How to Brew Coffee with a French Press
To bring out the best flavor in your home-brewed coffee, you need fresh, roasted coffee beans and the right equipment to grind the beans and brew the grounds. You can make great, inexpensive coffee in your own kitchen using a burr grinder and a French Press.
Burr grinders, which grind beans between two discs with teeth, are available as electric or hand-cranked models. The French Press is made up of two parts: the pot and a plunger that separates grounds from your brewed coffee.
1Buy the freshest, unground roasted coffee beans you can find.
If you shop for coffee beans in a local store, look for beans in a tightly sealed bag, rather than in open dispensers or bins. Check packaging dates. The fresher the beans, the better the brew. Roasted beans lose their flavor quickly, and ground coffee becomes stale even faster.
2Store unused beans carefully to maintain flavor.
Don’t refrigerate coffee beans; condensation of water in beans can speed up degradation. Keep the bag sealed until you need to open it, and reseal the bag after every use. Store your coffee beans in a cool, dry place.
If you have more beans than you can use in two weeks, put the sealed bag in a plastic bag and close tightly before saving to your freezer. When you need more coffee beans, take the bags out of the freezer and let stand to room temperature before opening the outer bag.
Moisture is your coffee beans’ arch enemy.
3Measure fresh filtered or spring water into a kettle and bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and let the water sit for 30 to 60 seconds, which is called off-boil.)
Bad-tasting water may affect the flavor of your brewed coffee. Do your own taste test by brewing up a batch of coffee with tap water and another pot with bottled water. Heavily chlorinated water may not please your palate.
4Grind your beans to a coarse ground with a burr grinder.
Coffee grounds spend just a short time between the toothed discs before falling to the bin below. (A blade grinder works differently: Grounds stay in contact with blades until grinding stops, which can create friction and heat — and damage to the beans.)
Clean the burr grinder bin regularly to remove stale coffee grounds that can ruin the taste of your next pot of coffee.
5Place ground coffee in the French Press pot and pour all the off-boil water on the grounds.
The usual measurement is 2 tablespoons for every 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of water. Put the plunger on the top of your French Press pot, and set a timer for 4 minutes (a little longer if you like bolder-tasting coffee). To keep the coffee hot as you wait, wrap a clean kitchen towel around the pot, or use a tea cosy if you have one that fits.
6Push the French Press plunger down to the bottom of the pot.
Pour off or decant the coffee immediately after pressing down the plunger. You don’t want your coffee in contact with the grounds after brewing.
7Savor the flavor of the first cup — and beyond.
Coffee is a perishable beverage. To have refills ready and waiting, pour your fresh brew in a vacuum-insulated carafe.
Fill the carafe with hot water before making your coffee, to have the storage container heated up and ready to go. Empty out the hot water and pour in the freshly brewed coffee. Close up the top tightly and prepare to enjoy great-tasting coffee made right at home.