The French press, or simply the ‘coffee plunger’, is one of the simplest methods around for making a tasty coffee brew. The French press is proof that great coffee is for everyone and doesn’t have to be difficult or use expensive equipment. Coffee from a French press is thick and rich and creamy in flavour, in part due to the coarseness of the grind used and also the nature of the filter. Because a French press uses a metal mesh filter, not a paper filter, all of the coffee oils are still present in the finished brew, not trapped in the filter with the coffee grounds. Although a press-type contraption had been around in various forms through the early 1900’s, it was actually an Italian who first patented the design which we know and has remained largely unchanged to date. So, maybe we should be calling it the Italian press…..
Bring your kettle to just off the boil, you are aiming for somewhere around 90- 96C. If you aren’t able to measure temperature, let the kettle sit for 30-40 seconds after boiling.
While the water is boiling, grind your coffee to a coarse grind [see A Note About Grind for additional information on grind]. Start with a ratio of coffee to water of 1:15g, you can play around with the ratio’s afterwards to suit your tastes. In other words, if you have a 4 cup French press which holds 600mL of water, use 40g of coffee.
Heat both your press and your cups with hot water. Throw the water out of the French press before you start the brew process.
Add your freshly ground coffee to the heated French Press, with the plunger removed.
Steadily pour a small amount your heated water on to the coffee grounds in a circular motion, being sure to saturate all of the coffee grounds.
Give your coffee a gentle stir, and let the coffee sit for 30 seconds. This is the bloom.
Steadily pour the remaining water into the French press in the same gradual circular motion.
Place the plunger onto the top of the press without it touching the surface of the coffee. Don’t press yet!
Wait 4 minutes. This is your opportunity to make toast. With Vegemite.
Slowly and steadily push the plunger down until it reaches the bottom.
Serve immediately into your heated cups!
If the plunger is hard to push down, you probably used too fine a grind – try coarser next time. If it went down too easy – probably too fine a grind.
If you aren’t drinking all of your brewed coffee immediately, decant the remaining coffee into another vessel. If you leave it in the French press it will continue to brew and will end up tasting bitter.
Don’t forget to clean up quickly so your press is ready to use next time.
Check out the video below from Stumptown on brewing with the French Press. If for no other reason than the barista rides a motorcycle into her coffee shop! Now that is cool.