French Press

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French Press

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nov. 1, 2007, 8:07 am

I just bought one. My first tries at making coffee this way turned out rather poor. :-(

Any suggestions for me to improve my coffee made by the French press method?

nov. 1, 2007, 8:22 am

Oh the woes of a new French Press. Don't worry, a little tinkering will give you the best coffee ever.

A coarse grind, boiling water and a stir should about do it. Fine grinds escape from the filter basket & float around in the coffee. Water that's been too long off the boil will not aid in flavor release. Leaving too much of the grind floating on the top will not give you maximum flavor, so give it a stir.

We had to make a few pots before we got the technique down. The mad scientist approach to coffee is kind of fun though huh?

Editat: nov. 1, 2007, 8:41 am

What worried me was that the instructions said not to use boiling water. That didn't work.

It also said to not use a metal spoon to stir the coffee. That didn't work.

After pouring in the water and stirring, should I let the coffee sit a few minutes (to brew?).

I don't mind the fine coffee that comes up in cup as I love Turkish coffee. What I'm looking forward to is a *good* individual cup of coffee. I could never see brewing coffee just for myself.

nov. 1, 2007, 9:06 am

OMG yes - you need to let the coffee brew for several minutes before drinking. Longer = stronger. Here's our procedure as an example.

coarse grind (I forget the type of grinder we have...but we use the coarsest setting after much trial & sludgy coffee) approx 2 tbsp per drinker.

place in bottom of coffee pot.

boiling water poured directly into pot to appropriate fill level (in our case, just to the bottom of the metal ring that holds the handle to the pot)

stir w/handle of long wooden spoon to ensure that all coffee has been soaked by water & isn't try and floating.

let stand approx 5 minutes...I've never timed it.

press coffee & pour. black for him, w/splenda & milk for me. mmmmm...heaven.

nov. 1, 2007, 9:12 am

French press is rumored to be unhealthy, though. I think it was Finland where the introduction of coffee filters instead of French press technique seemed to sigificantly lower heart disease rates. I do not have an explanation for this - but made me return to filtering my coffee (although I liked French press both for the taste and the ease of the preparation).

nov. 1, 2007, 9:15 am

I just got one a couple weeks ago and I really love it although sometimes in the morning I don't quite have the brain power. Mine came with a measuring scoop, if yours didn't you should go to the coffee shop and get one. It will be dramatically different depending on how much coffee you use and when you get it perfect you want to remember what you did. I put in 3 heaping scoops and 3 mugs of boiling water. I stir with a chopstick and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. The only thing I don't like about it the coffee doesn't stay hot until I am done with the last cup, but it is worth it for the flavor.

nov. 1, 2007, 9:16 am

Oy vey. Words fail me.

nov. 1, 2007, 8:12 pm

Oy vey. Words fail me.


Mine has a scoop. I use two scoops and fill with water to just below the metal ring. I like the idea of using a chopstick or handle of a wooden spoon for a stir. I'll let the coffee sit for a while. That should make it taste better. I'm not afraid of unfiltered coffee as I've always loved Turkish coffee. No filtering there!

Thanks, everyone, for the guidance!

nov. 5, 2007, 11:14 am

I've had better luck with the lower volume french presses.

nov. 5, 2007, 11:23 am

I cannot for the life of me figure out why unfiltered coffee would be worse than filtered coffee.

Would you happen to have a link to that study? I'm baffled.

I love Turkish coffee as well, SqueakyChu. Mmm. Makes me want to go head over to the little place here that delivers a delightful cup.

Editat: nov. 5, 2007, 12:05 pm

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The following is from a Greenberry's web site:

"User Tips:
To really distinguish the flavor of your gourmet coffee, we recommend preparing it in a French Press; this type of coffee maker helps retain the natural oils in the coffee and gives a fuller flavor. Try tasting your coffee black to help distinguish the inherent flavor characteristics."

Greenberry's is a new coffee chain that just opened a store near my house in Rockville. I think their coffee is very good.

P.S. I also like that Greenberry's will not put flavor additives in coffee.

nov. 25, 2007, 1:15 pm


I've gotten good with the use of my French press and having been drinking a delicious cup of French press coffee each morning. My coffee of choice this week is Hawaiian Kona. Yum!!!!!!

Hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving are having a wonderful holiday weekend.

To all others, enjoy a safe a happy holiday season!

I lift my (coffee) cup in thanks to all of you who have helped me!

nov. 29, 2007, 10:10 pm

So, Squeaky: I tried a press long ago and wasn't impressed. I've followed your efforts since you were in the same place.

Are you a true believer now? Would you recommend doing the french press thing at the workplace? And, what was it that gave you the knack of making good coffee with the press? Any hints?

Editat: nov. 29, 2007, 11:09 pm

I wouldn't call myself a true believer, but I do like to press myself one cup of good coffee in the morning.

I wouldn't want to take it to work. Too much trouble. There are three main parts that need cleaning. I drink my coffee in the morning and put the parts in the dishwater (or rinse the stem end...or its parts...under running water).

The reason I got the french press is that I asked for it as a birthday present. I like to brew good coffee in my coffeemaker but usually have no one at home who wants to share coffee with me. (My husband only drinks Seven-Eleven coffee!) The idea was that, with a French press, I could brew only one cup of good coffee at a time. For that reason alone, I really like it.

I took the suggestions of others on this thread. I do boil the water. I use a scoop to measure out 2 even scoops of locally roasted coffee or another good brand. I like to grind my own beans, but don't always do that. I use the handle of a wooden spoon to mix the grinds as soon as I pour the water. I cover it with the lid to let it brew a few minutes, pour the coffee into a mug, and then enjoy it.

I don't think it's necessarily better than coffee brewed other ways, it's just convenient for one cup.

At work, I never drink coffee. What they brew there is nasty-tasting stuff! :(

I used to have a boss who had a Gevalia coffeemaker in her office. Whenever she brewed a fresh pot of coffee, she'd come to my desk with a hot cup of coffee for me. I sure do miss that! She was very special. We both have moved into different jobs. My current boss is nice but doesn't drink coffee. Oh, well. Things could be worse! ...and I love my job!

ETA: How did this message get so long? :)

nov. 30, 2007, 4:56 pm

Thanks Squeaky Chu! Your message was not too long. I even enjoyed the anecdote about a former boss.

Our coffee here is just bearable. We have good facilities for washing up. I think I'm gonna go for it! If nothing else, it will add some novelty to the morning and make it easier to get coffee if I'm working late or in on a weekend.

nov. 30, 2007, 5:18 pm

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Let us know how it goes!

P.S. Today my French press coffee was Hawaiian Kona!

gen. 10, 2008, 11:16 am

I don't think anyone has mentioned water. You must start with the best water possible. Bottled or reverse osmosis is best. Water will pick up foul-tasting elements from your pipes if they are copper.

Boiled, unfiltered coffee has a lipid that raises blood serum cholesterol significantly. You can see the oil on top of the drink, usually. I try to preserve it. I also eat bacon and my last cholesterol reading was well under 200. It's all about moderation and proper diet.

When breaking in my French press, I got really scientific. I measured the water and I didn't use a scoop. I weighed the coffee. I found that I prefer 12.5 grams of coffee with 8 ounces of water, or 50g in a 32 oz. carafe.

And quite frankly, I don't even use the press part. The special technique with the press is not the press itself, but letting all of the coffee come into contact with all of the water at once. You can do that in your old drip machine carafe if you want.

so I:
1) boil water in a kettle
2) fill a 32 oz carafe + 50g coffee
3) Stir (Funny, I also use a chopstick!)
4) Steep 4 minutes
5) Place a Melitta carafe ( funnel with a cone-shaped reusable coffee filter onto a second French press carafe.
6) Filter into second carafe and serve.

If I feel really spunky I'll preheat the carafes and mugs with hot water.

Your basic Bodum or Bonjour brand presses are really low quality. I find that I can only take the screen apparatus apart so many times before nothing threads back together correctly. Also I break about 10 carafes a year (Oh Why Oh Why don't they use Pyrex?). So really, all you need is coffee, water and a vessel.


gen. 10, 2008, 12:32 pm

This is good stuff. I have yet to make the purchase. But I will do it before too much longer. In the coffee press v. books match, books has been winning.

gen. 12, 2008, 2:39 pm

> "Bottled or reverse osmosis is best" -G.H.

Much of the bottled water (generic, Aquafina, Dasani, et al.) comes straight from the tap (in America, anyway) located at the production (read: bottling) company's warehouse. In some areas of the US (those dependent on well water, for example), bottled water does make sense, but, by and large, bottled water is just a scam which produces an obscene amount of unnecessary waste...

gen. 12, 2008, 5:51 pm

"Much" and "by and large" are unquantified editorial comments.

Some bottled water is from a public water source, and this has to be noted on the label. Some bottled water from public water source is then filtered through reverse osmosis anyway. Again, this information is usually on the label.

The point is, the fewer impurities you have, the better your coffee will taste. Getting rooked by the Coca-cola company is for another conversation.

When I say "bottled water" I don't think of people uncapping 1 litre bottles of Aquafina and pouring it into a tea kettle. Go to the store and buy the 1 or 2.5 gallon distilled water. Or you may use a local company that delivers 5-gallon carboys. The point is, acquire something that hasn't gone through pipes.