Brewing coffee with a French Press is a science that anybody who wishes to enjoy a good drink needs to learn. The French Press, also referred to as the coffee press or the cafetiere, has a beaker whose shape resembles that of a cylinder and a plunger. The beaker is either made of glass, steel or plastic and the piston on the plunger is crafted from mesh so as to allow the liquid to pass through it while sieving larger grounds. Depending on the brewing method you use, the size of coffee grind and quantity of coffee determine how fast the water passes through coffee and the duration within which the coffee will be ready. However, the grind size, brew time and quality of brew aren’t always linked in an extricable manner. You can actually use the French Press to make more or little coffee, you can brew your drink for as long as you wish and you use any coffee grind you wish because all these variables are independent, none affects the other. But it doesn’t mean that your coffee will always taste great, it just means that you are free to use the French Press in different ways.
The Brewing Process
The coffee brewing process can be described in three phases. The first phase is wetting where the coffee grounds are saturated fully to extract coffee solids and release the carbon dioxide gas trapped in fresh grounds. The second phase is dissolving the coffee solids in hot water to make the beverage. The third phase involves diffusion where the coffee and water concentrate moves out of the coffee grounds to the surrounding liquids. When brewing using the pour over and drip methods, the liquid that surrounds the coffee grounds is replenished continually with fresh hot water. When brewing with the French Press, this is not the case because more water is not added along the way and so the amount of energy that drives diffusion is significantly reduced. This slows down the brewing process. Here are some simple steps on ratio and time to make a perfect cup of coffee with the French Press:
1. Check the coarseness of your grind
If you are just starting to brew with the French Press, you might want to start with the coarsest grind that your grinder can produce. Place the particles somewhere between steel cut and coarse salt oats. Pay attention to the grind size and adjust later. If the brew turns out weak, make your grind a bit finer next time, is too tasty, make them a bit coarser. To make a good brew, make your coffee to water ratio at about 1:14 and 1.16, which translates to 60 or 70 grams of coffee for every liter of water.
2. Prepare clean brew water
You can pour water from the boiling pot right into your French Press if you do not have and insulated press. If your press is not insulated, wait for half a minute after boiling. Let the water attain a temperature of 10 or 15°F, if you are brewing with decaf or dark roasted coffee.
3. Add the water and start timing
You may add water to your grounds little by little then stir, or add the whole amount once then keep stirring gently. Start the clock as soon as you start this process. Give the water and coffee mix a thorough, gentle stir for 30 to 45 seconds to get most of your coffee grounds sinking in the water.
4. Leave the coffee to brew
After the grounds have sunk, put the lid and leave the mixture to brew for 6 to 8 minutes to get the best flavor. If you don’t want it too concentrated or you are using a very fine ground, you can brew for 3 or 4 minutes.
5. Plunge the brew gently
Once the time is up, stop the brewing and plunge it gently without agitating the coffee grounds. When you feel your plunger begin to tighten, back it up one or two inches and continue plunging. When you reach the bottom, it’s done. Pour out the beverage immediately after plunging to stop brewing completely.