French Press 101

Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

For a long time I was intimidated by my own French press coffee maker, so it sat on top of my fridge looking beautiful and sophisticated but never actually getting used.  

When I would ask the internet how to make French press coffee, I always got lengthy articles written by coffee aficionados that had minute instructions about how to choose your coffee beans (usually an article unto itself) how coarsely to grind your beans, how to measure quantity of coffee to water (which usually involved a scale, but let's be real, who has time for that?), and how to time brewing down to the second. 

I usually got so overwhelmed that I just gave up trying, but here's what I learned: even if you screw it up, for the average person, IT'S STILL GOING TO TASTE JUST FINE.  If it's too weak, you'll probably still drink it.  If it's too strong, you can dilute it with water and/or milk.  

My French press has been a godsend in India, since I couldn't bring my electric coffee maker from home, and I didn't want to plunk down a bunch of money on a new one.  Coffee beans are grown abundantly in India, but it's tough to find great quality ones in your average market, so we usually use run-of-the-mill ground coffee.  

At some point down the road I will get picky about where my coffee comes from and how it's packaged, but since this is a one-day-at-a-time transformation, for now I'll just address the process of making coffee itself.  

Here's how I do it:

1. Boil water in a kettle (we use an electric one)

2. Put about two tablespoons of ground coffee in the carafe (we use a standard size which makes about two mugs full of coffee)

3. Pour boiling water halfway up the carafe, and let it sit without stirring for about 30 seconds

4. Stir the coffee grounds and water for a few seconds, then let sit for another 30 seconds or so

5. Fill the carafe to the top with hot water, and place the lid and plunger on top without depressing

6. After about a minute, slowly depress the plunger to the bottom (sometimes this takes some effort, as the plunger seals with the sides of the carafe)

7. Pour your coffee out immediately (if you let it sit on top of the grounds it can get bitter)

8. Give it a try, and if it's too strong, dilute with more hot water

9. Add whatever it is you add to your coffee, and enjoy!

You can compost the coffee grounds (which I now do, thanks to my new compost bin), and you don't have to faff with filters.  I wash my carafe out with soap and water, and I rinse the plunger with water only. 

Happy brewing!