compatriots Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta, who registered the patent that appears in the image below.
This device together with a further innovation introduced this 1935 patent from Bruno Cassol (pictured below) in 1935, meant that the plunger became increasingly popular across Europe. Cassol’s innovation was the introduction of the spring around the edge of the carafe and the introduction of a bendable steel gauze filter that wraps around the spring. This innovation meant that the plunger sealed much more effectively against the edges of the carafe, and it remains the standard until today. We spoke to British food historian Jonathan Morris, about the evolution of the French press and he considers Cassol’s spring seal around the plunger to be a turning point in the popularity of the device.
“… the key to performance would be the seal which is why the subsequent innovations are so important in transforming it into a device that is so simple for consumers to use,