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So, the question is…. Is making coffee an art or a science? Well, when you really think about it’s a little combination of both. But in this French Press 101 post, we will be focusing on the science behind making a mean cup of Joe in that press of yours. This will get you pro status with all your friends and fam.
For fun here is a little French press history before we get down to business. The press was invented by two Italian dudes Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. It was patented by Faliero Bondanini in 1958. A brewer in France started manufacturing it, calling it a “chambord.” Because of this, it gave that little press a French identity, even though its roots seem to point more towards Italy. Since both chocolate croissants and cannoli’s go well with coffee we won’t argue who owns the rights.
… the Italians do 😉 alright I’m biased. I’m full-blooded Italian…
French Press 101
Now there is some debate when it comes to what type of water to use. Some people are so picky that they only use bottled spring water. You don’t need to go that far to enjoy a great cup of French press. A good rule of thumb is this:
If the water tastes good on its own, then it will make tasty coffee. <– pro tip
That means tap water with chemicals like fluoride and chlorine should be filtered. This will help a ton in the overall flavor.
The goal with temperature is to get that water close to 200 degrees. <– pro tip You don’t want to use boiling water (212 degrees.) This will cause your coffee to have a bitter taste and silt like texture. The easiest way to nail that perfect temperature is to get a tea kettle with temperature control like Remy Olivier Tea Kettle. I have one and it’s the best thing for tea and coffee.
Your other option is to boil water and then let it sit till it cools to 200 degrees. You can check the temperature by using a kitchen thermometer.
When it comes to it the biggest thing is consistency. Having grounds that are all different sizes will cause brewing to be inconsistent. Small coffee particles will brew quickly while larger ones will be slower. Now, have both in one batch and it’s going to be a hot mess.
For French press you want your grounds to be more on the coarse side. This will help prevent coffee “sludge” happening at the bottom of your cup. <– pro tip
When it comes to ratio there seems to be a lot of debate online and in person. I have friends who want their coffee to be black as tar and then I have others who prefer it on the lighter side. So, here is the deal I’m going to share with you two very common ratios in the coffee world. Make them and adjust to your liking. If you want it stronger add more coffee. If you prefer it weaker then use less.
- A 1:15 ratio: 40 grams to 600 grams of water
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons per 6 oz cup.
No matter how you want to do your ratio I recommend that you at least measure it. Weighing it will yield a better result but if all else fails, grab a measuring spoon. <– pro tip
Read –> Need coffee recipes? Check out 14 HOT COFFEE RECIPES TO WARM YOUR SOUL
Would it be nice and easy to just say, “Now, dump the hot water in.” Sadly, I can not say that because the pour is actually important. Once your water is ready to pour cover the coffee ground about an inch. This will let the coffee “bloom” or expand. Some foam should come to the top about 30 seconds. <– pro tip This is when you add the rest of the water. Stir gently with a spoon to get all these yummy coffee particles floating everywhere. That’s it! Just place the lid on top and wait.
The Brew Time
The average brew time is between 3-5 minutes. I brew mine at 4 mins. Like ratio play around with this to determine what you like more. Over brewing will result in a bitter burn flavored coffee.
Ready for the fun part? The key here is to go slowly. You want it to take about 20-30 seconds to push all the ground to the bottom. <– pro tip Once you press is at the bottom you can enjoy your coffee. If you have coffee still left in your press it’s recommended you transfer it to a carafe
*Some die-hards will filter the coffee with a paper filter after they have pressed it. This is 100% optional.
A Little Salty Hack
If you don’t have the greatest of coffee on hand or it always turns out bitter even when you follow the steps perfectly. Then try adding salt! Adding a pinch of salt to the grounds before brewing helps mellow out the bitterness. Trust me it works!