Thursday 16 January 2014

Making Coffee Using a French Press

Whats the deal with the French Press? Well at first glance, it can look intimidating and overly technical. But there is a reason for the extra effort. Sometimes, perfection is in the details. What could it hurt to try it and see for yourself? You might be surprised at the results. Take the plunge! (hehe)

What you will need:

  • A French Press - You can pick one up for very few dollars or your spend a bundle. I like my bodum french press but you can find one just about anywhere nowadays. 

     Bodum French Press

  • A Small Kitchen Scale. Again, you can get these all over the place. Look for one that will work for small measurements as you will be measuring in grams, and one you can zero easily. You may also want one that can easily switch between grams, ounces etc. for ease.
  • Filtered or Bottled Water - Your coffee is as good as the water you use to make it!
  • A Kettle or something to boil water in- Really, you could use a pot to boil water in, but for pouring, you want something that  has a smooth pour without spilling or splashing! 
  • Coffee!! Some fresh ROASTED and fresh GROUND coffee is best. Everyone has a different budget and that is understandable. If you can find a local roaster, its always nice to try and shop local when ever possible. Also, Its nice to get to know your local roaster and what their experience and knowledge has to offer you!! Try different blends, have fun, experiment!
  • A Grinder!! Again, we understand that budget is a consideration to most people, especially if they are trying the french press for the first time. Start up can be intimidating as the price tag goes up! So. I would always recommend a Burr grinder over a blade grinder. A burr grinder has the beans poured in the hopper at the top and falls through the rotating burrs that grind the beans to the selected particle size. The ground coffee falls down via gravity below the burrs and into a chamber below. A blade grinder has a lot less consistency of particle size, and thus the extraction is not even per particle. A larger particle of coffee can sit in water longer before becoming over extracted and bitter tasting. A smaller particle will become over extracted and bitter more quickly. Since the French Press has the particles steeping in the water for a longer period of time, you want medium sized to larger particles of coffee and not finely ground coffee. A Blade grinder is similar to a kitchen blender. You pour the beans onto the blade and the blade rotates at high speed, hitting the beans randomly. So recap. Burr grinder is better than blade grinder. Here is an example of a fairly inexpensive Hand Burr grinder. 
    Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Grinder
     And Below is an example of a fairly inexpensive Electrical Burr Grinder.
    Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder
     Now. All that said, a grinder may still be a purchase for the future. If you want, another option is to ask the guy or gal behind the counter at your roast house to grind your selected beans for you to use in your french press. Just remember, coffee oxidizes and becomes stale and bitter tasting quickly, so you want to use it sooner than later!! Best practice is to grind the coffee immediately before you brew, but work with what you have and experiment! You may be surprised at your results. Warning. The more experimenting you do, the closer to becoming a coffee geek you become! ;) LOL! You may find yourself waking up earlier just to give yourself more experimental fun time for your morning cuppa! You wouldn't be the first!

The Recommended proportions of coffee to water according to the SCAA Brewing Handbook is:

2 Tablespoons of ground coffee to 6oz of water
60g of ground coffee per 1 litre of water

Please note that these are guidelines and you can adjust them according to your own preferences. After all, you are the one who is drinking it! :) 

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