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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Make French Press Coffee

What is French Press Coffee?

French Press is a method of making coffee that does not use a paper filter.  Coffee grounds are mixed with hot water in a press pot, sometimes called a coffee press.  The press pot is usually a small glass coffee pot with a metal strainer that is pressed from the top of the pot to the bottom, trapping the coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot.  Thermal press pots are also available- a nice feature to keep coffee warm after brewing.  French press coffee has intense coffee flavor and retains more oil from the coffee beans than coffee brewed using a paper filter.

Glass press pot with plunger
Coffee Press Pot for Making French Press Coffee
Image Courtesy of Leland  CC-SA-30

How much does French Press Coffee Cost at a Coffee Shop?

French press coffee is served at most coffee shops.  You can get a French press coffee for about $3 at a coffee shop.  French press coffee takes some special effort to prepare, hence the higher price.  Also, it will take a few minutes to make a French press coffee.  Baristas will be happier to make a French press coffee when it is slow rather than when there is a rush of people waiting for coffee.  Even if French press coffee is not on the menu, most coffee shops can make this if you order it.

Is French press coffee bad for you?

Coffee contains cafestol, a substance found in the oily part of coffee that can increase LDL cholesterol levels.  A paper coffee filter removes cafestol.  Coffee prepared without a filter such as French press, or cowboy coffee contains more cafestol.  Turkish coffee, in which finely ground coffee is mixed with water and allowed to settle also contains cafestol.  Coffee brewed in an espresso machine without a paper filter also contains some cafestol.  So take it easy on French press coffee if you are worried about cholesterol.

Coffee made from a standard coffee maker or using pour over methods filters nearly all of the cafestol since these coffee brewing methods use a paper coffee filter.  I was concerned about single cup brewers such as Keurig or Verisimo.  Do the little K-cups and verismo pods have paper filters inside?  I was drinking some Keurig coffee every day, so I was concerned enough to take a K-cup apart and see if there is a coffee filter inside.  As the pictures show, K-cups and verismo pods do in fact have a small paper filter inside.

How to Make French Press Coffee at Home

A Really Good Cup of Coffee
Image Courtesy of Julius Schorzman CC-SA-20

You can buy a press pot for under $20.  The press pot is a simple machine, without a power cord.  It consists of a glass container and a metal strainer with a plunger handle.  Most press pots are glass, but thermal press pot are also available that will keep your French press coffee warm in the pot.  The press pot may also have a small stand to hold the pot upright on the countertop.  The press pot is likely the only equipment you’ll need to buy to make French press coffee at home.

Instructions to make French press coffee at home

Step 1: Place coffee grounds in the press pot.  If you don’t have a coffee grinder, you can buy ground coffee and use this to make French press coffee.  For the best possible French press coffee, you’ll want to buy whole coffee beans and grind them just before brewing.  If you want the best possible coffee, buying whole beans and grinding them just before brewing is the way to go.

Step 2:   Heat water to pour into the press pot.  A tea kettle works well.   Bring water to a boil and let it cool for a few minutes.  The ideal water temperature is about 200 degrees F.  You could also heat water in the pot of your coffee maker by running water through your coffee machine without adding any ground coffee.

Step 3: Add hot water to fill the press pot and stir briefly.

Step 4: Let the coffee brew to taste, typically for about 4 minutes.

Step 5: Press the plunger on the press pot to move the strainer to the bottom of the pot, trapping the coffee grounds at the bottom.  Now, serve delicious French press coffee.  If you have a glass press pot, you’ll want to drink the coffee right away while it is hot or put it in a thermal carafe or thermal coffee cup.  If you have a thermal press pot, you can take your time.

Copyright © 2013 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved. Coffee Maker Journal

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