In my inner circle, my love for coffee is no secret. However only a few are familiar with my favorite brew method, the French Press. Brewing coffee with a French Press is a very simple process that is perfect for both the novice and expert coffee connoisseurs. Sure, it isn’t as fast as a k-cup but the taste and quality make it worth the 4-5 minute wait.
The French Press brewing method has been around since the mid 1800’s and creates a unique and fresh tasting cup of coffee. It’s like bringing your favorite coffee shop right to your kitchen. I like to call it an affordable luxury. The process starts with a coarse ground coffee. You can get this pre-ground or, for the best experience, buy fresh roasted whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. It’s a small investment ($40-$60 for a decent coffee burr grinder) but totally worth it.
The actual French Press can be found at any number of home goods stores, coffee shops, or online. They are also inexpensive, running between $15 and $30. They come in several different designs and sizes to suite your taste. However, they all work the same way. The press creates a rapid infusion of coffee and water when immersed in hot water.
You will want to grind your coffee to a course grind. It should look similar to the picture below or check out one of previous articles on grinding whole bean coffee.
Then, based on the size of your French Press, you will want to boil enough water to fill just below the top. Give yourself enough room to be able to put the lid on back on it. Coffee is very personal in terms of taste. Some prefer stronger coffee while others will prefer a weaker brew, but a good starting point would be a 1:12 ratio of ground coffee to water. Here are some suggestions to help get you started:
3 cup French Press - 3-4 tbsp of coffee with 10oz of water
8 cup French Press - 10-11 tbsp of coffee with 30oz water
12 cup French Press - 1 cup of coffee with 47oz of water.
The coffee shop will actually use small kitchen scales and measure everything in grams to give a more precise brew. Small kitchen scales are also an inexpensive purchase allowing you to be as precise as your local barista. After you have made a few presses of coffee, you will find what kind of measurements work best for your taste.
The final and most important ingredient is water. Sure, you can use tap but if you want next level coffee and a more authentic coffee shop taste, I suggest using a distilled water. This is available at nearly any grocery store.
Having ground your coffee and added it to your empty press, you will want to have brought the water to a boil. Once the water is brought to a boil, remove it from the heat and let it sit for about a minute. You do NOT want to pour boiling water in to your press. It will ruin you coffee and may break your press.
After the water has rested, slowly pour it in to the press in a circular motion. A teapot kettle is ideal for this but not necessary. When you have filled the press about half way, stop the pour for about 20-30 seconds. If your coffee is fresh, it will start to bloom and look like a delicious chocolate brownie! You can then resume the pour until you are near the top. Place the lid back on to the press, leaving the plunger extended. Set a timer, I typically use my phone, for 4 minutes. Once the time has expired, slowly press the plunger down to the bottom.
Now, your French Press coffee is ready for you to enjoy!