There’s a million ways to make coffee: pour over, percolator, siphon, vacuum, aeropress, and so on. Yet beyond all the bells and whistles, nothing beats using the French press.
French press coffee is like the middle child of brewing coffee—often over-looked in favor of the temperamental and latest technology or the tried-and-tested traditional brewing methods. Still, brewing coffee using the good old coffee press has big potential for providing you with a highly satisfying happily-ever-after conclusion to your caffeine cravings.
And best of all, it’s not rocket science to make an awesome cup with a French press. Let’s take a look at how you can make a heavenly brewed coffee using this nifty tool.
What is a French press?
Also known as a coffee plunger, coffee press or press pot, the French press is one of the simplest yet rewarding ways to make a rich and delicious cup of coffee.
Low-tech with its cylinder glass (or steel or plastic) beaker topped with a lid that has a plunger and a built-in meshed piston, this tool doesn’t need any electricity and is highly portable. In fact, it hasn’t changed its design much since its invention in 1929 by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani. Basically, the idea is to put coffee grounds in the beaker, add water, let them steep together, and let the mesh piston filter out the finished product from the grounds.
It may sound simple, but with the right technique, you can be sure to come up with consistently full-bodied, full-flavored coffee each time.
How to Make Great French Pressed Coffee
Here are the steps to help ensure that you make awesome-tasting French press coffee:
Boil enough water to adequately fill your French press, taking note of the increase in volume when you add your beans. At this point, it’s also best to grind just enough coffee beans that you will use for pressing. (Nothing beats making coffee out of freshly ground beans.)
To find out just how much coffee you’ll need, you can start with one tablespoon of coffee for every one cup of water. You can adjust this later on depending on your preference. A good ratio to coffee-to-water ratio to go by is 1:12.
Tip: Invest in a good burr grinder for your coffee press. This is because a burr grinder allows you to have a more even grind of beans, which must be coarse when you’re using a press. A smaller grind will get through the press filter, resulting to over-extraction that will make your cup taste flat and bitter.
Add the right amount of coffee into the French press. Meanwhile, as your water boils, turn off the heat and wait for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before pouring it onto the coffee. This is because you must reach the ideal brewing temperature, which is around 200F.
Tip: While you wait for the coffee water temperature to settle from boiling, you can rinse your coffee press carafe with very hot water to warm it. Warming your coffee press ensures even temperature and decreased risk of heat loss as you brew your coffee. It also helps ensure that there are no leftover old beans in your press, which can affect the taste of your new batch off coffee.
When your water’s ready, carefully pour it only hallway onto the beaker, making sure that you’re saturating all the coffee grounds at the bottom. This allows the coffee to “bloom” for optimal flavor. Then, wait for four minutes, or set your timer.
After a minute, fill the carafe to the top with more water. Use a circular motion to break up the crust that forms as the coffee blooms. This also ensures that you soak all the grounds through. Then, replace the lid snugly on the press and wait.
Brewing coffee using a French press requires a little patience. Resist the urge to plunge the piston before the timer is done. When the four-minute mark is through, then it’s time to make that plunge.
Make sure that the filter is lowered carefully and evenly so that you push the beans down without agitating them. You know you are doing it right if you feel just a little resistance. If you find it hard to press down, then the coffee beans are ground too fine. If it’s too easy to press straight to the bottom, then the ground is too coarse.
Decant and serve your freshly pressed coffee immediately to your cup. This stops the brewing process. It also ensures that you don’t over-extract, which can cause your coffee to taste chalky or bitter.
Brewing coffee out of a French press is simple, easy, and affords you with a quick way to make a great-tasting and comforting drink virtually anywhere. All you need are the basics: your French press, hot water, and good quality coffee grounds.
Its simplicity can also be its weakness, however. Because of the straightforward brewing method, one wrong move can easily leave you with a flat, oily, astringent, and bitter-tasting cup full of sludge. Therefore, it’s best to follow the above steps and get the hang of it. Pretty soon, you’re on your way to making marvelous cups French pressed coffee anytime and anywhere. Enjoy!