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Power of the Press: Get the most from your French press brews

On the surface, it’s as easy as grind and douse, plunge and pour. The deliciously simple French press brewing method generates an aromatic cup that has lured many a connoisseur away from their (perfectly respectable) drip coffee maker.

But for truly exceptional results, consider refining your methods with a few of these expert barista tips. You’ll find that a little attention to detail goes a long way toward drawing out and highlighting the coffee’s natural flavors, and your palate will thank you.


__ Coarse grinds rule

Compared to the speed of, say, espresso, the French press holds a lengthy brew time of about 4 minutes total. Since your coffee grounds and hot water will be in contact longer, it’s best to compensate by grinding fresh beans to the coarse texture of sea salt.

Invest in a good coffee grinder to really dial this in. Coarse grinds and a longer brew time can produce a pleasantly acidic beverage.

__ Weigh it out

Because the density of coffee beans can vary, using a scale is the best way to get accurate measures each time you grind. For French press brewing, the coffee-to-water ratio should be 1:15 - 1:18 grams, coffee to water, depending on your taste.


Weight will always be more accurate than volume. But maybe you don’t have a kitchen scale yet? You can still be consistent and use measuring tools. The above ratio is the equivalent of 3 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water. Use filtered water that is hot, but not boiling, so as not to scorch your brew. If using a thermometer, aim for the 200-degrees Fahrenheit range, which hits about 30 seconds after removing your boiling kettle from heat.

 

__ Go full bloom

Wetting the coffee grinds just a little before going full immersion -- a method called the “bloom” -- helps to give sour gases like carbon dioxide time to escape, and thus not taint your beverage.

Let the damp mixture stand for 30 seconds, then pour in the rest of your water. Some grounds may float to the top now. Wait 30 more seconds, then give them a stir to agitate and blend evenly. Add the cover and set a timer for 3 minutes.

 

Maybe take a moment to wash some dishes here. Inside your French press, tiny coffee particles are dissolving into a heavenly potion. When it’s time for the big reveal, press the plunger and pour your entire batch into a thermal carafe to avoid over extraction and bitterness (which happens if you leave those grounds soaking in hot water for too long).

 

If you really want to get fancy, pass that coffee through a paper filter on its way into the carafe, to pull out any large solubles or stray grounds. The resulting cup will be clean and rich with flavorful oils.


Be sure to show your respects by always being gentle with your equipment, and cleaning it well after each use with coffee-specific detergent.

Voila! You are now a French press brewing virtuoso.

 

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