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formerly grueldelux

Press Pot/French Press Coffee

163 posts in this topic

Doesn't it cancel out the benefits of using a French press in the first place if you then run the coffee through a filter?

How so? I find the biggest difference when using a french press versus a drip/perc/etc. is the ability to heat the water to over 200 degrees, and to let it steep for four minutes. I haven't noticed a taste difference since I started filtering, except with the dregs.

In any case, I'd think that using a better grinder, to minimize fine particles, would help reduce the sludge content. I typically end up dumping the last bit of coffee in my cup, but it's nowhere near an inch.

My "cup" is a 16 oz thermos, so it's not quite a regular cup, and the inch may have been an exaggeration... :unsure::biggrin:


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I recently bought a Capresso burr grinder, and it makes a huge difference in the amount of sludge, there's much much less -- and quite often there's none. The coffee tastes much better, too. (I'm not sure why, but no complaints.) With the blade grinder there was always quite a bit of sludge, which I just dumped. I sometimes drink Turkish coffee, where sludge is the name of the game, so it didn't bother me. But the burr grinder really makes a difference in the taste, it's stronger and "cleaner," I don't know how else to describe it.

A side note: when I lived in Israel I knew quite a few people who would always leave about an inch or so of coffee in their cups, no matter what type of coffee it was. They were used to drinking Turkish coffee, which always has sludge in the bottom, and so even if they were drinking instant they still left that inch of coffee at the bottom. Habit, I guess. I always found it amusing.

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Doesn't it cancel out the benefits of using a French press in the first place if you then run the coffee through a filter?

How so? I find the biggest difference when using a french press versus a drip/perc/etc. is the ability to heat the water to over 200 degrees, and to let it steep for four minutes. I haven't noticed a taste difference since I started filtering, except with the dregs.

To be honest, I was half-recalling a comment I heard about the French press emulsifying some of the extracted oils, which adds to the body of the beverage, but I can't find any source to confirm that now. Perhaps some experimentation is in order! Do you use a paper or metal screen filter?


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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To be honest, I was half-recalling a comment I heard about the French press emulsifying some of the extracted oils, which adds to the body of the beverage, but I can't find any source to confirm that now. Perhaps some experimentation is in order! Do you use a paper or metal screen filter?

Paper, and that's a good idea: it would be a really easy experiment to conduct and would be fairly definitive (at least, taking into account my ability to discern the difference...). I think I still have a metal filter hiding someplace, as well. I am using a burr grinder, but it's a cheap one. I still like it better than a blade, but that's a convenience and consistency thing, not a quality thing. I push a button and a few seconds later, out comes the perfect amount of grounds, every time. No muss, no fuss. I would love a Rancillo or something, but that is pretty hard to justify on a grad student budget!


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I too have a funky old grinder. I find that it grinds rather unevenly, but I do two things to help it: I stir the grounds mid-grind once or twice. When most of the coffee is coarse as it should be, there is a layer of grinds that are too fine on the bottom. I skim off the coarse grinds for the presspot and use the fine stuff for something else.

When I first started pressing I stirred briefly with a wooden spoon. Several years ago I just got bored of that and stopped stirring. I pour the water in carefully, swirling a bit. I can't detect the slightest difference in the final result.

I always thought that paper filters filtered the oil out of coffee, whereas the presspot (which is really a refined version of cowboy coffee, no?) filters nothing, really, it just keeps the grounds out of your coffee. A gold filter filters some oil but not all of it. It's really a matter of taste, whether you like quality that the oil imparts.

One thing I do find makes a big difference is to let the water in the kettle cool down a minute before pouring.

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I find that some amount of sludge is inevitable with a French press, even if I have my roaster grind it for me for French press.

For me it's an "either or" situation--I'd rather have sludgeless coffee via mokka pot, drip or Vietnamese filter, or embrace the sludge with Turkish coffee. At the moment, French press is my least favorite method of making coffee at home.


Edited by sanrensho (log)

Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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Grind it much coarser than you think you should. Think sea salt. 2 tablespoons for every 6 ounces. No exceptions. If you like it weaker, dilute it with hot water later. The extraction is key, use too much or too little coffee and the flavor will be off. After the kettle boils, let it sit for 30 seconds. Pour over the grounds and let it sit for one minute. Then stir with a chopstick or spoon vigorously. The fresher the coffee the more it will have a "bloom" on top, similar to the crema on top of espresso. Let it steep for 3 more minutes then decant it to a pre-heated carafe ASAP. If you let it sit in the press it will taste bad.

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Speaking of filtering...my dad let me have his French press after he read that the unfiltered coffee raises your blood pressure if drank regularly. He uses a stove top espresso pot now and always filters it.

I use the same stainless steel Moka pot, I do not filter it because I am worried that you are trapping the oils that give it so much flavor. Any thoughts on this?


-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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I have a very small (something like 8oz capacity maybe?) french press that i love for making a quick cup for myself--however I have some concerns about my black & decker grinder being able to meet the proper coarseness level, and to my eye it makes a noticable amount of dust. The coffee tastes alright, but at this point I'm not sufficiently experienced to tell whether that's the coffee or the brewing process that needs improvement.

Would it be bad for consistency to use a mortar and pestle to grind the beans?

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Does anyone else out there post-filter their french-pressed coffee to get rid of the "sludge"? I have read various comments on eGullet about the relative merits of the sludge, but I'm not a fan, I think it makes the bottom of the cup taste like over-extracted, grainy, nasty, um... sludge. I am using a coarse grind, but with a cheapo grinder, so I end up with a lot of fine particles, so I send the finished coffee through one of those Melitta one-cup filters before I drink it. Do you all enjoy the sludge, or toss the last inch of coffee, or what?

Would adding a layer or two of cheesecloth around the filter work? I may try this as I have some finely ground coffee somebody gave us, and all we have is the Bodum at the moment.

Just a thought.

Cheers,

Geoff

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All good advice, however, what is missed is the temperature of the coffee when served from a French Press. I always pre-heat my cup or mug, otherwise, the coffee will be tepid when poured. I heat my cup in the micro with some water. Pour out the water, pour in the coffee Result, hot coffee. Enjoy.


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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All good advice, however, what is missed is the temperature of the coffee when served from a French Press.  I always pre-heat my cup or mug, otherwise, the coffee will be tepid when poured.  I heat my cup in the micro with some water.  Pour out the water, pour in the coffee Result, hot coffee. Enjoy.

I have not found the temperature to be a problem. I pour the water over the grounds when it reaches 200 F (approx. 60 seconds after pulling it out of the microwave for 16 oz. of water) and let it steep for 4 minutes. After that it gets poured into an unheated thermal carafe. I have not measured the final temp, which would be interesting, but I find it satisfactory for drinking, and I like my coffee hot.

I am using the coarsest grind setting on my grinder, but as I mentioned, it's a cheap grinder, so it still produces a lot of dust. I just tried two batches, one filtered and the other unfiltered. I found the unfiltered to be ever so slightly "richer" in texture, with minimal difference in taste. The richness could well be due purely to suspended particles that are filtered out by the paper filter, or due to my imagination, since this was not a blind tasting. Overall, any degradation in quality was, to my palette, quite small. But it's an easy test to do, so I'd be interested in others' responses.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Would it be bad for consistency to use a mortar and pestle to grind the beans?

That won't really work. A blade grinder is OK, but a burr grinder will always be best.

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Paper does take a lot out of the coffee. But you can get a nice gold filter that you reuse forever, and it's better for the environment!

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Would sifting the ground coffee through a fine sieve before brewing help remove some of the "dust " that creates the sludge?

I use a Kitchen Aid blade grinder. I don't mind the sludge. I think filtering the coffee would remove too much of the body and the oils that I love in french pressed java.

As for stirring; I bloom the coffee first by adding some boiling water, swirl it to make sure the grounds are wet, then I fill and stir with a pair of "still stuck together" thick chopsticks.

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You should really never put boiling water on coffee.

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Would sifting the ground coffee through a fine sieve before brewing help remove some of the "dust " that creates the sludge?

I have been playing around with this for the last month or so, and the answer seems to be a definite yes, though of course it takes time and effort. This morning I was curious as to how much coffee I was wasting by pre-sifting the grounds, so I set up a scale to find out. Using my "trusty" burr grinder, I dispense one cups' worth of grounds (actually, this thing claims it's six cups worth. Hah!):

gallery_56799_5925_5308.jpg

Before sifting I had 38.0 grams of grounds, and after sifting I had 35.2 grams remaining:

gallery_56799_5925_6767.jpggallery_56799_5925_12043.jpg

Here is the final brew and the sifter I used:

gallery_56799_5925_26917.jpggallery_56799_5925_5252.jpg

The sieve is a bit coarser than the screen in the press, so in theory it should get most of the dust out. Of course, this isn't quite how it works, but it does get a good quantity out. Some dust still clings to the grounds and results in sludge, but nowhere near as much as if I didn't sift it. I lose about 7% of the grounds through this procedure, which is considerable less than I was expecting.

Edited to add: Here is the remaining sludge... enough? Too much? You be the judge...

gallery_56799_5925_51271.jpg


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You know you are rated expert in drinking french press coffee when you instinctively know when to stop drinking to avoid the sludge. You think to yourself, "SELF! Is it worth it to have a mouthful of mud just for a little more coffee?"

And you wisely put the cup down.

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The Cook's Illustrated web site has a video and instructions on how to make coffee using the French press method, which is how I've been making coffee for quite some time. They say that the proper grind should be a little coarser than the size of couscous. That seems awfully coarse to me. What do the coffee and French press mavens say? Too coarse? What coarseness do you suggest?

Time for my morning cawfee ...


Edited by heidih delete admin comment (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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There are a lot of different grinds of couscous. When I make French press, I generally just go a bit coarser than for drip.

But it's always going to be a heavier bodied coffee than drip, and there will always be grounds in the bottom of your cup.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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There are a lot of different grinds of couscous. When I make French press, I generally just go a bit coarser than for drip.

But it's always going to be a heavier bodied coffee than drip, and there will always be grounds in the bottom of your cup.

Yep! That's one of the things that troubled/puzzled me since couscous comes in several grinds. Considering how "detailed and precise" CI tries to be, this instruction seems somewhat vague. It seems that no matter how coarse I make the grind, there's always some residue or grounds to be found.

Here's the video


Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Shel_B, first is your grinder capable of producing that type of grind. Not all are. My Maestro Plus has a FP setting and I would say the grind is similar to a fine couscous. This is what I use when using my FP.

There are many preferences when preparing coffee. I know some who steep for 3 min, some use a stop watch and it has to be 3' 30", yet others who grind finer and steep shorter. Let your palate be your guide

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Shel_B, first is your grinder capable of producing that type of grind. Not all are. My Maestro Plus has a FP setting and I would say the grind is similar to a fine couscous. This is what I use when using my FP.

There are many preferences when preparing coffee. I know some who steep for 3 min, some use a stop watch and it has to be 3' 30", yet others who grind finer and steep shorter. Let your palate be your guide

Thanks. I'm pretty content with the results I'm getting. I'm mostly interested in seeing if they can be improved and what others are doing and think about the CI method. While in some ways I'm pretty fussy about my first cup of the day, after that I can be pretty cavalier about how the coffee is brewed.


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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It seems that no matter how coarse I make the grind, there's always some residue or grounds to be found.

That's true because even most high-end grinders produce a bit of "fines," or coffee dust, which is not filtered out by the screen in a French press pot.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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