Some time ago I began experimenting with grinding my own coffee beans and brewing them in a french press. Results? Fantastic! I much prefer this to what I used to make using an automatic machine. French presses (also known as a coffee press, cafetiere or plunger pot) are inexpensive to buy and a very economical way to enjoy an excellent brew…and on a budget! Here’s a tip sheet giving instructions on how to use one.
First a few notes:
- Use a coarse ground coffee since a finer grind could clog the filter and make it difficult to “plunge”. If you’re grinding your own, play with the settings a bit and you’d be surprised how much difference in taste there can be from one grind setting to the next.
- Boil water in a kettle but let it sit for approximately 2 minutes before pouring over grounds, the water will be too hot and will scorch the ground beans if poured right away (resulting in a bitter tasting brew). This is another spot that can be experimented with, try making a pot with water that has sat for 1 minute to 2 1/2 minutes and you’ll notice a difference.
- If using a glass carafe, check for cracks or chips before each use. If you spot any, don’t use it since the glass can shatter when it comes in contact with the boiling water.
- Fill the cafetiere with hot water while you’re waiting for the water to boil, this heats up the carafe and helps keep the brew warm for a longer period of time. Dump water right before making coffee.
- Pull up the handle and remove plunger.
- Place 1 tablespoon of coffee per 4 ounce cup into the bottom of carafe. I like my brew good & strong so you may want to experiment with this amount to discover your preference, obviously less coffee = less strong. The type of bean, roast and grind fineness will also determine how much to use. The only way to discover your ultimate cup is to experiment.
- Pour hot water (first boiled and cooled as noted above) over grounds, make sure there’s about an inch or so headspace at the top…read directions for amount of space your particular press requires.
- Stir water a few times with a bamboo skewer, a chopstick, or thin wooden spoon (a metal knife or spoon can break the hot glass). You’ll notice a foamy “bloom” form at the top, the hot water is starting to work its magic on the beans.
- Return plunger unit to carafe, but don’t push it all the way down just yet, let it rest at the top during brewing time (making sure the spout opening is turned to the side so it’s closed off).
- Brew 3 minutes or so for a small pot or 5 to 6 minutes for a larger pot (I have a 5 cup french press and leave it for 6 minutes). You can play with this time a bit to see what your preference is, again it depends on a few different factors (type of beans, grind, water temperature).
- Check to make sure the spout opening is closed and pointing away from you, hold the handle of the press with one hand and rest the other hand on top of the plunger. Apply an even pressure to the plunger, slowly forcing it down until it reaches the bottom. If the plunger is overly resistant part-way through, lift it up about an inch or so then try again. Do not use extreme force since the hot liquid could erupt out of the carafe and burn you.
- Once the plunger is at the bottom, turn the lid so the spout is open and pour yourself a cup :). Turn in “closed” position after pouring, this will help keep the coffee warmer a bit longer.
Did you know: You can use the french press to make tea as well, just replace coffee grounds with tea leaves (experiment with steeping time).