Many experienced coffee drinkers never move up to French press coffee because of the perception that the brewing process is complicated or the coffee is too strong. Unfortunately these common misperceptions about French press coffee has led to this wonderful brewing method being under-utilized throughout the coffee hobby. A well-made pot of French press brewed coffee is one of the gems of the coffee drinking hobby. Nothing can match the taste and smoothness of a well-brewed French press pot.
When using a French press, you’re exposing the surface of the roasted bean directly to the water for an extended period. This allows the oils and tannins from the coffee bean to directly enter the water and give you great tasting coffee. On the flip side, French press coffee can be very messy if the grind is not done correctly. French press coffee can also be too strong if the wrong bean or wrong strength is used.
The most important piece of French press coffee is using the right tools with your press kit. The most important step in your French press brewing process is using a high quality blender. The grinds that you use for your French press need to be large, uniform and nearly dust-free. Cheaper burr grinders and blade grinders are notorious for producing lots of dust and small particles. These tiny bits of coffee become sludge in your French press and give your coffee a very bitter aftertaste. A high quality conical burr grinder is the most essential tool to great French press brewing because it delivers uniform grinds with a clean cut.
The next important tool for your French brewing experience is a clean press pot. While this may seem like common sense, it’s easy to forget to remove the entire screen filter during cleaning. This means that old grinds get caught within the metal edges of your press and can go unnoticed for quite some time. Merely rinsing your filter isn’t enough. Wash at least between every other use for the freshest coffee.
Finally, your choice of coffee blend is very important in terms of how many grinds you use for flavor. The darker the blend, the less grinds you need to use for full flavor. French press coffee is very rich in flavor. During the brewing process, the beans have a very even exposure to the water. This means that more of the bean is exposed to the water in terms of surface area, which unlocks even more flavor and packs quite a punch. Many coffee drinkers find that they won’t need to use a full tablespoon of grounds per 8 ounces of water.
The age of your beans is very important too. If you have newly roasted beans (i.e. within the past 3 days), you will have a lot of “bloom” on the surface of your roast. It’s recommended to use beans that have been roasted within the past 3-10 days. French press coffee may involve a little more brewing effort, but the dividends of a great pot of French press coffee is well worth the effort.