French Press How-to: Making Coffee the Old Skool Way

Published: 10 Sep 2006

Bodum French PressIf you just want a strong cup of coffee and you don't feel like cleaning your drip coffee maker or firing up your espresso machine here's a quick how-to. I know what you're thinking. This is a blog about technology, right? Well it's also about "other square topics". After all, every developer should know how to brew a good cup of joe. So here goes...

Introduction

First of all coffee from a French Press is meant to be served immediately after it's preparation so if you're entertaining a group of your friends or family, this probably isn't the best approach to serving all of them coffee.

Although we sometime characterize the French for being snobbish and not having much to contribute in the way of foreign affairs, they are credited for popularizing the French Press (also known as a coffee plunger and the coffee produced from it plunger coffee).

What You Need

  1. Surprise! You need a French Press. There are plenty to choose from but Bodum seems to be a favorite.
  2. Coffee. Preferably whole beans instead of coffee that's ground already.
  3. Hot water. This really shouldn't be a surprise.
  4. Patience. This isn't an out-of-the-box, push-button way of making coffee. It's more of an art similar to making good espresso so you can stop reading now if you just want a quick fix before driving off to work.

Procedure

Before we get started I will insert a little disclaimer here. Don't be discouraged if the first cup of coffee you produce is horrible. It actually took me a few times to get the grind of the coffee and procedure down to where I was actually able to enjoy the result. Now on to the actual how-to part of this how-to:

  1. Boil some water. Preferably filtered, cool water.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil you can grind your coffee. Note you should make the grind coarse (even more so than you normally would for a drip coffee maker). The grind is If the grind is too fine the result will be murky, bitter and hard to filter. To give you an idea of how much coffee to grind, I generally use 28 grams or about 4 Tablespoons for a 12oz. cup. The grind and quantity of the grind is really what's going to matter here and it may take some experimentation to get it just right for your preferences.
  3. Remove the plunger from the press and add the coffee to the press.
  4. Once the water has come to a boil, take it off the burner and let it rest for a good 30 seconds. Then add just enough water to cover your grounds and gently swirl to thoroughly wet the grounds.
  5. Pour the remainder of your water in the press leaving about an inch at the top and let it steep for about 4 minutes.
  6. Put the plunger on top of the press and slooowly press the plunger down. This will separate the grounds from the brewed coffee so you can see the importance of going slow here.
  7. Pour and enjoy!

I hope this brief how-to helps you on your way to having a friendly caffiene fix without the bordom of a drip coffee maker and the stress of battle with an espresso machine.