How to Perfect Your French Press Technique

I’ve mentioned before in several of my old Stalking the WIld Bean columns (which I really ought to get back to doing!) that I’m a huge fan of the French Press as a method to prepare coffee. There are lots of ways to use a French Press, but not all of them produce great coffee, to be honest.

I know I’ve also said before that I tend to prefer my coffee a bit over-extracted as well – well, I might be coming around on that point now that I’ve stumbled on a great video that walks you through preparing coffee with your French Press in a more…refined manner. Let’s take a look at the video behind the jump.

This video reminds me of a post over at Lifehacker I saw a while ago about how important it is to weigh everything and keep notes to make sure your coffee is perfect, and that every cup you prepare is better than the last. In this case, we see the preparers measuring everything by putting it all on a simple food scale – you know, the kind you should probably have anyway?

Measuring and weighing aside though, the thing I find most interesting is the specific technique of steeping the coffee open and then skimming the sludge off of the top. I hadn’t heard about this until recently, and when I tried it myself, it really did make a world of difference, and as promised it resulted in a cleaner cup of coffee.

By steeping the press open without covering it, you allow the bitter bits in the coffee to rise to the top and stay out of the water, where they’ll get over-extracted and inject their bitterness into the end-result. It also allows the aromatics and flavors to really bloom. When I did this, I noticed a lot of the darkest beans Ray Ban outlet floating to the top, and the nose on my coffee was fantastic – something I hadn’t smelled quite as well, since I normally poured in the water, put the top on the press (without actually pressing it) and waited for it to steep.

The other thing I noticed from the video that I started doing – with mixed results – is the skimming. You’ll see that after the coffee has steeped, they use a pair of spoons to break the coffee that’s floated to the top, stir it up a bit, and then scoop off the foamy crema on the top. You take the top off in order to skim off the sludgy, bitter bits from the top of the press that, when you actually pressed the coffee, would wind up in your cup.

That grainy, sludgy mess on the top of the press is usually the stuff at the bottom of the cup that turns people off of the French Press entirely. By skimming it off the top, you wind up with a much cleaner tasting and smoother cup of coffee.

At the same time, the tradeoff is that you lose a little of the bitterness and earthiness that you may be accustomed to with the French Press, and if you don’t have a good, even grind, you may wind up with Occhiali Ray Ban outlet enough fine particles in the coffee that you still get some sludge. Still, it’s a great trick, and an easy one to do without seriously changing the way you use a French Press. Give it a try, and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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Alan Henry

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