How to Rescue French Press Coffee by Ignoring Conventional Wisdom
When I first set out to write some how-to guides on brewing coffee I thought that I would mention French Press as a courtesy. It had been years since I had made it myself and I was under the impression that it was a substandard cup of coffee. It was silty and at times over or under extracted.
Some of the extraction problems were due to my use of a blade grinder at the time but it still didn’t really change my perception of french press as a dirty cup of coffee.
Oh how wrong I was.
I was recently reading The World Atlas of Coffee and came across a new recipe for french press that I had never seen before. It defied all of the conventional wisdom of making french press so I thought I’d give it a try.
What is French Press?
Simply stated, french press is an immersion method of brewing coffee. The water is in contact with the coffee grounds for the entire brewing process. Due to this, the resulting cup is a full bodied cup of coffee. The brewing process keeps all of the oil in the final cup and the fines (the really small particulate when you grind coffee) end up suspended in the coffee, adding even more body.
This is one of the most simple brewing methods so if you are new I would recommend buying a french press off of Amazon as it is a really inexpensive way to improve your coffee.
Because of this the conventional wisdom is to coarsely grind the beans so that they don’t over extract in the brewing process.
How is this Method Different?
This method is radically different from the textbook way to brew french press. The two factors that determine the final cup of coffee, the grind and brew time, depart from the standard.
The typical grind for french press is a coarse grind. For this method, you will use a medium grind. Think raw sugar.
The typical brew time for french press is 4 minutes. It will be 9 minutes for this method.
Making French Press
Start heating your water as you make the rest of the preparations. You will want water in the 195-205 temperature range. If you have a bonavita kettle this should be relatively easy. If you are working with a boiling kettle and a separate pouring kettle simply pour the boiling water straight into the second kettle and pour. This should be near the ideal temperature. These setups are easy to purchase off of Amazon.
The next step you need to take is establishing the proper brewing ratio. The ratio laid out in the book is 75g/l. This is when it comes in handy to have a gram scale. For a 16oz cup of coffee you should be using 37.5g of coffee and 500g of water.
Next, is your grind. Like I said earlier, it should be about a medium grind. Think about raw turbinado sugar or coarse sand.
Now that you have you coffee weighed and ground place it into the brewing vessel. Once the water is ready, add the 500g of water to the coffee. Make sure you get everything wet.
Here comes the tedious part: the wait.
The initial brew process will take 4 minutes. At which point you’ll notice a crust has formed at the top of the vessel. Take a spoon and break this crust up, scooping out any grounds or foam that remain on top. Your coffee should look like the picture below after you break the crust but before you scoop out the foam.
Once you have scooped everything out from the top you must wait again. This time, for five minutes. When the five minutes is up place the top of the french press onto the vessel. Plunge down to the point where the filter is just above the coffee. DO NOT plunge into the coffee as it will create turbulence and stir up all of that sediment that we have worked so hard to keep out of the coffee.
Carefully pour the coffee into a prewarmed mug. This cup will be full bodied and bold, but should not contain the sediment that so often typifies french press. This method has brought french press back into my rotation of coffee brewing methods as I absolutely love the cup it produces.
I hope you do too!