French Press Coffee?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by MelissaW, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    My electric perculator is on it's last legs, I think. I've been considering buying a French press coffee maker to replace it. Does anybody use one? Do you like it? Does the coffee taste any different? Is it hard to figure out the proper steep time? I've looked at glass ones, and a double walled stainless steel one. Any opinions? Thanks so much for your input!
     
  2. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    I've used a french press for years. I love it. It takes very little effort to guess at proper steep times.

    I'd never use anything else!
     

  3. reese

    reese Well-Known Member

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    I personally LOVE ours. I tend to use it if it's only me since I can adjust the amount made easier, but have used it a goodly bit with dh home when we're not drinking a lot of coffee at a time or making tea. I love that we can make coffee or use loose tea leaves with it to make tea with it. We have a glass French Press.

    It's not hard to use, put in your coffee/tea, pour in hot water, put lid on and let steep for however long (usually 5 min), then slowly/carefully press the filter down and you are done. Easy to clean up, just dump out grounds/leaves wash out, or toss in dish washer and your're done.


    Another nice thing, if you have a wood burning stove, you can put a kettle of water on that to heat up instead of using the stove.

    Personally I think it makes a much better cup of coffee to be enjoyed. Reese
     
  4. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Wonderful! Thank you both. I love the simplicity of it, and the fact that the whole thing can be taken apart and washed. I also like the fact that it takes up so little space! We use loose tea a lot also, so that would be another plus. If anyone else can add anything, I'd still love to hear about yours!
     
  5. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    We used a French Press while we getting the solar power system up and running. The coffee is definitely higher octane, but very good. My dislike of it was that it was hard to find a BIG (10-12) cup press, and it didn't stay hot while you drank it. Of course a thermal carafe would take care of that. There was some scuttlebutt in the press several years ago that the french press method left some carcinogens in the coffee that weren't there otherwise, but it never seemed to really go anywhere so my bet is that theory has been abandoned along with a gazillion others. We were happy when we could get back to an automatic drip machine (Got that solar system going strong). I love French Press coffee after a meal in the evenings but prefer drip in the mornings...not such a shock to the system.
     
  6. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    Well, I use it pretty much every day, and I love it. Mine is glass, and unfortunately makes only about 2 cups at a time. I'd say the main difference is that with the french press, I always get a small amount of grounds (sludge) at the bottom of my cup. I don't particularly like that, but I've had several friends (from Seattle, the home of coffee snoots) say that the sludge at the bottom is the hallmark of a fine cup of coffee, and they prefer it that way. I just stop drinking when there's about a half inch of coffee left in the cup.

    My dad got me a fancy programmable coffee maker for Christmas, and said he felt bad for me having to use "that little manual thing all the time"--it was said kindly, but I was a bit offended, because I LOVE my little french press. So simple and elegant and compact, with no disposable filters, so it's more environmentally friendly and frugal. Oh well. My fiancee wanted a programmable coffee maker so there would be coffee ready for him when he had to be up and out the door at 4AM, so I guess one of us will be happy with it.
     
  7. moodcouple

    moodcouple Well-Known Member

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    I don't use mine at home much because the second and third cup won't be hot enough for my taste. But it is great for camping. As was pointed out above, you can just heat the water over the fire.

    I think it does give the coffee a much better flavor, perhaps because it's easier to adjust the steeping time to your own preference.
     
  8. Jeff54321

    Jeff54321 Well-Known Member

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    I have made coffee using just about every method known. I sold wholesale coffee many years ago. A french press is the best (and most simple) method that I am aware of. Here is great web info I found on the subject, go to the site for even more info.

    http://www.sweetmarias.com/brewinstr.frenchpress.html


    1. Use the finest even grind coffee you can, but coarse enough to avoid having the grind pass through the filter. I use a grind just a few notches coarser than filter drip, and nowhere near a coarse multipurpose or perc grind. They key to avoiding sediment is in the evenness of the grind, and a burr grinder will give you this.
    2. Pull the lid and plunger out of the glass beaker. Put one coffee measure (7.25 grams by weight is the standard) per 4 to 5 oz. water, into the beaker. (if your coffee scoop is a 2 tablespoon measure - like the blue SCAA scoops we sell for $.35 - then use one scoop per 8 to 10 ounces water.) Many presses measure cups in small 4 oz (about 125 ml) size called a Tasse. A 3 Tasse press makes about 12 ounces maximum. (That's 1 mug of coffee for many people!) Buy a press that's just a little larger than you need because you can always make less.
    3. Pour the correct amount of 195 to 200 degree water into the press, slowly at first to avoid creating a dry island of coffee grounds. Allow the coffee to float to the surface, which much of it should, Don't overfill the press. The water/coffee needs to be just at, or a little below the bottom of the beaker spout.

    4. Pick up the plunger by the knob so that the lid is down against the screen. Place it lightly on top of the press so that it keeps the heat in, but does not start to push down on the coffee at all. Leave it for 1 minute.
    5. After 1 minute either remove the lid and briefly stir the coffee with a spoon, or (and this is what I do) carefully swirl the press in a circular motion to agitate the brew and make the grinds sink. (Not all the grinds sink, they resurface at the top again. If all the grinds have sunk., You probably let it brew for 5+ minutes). If you removed the top, replace it.
    6. After another minute or 90 seconds, began to plunge. Please note: most instructions have you plunge after 4-5 minutes rather than my recommended 2.5 to 3 minutes. This is because I prefer using the finest grind possible, to a coarse chunky grind that cannot make all the coffee oils and aromas available in the brew. Finer grinds extract faster.) Hold the lid in place with one hand, and carefully start to push on the know at the top to force the plunger screen downward, pushing the grinds with it to the bottom. Take care right at first, because its easy to have the filter disc in crooked and allow a flurry of grounds to escape around it. If disaster strikes, don't worry. Just pull out the plunger and lid completely, rinse quickly in hot water, and start over right away.
    7. Push steadily and the plunger should reach the bottom in 20-30 seconds or less. There should be some resistance though. If you do all this, there should be a small amount of tan crema on the surface of the coffee in the plunger (provided your coffee is homeroasted or roaster fresh!) Pour, serve, don't save it! Coffee is best right away, within the first 10 minutes. Don't try to keep it hot, just make more fresh Press coffee if you need it. Enjoy!
     
  9. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We have one of the 1L double walled stainless ones. I did a lot of research before buying it and people said the glass ones tend to break easily. I figured with 2 klutzy men in the house I'd better not get one of those.
    There are two brands of the ss ones that I know of. My sister has one kind and doesn't like that the press part has some plastic parts, so I bought the other brand. It is all ss. Hers is more asthetically pleasing, it has rounded sides. Mine has straight sides.
    I also bought a thermal carafe to put the coffee in after pressing because you're not supposed to let it sit in the pot - it gets kinda bitter. It works great. I preheat it by filling it with hot water while the coffee makes, then pour the hot coffee in it. It keeps the coffee piping hot for at least 12 hours, with no change in taste.
    We love the coffee. It's much richer tasting than perked coffee and more satisfying somehow. DS used to make a couple of big pots of brewed coffee a day, now he just makes one pot of the french press which is only about 3 big cups.
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    Warning: thread drift! Just a side note to campers who don't want to make french press: Coleman makes an awesome drip coffee maker that sits on a stove burner (like a coleman stove) and the flame takes the place of the electricity. It was our lifesaver the first couple of years off the grid after we got tired of the french press.
     
  11. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Great info everyone. Thanks! Jeff, the link is really helpful also. The stainless steel one I was looking at is a Bodum 8 cup, but reading the info here makes me think that I don't need one so big. I drink just one big cup in the morning (no other coffee drinkers in the house), and another after dinner, so I think making two seperate pots would be best. I'm concerned about the burr grinder though. I currently have a blade grinder, and, while I'd LOVE to have a burr grinder, the 85 dollar price tag of the one I've been admiring is a bit steep! Sludge doesn't bother me. My perculator always has quite a bit toward the end of the pot, so I just leave the last bit in the cup. I think I may try a moderately priced, smaller one. That way, if my grinder doesn't work properly with it, I'm not out a fortune, and I can hang on to it until I've been a good enough girl to get the burr grinder for a present. (Darn! I'll have to start working on that :nana: ) Thanks again friends!
     
  12. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    I use a little old blade grinder. I just grind for 10 seconds, then flip it over and grind for 2 more to get the grounds into the lid. Then, just dump into the press and there you go. I have a Bodum, too. If it's just me drinking coffee, I make both cups, have one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. I just let it sit in the press--tastes almost the same even hours later--and then I nuke it for a minute in my cup to warm it up. We're not fancy here. :) It's still way better than the nasty percolated stuff at work.
     
  13. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    We had to grind our own beans when we started using ours, because it needs to be coarser than usual. We still had the sludge which I never minded but it drove DH nuts.
    We also used a lot more coffee this way.
    I enjoyed the coffee more when we used it, and in fact I used it to death. The screen inside literally fell apart. When I tried to replace it, DH insisted on going back to the Mr. Coffee, so now I drink tea.

    We had ours in our pre-homestead days and we had a under sink water heater for instant hot water - horrible for the budget buy very convenient for the french press...
     
  14. mountainman_bc

    mountainman_bc Well-Known Member

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    I bought one called "Big Sky Bistro" from the local outdoors co-op. Made by Porter Products found on the internet. It's plastic, makes 1-2 cups. Bought it for hiking and ended up using it for in house. I love it, it's easy and not breakable.
     
  15. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I LOVE LOVE LOVE French press coffee. It is so smooth and flavorful. LOVE IT!!!

    I have a Bodum glass french press and a cheap-o blade grinder, and they work great. I only grind for a few seconds, so it's pretty course. The key seems to be pressing VERY VERY slowly. Somewhere I read not to actually press down, just rest your hand on the knob and let the weight of your hand push the press down. Don't use an exertion at all, if that makes sense. I get very little sludge at the bottom and a nice little crema on the top.

    Heck, can't hurt to give it a try. They're only about $10 at Target. Try it. You'll like it. :D
     
  16. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I tried glass one, its ok, but fragile and kind of a pain to keep washed in my circumstances. Am now using an old but perfect shape Revereware stainless dripolator I got off ebay.

    Actually best tasting coffee (assuming you are using quality coffee in first place) is to just put coffee in jar and fill with COLD water. Set in fridge overnight. Pour off liquid without disturbing the sludge in bottom. Dilute to taste and do quick nuke job to warm it up though it really is ok cold. You will notice a lot of taste that goes missing in hot brewed coffee. I've noticed a much more pronounced chocolate like taste to the coffee. Now if you try this with el cheapo crappo coffee, it will just taste like old coffee grounds. Sorry but nothing is going to really improve the ground up tree bark and floor sweepings that some people try to make coffee out of.
     
  17. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Yeah! Maybe my blade grinder will do after all. I don't get the super-primo coffee (can't afford it, and even if I could, they don't carry it out here in the sticks), but I do buy whole bean, usually 100% Columbian 8 O'clock or Starbucks brand. HermitJohn, I'm curious about your overnight method, do I'm going to give it a try for fun! I don't think I could stand it cold though. If the fire goes out, it's usually 58 or 60 degrees in here in the morning, and I need the heat just to thaw me out enough to build a fire! Homebirtha, you found a Bodum for $10 at Target? Thats WAY cheaper than the ones I was looking at online, which were running around $25. Maybe it would be worth the 20 mile trip to Target to have a look. Thanks all!
     
  18. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    The only real drawback to cold brewing is you get less coffee from your grounds. Thats why I am using the old stainless dripolator. Also I would have to remember to do coffee the night before. For some reason thats harder than one would think.
     
  19. Dan in WY

    Dan in WY Well-Known Member

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    When I worked in California my two 20 something roommates drug me into the kitchen one morning to bask in their urban sophistication. They'd been to the mainland that weekend and bought a frech press coffeemaker. After a cup, they both kinda grinned and asked me,"You rednecks in Wyoming don't have anything like that,do you?"
    I just grinned and told them,"we're not as fancy as you." "we've only been making cowboy coffee like that for the past 100 years." "Man! You guys are really cutting edge."
    Then I went back to watching TV and cleaning guns.
    I do like french press, but cowboy coffee is just as good to me. We make it all the time when camping.
     
  20. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

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    We take our press camping!
    Easy & Yummy