A few finer points to making coffee with a french press

French press is a great way to make a delicious cup of coffee. And while many places talk about how easy a french press is to use, there are some finer points worth saying to get a great cup of coffee. I know I went through the “what grind” and “how much”, as well “how long” questions. Here are the steps to make coffee with a French press:

  1. Start by heating water in a kettle until it reaches a temperature of around 200°F (93°C). You can use a thermometer to check the temperature or simply let the water come to a boil and then wait for 30 seconds before using it.
  2. Grind coffee beans to a coarse grind. You can use a coffee grinder to grind the beans, or purchase pre-ground coffee specifically for French press brewing.
  3. Add the ground coffee to the French press. The general rule of thumb is to use one tablespoon of coffee for every 4 ounces of water. For example, if you want to make 16 ounces of coffee, you will need four tablespoons of coffee.
  4. Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds, making sure that all of the grounds are covered with water. Stir gently to ensure that all of the coffee is saturated with water.
  5. Place the plunger on top of the French press, but do not press it down yet. Let the coffee steep for 4-5 minutes.
  6. After the coffee has steeped, slowly press down the plunger. The mesh filter will separate the coffee grounds from the liquid.
  7. Pour the coffee into your mug and enjoy!

Note: It’s important to clean your French press thoroughly after each use to prevent any buildup of coffee oils or grounds, which can affect the flavor of your future brews. This isn’t easy without getting a lot of grinds down the sink which your drain won’t like. If the grinds are dried a bit, they are easier to brush into the waste.

When buying a french press, ask yourself, “is this for the best coffee, or is it also an art statement on my kitchen counter?”. I personally like the see through options to watch the process, but you will find most of the higher end options are not glass. Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, I will get a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.


Fine Tuning Your Home Espresso

There is that point when the really dark coffee from your espresso machine starts to lighten – known as the crema. What if you cut the pressure off just before the color changes? What if you let it go a bit longer as the color goes light? How about steaming your milk… while having the foaming head just below the surface froths the best, what if you went deeper initially. Will the milk taste a lot different if you heat from the bottom or the top of the milk container? How much difference does 160 vs 165 vs 180 degree milk?

There is the text book ‘right’ answer to all of the above. Very specific rules that you can find if you look around the internet or learn in a school. To understand the difference between acceptable espresso compared to great espresso is more than if it is more bitter or mild. There are many items you will want to take into consideration when rating a drink.

The International Coffee Organization has a long list of items that you may want to look over to think about when you take your cup in hand. Aromas… ashy, burnt, medicinal, chocolate-like, carmel, and many more. Tastes… acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness and sourness. Mouthfeel… body and astringency. A lot of descriptive words, that they offer more detail to so you can use the information to narrow down what your really experiencing.

Randy Glass back in 2006 did a very nice reading post called “A Beginners’ Guide to Tasting Espresso”. He took a similar list to the one I referenced above to work his way through his settings and bean options. You may relate to everything you have heard about wine tasting, espresso is very similar.

After paying attention to the aroma, taste and feel of different coffees… you will have an advantage of knowing what your drinking and if the preparer has done it with care and fresh products. It’s all about enjoying your espresso!