Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stop the presses! Stop the (coffee) presses!

Like most coffee lovers, I believe that the best cup of coffee that can be had at home comes from the best, yet simplest, pieces of coffee brewing equipment; I speak, of course, of the French press. Also like most coffee lovers who own a press, I have one of your standard-issue presses from the folks at Bodum, makers of beautifully designed coffee and tea paraphernalia. This entry, however, is not about the beauty of the presses (though that isn't a bad thought for a future blog), it is about the technique of The Press, that all important morning ritual for so many.

I have done a good bit of research on brewing methods over the past year-and-a-half, or so, and have come across all methods from drip brewing, to coffee presses, to gravity-defying vacuum pots, to cold brewing, and the Turkish method (which sounds like it makes a cup of coffee with enough chutzpah to rival any espresso). I have also delved deep into the seemingly endless variations on the use of all of these methods, but most heavily the methodology of the French Press.

You see, you can go from coffee site to coffee site and find many press techniques. If you follow the instructions that come with a Bodum press, you are told to use two scoops of coffee (the press comes with a scoop) for every 6 oz. serving. This part seems pretty universal, so I'm game. Bodum also tells you to boil the desired amount of water, pour it into the carafe, then brew for four minutes. Plunge and pour. This is the method which I have used even since I bought my press, and it has seemed to work well. However, I have never been able to achieve that same bright finish that I taste when I buy a cup of Hidden Peak's Kilimanjaro blend at Adventurous Coffee and Deli (2550 Washington Blvd. in Ogden). Every time I made it at home the coffee tasted...heavier. So I decided that maybe I should study the art of brewing a bit deeper.

I wish I could say that my research abilities led me to the revelation and technique to follow, but I can not, for it was my knack at clicking my Stumble button that finally opened my eyes. What was this divine afflatus, you ask? I answer you with Metropolis Coffee. The good folks at Metro have a great website and a beautiful looking café in Chicago. I wish I could attest to this from personal experience, however I will have to make such judgments from the photos they have posted on their website. Works for me. Included in their site is a page dedicated to the art the brewing with a coffee press. It is a bit more involved than my previous formula, but after trying it I can really taste the difference in my coffee. The same bright acidity I enjoy at Adventurous, I can now enjoy without having to make the 20 minute drive to downtown Ogden every morning.
-Preheat your French press carafe with hot water.
-Use 2 level tablespoons of freshly and coarsely ground coffee per 6/oz H2O—scoop the coffee into the carafe.
-Bring some cold, filtered water to a rolling boil, then allow it to cool for 30 seconds before using.
-Start a timer (preset for 3 & 1/2 minutes), then pour around 1/2 of the freshly boiled and slightly cooled water over the grounds.
-Stir the mixture until the bubbling subsides—around 20 seconds.
-Pour the rest of the water over the grounds to fill the carafe.
-Place the plunger at the top level of the water, then allow it to brew for 3 1/2 minutes from the time that the water 1st came into contact with the grounds.
-Plunge and enjoy!
Believe me, it works beautifully! Give it a try.

Top Image credit: Andrew Saur & Angel Sarekla-Saur,

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