Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2003 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
Coffee Making Methods
- Presspot -

      These chapters were originally written for my newspaper as part of an somewhat-monthly coffee column. They were designed to expose the coffee novice as to the various methods of making coffee and act as a starting point for understanding these methods. If you have been making coffee by any of these methods for any length of time then you will probably not find anything in these chapters to enlighten or educate you. Please feel free to E-mail me with anything that you think could be improved in these methods. -ED

      The coffee press (or French press or cafetierre as it is also known) is such a simple device to use that this article is not going to be very long. The press itself is a simple device consisting of two parts- the container and the filter. The vessel itself can be of plastic (handy for travel and camping) , glass, and there are even some made of insulated stainless steel. The filter is usually made of plastic (nylon usually) or metal (stainless steel most of the time).

How To Use a Coffee Press

      1) Set up the press pot at the far end of the kitchen from the stove or microwave. Preheat the vessel by filling it with hot water adding the filter assembly, and letting it sit for a few minutes until the outside of the press is quite warm to the touch. This will insure that the coffee will not get cold before it is ready to be consumed. While you are at it, put some hot water in the cups you will be using to serve the coffee to preheat them as well. Some presses are microwave safe (with the metal filter removed) or have a removable vessel that can be microwaved. You can fill with water and microwave for three of four minutes to pre-warm.

      2) Boil your water for brewing. Although you could just heat the brew water in the vessel and brew with it, I like to heat the water separately to keep the water from getting too hot. I also use tap water to preheat and filtered water to brew, but that is just a personal thing. You could easily use the same water to preheat as well as brew. Do not let the water boil for more than a second or two.

      3) While you are waiting for the press and your water to heat up, grind and measure out the coffee. How much coffee depends on a lot of factors such as the blend you are using and how you like your coffee. Start by using one coffee measure of ground coffee for each 6 or 8 ounces of water and adjust according to taste as you experiment with the press.

      4) With the coffee ground and ready to go in the vessel, when the brew water just starts to boil, take the water and walk across the kitchen to the press pot. The time it takes will lower the water temperature to just about the perfect temperature for coffee. Pour the coffee into the press pot and add the hot water. It is important here to note that coffee should never come into contact with boiling water- this is why you have the press pot located remotely from where the water is being boiled. Begin timing when the water and coffee are joined.

      5) After pouring the water in, stir the coffee into the water to make sure it is all saturated with water. Place the filter and cover assembly onto the vessel and gently press down on the filter rod just a bit so the coffee is immersed in the water. How long depends a lot on what coffee you are using. A strong blend of rich coffee may only take two or three minutes. Again, this is a matter of taste so experiment. Too long makes a bitter beverage. Too short a period of time does not extract all the flavor elements from the coffee. The nice thing about the coffee press is that since the water is already heated there is no danger of overheating the coffee.

      6) When the brew-time has elapsed, press the filter, slowly, all the way to the bottom of the pot. Now you are ready to pour and enjoy your delicious coffee. If you drink slowly or have a large press, shop for a cozy- these are cloth covers for the press that helps keep the heat in.

      Folks use to other methods of brewing coffee are always impressed with the delicious beverage created with such a simple device.

      Clean up is easy- dump the grounds and rinse the various parts in hot water. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations on clean up details. The better units have filter assemblies that can be easily disassembled for cleaning as well.

      The main reason that such a simple device can make such good coffee is that you have control over the water temperature, and specifically because the coffee is never boiled. All the grounds are exposed to the water equally and for the same amount of time.

      Coffee presses can be purchased all over. Sizes, styles, and manufacturer all combine to make the prices range from around $15 to over $50. Better presses have replaceable glass containers. Do a search on the Internet for “Coffee Press” and “French press” and take it from there.

Coffee Cup