There is no “best” way to make coffee. Each brewing method offers a unique way of presenting the aromas, flavours, and textures of a coffee. New or rediscovered brewing methods are often the focus of trends and fads in the coffee industry.
We selected the time-honoured French Press because it is essentially the same as cupping (the industry standard for evaluating coffees), but on a larger scale. It is a total immersion brewing method, producing even and thorough extraction of the coffee because all of the coffee is in contact with all of the water for all of the brew time.
French Press allows all of the potential flavours to end up in the cup. None of the coffee’s flavour is trapped behind a filter, and there are no foreign flavours imparted to the brew by a filter.
French Press can easily and quickly produce coffee at an equal or higher quality to Kone, Aeropress, Syphon, Clover, and other methods for a large volume of customers.
Some people have bad associations with press coffee, usually the result from over-extracted, muddy coffee made with a press. But brewed correctly, French press should be sweet, expressive of origin, and free of sludge.
How to Brew French Press Coffee
You will need:
- Freshly roasted coffee
- French press
- Burr grinder
- One spoon, or two if you’re a keener
Pre-heat your press with a brief hot water rinse.
Weigh out the appropriate amount of coffee for the size of press:
- 4-tasse (17 oz): 28 g
- 8-tasse (34 oz): 56 g
- 12-tasse (51 oz): 84 g
Grind the coffee.
Achieving the right particle size is crucial here, and for that you will need a burr grinder like a Hario® Skerton. Aim for a medium-coarse grind. You want the particles to be uniform in size, so if they are chunky and uneven, go finer.
Dump the ground coffee into the pre-heated press.
Pour hot (200ºF/93ºC) NOT BOILING water onto the coffee until the level reaches the spout of the press, making sure to get all the coffee wet but DO NOT STIR.
The temperature of the water will make or break the quality of your brew. If the water is too hot, you will burn the coffee and it will taste bitter. Use a thermometer, or make sure the kettle has rested for at least a full minute before pouring it on the grinds.
The grinds will form a crust on the surface of the coffee. Do not disturb the crust. If you stir at this point, the grinds will fall out of suspension and extraction will slow down considerably. We know this from innumerable TDS readings and taste tests.
Set the timer for 4 minutes. Do not put the lid on.
The brew time is directly related to the grind particle size. If your grind is on the finer side, you may only want a 3 minute steep. If your grind is quite coarse, you may need a 5 minute steep. Some experimentation is needed. 4 minutes is about right for a medium-coarse grind.
When the timer hits 4 minutes, quickly break the crust with a spoon and inhale the aroma.
If you’re really keen, you can scrape the crust off with two spoons, cupping style, to maximize cup clarity.
Put the lid on and plunge, slowly and gently.
For the best flavour, allow the press to rest for up to 5 minutes before pouring your first cup. The fines will sink to the bottom, and your cup will be clear with articulate in flavour.
Everyone is paranoid about the coffee over-extracting and getting bitter if it is not poured out immediately after plunging. We have found this to be simply untrue. We feel the coffee tastes great for up to 30 minutes after plunging, especially in an insulated press like a Bodum® Columbia.
Drink it up!
French Press FAQ
Q: Isn’t French press muddy? I don’t like sludgy coffee.
A: It is true the French press contains more undissolved solids than filtered coffee, rendering the cup more opaque and textured. However, when a burr grinder and good technique are used, French press coffee is not muddy or sludgy.
Q: French press highlights body but reduces aroma and acidity, right?
A: Nope! Through many tests and trials, we have found that French press is actually more aromatic and highlights acidity better than other brewing methods.
Q: Doesn’t the coffee over-extract sitting at the bottom of the pot?
A: Through lots of experimentation, we have found this common assertion to be untrue. Coffee doesn’t over-extract in a cupping bowl, so why should it in a press pot? Coffee that has been sitting in a pressed pot for up to 30 minutes doesn’t taste over-extracted. No need for immediate decanting. Try it!
Q: But it’s not cool or hip.
A: Nerd life forever.