Monday, October 31, 2011

French Press Coffee - an informational post for the best coffee you'll ever make in your own kitchen

Coffee is my survival and I don't believe in settling for just an average cup o' joe in the mornings. This is why, for a while now, I've been wanting to share how I brew the yummiest french press coffee every morning in the comfort of my own kitchen. I'd like to take credit for all of this but I have to say that my dad taught me everything I know about french press, so I guess technically this post is courtesy of him....but I'm pretty much an expert myself by now.

Obviously you need a few things to start the process aside from the regular coffee ingredients. Namely a french press. I use a bodum like the one I linked to because it is easy to clean and pretty durable but you can get them at any kitchen store or even your local Starbucks or other coffee chain in a variety of shapes, sizes, and brands. You also need a teapot to boil water, and a coffee bean grinder. I do not recommend making coffee this way if you don't want to grind your own beans. There is a significant difference in taste from freshly ground to pre-ground.....the latter being inferior of course (let's be honest, I think you should grind your own beans no matter how you make your coffee, it's the coffee snob in me). So just do yourself a favor and invest in a good bean grinder (burr grinder NOT a blade grinder), you'll see mine, a hand me down from my dad that has been going for years and years.

Ok, now that I'm done blathering on about the details of equipment I'll get started. I've seen a few french press tutorials around the internet but they are all pretty similar to what the instructions tell you and for me that results in over brewed coffee.

Get your water boiling while you pull out the rest of your coffee equipment.
Water boiling, bodum french press, stir stick, and coffee grinder
When the water is ready turn off the burner and while you let it cool down from a boil grind the beans. This part is up to interpretation and preference really and can take a little bit of experimenting to get it to your taste. I don't even measure my grinds I just give the dial a full turn and that is the perfect amount. I'd say 2 T. per cup, less if you are using a darker coffee, more if you use light. Dump your beans in the french press and give it a shake to even them out. I didn't take a picture of this so hopefully you get the idea.

Now pour a small amount off water on your grinds, just covering them so that they foam up a bit. Let this sit for 20 seconds or so. This step supposedly releases the fumes so your coffee tastes better. I did it for years without this step and I swear to you it started tasting better than ever after I added it in. So I guess you could not let it foam, but I don't recommend it.
A good foam shot
Once the 20 seconds is up fill the remainder of your press while stirring with the end of a wooden spoon. I use the handle from a broken spatula, as long as it's wood it doesn't matter. Do not use a metal or plastic spoon! Continue to stir the water and grinds for a  full minute.
I once asked my dad if I could skip the full minute of stirring. I still do it so you can guess what the answer was.
 After that minute is up continue to let it brew, untouched, for another 2 minutes. Any longer and it is over brewed so I recommend getting an egg timer because 2 minutes goes a lot faster then you would think. So, that is 3 minutes and 20 seconds of total brewing time.
Isn't it beautiful?
Adjust the lid on the coffee (I think I'm the only person that leaves the lid off while it brews, I think it tastes better this way) and slowly press the handle down until the filter reaches the bottom. This is when you will know if you used too many grinds. The handle should go down with a little resistance. If it is hard to push down or if water squirts out the top you have too many grinds or are using too fine or too coarse of grinds (take that as a lesson and adjust your settings next time, remember which setting works best as every grinder is different).
Coffee is messy, I use a towel unless my kitchen needs to be cleaned anyway...because I'm lazy.
Pour your coffee and add your cream, sugar, honey, whatever you like in coffee....or leave it naked if that's your style. I love the Organic Farms vanilla flavored half and half. It's so much better than your average coffee creamer but I know my dad would say that a good cup of coffee doesn't need anything more than half and half. To each their own I suppose.
I personally feel like my morning coffee mug is a reflection of how I feel that day. It's a very important choice.

Flavored half and half means no extra sugar and that makes me feel like I'm being healthy haha
Here are bulleted instructions for those who do not want to read all my excessive details.

What you need :
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Whole coffee beans
  • French Press coffee maker
  • Burr coffee bean grinder
  • Tea Pot
  • Coffee mug
  • Cream and sugar (optional)
  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Grind beans while water cools (1 1/2 -2 T. per cup with a coarse grind)
  3. Add grinds to press
  4. Barely cover grinds with water and allow to foam for 20 seconds
  5. Fill remaining press with while stirring with a wooden spoon handle and continue to stir for 1 minute
  6. Leave coffee to brew for 2 additional minutes, untouched
  7. Adjust lid and press handle down into the brewed coffee
  8. Drink coffee!!!
 French press coffee is much stronger than your average cup of coffee so if you are usually a 2 or 3 cup drinker you should think about cutting back. I have one cup in the morning and sometimes 2 around lunch time or I save the extra for the next day and reheat it. Yep, I'm fancy like that.


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