The French Press is a type of manual brewing method popular with novice coffee drinkers and coffee experts alike for being simple and easy, yet excellent at creating a richer and smoother cup of coffee than other manual brewing methods. Because it immerses the coffee grounds in hot water during the brewing process, it draws out the natural oils from coffee and extracts the different flavors and aromas from the beans. The French Press method is a favorite among coffee lovers who prefer stronger and thicker coffee brew.
Here are a few tips on how to make perfect french press coffee:
TIP #1: BUY FRESH WHOLE BEAN COFFEE
Great coffee is only good as its beans. The surest way to get your hands on fresh beans is to roast your own or get it from a local roaster.
If you’re buying whole bean coffee, make sure you get the ones in sealed containers or bags. The beans will stay good until their expiration date as long as they are unopened. Once opened, the beans will start losing their flavor after a week.
Some beans are sold in packages that are not air-tight (e.g. paper bags). You can still purchase these beans but be sure to check for the roast date. Coffee beans roasted for more than 4 weeks won’t be very good. Remember, coffee is best when used within days of being roasted.
TIP #2. KEEP BEANS FRESH
Always store opened coffee beans in airtight containers. Glass jars or ceramic containers with rubber seals are a good bet. Also, do not put roasted coffee beans in the fridge. They will absorb moisture and food odors.
TIP #3. GRIND YOUR OWN BEANS
Coffee loses its quality upon grinding. Thus, a good cup of coffee is made from beans ground just before brewing. Not every coffee grinder is created equal, to ensure the most consistent grind and best grind size use a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder.
When brewing french press coffee, avoid using a finer grind. A fine grind can result in grinds getting past the mesh filter and into your coffee cup. Instead, try a coarser grind with a longer brewing time for delicious coffee with a crisper and richer flavor.
TIP #4. USE GOOD WATER
Coffee is 98% water so use good quality water that tastes good. If you will use tap water, drink it first to make sure it tastes okay. If it does, then go ahead and use it. If it doesn’t, better use filtered or bottled water instead. If you opt for bottled water, just make sure it’s not distilled. Distilled water is too pure to brew coffee with. Minerals in water are essential in making good coffee.
TIP #5. MEASURE YOUR COFFEE AND WATER
The perfect way to ensure that you have the perfect coffee-to-water ratio each time is to measure your coffee and water.
A good place to start is to use 1 tablespoon / 14.3 grams of coffee for every 8 ounces / 226.8 grams of water. You can adjust it to 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water if you want a stronger brew. Experiment with different coffee-to-water ratios until you achieve the one that works best for you.
TIP #6. USE HOT WATER, BUT NOT BOILING
As we mentioned before water temperature is very important, no matter which brew methods is your favorite. Water that is too hot will lead to over-extraction of the beans and will make your coffee overly bitter. If it’s not warm enough, it will fail to extract the full consistency of the beans and will leave you with weak and sour coffee.
The optimal temperature for brewing coffee is 195°F to 205°F. It’s the range that will give the most balanced and flavorful cup of coffee. Using a kettle with a built-in thermometer is helpful so you can have the perfect temperature every time.
TIP #7. PREHEAT THE POT
Warm up the french press with hot water prior to brewing your coffee. Pour a little hot water into your coffee press to heat the inside then dump it out and place your coarse grinds in. This will keep your coffee from getting cold sooner.
TIP #8. WET THE GRINDS FIRST
Once you place the coffee grounds in the bottom of the french press, pour just enough water to wet the grinds first and let it stand for 30 seconds to let the coffee steep. This will let the coffee to bloom and allow any carbon dioxide gas from the beans to escape. After 30 seconds, use a wooden spoon and give it a gentle stir to ensure there are no dry grinds. Now pour the rest of the water to fill the french press.
TIP #9. USE A TIMER
If you brew your coffee too short, it will taste thin and sour. If it’s too long, it will be bitter. For a flavorful cup of coffee, the ideal brewing time is 4 minutes. If you want a stronger brew, you can extend it to up to 6 minutes. Set a timer to measure the brewing time accurately.
TIP #10. PLUNGE AND POUR
Once the coffee is brewed, gently yet firmly press the plunger all the way down. Be careful not to apply too much pressure because hot water might spray out of the pot.
Pour the coffee into a cup, then sip and enjoy! A stainless steel French press with double walls can keep your coffee hot for longer ready for a second cup. If you don’t have a stainless steel French press, you can pour the remaining coffee in a thermal mug or carafe to keep it hot.
BONUS TIP #11. USE IT FOR FROTHING MILK
A cool trick we recently learned from Evelina over at The Coffee Wave is how to froth milk with a french press. Hit the link for the full tutorial, but the short version is to heat your milk, pour it into your french press, then pushing the plunger up and down in the milk to froth it. Brilliant trick for quick frothy milk for your coffee.
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