“French Press is my preferred way of making coffee,” says Adam Randall, founder of Pittsburgh-based Press House Coffee. Originally launched as Green Dragon Coffee in 2015, Randall re-branded last year as Press House, and is currently opening two brick-and-mortar stores in the Pittsburgh area.
Since their rebrand, Press House has focused heavily on evangelizing the French Press method. As opposed to some of the more involved methods of making coffee, French Press doesn’t require any special training or thousands of dollars in equipment. All you need is the press, the coffee, a timer, and some hot water. Plus, as Randall notes, “It’s fun, it’s flexible, and it allows for experimentation.”
Currently, the Press House website offers the “Daily Grind,” a series of individually portioned, pre-packaged pouches with enough ground coffee for a single brew.
The website also offers over two dozen varieties of coffee, including many single-origin beans. Although the Daily Grind makes it easy to enjoy French Press at home, you can also use your own beans. Just make sure you have a grinder and a French Press!
How To Make French Press Coffee
1. Measure Your Water and Beans
“If people are just starting out, I start around a one to twelve ratio,” says Randall. “Ounces or grams, whichever works.”
That means for every ounce of ground coffee, you want twelve ounces of water. Same goes for grams, or any other metric you want to use. However, Randall is quick to point out that there’s no “one right answer” — although one to twelve is a good starting ratio, a lot of people prefer a more diluted ratio of one to fifteen.
“It’s just coffee,” Randall says. “It should be fun and you should make it the way you like it.”
For instance, Randall’s wife prefers a stronger cup in the morning, when she’ll use a one to twelve ratio. For a quick pick-me-up in the afternoon, she’ll try one to fifteen, or something a little less strong.
Heat The Water
The sweet spot? 195 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a temperature gauge kettle, that’s basically just before boiling. You could also boil water and then add a bit of cold water back in.
“My preference is 190 to 200,” says Randall. “That’s warm enough to extract the coffee, but it won’t burn the coffee. And if it’s a little cooler than boiling, you can drink it more quickly. Because there’s nothing worse than having coffee you can’t drink.”
Grind The Beans
For French Press, you want to start with a coarse grind. That’s slightly larger than a medium grind, and definitely bigger than the “grains of sand” grind you’d use for espresso. On something like our recommended Baratza Encore Grinder, you’ll want a grind setting of 28.
“It’ll almost look chunky,” Randall says. “That really allows the water to be absorbed in the grinds and pull out a nice flavor. If your grounds are too fine, the coffee will be bitter.”
However, like the ratio and water temp, French Press is all about experimentation. Try a few different grinds to find the one that works for you.
Bloom The Coffee
After you’ve poured the grounds into the French Press, you’ll want to “bloom” the coffee by saturating the grounds with hot water.
“You’ll see the coffee expand,” Randall says. “You can tell how fresh your coffee is, because it’ll really expand. The fresher it is, the bigger the bloom.”
For those who love that fresh coffee smell, this is when it happens. Let the coffee bloom for about ten seconds before giving the French Press a swirl and adding the rest of the water.
Let The Coffee Sit
Four minutes. That’s a good base time for a nice cup of coffee. But this is another metric with which you can experiment.
“Some people like to play around,” Randall says. “They’ll do three minutes, or they’ll do five. But four minutes from when you first pour in the water is a good rule of thumb.”
As for the lid?
“You can leave the lid off,” says Randall.
Plunge The Coffee
After four minutes, put on the lid.
“Plunge nice and slow and you’re good to go,” Randall says.
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