french press

French Press 101

Anyone who says music is the universal language has never had coffee—it’s something we’ve been toying with for centuries. There are countless types, flavors, and methods of making it, but one of the more recent methods is the French press. Despite its name, it was patented in Milan, Italy over 80 years ago, and has stuck around for good reasons.

How Does it Work?

Essentially, the French press works by steeping coffee grounds and hot water. Once the coffee is steeped, a metal mesh filter is pressed to the bottom of the container, separating the coffee grounds from the liquid coffee you’ll pour into your cup. This special filter allows a lot more through than your average paper filter, giving your coffee a strong, thick body.

The French press has two main parts—The lid, plunger, and filter (all connected), and the beaker, base, and handle. It’s been so widely used because you don’t need any fancy equipment to use it. All you really need is hot water, ground coffee, and your French press. Of course, the quality of your coffee will significantly increase the more tools you bring into the process, like a burr coffee grinder.

How to Use it

A lot of this is up to you, like how strong or weak you like your coffee. Accurate measurement is crucial to a great cup of coffee, so a scale will work best although your grinder will have measurement marks. Keep in mind that light roast coffee generally weighs about 6-7 grams per tablespoon, while dark roast coffee weights 5-6 grams per tablespoon. Lightly roasted coffee beans weight more because they spent less time in the roaster and therefore have a higher moisture content.

Here’s a quick guide to your ideal coffee-to-water ratio:

Mild Coffee — 3 tablespoons ground coffee — 10 oz water

Medium — 4 tablespoons ground coffee — 10 oz water

Strong — 5 tablespoons ground coffee — 10 oz water

Notice how the water measurements stay the same, it’s the increased coffee grounds making the coffee taste stronger.

Step 1: Heat Your Water

Coffee is 98-99% water so it’s important to use clean, filtered water—if you wouldn’t want to drink it by itself, you don’t want it in your coffee. If you have a thermometer, you want your water to reach about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t, you can just bring your water to a full boil—you’ll need to let it sit for a few minutes though, as boiling water can scald the coffee grounds.

Step 2: Measure and Grind Your Coffee

If you’re grinding your coffee, be sure to choose a coarse setting that will produce a larger grind size. If you own a Handground coffee grinder, rotate the adjustment ring to setting 7. A hand grinder is ideal for the French press, because of their convenience and the consistency of their grinds.

Step 3: Combine Your Coffee and Water

Pour your ground coffee into the bottom of the container, and shake it a little to get it level. If you’re using a scale, place the container on it and tare it out to zero. Pour your hot water into the container until the scale reaches whatever amount you decided on with the coffee-to-water ratio chart. Pour all over the grounds, making sure to get everything wet. If you don’t have a scale, measure the hot water first in a measuring cup and then pour from there into the container, again getting all of the grounds wet.

Step 4: Stir and Steep

To make certain that all the grounds are wet, stir the coffee and water for a few seconds. Place the lid on, with the plunger pulled all the way up, to keep everything hot while it steeps. Set a timer for about three and a half minutes, and leave your coffee be.

Step 5: Crust

Once your timer goes off, take off the lid. You’ll see a crusty top layer of coffee grounds on the surface, and how you handle this will affect your coffee. For full bodied coffee, use a spoon to stir the crust in. For a lighter body, use that spoon to scoop up all the crust and throw it away.

Step 6: Plunge and Enjoy!

Replace the lid and press the plunger all the way down. Pay attention to this part, because there are signs that will tell you what you could change next time! If the plunger drops to the bottom with little resistance, the grind is too coarse. If it takes a lot of effort to press the plunger down, the grind is too fine. Once the plunger reaches the bottom, pour your coffee slowly into your favorite mug and enjoy! Avoid the last little bit of coffee in the French press, as this will have a good bit of silt.

For more coffee and community, call or visit your local Seeds Coffee Co. today.