How to make a great french press coffee!

April 13, 2010 at 10:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My first experience with french press coffee, was as a college student, studying Russia’s economic politics in the Next Door Cafe.  For my dollar, a french press of coffee was the best value.  I would sit down, drink an entire pot as I studied, and walk home with heart palpitations.  For the record, the amount of caffeine released by coffee beans is mostly determined by the length of contact between the water and the beans.  As a result, coffee made by way of french press offers more caffeine per sip than the uber-fast brewing espresso.

I love the taste of french press coffee, the back to basics brewing method results in a full-bodied cup that you rarely get with a drip machine.

Start with freshly roasted beans.  I buy small amounts of fresh beans from the Coffee Company.  The essential oils that make the french press taste so wonderful, are also quick to spoil.  One long time solution has been to keep a bag of ground coffee in the freezer.  Well, don’t do that either.  As with most foods, freezers kill a lot of the flavor, and you also risk 1) getting nasty freezer flavors in your coffee, and 2) moisture in the air rushing into your bag of frozen coffee every time you open the bag, moisture+freezer=freezer burn = nasty coffee.

So first rule of thumb: Buy fresh, use quickly, and your coffee enjoying experience will be that much better for it.

Second rule of thumb: Making a better french press means using more coffee.  I use 1/3 cup of whole coffee beans (before I grind them) for a pot, which I’m sure many of my friends would say is too low, other friends would say that I should be measuring in weight, not in volume.  And they are both right, but this is what I’ve found works for me.  While doing research for this article I’ve found sources that recommend using 1 1/2 Tbs. of coffee for an entire carafe!  Blagh, do they want coffee flavored water?

So there is the why, here is the how:

You will Need:

1/3 cup of fresh whole coffee beans

about 5 cups of nearly boiling water

1 Clean French Press Pot

Grind your coffee to a course grind, try to avoid dust, which may or may not be difficult depending on the sort of grinder you have.  Take the plunger out of the press pot and dump the grinds in.

This is the iPod app I use for all my steeping and brewing queries, its called TasteTimer, and put quite simply, its excellent.  Read my full review here.

Set your timer to four minutes and begin to slowly pour the hot water into the carafe.  I like to pour the water with a circular motion, which may just be flourish, but I believe it helps get a nice foamy crust.

When you finish filling the carafe, start the timer.

Now is when you will see the grinds rise to the top to make a frothy, oily crust.  Don’t disturb the coffee, just let it sit there for one minute.

Now, this is my favorite part of making french press.  When the timer gets down to three minutes, break the crust with the back of a spoon.  To me, this is akin to breaking the crust on a creme brulee.  It doesn’t take much, and you don’t want to stir too vigorously.  All you are looking to do is burst the air bubbles holding the coffee up, so that the grinds can float back down into the carafe and get full exposure with the water.

here is the carafe after breaking the crust, as you’ll see, the grinds are no longer floating at the top.  Place the top back on the french press, pushing the plunger just barely down, so that the plunger is touching the water.

When the timer is done, slowly and steadily push the plunger to the bottom of the pot.  Pushing too quickly will force sediment up into the good stuff.

Pour and serve!  There you have it, a great pot of french press from start to finish.

Ciao and happy brewing,

Katie G



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  1. Oo, that looks good. Once I get my hands on a press and a coffee grinder, I’ll try it!

  2. Looks delish darling! I’ll be having mine in the morning with a bialy and egg 🙂

  3. Nice, very nice. You think i could take your pictures on my website?
    It is a lovly post.
    You can see my site about How to make coffee and than decide.

  4. latte recipes…

    The Jura- Capresso ENA5 is the world’ s slimmest Automatic Espresso and Coffee machine, only 9. 5- inches wide. If you want the freedom to choose any coffee bean you like, the genuine flavor of the bean in your cup and the option to adjust the strength…

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