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what British English speakers call French, and some (pseudo-)truth about it # 001

October 15, 2010
After two years of denial and ranting, it was time for me to discover the truth about the French press (OK, the truth is that I stumbled upon a blog post on the art of making coffee, not that I thought I had waited enough). I mean, seriously, I think I saw one or two in 32 years of life in France, so what would be so French about it?
Well, more or less nothing. The French press [cafetière à piston] was patented by an Italian (Calimani) and perfected by another (Bondanini). The main (only?) brand manufacturing it those days (Bodum) is Danish and has always been. However, there are also a few elements in favour of the English idiom: one fallen manufacturer, Melior, most certainly sounds French; though it should have an accent on the “e” and without it could as well be Italian (for the record it’s actually still sold but now belongs to Bodum). Wikipedia also says it is thought that it is a French invention but we were too much lacking of initiative to patent it (my reading, not Wikipedia’s).
So regarding the origin itself of the cafetière it’s a pretty blurred picture. Another way to look at this is the use people make of it. For me it doesn’t sound French because it is not part of my French experience, as I already highlighted. To support this I tried to find out how many French presses are sold in France compared to the other kinds (filter coffee machine, expresso machine, caps machine, Italian cafetière), but I did not manage to put my hands on it. You will just have to trust my dishonest self…

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