Getting All the Ingredients in Your Coffee Right: Grinding for French Presses
There’s just something extra special about a French Press when it comes to making rich, delicious coffee. The machine looks elegant, the coffee that comes out of it tastes like heaven, and when you make a cup of French Press coffee, it just feels on every level that this is the way coffee is supposed to be.
But are you making it correctly? Even if you are using the French Press the right way, you may be making one critical mistake that could be costing you the flavor you most desire. And that mistake is related to the size of your coffee grinds. So which coffee grind setting should you be using for your French Press, and why does it matter? Read on to discover more about getting the most from your French Press coffee maker.
What Is French Press Coffee?
First, let’s understand what French Press coffee is. It is, of course, coffee brewed using a French Press, which is a special kind of coffee maker that is not an electric coffee machine. With French Press coffee, you make your coffee by hand. While this is a time-intensive process, it tends to produce much richer, bolder-tasting, more flavorful coffee.
How Do French Presses Work?
To make French Press coffee, you set your water to boil, and then pour your coffee grounds into the beaker of the French Press. You then pour hot water over all the grounds, getting them wet. Then, simply place the top on the beaker with the plunger up and let it steep for about four minutes. Open the beaker, scoop off the top layer of crust, close the beaker, and slowly depress the plunger. Then simply pour and enjoy.
What Is the Best Coffee Grind for a French Press?
One step I failed to mention is grinding the beans. Most people with French Presses prefer to grind their own beans, which you can do by buying a burr grinder at any housewares store. But how much do you grind, and what setting do you use?
Coffee grinds are rated from coarse to fine, with coarse grounds being larger, like peppercorns or sea salt, and fine grounds more like sand, table salt, or flour. The more you grind, the finer your grounds will come out. So how much should you grind your French Press beans for this unique style of coffee?
The answer is, not very much. With a French Press, the rule is usually: the coarser the grounds, the better. You really only want your beans ground enough so that the plunger will encounter just a bit of resistance when you press it to the bottom.
Why Coarse Grinds Are Preferable for French Presses
There are two important reasons why you want to grind your beans at a coarse setting for a French Press. One is that finer grounds tend to get stuck in the mesh of the machine or slip into your coffee. This will create sludge that is unpleasant, and will make it hard to depress the plunger of the French Press.
The other perhaps more important reason is that the longer you brew your coffee, the more flavor will be extracted. In addition, the more fine the coffee beans are ground, the more quickly the flavor is released.
If you combine a fine grind with a slow brewing method, you will get an explosion of flavor. While this sounds good, in truth it really isn’t. Over-extracted beans produce a hollow, bitter taste that is not very pleasant on the tongue. Instead, use a coarse grind so your beans have time to steep and produce just the right amount of flavor.
Come back to The Exotic Bean and this space regularly for the information you need about coffee grinds and brewing styles.