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Everyone knows that. But some “experts” get terribly excitable about details that make very little actual difference. In truth, French press brewing is a bullet-proof way to get maximum flavor out of your coffee.
Before you get started, get yourself some half decent coffee. A good local roaster should be able to advise on what will suit you best.
Use bottled or filtered water if you can. It’s not a snobbery thing - tap water is full of chemicals that make it safe to drink but aren’t necessarily a friend to coffee brewing.
Use a ratio of around 2.6oz (75g) to 34floz (1l) of water. If your French press can’t cope with that much coffee then sorry, but you’ll have to use something called ‘mathematics’ and possibly a ‘calculator’ to work out how much you need.
So without any further ado, here’s our 8-step guide to making an absolutely amazing brew without any of the associated stupidity. Let’s get going.
Burnt tongues should always be avoided but hot coffee is better than lukewarm, right? So first things, first - pour some hot tap water into your press and mugs to get them nice and toasty from the get-go.
Grind some coffee - the fresher the better. If you buy pre-ground then shame on you (only joking, that’ll work fine too). We’re aiming for a nice fine-medium grind with all the individual granules (or grains or whatever you want to call them) a similar size.
Geeks Note: A decent quality burr grinder should help with that. If the granules are random sizes, they expose at different rates, so getting the timing right becomes a bit of a challenge.
Heat your water to around 205°f (96°c). You’ll find this easiest if you’ve got a kettle with a thermometer or pre-set temperatures. But don’t get yourself in a tizz if you don’t, just boil a standard kettle and wait a minute before pouring. Start a timer. Pour the water over your coffee making sure it all gets good and drenched. Pop on the lid and wait for 4 minutes.
You can just leave the lid on the whole time, but you’ll get more of a full-bodied, dream brew if you give it a stir on the 4-minute-mark. Spoon off and discard any grounds that stay on the surface after you’ve stirred it and pop the lid back on.
Wait another 5 minutes. Allow the flavor (and anticipation) to build to a crescendo. If you’ve got a well-insulated brewer you can do this without worrying about losing heat. More grounds will sink to the bottom and your brew will come out less silty. If you’re using a glass French press you can cut this time down a little so your coffee still comes out hot.
Now you’ve probably gotten yourself all worked up and ready to slam down the plunger like you’re blowing up a gold mine, haven’t you? Well, hold your horses. You can do that if you want. But this tends to stir up all the sediment when you don’t really need to. If you prefer a little more body (sediment, mouthfeel) then plunge away. If not, just push the plunger until you feel it touch the surface of the brew.
Pour out your brew into your pre-warmed mug. Using a bit of (your now professional) judgement, try to stop just before you get to the bottom to avoid any unnecessary sediment finding its way into your cup.
Now you may drink. If you want to look like a pro, you can extravagantly wash the coffee around your mouth and say things like “I’m getting chocolatey notes with an earthy finish” with a very serious expression slapped all over your face. Equally, you could be a lot less annoying and just shut up and enjoy an amazing brew. We’ll leave that entirely up to you.
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