Thursday, August 7, 2008

Making Coffee in a French Press...

A longtime friend and I were talking by email, and she asked if I might someday post explicit directions for making coffee in a French press, especially with photos of what I consider to be a "coarse" grind, which is required in a French press if you don't want to drink cowboy coffee. Well, sure! This morning, when I got out the coffee and press, I thought, "Why not today?"

So, this is for you, "J." :-) And for anyone else who cares to know...

I am not a French press expert, but I've been using one for fifteen years, so I'm at least experienced. Sometimes that counts for something, and sometimes it doesn't. As far as the grind of coffee goes, if you buy beans at a coffee place and ask them to grind them coarsely for a French press, they are not going to grind them as coarsely as I like them, so I grind my own. Plus, fresh-ground beans really do make better coffee.

I hope the clarity and detail of this photo will translate over onto the blog! I put a teaspoon in the cup to give some size-of-grind perspective. My grinder is not all that great, so I get some chunks that are bigger than what I'm going for, but I have to accept some of this in order to keep the overall grind the way I like it. Which is that. Above. This, of course, is going to be a matter of taste, so you will have to experiment with your grind to see how coarse, or not, you like it.

I dump some beans (which I store in the freezer, and they don't need to be thawed before using) in the grinder and grind until they look just about like they do above (the more moderately sized ones, that is). Then I dump them in a little bowl (because it's too hard to put the measuring spoon into the grinder) and measure the beans after they are ground.

The ratio of coffee grounds to ounces of water is 1:3. This is not my own version. These are the official instructions that came with my Bodum Chambord press. So, today, I measured 6 T. ground beans into the French press pot. Next, I measured 18 oz. of hot water (let it just reach a boil), and poured it into the press with the ground beans. Then I gave it a quick stir.

Something very important. Do not alter this measurement ratio. And do not alter the four minute time. Both are important for getting just the right extraction-characteristics from the ground coffee beans. If you want stronger coffee, buy a darker roast. If you want weaker coffee, brew it first, then add hot water to taste after you pour your coffee.

Today I brewed Stumptown Roasters' (from Portland, OR) Sumatra beans.
And I used one of my Goodwill Pyrex mugs to drink it.

Put the plunger-lid into the press, but don't press down. Just let it sit above the brewing coffee. This keeps more heat in the press. Now let the coffee brew for exactly four minutes. I'm not making this one up myself, either. It's also from the official instructions that came with the press. See the little black thing at the bottom of the photo? It's a four-minute timer, and it came with my press. Four minutes.

When the timer beeps, gently push the plunger all the way down. This presses the grinds to the bottom of the pot and stops the brewing. And now the coffee is ready to pour and enjoy.

My goodness. That's a lot of clutter and color!
Oh, but look at my CSA heirloom tomatoes! Aren't they nice?