CK Cooks: French Press Coffee

May 3, 2008 · 20 comments · Print This Post

in Beverages, CK Cooks

A freshly pressed cup of coffeeGuess who’s back, back again!

Erin and I have a weekend morning tradition of starting off nice and slow with some sort of breakfast and a freshly pressed cup of coffee. As much as we’d like to take credit for starting this trend in our home, it really was something I “borrowed” from elsewhere.

I have a lot of family in Connecticut, and one of the places I love to visit while there is Uncle Bob and Aunt Leslie’s house near the shore. Occasionally I would stay over, and in the mornings, they would have a big pot of French press coffee off to the side in their kitchen all ready to go. I was always impressed by the flavor of the coffee, and this was just about the time that I became more interested in coffee and coffee drinks, thanks to the Starbucks near my work. It wouldn’t be long before I decided to start brewing my own.

When it came time to start really making coffee at home for Erin and myself, there was really no other choice but to get a French press.

The Press

In deciding to go the French press route, I was already partial to Bodum’s Chambord line, specifically the Chambord 8-Cup model. The 8-Cup model is 32 ounces, and makes 4 US Cups, or 2 CK and Erin “Weekend” Cups of coffee. While I haven’t tried too many other French Press variants, I am a huge fan of the glass models, as opposed to something like the all-metal variety, which I feel cools the coffee down too quickly for my tastes.

The Coffee

Beans ready to be ground

Once you’ve decided on a press, the next logical portion of the coffee brewing experience is, of course, the beans. Rule number one when it comes to coffee is to make sure your coffee is fresh. This can mean as little as buying freshly ground coffee beans from a shop like Starbucks or Peet’s to as much as roasting and grinding your own beans. I like to take the middle ground and buy freshly roasted beans from Peet’s (we’re currently enjoying their Anniversary Blend) and grind them up right before brewing.

The Grinder

Ground beans in the press

I’ll admit I haven’t spent as much time in picking out a grinder as I probably should have – This will undoubtedly change once I start inevitably dabbling in espresso and espresso drinks. For now I am content with the Braun KSM2 grinder, which definitely gets the job done, and was even capable of doing a fine grind of espresso beans for Erin’s infamous Flourless Chocolate Cake.

The Process

Mmm mmm coffee

After many rounds of trial and error, my basic process for making coffee in the 8-cup press is as follows:

  1. Bring a kettle of cold water to a whistle, and then let it sit while preparing the rest.
  2. Put 5 Bodum Scoops of coffee beans (translates roughly to 8 Tablespoons) into the grinder.
  3. Grind for approximately 8 seconds, or a medium-coarse ground.
  4. Take the grounds out and pour them into the press.
  5. Pour the hot water from the kettle over the grounds, filling to the top (in the Chambord, you can pour to the metal ring near the top), Then stir in the grounds so they mix with the water.
  6. Let sit for 4 minutes (I usually last about 2, so 2-4 minutes will definitely suffice).
  7. Plunge the top in and pour into mugs.

Let us know what you think of the recipe and be sure to share your own coffee secrets!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cze-Johnson Carrie May 3, 2008 at 8:09 pm

My brother swears by his french press. granted, just being related to me means he swears a lot in general… but he does like his press.

as for me… sad to say I do not have one. we have a barista machine from starbucks, but that usually only gets used when I’m making my vanilla latte martinis. but every day.. my braun gives me that liquid manna that helps me get through parenthood one morning at a time.

as for beans.. I’ve been a junkie for a local place here in Davidson, NC called “summit coffee house”. they flaunt a ton of organic beans that have yet to disappoint. and I’m not one of those ‘gotta be organic’ types.

if you have a caribou coffee near you, I would definitely get their mohagany roast. it beats the sugar out of starbucks.

just sayin.

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2 White On Rice Couple May 3, 2008 at 10:07 pm

You are so right about the greatness of the french press. We’ve got two of them and couldn’t live with out them!

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3 Hanni May 4, 2008 at 8:40 am

Nice Eminem reference CK.

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4 Laurie May 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Hey. I’m considering getting a grinder for my parents. They drink quite a lot of coffee and nearly always use a french press when they have time.

They currently buy already ground coffee – do you think it’s a good investment to purchase a grinder so they can buy beans? Are beans normally cheaper than ground coffee? Is there a noticeable difference in taste?

Thanks again – love the blog (found you through tastespotting), even if some of it is a bit out of my student cookery league!

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5 CK May 4, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Hi Laurie,

It’s always debatable, but I tend to think you’ll get a better coffee flavor from grinding the beans right before brewing than grinding them at the store or buying them pre-ground.

I haven’t seen a price discrepancy between ground and whole bean coffee, so you likely won’t see a price difference either way.

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6 steamy kitchen May 4, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Have you tried the Aeropress? It’s like the silliest, cheapest thing to make coffee, but OMG, it makes the best. similiar to the french press, but uses pressure and gravity to produce the most mindblowing coffee ever!

I also started roasting my own beans.

I know. I’m such a coffee dork!!!

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7 tara May 4, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Great post CK, and loads of good information.

A little tidbit for Laurie – if in the market for a coffee grinder I would wholly recommend going the burr grinder route rather than a blade grinder. Some are a bit more expensive, but well worth it I think. The difference between the two is that blade grinders can result inconsistently-sized grounds whereas burr grinders produce a more-consistent product – which results in an even extraction of the oils from the coffee.

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8 Elle May 4, 2008 at 9:55 pm

I love my french press! It does make a great cup of coffee, and it’s great for me, since no one else in the house drinks coffee. It usually makes just about 2 good sized cups for me. I need a new grinder though–mine got lost when we moved last year, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing it yet.

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9 Katie from Cali May 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I love my french press, and the fact I don’t have to have another bulky machine in my cubbard,and my tea pot can be used for tons of things! It saves me money on filters too. It is more of a eco-friendly product in my mind, (and saves electricity since I have a gas stove).

I have just turned my friends on from HI onto them. I’ll never go back to a coffee maker.

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10 Abbey May 7, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Oh it makes me so happy to see others drinking Peet’s! When we moved to California, we were SO. EXCITED. to find Peet’s and all it’s wonderfulness!! My two faves are Major Dickasons and their Holiday Blend. Yum-o. I think I’ll go do a little Peet’s and French Press right now.

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11 Curt May 14, 2008 at 11:17 am

A conical burr grinder is the way to go. I have a friend that used to own and run a local coffee shop, and he always told me 197 degrees F is the right temp for coffee; if you have a Thermapen, you can check easily and quickly, but your advice should work great…. Boil and let it sit for a moment or two.

A conical burr grinder will allow you go get a good, coarse grind, which keeps the grounds out of your coffee when you pour it. It will also allow espresso grind, which is very fine for a pump espresso machine.

Your shots make me wish I had my press at the office!

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12 Raj May 16, 2008 at 12:35 pm

You guys are going to have to come over to experience my Delonghi Magnifica.

I love French press coffee though. Funny aside — my Aussie friends call it “plunger coffee.”

BTW, Trader Joe’s has a great selection of really tasty coffee if you haven’t had theirs before.

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13 Jerry August 11, 2008 at 12:00 am

Now I know how to use my french press! I only need beans!

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14 JBreiding February 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

i too did the french press thing for a long time. and completely agree that grinding right before brewing yields the best flavor. i think i need to find a burr grinder as mentioned above in the comments.

for when you decide to dabble in espresso. i swear by the 6 cup version.
http://www.espressozone.com/7857.html

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15 Meghan September 25, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I have a Bodum french press as well that I just love to use with Community Coffee Cafe Special…mmmmmm!!!

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