Welcome back folks. You’ve asked so let’s do it - It’s time to talk about perhaps the most heavily relied upon coffee maker out there - The French Press. Or, as they call it in St. Boniface, The Press. (If my partner happens to be reading this: Je suis désolé.)
It’s rare to come across a kitchen that doesn’t have a french press in it – it’s usually just a matter of reaching back far enough into that one cupboard. And yet, despite its prevalence, the french press is often utilized incorrectly – particularly in the grind department. So,
I have two french presses at home. One is a beautiful ceramic press that I have occasional regrets about because it cost way too much and doesn’t pour particularly well, the other is a glass Bodum with a cork coaster I got for .75 cents at a thrift store in Flin Flon and is among the better coffee-related purchases I’ve made in my life. The thing that they have in common is they both make that familiar full-bodied muddy brew we all love. My point here is that while there are some variations on this coffee maker, the function is the same and it shouldn’t be necessary to break the bank for one. The main thing to stay on top of — and I’m mainly speaking to my older brother here — is cleaning them. Most French Press plungers fit through a lid, and feature a mesh filter screwed between two plates. Taking this apart regularly and cleaning thoroughly will mitigate the stale taste of coffee from brews gone by. Soaking everything in a little hot water and baking soda is an easy home solution.
Okay let’s press! (I’m trying to think of a bench press joke but I can’t think of anything right now.)
- Pre-heat that brewer with hot water. This will be a long process so heat retention is a good idea!
- While the brewer heats, grind your coffee. (Burr Grinderz only.) French Press is an immersion-style brew, and as such requires a coarse grind. However! I have often observed that in the quest for coarseness, it is common to see a grind go way too far. It should really only be a little coarser than a filter grind.
1:16 brewing ratio is a good place to start. So 30g dry mass will require 480g of water, which should fit nicely into a mid-sized french press.
- Most folks skip the bloom process, but I think there is some value in doing it. Add 60g(ish) of water and give it a swirl. Hang on for thirty seconds while the water permeates the grounds and off-gasses a little.
Continue pouring in concentric circles to break up grounds as they clump together and rise to the top. When you’ve added your entire water weight, give it a stir.
- Pop the lid on with the filter sitting just above the surface, and set a timer for 4 minutes. (Time is an easy thing to play around with, but once you’ve lost a certain amount of heat, you won’t be able to pull much more flavour out of the coffee.)
After four minutes, break up any crust that has formed at the top of the coffee so it sinks to the bottom.
- Plunge! There is something aggressive about the word plunge, but you aren’t looking to disturb things here. A slow and gentle plunge will do a much more effective job at catching any remaining sediment, and producing a cleaner cup. Easy does it.
- When the plunge is complete, pour the contents out carefully into your cup, and any extra into a carafe of some kind in order to halt the brewing process.
- At some point after you’ve enjoyed your cup of coffee, clean that French Press. You’ll thank you later.
Voila! Le French Press!
Photos by Sierra Pries