Thursday, April 12, 2012

ode to my French press

This post could possible belong over at DRW Food, but it's here for now.

I love my French press.  It's forgiving to different grinds, it helps with portion control (the missus and I each get a decent cup - cup.5), and it feels so refined versus my Mr Coffee dripper.

Of course, I also have an AeroPress, and it's great for one off "espresso" style drinks.  I'm not sold on it for the morning coffee.

And then there's the Bialetti stovetop espresso/cappuccino maker (I don't think I spent that much on mine...I hope I didn't spend that much on mine...)

Moral of this story is that I have a small fortune in kitchen gadgets, but I have settled into a nice pattern of the French press for my daily joe maker, with the AeroPress for the occasional espresso experiment.

This post would be remiss in mentioning that my good friend Michael introduced me to French press coffee a few years ago in a Bronx apartment.  Cheers, Michael!


  1. Yummee coffee yummee.

    Your discussion of java gadget options is interesting. Still, I would like to know more specifically what you like and dislike about the Aeropress. Ditto for the Bialletti option. That latter one is very unfamiliar to me. I didn't watch what you were doing that one time you prepped a (cappuccino?) for me with it.

    My Aeropress enthusiasm is largely due to the ability to make multiple days' worth of concentrate and keep that in the fridge. So some days I yell "Free Coffee Day!" and I'm delivering the steaming hot goods (mug of coffee, that is) to m'lady in mere minutes: I've just added sugar and hot water and it's off to the races (drinking the coffee, that is). Other days I pay for it and it takes a little longer. I don't think it's dramatically better than the French Press, but it has those things going for it. It would also be much better for camping. That's maybe not a great basis on which to choose your daily drug prep option.

  2. The AeroPress and French press require a very similar amount of prep and time, the bulk of which (in my case) is boiling the water. (Incidentally (or not incidentally??) the heat of the water used in the two "press" options is a primary advantage over the run-of-the-mill drip machines)

    The purpose of the "brewing" period in any coffee prep is to extract the flavors and caffeine (!) from the ground beans. IN a high end espresso machine, the extraction is accomplished by pushing hot water through a compact "puck" of finely ground beans at HIGH pressure. The fine grind creates lots of coffee surface area for extraction, and the high pressure facilitates a relatively quick extraction which gets you to the coffee without as much bitterness (assuming you use freshly roasted beans).

    All that to say that the AeroPress doesn't actually function much like an espresso machine, but more like an upside down French press. It is convenient, portable, and sufficiently "techy" to be interesting, and the "pressure plunge" at the end of the brewing _may_ affect the flavor outcome. Circling back to what I said in the post, I have enjoyed a more optimal number of servings and lessened fussiness with the French press than I do with the AP.

    The Bialetti is pretty cool old-school tech that has a water reservoir at the bottom that boils and shoots a get of steam, at relatively high pressure, up a narrow metal tube and through a "puck" of finely ground coffee (sound familiar?) and into an upper version also features a tiny little pipe that directs the steam in such a way as to froth milk in the upper reservoir to make lattes or cappuccinos. The machine and the outcomes are cool, but the process can be highly variable, and there are practical challenges to making enough drinks for a party or rounds of drinks in quick succession.

    something about "make multiple days' worth of concentrate and keep that in the fridge" sounds funny to me - don't you buy locally roasted beans at a premium price? Do you find the value of that investment reduced by cooling and reheating the brew over a number of days?

  3. Heavens, a whole new blog post right there! Thank you, though: that adds the clarity and detail that I lacked.

    You're right, for optimal coffee flavor whatnot I should definitely grind + brew fresh every single day. However, at 6:25am my goals are slightly broader than just optimal flavor whatnot. I, and my co-caffeinator, need the juice ASAP, and some days ASAP is much quicker but with diminished flavor. That's the tradeoff. I think it helps us appreciate the quality of the product on the fresh days.

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