Being your own coffee barista can be a daunting challenge- there’s so much to consider! Brewing times, brewing methods, flavor profiles, flavor combinations, sugar content, caffeine content, and the temperature of the water- it’s overwhelming to any beginner. Making high-quality coffee at home doesn’t mean you have to harvest each coffee bean individually yourself from a small coffee farm in Honduras. Nor does it mean you have to take out a second mortgage on your house to afford all of the state-of-the-art stainless steel coffee-making equipment. Beginning with the brewing technique you choose, there are numerous ways to make your coffee, all with different difficulty levels depending on the machinery used.
There are four coffee brewing methods: pressure, steeping, filtration/dripping, and boiling. Brewing via steeping is the easiest method of the four, but using the French press will yield the best results with the least amount of drama- this makes the French press perfect for beginners. We’ve all seen the exorbitant coffee-making contraptions that cost $1,000, $2,000, and even $5,000 but luckily, a quality French press will only cost you around $30 - $50.
So what exactly is a French press? The fundamental appeal of the French press is the amount of control it gives you over the brewing process. A French press is a device that brews coffee by soaking coffee grounds in hot water. It is a type of “immersion brewing,” which involves completely submerging the coffee grounds in water for 3–4 minutes as opposed to only a few seconds (like the popular drip method). You can use any kind of roast with a French press, but the beans must be coarsely ground so that the filter can keep the coffee and used grounds apart. The Chambord coffee press is the most typical common style that we see today; it consists of a glass beaker made of heat-resistant glass with a metal frame and a handle. The popularity of ceramic and metal presses is rising, however.
Coffee grounds must be added to the beaker of a French press before the hot water is added on top of them. The metal filter will separate the coffee grounds from the freshly made coffee when you lower the plunger. The small quantity per brew and usage of metal filters rather than paper filters in the French press are its main drawbacks. Since a French press allows the oils in the coffee grounds to slowly pass through the filter, the coffee it produces has a more robust, richer flavor, which is why it is so well-liked among coffee connoisseurs.
How does this simple coffee brewer serve such great, high-quality coffee? First, we need to understand the anatomy of the French Press. The carafe comes in different shapes and sizes to hold the water and coffee for brewing. It is framed with a stainless steel handle to support the vessel and protect you from the heat of the beaker. In addition to the lid and plunger, there are a disc-shaped metal mesh filter screen, cross plate, and spiral plate that fits inside the beaker in order to strain the coffee.
In order to create the rich and robust flavor associated with making coffee in this way, the water-to-coffee ratio is crucial. It would be best if you first determined how many fluid ounces your French press can hold. The most popular sizes are 10 ounces, which yields one and a half servings, and 32 ounces, which produces around five servings. If you like a milder flavor, use the 2:10 ratio, which calls for two tablespoons of coffee and 10 ounces of water. If you prefer a stronger taste, use recommended ratio of 2:6.
The quality of coffee grounds you use while brewing also affects how the coffee will taste. Coarsely ground coffee is ideal to use with a French press; it is less likely that the coffee will become over-extracted this way. Brewing for too long, adding too much water, or grinding the coffee grounds too finely can all result in over-extraction, which makes the coffee taste unpleasantly sour and overwhelming bitter. Additionally, if the coffee grounds are too fine, the metal filter won’t fully catch them after plunging, leaving gritty pieces in your coffee.
The next important factor in extracting the flavor from the grounds is the temperature of the water. When using a French press, the ideal water temperature is 200 °F (93.33 °C). In order for you to get the exact temperature, boil some water and then let it cool down, checking periodically with a thermometer. Water boils at 212 °F (100°C), so you won’t have to wait long! Before adding your coffee grounds and hot water, don't forget to swirl a little warm water into the beaker first. This will help keep the coffee warm for longer after it has been brewed and will prevent the glass from breaking or cracking when the 200 °F water is added.
It’s vital to pay close attention to the brewing time after obtaining the precise coffee and water ratios. Coffee connoisseurs generally agree that four minutes is the ideal length of time for the coffee to steep. Add the coffee grounds to the beaker once the temperature
hits 200 °F, and then pour the water on top. Make sure you have a timer nearby since the coffee could become bitter and acrid if you steep it for longer than 4 minutes.
You can also use a method called “blooming,” in which you pour your coffee grounds into the beaker and then fill it up with hot water in a 1:1 ratio. The beans emit CO2, which increases their capacity to absorb water, thus releasing the flavor inside of them. The amount of CO2 in the beans depends on how long the beans were roasted. The darker the coffee beans, the less CO2 they contain! Approximately two to three minutes are needed for blooming; after those minutes have passed, pour the remaining hot water into the beaker and let the coffee steep for an additional minute or two. If you need coffee right away, skip the blooming step and just fill the press with your 200 °F water. After four minutes, plunge, and serve.
If this is your first time using a French press, why not try a new kind of coffee too? Take a culinary tour of Central and South America with our Columbian, Brazilian, and Costa Rican House Blend. The smooth Colombian beans mixed with the citrus notes and fruity flavors of the Costa Rican and Brazilian beans create a fun and adventurous blend. Alternatively, you could honor both countries that had a hand in making the French press what it is today and make our Italian Dark Roast in your French press! With the Italian roasts being the darkest of the roasts, our Italian Dark roast is luxuriously viscous with a touch of sweetness.
Tag us on our Instagram page @sheldrakecoffee or comment below on what blends you like (or would like) to use in your French press!