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Press Pot/French Press Coffee


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#1 formerly grueldelux

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:48 PM

re:brewing coffee in a press. A few years ago I saw someone from Peet's Coffee (perhaps the founder/president) on Martha Stewart and his directions were to pour a small amount of water over the grounds, stir, let sit for a minute while the grounds "bloom", stir again, then pour in the remainder of the water. I've been following this method ever since and wondered if anyone had any thoughts on it. Do you think the extra step is needed? I actually can't tell any bloomin difference in the taste but I'm bloomin well not going to change my coffee ritual now.

(pardon me if this topic has been done to death before; I used the new search engine and didn't come up with anything for blooming coffee)

Forget the Martha reference,

it's right here.


Now that I read the Peet's site, I see the stirring takes place after the remaining water is added.


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#2 hillbill

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 08:58 PM

That's interesting. Sweet Maria's describes a similar process although they don't mention the "bloom" or the gas, just to do this to make sure to get all the grounds wet.

French Press Brewing Instructions from Sweet Maria's!
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#3 phaelon56

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 05:57 PM

Although manual stirring is not involved, best practices with a Melitta style cone also involve a presaturation. The idea is to pour just enough water to get the grounds completely saturated and then wait a moment to do a second pour. The second pour generally gets poured in around the edge to get the wet grounds that have now adhered to the sides of the cone back into the center so there's an even dispersal of coffee and water when the complete remaining portion of water is poured.

Have never really though about that process before but it seems to be a valid practice. It's probably not a coincidence that some of the best espresso machines (not all but many) utilize the venerable E61 style grouphead design pioneered by Faema in the early 60's. These machines have a pre-infusion cycle that saturates the grounds in the portafilter gently and fills up the empty space above the grounds with water before the pressure is applied. Pre-infusion seems to add an element of consistency to a process greatly affected by variables.

#4 Katherine

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 09:02 PM

Do you think the extra step is needed?

I used to do it (when I french-pressed) because after you pour the water on the coffee, it floats like a raft at the top, with the trapped air bubbles. I found that made it impossible at times to push down the plunger, and probably wasn't giving maximum extraction either.

#5 bucktown_boffo

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 01:58 PM

I recently bought two french presses -- am about to return the first because it is too small -- and noticed an enormous difference between the two that has me somewhat confused. The first press is a "Bonjour" brand 12oz french press that I picked up at Peet's. On that model the plunger descends almost to the bottom of the pot, which results in the coffee grounds being tamped down quite a bit at the end of the brewing process, letting me extract virtually all the water from below the screen. I purchased a 32oz Bodum press pot today that functions quite differently. On this one the plunger doesn't go down nearly as far -- at full descent, there is still loads of room at the bottom, so the grounds never get tamped down, and most importantly, even at full descent, there is still plenty of loose water at the bottom below the screen! Does this make any sense? In this way the plunger screen seems to be acting more like a regular old strainer than a press. Please help, because I'm really confused on this.

#6 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 02:11 PM

It is not important. You do not want to let the coffee stand in the french press after brewing. You plunge and then pour. If you have made more than you will drink immediately, put the extra in a thermos or some such.

#7 bucktown_boffo

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 02:25 PM

pouring takes longer with the bodum because the loose water must pass through the screen with only gravity to help it, whereas in the Bonjour model the fully extended plunger has already pressed almost all of the water out the grounds through the screen.

but my biggest question is this -- doesn't a plunger that goes almost to the bottom of the pot extract more than a plunger that doesn't? why would Bodum design their pot so that the plunger leaves room for loose water below the fully extended plunger screen?

#8 Beto

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 03:49 PM

If the plunger is pressed down too firmly, more solids will eventually end up in your cup, making your coffee "muddy". While a little mud in press pot coffee is normal, too much can be too much.

#9 bucktown_boffo

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 04:39 PM

but doesn't the bonjour model's design seem better? with the bonjour model you can control the plunger such that post-plunge you are left with almost all coffee and no water beneath the plunger, and just brewed coffee above the plunger -- all the extraction is done, and the water and ground coffee beans are separated. it is left to the user to decide how hard to press on the coffee so as not to get too muddy a cup.

compare to the bodum, where the plunger doesn't go down nearly far enough and you are left with good brewed coffee above the plunger, but still a fair amount of water left below the plunger screen co-mingling with the coffee grounds. the user doesn't have a choice in how hard to "squeeze" the coffee beans at the bottom because the plunger can't reach them. moreover, the water that still remains below the plunger screen after it has been pushed down is still "brewing", so you better pour that pot fast. seems like terrible design to me.

but isn't bodum like the cadillac (or at least honda) of press-pots? this design quirk has got to be intentional, right? what am i missing here?

#10 AlexBernardo

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 03:35 PM

About 20 years ago while living in Cambridge, Mass, I used to go regularly to Coffee Connection in Harvard Square (before it unfortunately soldout to Starbucks). There I first discovered good, strong French-press-brewed coffee. They called it Melior back then, after the French-press coffee-maker brand.

Well, I've rediscovered making coffee like this again, quite accidentally, after I shattered my Krups drip-coffee-maker glass carafe. Craving for my morning jolt, the only alternative was to reach for my Bodum French-press which has been sitting in the cupboard for years. My first few tries were not great, kinda thin or too bitter. I sought advice and found out from Sweet Maria a few tweaks that changed the quality altogether. The critical one is to swirl the carafe after about a minute of pouring the hot water for better and quicker extraction.

I swear the French press is a much better way of enjoying coffee than drip and though I always enjoy espresso it doesn't allow me to enjoy the tastes of different types of coffee out there.

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#11 davidbdesilva

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Posted 22 April 2004 - 04:56 PM

I agree 100%! In my opinion there is no better way to enjoy good quality coffee than in a French-press. I use what I consider to be the best coffee I've ever had (La Colombe) for this method and the results are outstanding. I have always been told to stir the coffee right after you add the boiling water (with a non-metalic implement, not sure why) and I tend to stir it again after a minute or so. I think this adds to the coming together of water and coffee and improves flavor. Fortunately, I have been noticing more and more restaurants (here in Philly)serving singe-serve French-presses for their coffee (often with La Colombe). It tends to be a little pricier but I will gladly pay more for it. I love espresso too, but agree that pressed is even better and brings out more of the nuances of the coffee.
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#12 JAZ

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 10:23 AM

I recently bought a French press and have a couple of questions.

First of all, I have been using a Krups Aroma Control maker and am very happy with the coffee quality from it. The reason that I bought the French press is that I find with the Krups, I can't make less than 6 cups (it's a 10-cup) and get good results. On the days when I'm home all morning, that's fine, but when I have to go to work early, I don't drink anything close to all that coffee and I hate wasting it. So I thought I'd get the French press thermal pot that Bodum makes. It's an 8-cup, which means that I can make about 2/3 of a pot and have two mugs of coffee, which is what I drink on those "early" mornings.

First problem -- I didn't read this first, so I wasn't aware that you're not supposed to keep the coffee in the pot after brewing. I've been doing it anyway, and haven't noticed any deterioration in flavor (but I should say that I generally go through the first cup pretty quick, then linger with the second cup). I'm thinking that since the coffee from the press is so much hotter than the filter coffee, maybe I could just pour out the coffee into a second mug, cover it and it would still be hot enough to drink when I'm ready for it.

Second, how am I supposed to dispose of the grounds? I don't have a disposal (Hah! I live in a basement apartment in SF -- like I'm going to have a disposal) and am not crazy about pouring the sludgy grounds down the drain. With the relatively dry grounds from the Krups, I can just empty them into the compost bin, but all that liquid in the press pot makes for a mess. I've been draining the grounds in a strainer and then dumping them, but that is way more fuss than I like in the morning (or evening, or any time). Can I just pour them down the drain and hope for the best?

Next question: I've been using a rounded tablespoon of fairly coarse coffee per 4 oz. of water, as recommended by Bodum and Sweet Maria's instructions as well (I use a scant two tablespoons per 4 oz. in my Krups). Good news is that I'm using less coffee; bad news is that I don't seem to get the same flavor level. Am I not letting it steep long enough (3-4 minutes)? Is my coffee too coarse? Should I just be using more coffee? I'm using the coarsest grind on my little Melitta burr grinder. It's not that the coffee is bad, it just doesn't seem to have the depth I'm used to.

My third and final question is this: given that I bought the press to solve a particular problem, are all the new problems making more trouble than I had to start with? I can return the press pot (ah! the joys of working for a cookware store!) and just go back to my Krups, but I really should do it soon.

One final note: I like coffee a lot, but I'm not quite at the intensity level of many of the posters here. So convenience, while not as important as quality by a wide margin, still counts a lot for me. Since I work in a cookware store, I have access to vacuum pots as well as a million press pots of various sizes. The pot I bought retails for $50. Would a small stovetop vacuum pot (about the same price) be a better answer for me? Or should I just stick with the Krups and drink more coffee -- or deal with the waste?

Thank you.

#13 phaelon56

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 11:12 AM

Lots of good questions:

Disposal of grounds: General consensus is that coffee grounds should go into trash or compost, never down the drain, even if there is a garbage disposal. I've been washing mine down the drain for quite awhile but I only make coffee once or twice each week (espresso the rest of the time and my espresso grounds go in the trash). I've never had a clog - knock on wood. Supposedly the grounds will clog drains after awhile.

Vacuum pots: I have one of those small Bodum stove top vac pots and love it. I'd guess that the brewing and cleanup process is about the same amount of work as a French Press but unlike the press pot method, there is no sludge in the bottom (but the robust body and flavor is still there). For both French Press and vacuum pot I suppose the methjod you're using is the only way to adequately dispose of the grounds without washing them down the drain and it's a PITA.

Leaving coffee in the press pot: If it tastes good do it. My patented method is to do what works best for me with a minimal amount of effort as cheaply as is reasonable and the hell with what "they" say. The coffee is still brewing when its in the press pot but if it tastes good to you that's the answer - leave it in there. I immediately pour off all but one mug of my vac brewed coffee into a preheated thermal carafe (cheap - $6 - $8 at Walmart or Target). I do that because I'm a sipper and it's likely to be an hour before I get to my second cup (I'm a weekend coffee drinker and do espresso on weekday mornings). By the way.... 3 - 5 minutes is the ideal brew time for coffee in general, regardless of method but most auto drip makers take much longer to brew a full pot.

Grind and amount of coffee to use: You need more coffee. Recommended amount is two tablespoons (one standard coffee measure) per six ounces of water. You're running 25% short or more if you use 1 tablespoon per 4 oz. For French Press the right grind will be one that leaves a just a bit of sludge in the bottom of your cup but not too much. For vacuum brewing it's the grind level that will allow the coffee to move between pots without the filter getting clogged. I use 23 grams of coffee for 15 oz of water and 39 - 40 grams for 25 oz of water in my vac pot. Haven't measured it in scoops but I suspect that it's more than 2 tablespoons per 6 oz. French Press and vac pot require a slightly coarser grind than drip coffee and also use a bit more coffee but the results are usually worth it.

Alternatives: Have you considered one of the small Melitta cones? I have the one that makes four cups and it can be used to make four or two. It's ideal for mkaing enough coffee for two large mugs full and very low tech / simple. Boil the water, turn it off, wait a moment for the temp to drop a few degrees, pour a bit over the grounds to saturate, wait another short moment and then pour in remaining water. I found a cheap thermal carafe that the Melitta cone sits on directly and brew into that. It's better than auto drip coffee and not quite the equal of French Press or vac pot but so easy and the filters (get the unbleached ones) can go straight into the trash or the compost heap with the coffee still in them.

#14 JAZ

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 07:35 PM

Thanks. I did try it with more coffee and the results were much better.

However, I think the whole thing is more time consuming than I want to deal with. I agree completely with your method of keeping everything as convenient and cheap as possible, as long as the quality is there.

Your comments about the Melita cone reminded me that I have a Melita one-cup "travel" drip coffee maker, which I actually used as my only coffee maker a while back for several months while I was subletting a place. When I got the Krups I put it away and sort of forgot about it. But I think I'll get it out and use it for my everyday coffee -- it makes great coffee; it's quick and it's a breeze to clean up. The only problem is that it takes #1 filters, which are hard to find. But I found that I can cut down the #2 size, because the base is the same size.

So I guess I'll be French-press-less, but that's fine.

#15 Marlene

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 07:04 PM

So we've been RVing for most of the summer. Morning coffee has been made in a Delonghi Percolator and it's been fine. For evening coffee though, we are looking at obtaining a French Press. I don't know a lot about French Presses, so please feel free to educate me.

:biggrin:
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#16 arielle

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 08:44 PM

BODUM is a really reliable brand - their coffee presses are pretty resilient, and their filters work well. For me, the most important thing for a french press is how you treat it: you gind the beans as they should be (more coarse than an espresso grind) and that you allow it to steep for a few minutes (more than tea, about 5 minutes for a 6-cup capacity brewer). Finally, as we all know: USE THE BEST COFFEE YOU CAN FIND, the difference between beans and roasts is phenomenal, so try, and try again and again until you have found the right bean and grind to suit you.
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#17 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 09:08 PM

I have a couple of Bodums and like them a lot. And you can get replacement parts. I have discovered that it is possible to break the glass. :wink:

#18 His Nibs

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 07:40 PM

And let it cool down before washing it. Very important! Also, make sure the the glass in the press is heat tempered. Look for pyrex glass or boro-silicate glass, they are more easy going with regards to heat. Bodum uses boro-silicate glass.

#19 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 07:49 PM

Get the Bodum, but specifically, get the one that has a built in vaccum bottle so that it keeps the coffee hot. The regular glass walled see-thru "Melior" or "Brazil" French press loses heat really, really fast. I think the one you want is "Columbia" which is the one we have and are quite happy with. Also the Bistro Vaccum looks really cool:
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#20 Marlene

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:10 PM

Get the Bodum, but specifically, get the one that has a built in vaccum bottle so that it keeps the coffee hot. The regular glass walled see-thru "Melior" or "Brazil" French press loses heat really, really fast. I think the one you want is "Columbia" which is the one we have and are quite happy with. Also the Bistro Vaccum looks really cool:

Links, Jason, I need links. I live to shop online :biggrin:
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#21 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:14 PM

The Columbia 8-cup is on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co...X/egulletcom-20


Although you might want to try going to froogle.google.com and entering "bodum columbia" or "bodum bistro vacuum" because you are in .CA, I'm not sure if Amazon US ships to Canada or if it will be cost effective for you if they do.
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#22 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:22 PM

That 8 cup Columbia is a good looking vessel, Jason. Is there ever a problem with holding the grounds with the coffee or with burning the coffee in the stainless steel?

#23 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:27 PM

That 8 cup Columbia is a good looking vessel, Jason. Is there ever a problem with holding the grounds with the coffee or with burning the coffee in the stainless steel?

No, because the inside core isn't made of Stainless. Its vacuum bottle material. Only the outside is stainless. Its real easy to clean.
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#24 Marlene

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:33 PM

that is completely and utterly perfect. Somebody in the US buy it and ship it to me please :biggrin: I don't know if Amazon will ship it to me. They don't ship electrics, but since this isn't electric, maybe they will.
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#25 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:39 PM

That 8 cup Columbia is a good looking vessel, Jason. Is there ever a problem with holding the grounds with the coffee or with burning the coffee in the stainless steel?

No, because the inside core isn't made of Stainless. Its vacuum bottle material. Only the outside is stainless. Its real easy to clean.

actually, I just looked at ours, the whole thing is made of stainless, both the outer and inner wall. The plunger rod is also stainless, but the plunger itself seems to be made of a heat resistant plastic with some kind of rubberized material along the edges that maintains the separation of grains from the coffee.
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#26 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:49 PM

I have been pouring mine out of the French press and into a SS thermos in order for the grounds not to sit in the coffee after the brew is finished. But I have noticed that the cofee continues to cook and begins to have a burned taste after a period of time. Fortunately it is usually gone before the burned flavor sets in.

#27 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:52 PM

As far as I am concerned, if the coffee stays hot for an hour, I'm happy with that. The Columbia can keep it hot for 2 hours -- after about an hour, I agree, it does start to taste burned. But 1 hour is a huge convenience, especially if you are making 8 cups of coffee. It takes me about an hour or so to drink 2 man sized mugs (10-12 oz each). However with an equivalent sized glass Bodum, your'e lucky if it stays hot for 10 minutes.
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#28 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 08:58 PM

Okay, sounds like our experieces with holding the coffee in ss are similar. But doesn't the Columbia keep the grounds in contact with the coffee? No negative effect from that?

#29 Jason Perlow

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 09:02 PM

Okay, sounds like our experieces with holding the coffee in ss are similar. But doesn't the Columbia keep the grounds in contact with the coffee? No negative effect from that?

No more so than any other French press.
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#30 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 09:09 PM

That's why I prefer to pour it into a separate container.