How to Make Coffee in a French Press
French press pots(or cafetiere) are among the most popular type of coffee makers in the world. They’re one of the first ‘gourmet’ type pots that most people find. You’ll find them for sale at Starbucks and many specialty coffee shops, as well as online and in department stores. A French press is a simple enough device. It consists of a narrow glass carafe with a metal plunger. Making coffee in a French press is simply a matter of pouring nearly boiling water into the carafe along with ground coffee. After it has brewed in the pot for three minutes to extract the flavor of the beans, you push the plunger down to the bottom of the pot, and pour off the brew. The coffee made with a French press is rich and flavorful, many experts say, because none of the essential oils are trapped in the filter.
As simple as the process sounds, there are a few tricks and a few caveats to keep in mind when making coffee in a French press. Like any other method, there are ways to mess up and make horribly undrinkable coffee. Once you get the hang of this little ritual, though, you’ll be drinking the kind of coffee that has made the French press the choice of coffee lovers all over the world.
1. Start with a clean press.
Seriously. The oils that make coffee so wonderfully tasteful also cling to everything that it touches. Just rinsing your French press out with water after you use it isn’t enough. You really do have to wash it with soap and water to get make sure that today’s coffee remnants won’t spoil tomorrow’s coffee.
2. Put water in the pot to boil.
Just as the bubbles start coming to the top, turn off the heat beneath it. If you’re really finicky or just want to learn to get the timing right, you can use a candy thermometer to find when the water is at just about 195 degrees. That’s the optimal temperature for extracting the most flavor from your coffee beans, no matter what method of coffee brewing you use. You’re going to let it come down from the boil for just about 1 minute. Which is just long enough to…
3. Grind your coffee and dump it in the bottom of the French press.
Use a burr grinder and set it to deliver a coarse grind. The coffee should actually be a little more coarse than you’d use for a drip coffee pot. Anything finer than that will poke through your filter and end up in your coffee. Use enough coffee!! To get the best flavor, you should start with a full, rounded tablespoon of ground coffee for each 4 ounces of water. Adjust up or down for stronger or weaker coffee.
4. Pour the water into the French press and put the cover on.
Don’t press the plunger yet. Let the coffee steep in the hot water for one minute.
5. Remove the lid
Using a NON-METAL spoon, stir the water and coffee grounds slowly to get the coffee swirling through the water.
6. Replace the lid on the French press and wait for two more minutes.
7. Take a deep breath and get ready to press the plunger.
You really do need to take the deep breath. It will remind you to take your time with this part of the process. It’s tempting to force the plunger down, but that way lies lousy coffee. Instead, press the plunger down slo-o-o-wly, with even, steady pressure until you’ve pushed all the grounds to the bottom of the pot.
8. Pour the coffee immediately.
Do not let the coffee sit in the French press for a second cup. Do not wait a few minutes before pouring your coffee. As long as the beans and water are in contact, the coffee will keep brewing and you’ll end up with bitter coffee. If you’re not going to drink all the coffee at once, pour the remainder into a vacuum pot to stay hot till you’re ready for it.