The first brewing method that I will present is the method that started the whole thing for me: the French Press. Although known by most in America as a French Press, it goes by other names as well: cafetière, press pot, and coffee plunger.
What You Will Need:
- French Press (8 cup)
- Fresh Coffee (55 grams)
- Scale (or at least a tablespoon)
- Coffee Grinder
- Water Kettle
Step 1: Begin Heating Water. Remember, water temperature should be somewhere between 195 and 205 degrees fahrenheit. Make sure to heat enough water to fill the French Press as well as a little extra for pre-heating. With an 8-cup French Press, I usually make about 880ml, and therefore heat about 1000ml. Personally, I have an electric kettle, and I let my kettle do its thing while I move on to Step 2, weighing and grinding coffee.
Step 2: Weigh and Grind Fresh Coffee Beans. Now, I use a 16:1 water-to-coffee ratio, but as mentioned elsewhere, this is a debated issue. Nevertheless, if I am brewing 880ml, I use 55 grams of coffee. Now, if you have not ventured into the realm of weighing your coffee, use about 8 tablespoons. If you want to make less, just simply use the water-to-coffee ratio above for a guide.
Then, with regard to grinding your coffee, the goal is a consistent, coarse grind (about a 30 on a Baratza grinder). Too small leads to over-extraction and bitterness, and too large leads to under-extraction and weak coffee. After grinding, shake it around and take a whiff of that wonderful fragrance of fresh ground coffee. Remember, fresh, whole bean coffee is vitally important for a good cup of coffee.
Step 3: Start the Brewing Process. By now, your water should have reached boiling point. Again, the temperature that you are shooting for is somewhere between 195 and 205 degrees fahrenheit. If you do not have a thermometer, wait about 30-45 seconds for the water to cool down after reaching boiling point. Personally, while I wait for it to cool down to the correct temperature, I rinse out my French Press and my mug(s)/carafe with the hot water. This is to ensure that nothing will affect the taste or brewing of the coffee. Extraction can be affected if the water is cooled more quickly because of a cold French Press.
Now, then, pour the fresh ground coffee into the empty French Press. Before adding water, make sure to tare your scale to 0. Then, using the hot water, fill the French Press with double the amount of coffee (55g of coffee = 110ml of water)—enough to saturate all of the grounds. The entire brewing process takes 4 minutes, so the timer should be started when the water first comes into contact with the grounds.
Step 4: Stir the Grounds and Add Water. After pouring in the 110ml of water, use a spoon/chopstick to gently mix the coffee grounds with the water. After that, wait 30-40 seconds, so that the coffee has time to properly bloom.
Then, add the remaining 770ml of water, bringing it to a full 880ml. If you do not have a scale, pour enough water in the French Press to bring it to about 2 inches from the top. Then, put the lid on, but do not push the plunger down into the French Press—that will be the next step.
Step 5: Press the French Press, Pour, and Enjoy.
After 4 minutes, or when the timer reaches 0:00, press the plunger into the French Press. It should not go down without any resistance. Therefore, if you don’t feel any, it is likely that your grind is too coarse. But if it seems like too much resistance, it is likely that your grind is too fine. This is something that you can play around with. Then, after pressing the plunger into the French Press, immediately pour the coffee into a mug(s) or a carafe. If coffee is left in the French Press, the grinds will continue to extract, making the rest of it taste especially bitter.
Make sure to wash the French Press thoroughly before using it again. Personally, I unscrew the filter from the lid every time, so that there are not any grounds left over. Leftover coffee grounds will make the next batch taste old and bitter.
What Sets the French Press Apart?
There are more, but here are two:
First, ease: one of the main reasons that people love the French Press is because of how easy it is to brew a good cup of coffee with little mess to clean up afterwards. On top of this, it is also easy on the budget.
Second, because of the fact that it is not filtered through paper, the French Press produces a deeper, thicker body than other methods. This paper-less brewing method allows for more of the non-soluble material from the coffee to end up in the cup. While this is appreciated by some, others do not like the siltier texture. With that said, if you are new to the French Press, be sure not to drink the last bit in your cup.
Links for Purchase
Bodum 8-Cup French Press (Plastic)