I was pulling into the parking garage at my office when I realized that I had forgotten to turn off the coffee maker. It’s 14 years old–a wedding present–and not one of those fancy models with an automatic shut-off. I made a mental note to swing home at lunch time to turn it off, but as it turned out, the coffee maker didn’t cross my mind again until I arrived home nine hours later. I could smell the charred pot as I walked in the door.
I turned off the coffee maker, tossed it in the trash and resisted the urge to head back out to buy the Le Creuset French Press. I’ve romanced the idea of starting my mornings with it and a vase of fresh hydrangeas nearby. Instead, I got practical and read consumer reviews in search of my ideal French press. But first, here’s why I decided to buy a French press instead of a traditional coffee maker.
Why brew coffee with a French press?
- Brewing is quicker and simpler.
- Clean-up is easier.
- You have complete control over temperature–195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal according to the National Coffee Association.
- The aroma is much stronger, which makes the experience all the more delightful.
- The taste is infinitely better!
If you’ve ever had coffee at a fine restaurant, odds are it was brewed in a French press. Odds are it tasted noticeably better than what you brewed at home in your Mr. Coffee. This is because coffee brewed in a French press is unfiltered, meaning all of the oils (cafestolis) from the ground coffee beans end up in your cup adding a flavorful dimension.
So this is the part where I have to tell you that cafestolis has been associated with LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) according to the Harvard School of Public Health. If you have elevated levels of LDL, or are at risk of having elevated levels of LDL, or you are a moderate to heavy coffee drinker, then perhaps drinking unfiltered coffee isn’t for you. I drink only one cup of coffee, 3 – 5 days a week, so I am not concerned.
Anyhoo, I ended up buying the Bodum Chambord Coffee Press. The brewing process is very different than that of a traditional coffee maker, but simpler.
How to Brew Coffee with a French Press
- For each 4 oz cup of coffee desired, put 1 rounded tablespoon of coarse ground coffee (fine grind can clog the filter) into the pot. More on the delicate art of coffee bean grinding here.
- Pour hot (not boiling) water into the pot. Leave a minimum of 1 inch of space at the top. Stir the brew with a spoon.
- Place the plunger unit on top of the pot. Turn lid to close off the pour spout opening. Do not press down. Let the coffee brew for at least 4 minutes.
- Lower the plunger straight down into the pot. Turn the lid to open the pour spout and then pour coffee.
- Don’t throw away the sludge left at the bottom of the press. Add a little water and pour the mixture into your garden for added soil nutrients.
And the taste? It’s like an awakening. I practically want to weep when I think of the 14 years I passed drinking decent, at best, drip-brewed coffee. The difference is that stark. Oh, and here’s a bonus, you can also use a French press to brew loose tea.
So yeah, 87% is an approximation, but my morning cup of coffee just got way more delightful. If you want to take it to 147%, try this –my twist on a southern coffee recipe that I serve with brunch during the holidays.
Southern Comforting Coffee
- 1-1/2 cups of strong brewed coffee
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 ounce of Southern Comfort (optional)
Mix all ingredients and add 1/8 cup of creme or top with whipped cream.
Have you ever used a French press?