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My First French Press Brew

Published on under the Coffee category.

A French press sitting on a table in front of a window and a selection of books

For the last few months, the Aeropress has been my go-to device for brewing coffee. I like the process of preparing for a cup. Making a cup of coffee has become a ritual. There’s so much involved in making one cup and at the end I feel a great sense of accomplishment. The Aeropress is an involved brewing process. I cannot take my eye off the ball.

I realize that there is an entire world of coffee out there for me to experience. I cannot limit myself to the Aeropress, even though there are so many recipes out there to follow. I’ve only read about the differences in home brewing methods because I only brew with the Aeropress. I want to experience how different types of coffee taste that I can brew at home. I’ve tasted the difference between an Aeropress and an Americano but not, say, an Aeropress and a French press.

Trying Out the French Press

Earlier this week, I decided to order a three-cup French press. French presses are also known as cafetieres (but the latter is harder to spell, especially with the accent, so I’ll refer to them as French presses). I did not realize that a three-cup French press equated to about one regular cup. No wonder people buy eight-cup presses. It turns out the cup measurement equates to espresso cups rather than a regular “mug” size.

I left my French press on my desk for a few days. I didn’t want to try out a new brewing method in the middle of the week. I needed time to research the brewing process and to find a recipe. I needed to figure out what process I was going to follow to brew a cup.

Yesterday I decided to try out my French press. I had a whole day ahead of me and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend some of my time than to try out a new brewing method. The press had been taunting me, sitting on my desk. I needed to make a coffee with my new brewing device.

The Brewing Process

I started by measuring out the coffee grounds. I used 14g of coffee, which is the same amount I use for an Aeropress. I then ground my coffee. The French press calls for a coarse grind to allow the water to easily flow through the beans. A really fine grind would result in little coffee granules getting through the filter. Unlike the Aeropress, the French press uses a metal filter. This filter is not capable of filtering out as many grounds as an Aeropress one.

I ground my coffee and poured the ground coffee into my French press. I poured some hot water from the kettle I had almost boiled earlier into the French press. I tried to pour in about twice the weight of my coffee grounds in water, around 30g, but I put in a little more. I waited for 30 seconds for the “bloom” to happen. I did notice a little bloom but my mind was rushing to what I had to do next. After 30 seconds had passed, I stirred the grounds using my Aeropress paddle. 1

I affixed the head of the French press onto the device. I had filled it up a bit more than I should have so I took the head off during the brewing process. I have seen a few recipes which call for keeping the head on during brewing. I intend to try this next time.

I waited until three and a half more minutes had passed, meaning that the coffee had brewed for a total of four minutes. I pressed down to separate the coffee and the grounds and I poured the coffee out of my press as soon as the timer was over. I did not want to keep the coffee in for any longer because the coffee still brews even after the plunger has been pressed.

The Result

My coffee was definitely different to any I have had from the Aeropress. The coffee tasted chewier. I noticed that the coffee had a significantly heavier body than any cup I’ve made with the Aeropress. I did notice that the coffee was slighly more brown than usual.

The coffee was a tad bitter and more acidic than other coffees I have had. I followed the brew time exactly and so I think the grind size is to blame. This may also have been why the coffee was more brown than normal. The French press does let a few fine coffee grounds through which probably colored the resultant cup.

Next time, I’m going to grind my coffee a little bit finer. I do not want to grind too fine because a really fine grind can create pressure in the brewing chamber during the plunge. My French press is glass and I do not want to break it. I’ll maybe try two or three clicks finer on my Hario Mini Mill grinder.

I made a few classic mistakes during brewing. I forgot to pre-heat my cup. I forgot to pre-heat my French press (to be fair, I never preheat my Aeropress). The clean up process was a mess. I rinsed the press through with water several times and used a paper towel to remove grinds and put them in the bin. In hindsight, I could have used my Aeropress paddle. This would have been a lot cleaner.

I’m going to brew my Sunday cups using my Aeropress. I’ve had enough of an adventure with the French press for one weekend. I was not entirely impressed with my cup because I’ve clearly still got some learning to do. I want to have a comforting cup of coffee this morning to accompany the slightly chilly but beautiful ambience. I do intend to revisit the French press soon.

  1. The Aeropress paddle is incredibly useful. I used it instead of a wooden spoon to stir my grounds. I should have used it to clean out my press. More on that in a minute. 

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