My coffee tastes have changed during the course of the renovation. I’ve decided I prefer my morning latte strong, rich, and served with an ocean breeze. By someone else.
Although I’m grateful for the use of my mom’s stove, I’m less than enamoured with its slow-to-heat elements. Without the aid of a speedy gas stove top, my normally peppy cafetiera has devolved into a sluggish stainless steel pot. Although easy to clean, my mom’s smooth electric top stove isn’t designed for this coffee system. The results? Mediocre coffee and a bad mood as a 3-minute espresso stretches into a finger-drumming 10. Of course, after several weeks of snail-paced lattes, my coffee expert friend, Kristine Hansen, reminds me that a French press is an easy alternative that requires no stove.
While I wade through the forest of boxes in my living room to dig out my Bodum, Kristine, co- author of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee and Tea, has generously agreed to share her tips for using a French press.
At first, a French press can appear intimidating. There aren’t any on/off buttons and no cord to plug-in, for instance. Actually, that’s the beauty of this coffee brewer: because it’s completely manual, there is a lot of flexibility in how you take your morning cup. And the taste is so much better than what you get out of a drip coffeemaker. It’s just as good as the coffee brewed at your local cafe.
Regardless of whether you like the coffee bold or mild, here are three quick steps in how to operate a French press with success.
- Start boiling your water. Sorry, but you absolutely need boiling water in a French press. Hot tap water, or even microwave-d water, will only produce a flat cup that will send you running to the nearest coffee shop for a better cup. I suggest either an electric kettle or a stove top kettle. Once it hits a rolling boil, then your water is ready.
- Use only whole coffee beans. And grind just before use. You may be tempted to save time in the morning and use pre-ground coffee but trust me, you will regret it. As a general rule, use two scoops of coffee beans (measured out before grinding) for each 8-ounce cup of coffee.
- While the water is boiling, empty out your grinder into a French press. Then, once the water has begun to boil, add the water. Do not plunge the French press just yet. Set a timer for four minutes, lock in the plunger – but do not plunge – and wait. When the timer goes off, plunge, pour and enjoy!
Also, if you want the coffee to taste even better, and stay warm longer, boil more water than you will add to the French press. Pour the remainder — what does not fit into the French press — into your empty cup of coffee. Just before you add the coffee, dump out the water. The walls of your coffee cup will already be acclimated to the hot coffee.
Got a favourite coffee system or tips? The reno won’t be over for a few more weeks, so I’m open to any and all caffeine suggestions.
Photo of coffee by the sea, © annia316. Published under a Creative Commons License.