Automatic coffee-makers may be quick and convenient, but nothing beats the French press for flavor intensity, as well as style. By allowing the coffee grounds to mingle with the water, it creates a stronger, thicker and more piquant cup of coffee, retaining essential oils and sediments that would otherwise get caught up in drip coffeemaker’s filters. If you’ve got one languishing in your cupboard, dig it out, clean it and follow these twelve easy steps. Why not? Once you try it, you may never go back!


Highest preference first:

Coffee roasted locally packed as beans in bag

Coffee as beans for home coarse-grinding

Coffee store-ground coarse

Water for boiling or ready high-heated from a tap


Choose coarsely-ground coffee beans. Coffee that’s too finely ground won’t be caught by the filter efficiently, and you’ll end up with sediment in your cup. Also, with fine-grind coffee, it may be difficult to depress the plunger.

Remove the top and filter from the coffeemaker.

Place coffee grounds in the coffeemaker. Start with 25 grams (5 tablespoons) of coffee to 1.4 L (48 oz. or 6 cups) of water and adjust to taste.

Pre-measure your water to the capacity of the French press and bring it to a boil, then let it cool for thirty seconds or so. Boiling the water may not be necessary if you have a high-heat water tap on-hand (as some Bistros and homes have these installed). The temperature of the water should be 90.5-96.1 degrees C (195-205 degrees F), or you can experiment to taste. The way the temperature affects the flavor may depend on how the coffee was roasted.

Pour the water. You can either pour just enough water into the French press to cover the grounds and stir gently (allowing the coffee to „bloom” or create a foam, especially if the coffee is freshly ground) before adding the rest of the water, or pour all the water in at once.

Stir with a plastic or wood spoon to avoid damaging the glass of your French press (if you do use a metal spoon, be cautious).

Put the top back onto the coffeemaker, with the filter raised all the way up.

Let the coffee brew for a maximum of four minutes. Generally speaking, the coarser your grounds are, the longer your brew time should be,but four minutes is about the longest you should ever need. Different coffees will need a different balance between coarseness of grind and brew time. If your coffee brews too long, it will over-extract some of the bitter elements, so experiment by either shortening the brew time or using a coarser grind.

Stir again just before compressing the plunger; this increases the body and flavor.

Press the filter down gently, making sure the filter „spout” is facing forward. Be careful! You can also use a flattened „basket” style unbleached paper coffee filter as an additional filter, but this makes the plunger a little harder to depress. It will also significantly alter the taste because the press is designed to leave more traces of sediment in the coffee for more flavor. It does, however, keep some more of the grounds and sediment out of your coffee.

Wait 30 seconds for the grounds and thick sediment to settle to the bottom of the french press. Then, pour the coffee slowly into your cup to minimize the inclusion of fine sediment. Don’t let the coffee sit in the French press after the brewing time has completed, or else it can become bitter from remaining in contact with grounds for longer than needed. If you don’t wish to serve it all at once, pour it into a thermos.

Let your mug sit for at least a minute to allow any additional settling of sediment.

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P.P.S. I appreciate them, though…

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Coffee wakes you up in the morning and keeps you alert throughout the day, but how does its magic ingredient actually work?

The first thing to know is that part of your natural tiredness comes from a molecule called adenosine, which is produced by your body while it chugs along through the day. While you sleep, the concentration of adenosine declines, gradually promoting wakefulness. Meanwhile, the more adenosine that builds up, the sleepier you feel. Your morning coffee is able to hijack that process because caffeine looks a lot like adenosine to your brain cells. Because of its similar shape, caffeine can bind to the adenosine receptors in your brain. Once the caffeine is locked into adenosine’s rightful spot though, there is no way for the adenosine to stick around — which prevents it from building up and making you sleepy.

Without the molecule that usually induces exhaustion, you feel wide awake — at least for a while. But all good things must come to an end, and your brain quickly wises up to your tricks. When the adenosine is continually blocked from binding to its receptors, your body eventually creates more receptors — which means you need even more caffeine to plug them up. This can make kicking your coffee habit increasingly difficult, and make you need more and more caffeine to stay alert. When you try to quit drinking coffee or miss your daily intake, you might experience some withdrawal symptoms and feel more tired than you would have before you ever drank coffee.

But caffeine does more than just block adenosine. It can also pump up your levels of adrenaline and boost your mood — the exact same thing cocaine does, just to a lesser degree.

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