Plunger and French Press Brewing Guide
French press is the most Classic and modest way of brewing coffee manually. The design approach for such machine is quite basic; it consists of a pitcher, top lid, a plunger and a screen filter.
French press is available in different types of design; either they are made from stainless steel, glass or even plastic. However, no matter what the design, the French Press is to be operated in the same way.
Let’s get into a comprehensive brewing guide for French Press:
Check if the plunger, beaker or lid has any stuck coffee grounds from the previous brewing session. Place a Water kettle for boiling which will be used for brewing coffee as well as preheating your French Press machine.
You might be wondering: Can you use freshly ground coffee or pre-ground coffee for French Press?
French press is integrated with a screen filter whose job is to hold back the coffee grounds and separate the brewed coffee from it. Even though it does prevent coarsely ground coffee from getting into your coffee, smallest particles called “fines” still manage to escape into your coffee.
Much to your surprise,
These fines actually give a punch of richness and heaviness to the coffee, a taste that coffee aficionados swear by. Even so, it is recommended to grind coffee beans very coarsely, keep the setting on the grinder to its coarsest level. The texture of the grounds must feel like coarse salt.
Want to know the best part?
If you don’t like how your coffee has turned out, you could always customize it. Next time you can grind it slightly finer if you feel the brewed coffee was weak. Or, if the brew was kind of over-extracted or bitter, you might want to grind it coarser next time.
Now comes the core factor viz. Coffee-to-water ratio. Ideally, a mass ratio of 1: 14 or 1: 16 turns out to deliver a very classic and full-bodied cup of coffee (60 to 70 grams of coffee/liter).
- Always use a scale for measuring coffee to avoid inconsistent results
- Lightly roasted coffee actually weighs heavier as compared to dark-roasted coffee, so don’t put coffee grounds inconsiderately.
- Coarser grind of coffee will also prevent the screen mesh filter from getting clogged up.
Finally, when the water in the kettle boils just of the boiling point (up to 95°C or anywhere from 195°F-200°F) you need to preheat the French press and other decanting components (beaker or coffee mugs) with this water (optional step).
If the French Press has not been used for quite a long time, there might be some dust particles residing in it. Pour this boiled into empty beaker up to ¼ level. Close the lid, press down the plunger and vigorously shake the hot water for a few seconds.
This step will also unclog any old coffee granules stuck in the assembly. Once done, discard off the preheating water. Now, place your French press on the scale and tare it to 0.
French Press Brewing:
Add the ground coffee into the French press and check that its weight has not changed. Again, tare it to 0. Now pour the boiled water into the beaker until the grounds are completely saturated. Make sure you pour it slowly, so you can keep a check on the imprinted scale precisely. This will give an accurate coffee-to-water ratio.
You can pour the boiled water right off the flame but if the French press is insulated or has double-walled construction, you want to wait for about 30 seconds off the boil before pouring.
Once you completely add the water, wait for 40-45 seconds and then give it a thorough deep stir up to 6 times. This is done because the CO2 gas released will cause the coffee grounds to rise and float on the surface of the water. This stirring will mix everything well and prevent the coffee from being under-extracted. When you see there are no grounds floating, close the lid.
Brewing time for the French press completely depends on your personal preference of flavor and taste. You can let it steep anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes.
If you have ground the coffee too fine, let it steep for about 3 to 4 minutes. Whereas, for coarsely ground coffee, opt for 8 minutes to get all the richness of great flavors and aromas into your coffee.
Plunging it up:
Once you are satisfied, stop the brewing process. Press the plunger down gently and if you feel like it’s getting too tight then push it back upwards 1 to 2 inch and then start pressing down again. Once the plunger is completely down, you are all set to go!
It is better to immediately pour off all the brewed coffee into a separate carafe to prevent the coffee grounds from escaping into your coffee.
If you press the plunger too quickly, the hot coffee may spurt out.
Note: If the plunger is too hard to press down that means you have ground your coffee too fine. And, if it gets down too quickly with “thud” noise means the ground coffee is too coarse.
Serving it hot:
Now depending on your taste, you can either serve the brewed coffee Black or add some milk or cream to enhance its taste. Serve the coffee immediately, or else it might taste astringent or bitter after some time.
Troubleshooting a bad cup of coffee:
- If you feel like the coffee has turned out to be too strong, next time try to reduce the brewing time, grind the coffee beans slightly coarser and use less amounts of coffee.
- Suppose the coffee tastes too weak, you could always grind the coffee much finer, increase the coffee amounts and also increase the brewing time.
- If the coffee has too many sediments and feels gritty, that means too many grounds have escaped into your coffee. The problem here is either the filter is not being snugly attached across the surface of beaker or it’s damaged.
French Press brewing method offers you greater brewing control so that you can attain your most preferred taste and experiment with it to find your ideal cup of coffee.
Here’s the thing:
Best aspect that coffee fanatics like about French presses is that the screen filter will allow essential oils from the grounds to escape into the coffee, which is rather eliminated by paper filters in other Brewing methods.
These essential oils is what gives that heavy, full-bodied and much flavorful taste to your coffee.
Better still, French Press is pretty affordable, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean, environment-friendly and compact-sized machine that will adapt itself anywhere on your kitchen counter top. You just need to master the grind size and coffee-to-water ratio here, and you are good to go!
Always clean the Press pot thoroughly after each use, or else old coffee granules will badly spoil your next brew.