If I am not making a latte, I am often making beautifully aromatic coffee with my French press. I love using a French press – no counter-space required, no fancy machinery, just some hot water. The average one will run you $20-$30, that’s it. And in my opinion, using a French press correctly will result in a better, stronger, and tastier coffee than traditional filter/drip methods. This is because you brew the coffee with the grounds free floating in your water, giving them as much contact area and time as possible to release their flavor into your drink.
Of course the first step to an awesome cup of coffee is awesome coffee beans. Currently I have some coffee that my dad brought me back from a recent trip to Brazil. I’m sorry, but no matter what you do with bad flavorless coffee, you just can’t magically make it become awesome. However, if you have decent beans, it will make a huge difference.
Next you need to grind your beans if they are not already ground (if you can, buy whole beans and grind them fresh each time, because they will retain their flavor longer – pre-bought ground beans tend to lose flavor quicker). Fill your French press with the ground coffee – my press tends to fill about 3 mugs worth and this is how much I fill mine 1-2 cm:
Now all you need is some hot water, which is easy for me since I have a tea kettle that permanently lives on my stove. Heat the kettle until the water is just starting to boil, and then pour over your coffee grounds. Good coffee will develop a nice “crema” and some of the grounds will float to the surface. A crema is typically associated with espresso brewing, but most everyone I know who uses a French press refers also to the crema formed by making their plain old coffee this way as well. Crema refers to that foam that builds on the top layer of your coffee. Let your French press sit like this for at least 5 but I typically let it go for closer to 10 minutes. This will allow the flavor to develop in your coffee.
See the crema here – sometimes creamy will be more frothy, sometimes more foamy like this – I think that’s a function of the specific coffee you use:
Once the grounds have steeped enough, push the plunger in the lid piece all the way down to push the coffee grounds down to the bottom. Now when you pour your coffee it will be filtered from the grounds. Just pour into your favorite mug and prepare like you normally would – cream, sugar, etc. Yum!
I also use my French press for brewing loose leaf tea, because the filter is perfect for straining tea leaves after steeping!