One of the most common methods for brewing excellent coffee at home is the French press. I went to a friend’s house for dinner the other night, and after dinner he made some coffee for my girlfriend and me in a French press and brewed it exactly right. I only ever drink drip coffee in our Booskerdoo shops, and I forgot about the differences you can taste in the same coffee, brewed differently. So, what's the proper way to brew coffee in a French press?
We start, of course, with your coffee of choice. You want to grind the beans coarse, for 2 reasons. First, because the filters used on French presses have a fairly wide metal mesh. Coffee that is ground too fine will not get filtered out and will be suspended in the cup making it taste very bitter and gritty. The second reason is that, when using a French press, the water is in direct contact with the grinds for the entire brewing time. The finer the grind, the more surface area is exposed to the grinds, meaning more oils and other soluble material are more easily extracted from the grinds. Basically, when your brewing method has water in contact with the grinds for a longer period of time, you want the grind coarser for optimal extraction.
Every single book and blog article I've read on the subject of French press coffee says to use 2 level tablespoons of coarse ground coffee for every 4 oz of water, and brew for 3-4 minutes. That means that for a 32oz French press you would need 16 tbs of ground coffee. I have found that this is way too much coffee. When brewed at this ratio, the coffee tastes greasy and just plain bad.
But hey, that's just this coffee guy's opinion. Wanna fight about it? I actually don't wanna fight about it, because you might know karate. This article is about one recipe for French press coffee. Do what works best for you. The following recipe is one that I came up with after experimenting for a while, and it’s the one I use now. I might decide in 6 months that I don't like it, and change it again. I encourage you to do the same. Use this recipe as a place to start and change it to suit your tastes.
The recipe I use for French press coffee is pretty easy and I find it provides good flavor clarity for this method of brewing. I use 40 grams of coarse ground coffee, for a 32oz French press. That is 7 level tablespoons of coffee. Preheat the press by pouring hot water into it, and let it sit for about 10 seconds and then pour the water out. Add your ground coffee into the press, then fill with water that is 10-20 seconds off boil (for more info on water temperature check out the article “Why Water Matters”). Stir the grinds and water, gently with a spoon for about 5 seconds just to make sure all of the grinds are wet. Next, put the top of the press on and push the plunger until all of the grinds are completely submerged (about an inch is all you need to push down). Let steep for exactly 3 minutes. Push the plunger all the way down and serve immediately.
That's it. Pretty easy, right? Now at your next dinner party you can put away that automatic coffee maker, get out your French press, and show everyone what a coffee specialist you are. Don't have a French press? Get one HERE.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now go and enjoy the day, and your next dinner party.