Once and for all - how to french press?

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Once and for all - how to french press?

Postby lukas » Tue May 23, 2006 11:19 pm

I used to do the following with my french press:

- not boiling water (I usually let it boil and add a bit of cold water to it)
- 2 level measuringscoops (ca. 14 grams) of coffee
- stir right after pouring the water into it
- let it sit for 2-3 minutes
- no need to press down, as the coffee just falls down after stirring

That was before I tasted coffee from the clover, and before I got a french press coffee served by someone of the LSOC at Bern (forgot the name, sorry). She used quite a different method, they had an interesting half-automatic french press machin: press a button, coffee grounds spill into the french press, water pours into it and your set. Then:
- a quick stir
- a very short extraction time (maybe half a minute?)
- instantly press down the filter afterwards
edit: and a correction: press filter down, pull it up, wait a few seconds and press it fully down again.

The coffee was quite clover-alike with this method, must I say! At least, in comparison to the 3 minuten brewing time I usually use. Less body less oomph, more distinguished and specific aromas from the bean.

I just tried it again with this method at home, using an about two weeks old monsooned malabar - and the result was great. You get less of the oomph-that's-coffee-taste and more of the oha-the-malabar-is-quite-earthy one ...

I would have thought that it should have tasted underextracted, but heck, it did taste really good.

Whaddaya think?
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Postby bogner » Wed May 24, 2006 6:00 am

hmm, that sounds appealing - I'll give that a try as soon as possible
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Postby Olings » Wed May 24, 2006 7:50 am

Do you grind it finer?


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Postby espressomattic » Wed May 24, 2006 7:53 am

Definetly need to press it down...that whole French 'PRESS' kind of gives that one away ;)

I used to add cold water to the grounds then the hot water, but I now use just off the boil and it tastes a lot sbetter. Don't know about pressing down twice though, and I would have thought half a minute is far to short really to get any sort of extraction. Some beans just don't suit this method and I wouldn't have thought Malabar was one of them. A nice Yirg or Colombian IMHO are best suited.
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Postby lukas » Wed May 24, 2006 9:05 am

Olings wrote:Do you grind it finer?


A little bit finer than I used to, but it's still in the french press range.

espressomattic wrote:I used to add cold water to the grounds then the hot water, but I now use just off the boil and it tastes a lot sbetter. Don't know about pressing down twice though, and I would have thought half a minute is far to short really to get any sort of extraction.


That was my concern, too. But the taste was so surprising, I didn't believe it in the first moment. I found that water off the boil is way too hot for coffee, that's why I add cold water to it before pouring or wait 5 minutes or so.

I didn't realize how important the actual temperature is until I tried a Kenyan brewed at 91°C and the same at 93°C (I need to stop thinking about the clover now.) ...
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Postby Bertie_Doe » Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:55 pm

espressomatic wrote
Don't know about pressing down twice though, and I would have thought half a minute is far to short really to get any sort of extraction

Lucas wrote
I didn't realize how important the actual temperature is until I tried a Kenyan brewed at 91°C and the same at 93°C (I need to stop thinking about the clover now.) ...

I've got a single cupper Bodum, with a max useable capacity of 225ml / 8floz. I haven't used it myself (other than for making coffee cream).
I've just sent newbie TMC-er Dan, 'Coffeeman10%' a small sample of Monsooned, El Salvador Le Fany and some of GeorgeW's Brazil Detera. I was tempted to send Dan some of Matt's SM Amber Blend, donated by EricC, but getting small quantities from the US would be problematic for Dan.
So I need to come up to speed to help Dan with his press, I'll try experimenting tomorrow.
So just to recap the above, should 14gr in 200ml be OK?
Temperatures from say 98C to 93C? 4 mins cooling on my kettle gives me 93C.
Brew times ranging from half minute to 3 mins?
Will brew time/ temperature vary bean to bean and degree of roast?
I guess the simple answer is to experiment and let the taste buds decide, but does anyone have any preferences for matching a temperature to a particular bean variety? TIA
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Postby lukas » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:39 pm

I've given up (for now) to scientifically measure the brewing temperature for the french press or aeropress do it by taste. The range starts from "right off the boil" to minutes off it. But I'm not really confident in my estimation ... But I came to the (debatable) conclusion that slightly too hot water (right off the boil) is way better for the taste than slightly too cold water (cold water added). Too cold water seems to destroy everything that makes the coffee enjoyable ...
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Postby Bertie_Doe » Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:56 pm

Thanks for the info Lucas. I know with espresso, I prefer the Central Americans slightly hotter than say Monsooned or Haraar. This may not be the case with the Press Pot. I'll experiment at the hotter end tomorrow. Cheers
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Postby jon » Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:12 am

I use a french press most of the time - 4min brew-time for a coarse-ish grind seems to get plenty of flavour out and not go bitter (actually, if a coffee's got a sweet taste this seems a good way to extract it). I find that leaving the water to cool for 1-2min seems to get about the right temperature (so long as the press and plunger is warmed beforehand). I measure beans by the desert spoon (not that exact, I know...) but tend to find just under two and a half desert spoons of unground beans is right for a 3 cup french press....
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Postby Jacob » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:30 am

An awfull lot of experiments have led me to a procedure very similar to what Lukas describes at the beginning of this thread:

~12-15g for a single cup Bodum, ~45g for the 8 cup (1l, but never get filled to more than 0.8l) Bodum.
Grind somewhere between drip and normal press (closer to drip)
Let water boil and sit for 1 min
Pur water and immediately stir
Put on the lid and press to just below the surface
Press, finishing 1 min after starting to add water (if difficult to press, do as Lukas: a short push, lift and then push again)
Top up with water to compensate for the bloom

This is what consistently gives me the best results. I have since measured that water 1 min. of boiling gives me 93-95 degC when added to the press (unheated press, naked bead thermocouple in the press). Grind may need adjustment for different coffees and roasts, but not by much.

For some coffees I think this gives an even better result than the aeropress (a light roasted Guatamalan El Fogan is just wonderfull this way). But thats probably just lack of experimentation on the aeropress ;)
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Postby Bertie_Doe » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:31 am

Jon wrote
I find that leaving the water to cool for 1-2min seems to get about the right temperature (so long as the press and plunger is warmed beforehand).

Yep, this morning, I had my first attempt with the 8 fl oz Press and warmed first, mixed 8gr of Daterra with 8gr of Haraar, 3 clicks courser, allowed kettle to cool for 3 mins, got a nice 10mm crust (is that the term pot-heads use?) on the surface, stirred with chopstick (patent pending) and brewed for 2 mins.
At 6 oz this turned out to be a nice refreshing, thirst quenching change, from my normal breakfast heart-starting PG Tips tea. Suspect the Haraar overwhelmed the Daterra, but there were hints of red wine and loadsa choc.
It's a steep learning curve, breakfast tomorrow, may tickle the olfactory sences with some El Salvador Finca La Fany - the stuff of dreams.
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Postby lukas » Wed Nov 15, 2006 11:05 am

Jacob wrote:An awfull lot of experiments have led me to a procedure very similar to what Lukas describes at the beginning of this thread:

~12-15g for a single cup Bodum, ~45g for the 8 cup (1l, but never get filled to more than 0.8l) Bodum.

This seems close to the "recommended" values of 56g per litre :)

For some coffees I think this gives an even better result than the aeropress (a light roasted Guatamalan El Fogan is just wonderfull this way). But thats probably just lack of experimentation on the aeropress ;)


Hm, I must admit that I haven't used my little french press at all since I have the aeropress. With the same recipe goldfilter for the aero, it just seems to be similar to a good french press brew, only WAY BEYOND it. On the other hand, it just seems to be similar to a normal Swissgold brew, only way beyond it ... I should try the french press again when the supplies from Steve arrive :)
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Postby Bertie_Doe » Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:08 pm

lukas wrote
With the same recipe goldfilter for the aero, it just seems to be similar to a good french press brew, only WAY BEYOND it.

I'm guessing here, because I've never tried the aeropress. Although the drip feed filter and the Aero, both use paper filters. I assume that the essential oils trapped in the drip filter are forced thru the Aeropress filer, hence the improvement in taste.
Although under pressure, I guess the Aero's paper filter is fine enough to trap the dust particles, that would normaly not get trapped in a Press?
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Postby lukas » Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:35 pm

Quentin, I have to admin that I never used the aeropress with the paper filters. Mine has a cut swissgold filter in it, and some dust is left in the cup - but not much. I would guess that the aeropress with the paper filter will be a bit more flat in the taste, but also near to no dust.
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Postby Jacob » Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:03 pm

cumberpach wrote:I'm guessing here, because I've never tried the aeropress. Although the drip feed filter and the Aero, both use paper filters. I assume that the essential oils trapped in the drip filter are forced thru the Aeropress filer, hence the improvement in taste.
Although under pressure, I guess the Aero's paper filter is fine enough to trap the dust particles, that would normaly not get trapped in a Press?
QC


I think aeorpress part of this has been covered in lenght elsewhere (at least on CG). According to the inventor the paper filter traps the oils. (which is why he won't sell a metal filter - scared of the potential colesterol health hasard of the oils).

Anyway, if the oils float, you would have to press mighty hard to push them all the way through the coffe puck, regardles of filter type.

I don't know if that is why I find some coffees better in the french press, as I get any oils that may be there into the cup.
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