French press photo

Making coffee using you French Press aka plunger

French Press?  Sounds like paparazzi, but it is probably one of the most common and accessible brewing methods around.  

If you have read the blog on Brewing Methods, you will know, this is one of the brewing methods belonging to the "Steeping" group.  This is where all the coffee is immersed in water and left to extract, before inserting a metal filter.  It is one of the most forgiving methods of making coffee since uneven extraction is almost impossible.

Some people do not like it, as they feel it produces a harsh, murky or bitter coffee.  With a few simple guidelines though, you can get the best out of your beans.

Here is our guideline to making good French press coffee.  Following this guideline, should produce a full-bodied, robust coffee with intense flavors.  The simplest and best tasting method I found was by James Hoffman (link to video below)


What you need

  1. A French Press.  Any french press will do, but the best value for money is most likely a Bodum.
  2. Coffee beans.  The better the quality bean, the better.  I prefer a medium roast to allow fruitiness to shine, between a week and a month after the roasting date.  Pro tip: never trust coffee with sell-by date.  It will be old.
  3. A grinder.  A decent burr grinder will do, but not the whirly blade type grinder please.  Rather purchase pre-ground coffee from your local roastery.
  4. Water.  No reverse osmosis water please as it will not give you appropriate extraction.  If you are hard core, have a look at Barista Hustle Water Recipes
  5. Timer.  Everyone has a timer on their phone nowadays.  This is important to allow you to recreate your previous brew together with a scale.
  6. Scale.  As with the timer, I believe that this is an aid for getting your brew right and not the rule.

Method

  1. Get your water boiling.
  2. Weigh your coffee.  This is where you could experiment, but this recipe calls for 30g of medium coarse ground coffee.  Do you like stronger coffee?  Simply increase coffee slightly.  
  3. Grind your coffee if not pre-ground and add it to the French press.
  4. Pour 500g of water and start your timer. 
  5. Let your coffee sit for 4 minutes
  6. Give your coffee a stir.  This will release the trapped carbon dioxide from the coffee crust and most of the coffee should drop to the bottom.
  7. It is recommended that you use two spoons to remove the floating bits that are left, but this is optional I think, based on the next step.
  8. Press down to filter to just below the surface. 
  9. Leave for another 5 minutes.  You patience will be rewarded.  If you intend to add milk, you could reduce this a little or use heated milk.
  10. Enjoy without plunging the filter.  Use the coffee straight away or decant since over extraction may take place otherwise.

Don'ts

Donts

The biggest mistakes you can make are the following:

  1. Using a overly course or too fine grind.  Overly course coffee would lead to over extraction as well as a murkiness in the coffee.
  2. Use the plunger and pressing down on the coffee.
  3. Not using the coffee straight away as extraction will continue.

Once you follow these easy steps, it should be simple enough that you do not even have to think about it, but here is the short reference version.

  1. 30g coffee ground medium course
  2. 500ml boiled water
  3. Wait 4 minutes
  4. Stir, scoop and baby plunge
  5. Wait 5 minutes
  6. Enjoy, without plunging further

Remember, life is to short for bad coffee!

Here is the tutorial video by James Hoffman as well as the French Press video by Stumptown Roasters. 

Happy brewing!

 

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