August 3, 2011

How To: Make the Perfect Cup of French Press Coffee

Posted by Kristin

For anyone that knows me relatively well, they know that there are two beverages that I am very particular about: beer and coffee.

While I haven't made my own beer yet (maybe down the road...right now I just rely on homemade brews from my hubby and dad), I do make my own coffee every morning. Mostly because I'm a frugral freak and am also quite comatose until I have my first sip. So making my coffee at home ensures that I'm somewhat functioning by the time I leave the house.

I first started out by making coffee in a regular electric drip pot. While this was fairly easy and allowed me to preset the brew time the night before, I was only brewing a small amount of coffee for myself (Mike won't go near the stuff) and I found it difficult to brew a strong cup in small amounts. That's the other thing you need to know about me: I like my coffee like body builders like their muscles: STRONG!

He likes these strong....

I like this strong...

Anyways, after futzing with the electric drip option for about a year or so, I decided to try a french press. Needless to say, a loving relationship was born. I would buy ground coffee, boil the water, pour it in and wait expectantly. However, my coffee joy started getting cut short by one big problem: I kept breaking the french press.

Another thing to know about me is that I have a tendency to break dishes, probably because I'm so tired of handwashing them that I try to get them done as quickly as possible. However, this habit led to me breaking a brand new glass french press within 1 week of having it (sad...I know). So last year for my birthday, I demanded requested a stainless steel french press from Coleman. The beauty of it is that I can drop it on the floor (something that does still happen occasionally) and still make a perfect cup of joe afterwards- good for people with slippery, fast moving hands like me.

Then last Valentine's day Mike surprised me with another great addition to my world of coffee- a coffee grinder. Now I can grind my own beans fresh every morning and let me tell you- It. is. good.

I buy my beans locally and only buy about 1 pound at a time. That way the beans are only sitting around for about a month and get used before they start to lose their flavor.  So far my favorite brew is Fogbuster from Pierce Brothers Coffee Roasters. I can usually get this at Atkins Farms in Amherst or the River Valley Market in Northampton. I just store them in a air tight mason jar (not in the freezer as I was formerly taught).

There's a whole bunch of fogbusting about to happen...

Once I had all the right equipment, I then perfected the brew time. As I mentioned, I like strong coffee so I eventually found that 11 minutes makes the perfect cup for me and my abnormally tolerant taste buds.  However, most people I know look at me with raised eyebrows when I tell them the 11 minute rule so you  may like it brewed for 1/2 that amount of time.

So onto the "How To" method. This is the same routine I follow every morning as soon as I roll out of bed and it hasn't failed me yet.

1. Fill a tea kettle with a bit more water that you expect to pour into your french press and set it to boil. This allows for some water to boil off if you don't get to the kettle in time.

2. While the water is boiling, grind your beans. For a french press you don't want the beans ground too fine or they'll seep through the press. I usually count to 10 while I grind the beans and it comes out perfect every time (yes, I know...anal is my middle name). Dump the ground coffee in the french press.

3. When the water is boiling, turn the burner off and let it settle for a minute. Then pour the water slowly into the french press over the ground coffee.

4. Set the cover into the french press but don't push the press down yet. The cover just helps hold the heat in. Let it steep like this for your desired length of time.

5. Once the time is up, SLOWLY push down the press all the way to the bottom. If you push it too quickly it will spill coffee everywhere and mix the grounds into the coffee. The idea is to separate the grounds from the coffee by slowly pushing them to the bottom.

6. Once the press is pushed down, hold it in place as you pour your delicious coffee into a waiting mug.  I recommend pouring it immediately after its pressed since the coffee can get skunky (did I just make that up?) quickly if its left in the press.

7. Inhale the coffee goodness, smile, and prepare to have a happy mouth. For those of you who have never tried french press coffee, its much smoother and less bitter than electric drip coffee.

I guarantee you will look this cool when you drink french press coffee....

Do any of you have as detailed of a coffee routine as I do or am I on that island all by my self? How about other brewing methods- have you tried any?


  1. I have a pretty detailed coffee routine too. It consists of me acking like a cavewoman, grunting at the coffee maker until coffee comes out (I don't use words that early in the morning).

    (wait, am I allowed to comment on this?)

  2. yay! you used your birthday mug! i'm so happy :)