Prior to writing an article here on AnotherWindowsBlog, I always like to brew a cup of coffee to help me relax and concentrate. I don’t really consider myself a legit coffee addict but I am consistent in drinking 1-2 cups a day. A good cup of coffee just makes your morning a whole lot better. The smell and aroma is what you would call addicting. Coffee is just plain awesome! However, one major factor in deciding whether a cup of coffee is up to standards is in the way you actually brew it. More correctly, the method used. Many people are most familiar with the method of brewing coffee using the standard electronic machines seen in so many restaurants and offices. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using this method to brew your coffee but the results is not what you would call the “best” in terms of quality. It’s fast, gets the job done and cleanup is a breeze. However, if you want to step it up a notch and see how coffee really should taste like, you’ll need to use another brewing method. Rather than automating the brewing process with a machine, we’ll now be manually performing the steps with a very simple device. You’ll be shocked at the difference in terms of quality. Sometimes, it’s the more traditional methods of doing things (and often more laborious I might add) that yields the better quality when compared to it being automated.
The manual process I mentioned above in brewing your special cup of coffee is called the French Press style. I had no idea just what the heck a French Press was until I heard about it from a friend. Of course, I then did a research online to find out all about it and I immediately knew I had to try it. This method of brewing coffee is extremely easy to understand. At it’s core, what you’ll be essentially doing is pouring coffee grinds directly into a cup, pour hot water over it, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then squeeze the coffee grinds to the bottom of the cup with a plunger and then pour the coffee out. Easy right?! This simple process allows you to get the most flavor out of your coffee grinds so each cup of coffee you drink will always be of the highest quality. The process I’ve just described is easy enough to follow but to really get it right, there are definitely other things that you’ll want to remember when brewing your coffee French Press style and I’ll go over it in the steps below.
Requirements and Recommendations
- A french press device
- Your favorite brand of coffee beans or coffee grinds
- Coffee grinder if you’re using whole beans
- Glass water kettle with filtered water (optional)
There are a lot of french presses out there to choose from. Prior to choosing a brand and model though, you’ll want to think about the quantity of coffee you’ll be making each and every time. Obviously the more coffee you’ll be brewing, the bigger the french press cup will need to be. In my situation, I’m the only coffee drinker in the house so it doesn’t make sense for me to get a 32oz french press. A 12oz will suffice very well. What this means is that I’ll be making about a cup of coffee each and every time with my french press. If I want to make more, I’ll need to brew another cup from scratch. As you may have notice, this 12oz french press is hardly the ideal size when you have guests over for coffee. Once you’ve gotten the size desired, you’ll then need to choose from a brand and model. My personal recommendation is to go with Bodum. I’ve used their 12oz Kenya french press model for a long time and it brews a perfect cup of coffee for me each and every time.
I mentioned above that you can use either whole beans or your regular coffee grinds (used for drip coffee). To get the best results though, you’ll want to purchase whole beans and use a coarse grind. A coarse grind usually consists of the coffee grinds being a little bigger than the grinds used for drip. You do not want to use a fine grind as the french press plunger might miss them, which will then result with grinds in your cup of coffee. Although many people do not recommend using pre-grounded coffee grinds for french press, I’ve tried it anyways and didn’t find any problems whatsoever. You just have to make sure that they are not grounded too finely. If the coffee you buy has a coarse grind, definitely go for that one instead of the regular drip grind. I’m a big fan of Colombian coffee and right now, I’m drinking the Eight 0′ Clock Colombian brand.
To get the best results, it’s recommended that you buy whole beans and grind them yourself as I mentioned above. You’ll get much more flavor out of your coffee by grinding only what you need. Pre-grounded coffee is OK but only if it was recently grinned and provided that you use it within a fairly short amount of time. Please realize that you do not need to spend big bucks for a dedicated coffee grinder. I’m sure there’s a difference between those $100 coffee grinders and the one I’m currently using for $14 but I’ll live with it. If you’re the sole coffee drinker in the house like me, get yourself a cheap one-cup coffee grinder if you don’t want to break your wallet. The one I’ve listed here is perfect for making french press coffee because it grinds the coffee coarsely. This is a bad coffee grinder for making espresso (since it needs a very fine grind) but it’s awesome for french press style coffee brewing!
There’s a lot of things to get right when trying to brew a perfect cup of coffee. One very important aspect is the water used. You’ll definitely want to use filtered water if at all possible but if not, tap water is OK as well. However, I highly recommended you use a glass water kettle to boil your water because using traditional metal kettles can leave your boiled water tasting foul along with other impurities left behind. A very easy way to ruin a cup of coffee is not paying attention to this fact. By using a glass kettle, not only will it be safer for you but it’ll also make a better tasting cup of coffee! I’m currently using the Medelco glass kettle and it is one of the better investment I’ve made for such a low price.
Brewing the Best Cup of Coffee
Alright, so let’s get into how to actually brew the perfect cup of coffee using our french press!Please understand that although there seems to be a lot of steps in the process, it will come second nature to you once you’ve brewed 6-10 cups using this method. Please also read my pro’s and con’s of using the french press at the end of this article.
First things first, you’ll want to boil some water. A very important thing to remember is that you absolutely do not want to pour boiling temperature hot water into your coffee grinds! You are not cooking soup! Using hot water right after reaching boiling point will not doubt burn your coffee grinds and result in a more bitter taste or worst. My suggestion is to let the water come to a complete boil first and let it sit at room temperature for a few seconds to help cool it down before pouring it into your grinds. The same can also be said when brewing tea.
Next, prepare to grind your coffee beans, if necessary. My mini coffee grinder already grinds coarsely without any special setting. In fact, I can’t grind any finer even if I wanted to! If your coffee grinder has different settings, then make sure to use the coarse setting each and every time. Dump the grinds directly into your french press cup. The general recommendation is to use two tablespoons of coffee per 8oz of water. You’ll need to experiment with this to get it right for your taste buds. At this point, you can also pour cream and sugar in your mug while waiting for the water. I personally believe that the coffee tastes better when I put the cream and sugar into the coffee as opposed to pouring the coffee into it. However, I get lazy at times so I just dump everything in the mug beforehand.
Once your water has boiled and you’ve let it cool down for a couple of seconds, slowly pour the water into your french press cup. Immediately, the coffee grinds will rise to the top. It’s important to not fill the french press to the top with water. You’ll need to leave some breathing room at the top because you’ll cover it with the plunger in a bit. In the picture below, I used even fewer water because my mug is pretty small. Once the water has been poured in, start your timer. The magic brew time for a french press cup of coffee is 4 minutes. However, don’t cover it just yet. Once 30 or so seconds have passed, use a spoon to gently stir the grounds around. This allows the grinds to sink towards the bottom for a bit and allows your coffee to be a bit stronger. Eventually, the grinds will float back to the top.
Right after stirring the grounds, pop the plunger piece over the top so the coffee can brew. Make sure that the opening is not facing towards the pouring spout because you do not want the steam to escape. At this point, your timer should be down to almost 3 minutes or so. Let it continue to brew for the remainder of that time.
Once the time is up, simply plunge the plunger towards the bottom of the french press. You’ll want to do this slowly because if you plunge it down to fast, some of the grinds might escape and end up in your coffee. Once the plunger has reached the bottom, simply rotate the cover at the top so that the holes align with the pouring spout. Pour your coffee into your mug and enjoy the best cup of coffee possible!
Pro’s and Con’s of Using a French Press
Quality. There’s no question about this. Using a french press results in one heck of a cup of coffee. If you think your cup of coffee tastes good right now using an electric brewer, wait till you try it french press style.
Money Saved. Brewing your own coffee rather than buying it from a cafe can definitely save you a lot of money in the long run. Of course, this is true whether you are using the french press or not but by doing so, your cup of coffee can rival that to your favorite coffee purchased in cafe shops. A cup of coffee costs around $1.50-$2.00 give or take. My 2lb bag of Eight 0′ Clock coffee costs me $12.00, which allows me to easily brew 50+ cups of coffee. You do the math.
Environmental Friendly. I’m sure by now you noticed that I didn’t mention anything about using a paper filter. Well, that’s because a french press doesn’t need one! This is one of the reason why your coffee will taste so good. It’s like you are brewing your coffee grinds purely, just like how it was meant to be brewed. Coffee filters are cheap no doubt but thecosts adds up the more you drink. French presses is the cheapest method to brew a cup of coffee because it doesn’t require any filters and it doesn’t require electricity like those automated brewers.
Time Consuming. French pressing your coffee takes time in order to achieve the best results. Some coffee drinkers may not like that idea. Remember, the ideal time for a french press is to let the coffee brew for 4 minutes. That could be an eternity for coffee drinkers in the morning who need to get out of their house as soon as possible.
Cleanup. While not hard to cleanup, it is a chore. Your french press plunger and rod is most likely stainless steel but you’ll still want to make sure that each piece in the kit is as clean as possible. Another way to ruin a cup of coffee is to use dirty equipment. Trust me, I’ve experienced this before. Some people like to just take apart the plunger and just give it a rinse but I prefer to soak it in warm soapy water first.
Hotness. Because of the time consuming process used to brew with a french press, many coffee drinkers shy away from it simply because the resulting cup of coffee is just not hot enough for their liking. If you’re one of those coffee drinkers that like their coffee piping hot, you might want to think twice about using a french press.
As you can tell, you’ll definitely need to put in more work if you want to be able to enjoy a better cup of coffee. I admit that I don’t always brew my coffee french press style. Everyone gets lazy once in a while. However, for times that I do want the best tasting cup possible, there’s no decision as to how I’ll brew it. Whenever I try a new brand of coffee beans, I immediately put it to the french press test. If you still want to make a perfect cup of coffee but don’t like the idea of it being warm after being through a french press, I highly suggest you try brewing your coffee with a Melitta coffee filter instead.