I think a perfectly brewed cup of coffee is one of life's great luxuries. Close your eyes, inhale, let the warm steam wash over you. Sip. Taste. Be in the moment, completely relaxed. The world moves a little slower, and nothing seems so bad as it did a minute ago. My favorite Sunday morning ritual is to make myself a fresh cup of coffee and just sit in my dining room soaking in the morning sun. I put some jazz on, and just relax and simply be. No work, no thinking about the "to do" list. Just myself and a beverage as old as time. It's heavenly.
Since this little ritual is something I look forward to each week, I thought I would start a new series on the blog called "Sunday Coffee." Each week I'll cover some kind of coffee related topic. If you've been around here for a while you know that I am obsessed with my Nespresso, but on Sundays or when I'm at my beach "house" I use my french press. I love the coffee it makes, and I don't even mind that it takes just a little bit more time and effort. However, I learned recently that I was doing quite a few things wrong. I (like many), added my coffee, water, brewed, and plunged. There's more to it than that. I fixed these 5 mistakes that I was making with my french press and it dramatically changed the coffee. I thought if I was making these mistakes, you might be too. They are super easy fixes and really take no additional time. Happy Sunday my friends, may your coffee be strong and your work load be light! Read on for the five mistakes you're making with your french press.
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It's no secret that I love coffee, I mean I built a "coffee shop" in my kitchen, that's love. I'm always searching for ways to make a better cup of coffee. While these tips are specific to the french press, some could work for other brew methods as well. These quick fixes will give you a rich and deliciously flavored cup of coffee every time.
If you don't have a french press, I love the ones that The Palm makes. I have two both from Homegoods, but you can also find a reasonably priced French press on Amazon. They are great for places where you may not have space for a full coffee maker. It's why I use this method in our RV. I also know people lovethis one from Target.
So without further ado, here are the mistakes you are probably making:
1. You aren't pre-heating the french press
If I'm being honest I frequently skip this step, but it really does make a difference. Boil some water and pour it into your french press to get the glass tempered. This ensures that the brewing temperature will be consistent the entire time that the coffee is in the press. I have noticed a real difference in the richness of the flavor when I preheat vs when I don't.
2. you're using boiling water
You actually want to use "off boiling" water....whaaat? Yeah I had no clue what that meant either, but now I do. Since this method already takes a little extra effort and time, it can be tempting to pull your boiling water right off the stove and pour it into the press. However the ideal temperature for brewing coffee is 200 degrees. Water that is in a rolling boil is roughly 212 degrees. Is this a huge difference? No, not really, but we want the best possible tasting coffee (that is why you're reading this, right)? So should you start using a thermometer before pouring your water into the press? Heck no, there's no way I'm taking water temperature readings before I've had my coffee. It's easier than that. All you need to do is remove the water from the heat source for about 30 seconds. That will get it to an "off boil" temperature or around 200 degrees. Bam! Ideal brewing condition. Need a super cute kettle to boil your water? I love this one.
3. you're not letting your coffee bloom
I have a hard enough time getting flowers to bloom, so "blooming" coffee sounds ridiculous. Here's the thing though if you want the best tasting cup of french press, you gotta let the coffee bloom. It's actually really easy. Put your grounds in the bottom of the carafe. Pour your off boiled water over it, but only enough to cover the grounds so that they are just soaked. Swirl the coffee around and then wait about 30 seconds. That will be long enough for the C02 to escape. You then continue to pour your water as you normally would. I promise, it will really bring a depth of flavor and richness to the taste that wasn't there before
4. You're brewing too long
You are brewing for too long. I love strong coffee. Lorelei Gilmore and I could go head to head and I would give her a run for her money. I used to think if I left the coffee in the press longer it would brew a stronger cup. It turns out, that's not how science works. The longer you leave it in the french press, the more bitter it will get. Now, some people enjoy bitter coffee, so if you do like it a bit more on the bitter side, leave it a little longer, but ideally you only want to brew for 4 minutes. Pour your water, add your coffee, and set a 4 minute timer. When the timer goes off, plunge away and you will get a robust and rich flavor without the bitter.
5. Your Coffee isn't course enough
There is something really luxurious to me about having french press coffee. Since it takes a bit more thought that pressing a button, I really only do it when I have time to really savor the process. Since I am usually just making one or two cups, I also take advantage of this and bust out my "fancy" coffee as opposed to the canister coffee that finds its way into the drip coffee maker. However when it comes to the French press, not all coffee brews equally. Already ground coffee (even the fancy kind) tends to be a little too thin to brew perfectly in a press. Ideally you want coarsely ground coffee (think sea salt texture). I had no idea about this until I was at a french coffee shop. The woman explained that there are some people that believe the coarseness of the grind is more important than the type of bean or even the water temperature in terms of getting the perfect cup. So it seems that ensuring a proper grind is a must when making french press coffee.
A solution to this would be to freshly grind the beans yourself (and get all the deliciousness that freshly ground beans add to the experience). However if you don't have that kind of time or equipment, most grocery stores have a grinder that you can use. Pick up a bag o' beans that you enjoy and set the grinder to "course." Some stores even have a coffee station that will do it for you. If you do want to do it yourself, you can get a grinder at a relatively affordable price. Then you can purchase the beans whole and grind just what you need for each cup. This may save you money in the long run as your coffee won't go "stale" as quickly.
I have to say, I did see a difference on the flavor and boldness switching to course ground. Not enough to freshly grind every morning, but enough to purchase a course ground specifically for use with the press.
Regardless of how you make your coffee, I hope you take the time to truly savor it. I'd love to hear any french press tips that you have, or coffee tips in general. I'm excited to continue to talk coffee each Sunday! Have a wonderful day of rest friends. How do you make your coffee in the morning?