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.
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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