How to properly use your French Press

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So, you guys seem to have liked my Techniworm Mochamaster tutorial (I won’t lie, that article outperforms every other article on this site by a factor of 10). I started thinking about what I could write next, and it occurred to me, the French Press! Second only to espresso, French press coffee is among the most horribly mangled and mistreated coffee you come across in cafés worldwide (not counting Greece, what they do with instant coffee there is too horrible to even contemplate). A lot of it stems from the usual suspect, cheap and stale pre-ground coffee, but some places put a lot of effort into their FP (french press) coffee, and it still comes out tasting like industrial sludge. So, since I’ve been studying this brewing method for quite some time, I thought I’d share a bit of technique or two that I’ve picked up over the years that really makes a difference.

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Royal Balance Syphon Brewer

A couple of years ago a bought a Royal Balance Syphon brewer, and I made a video of how it works. It’s the oldest design for an automatic coffee machine, invented in the 1840’s by the Frenchman Louis Gabet. and basically does the all the same things as your modern Moccamaster, except heat the coffee after it has finished brewing. Sadly my machine’s tin coating of the copper boiler has eroded away over the years, rendering the coffee it makes undrinkable, but it’s still a nice piece of semi-functional art.

If you’re interested in how to actually use one, here’s a short instruction; the ratio of coffee to water is the same as for any other coffee maker, approximately 60 grams of coffee to every litre of water. I used half a litre of water in the video, and 30 grams of coffee. I’m not 100% sure of the optimal grind for it, but considering the short brewing time (which is suboptimal) you’d want something similar as to what you use in your drip brewer. As you can see in the video, I use preheated water from a kettle, and I urge you to do the same, the boiler takes around 10 minutes (which I cut out of the video) to build up enough steam to push water into the brewing vessel when you start with water just off the boil. Starting with cold water would probably take longer than you’d fancy waiting for coffee.

How to properly use your Technivorm Moccamaster (or any drip brewer for that matter)

So, for the last few years two things has really annoyed me when it comes to coffee; nobody seems to know how to make coffee properly, and the abysmal taste of most coffee here in Finland. Now don’t get me wrong, we really like our coffee in a quantitative sense here in Finland (we consume 12 kg of coffee per capita and year here), and most brewed coffee is very drinkable, but it’s nothing to write home about.
And most people doesn’t either know how to make coffee, or does it all wrong for various reasons. The “doing it wrong” is what really bothers me, or more precisely, people who are doing things wrong, and in their own mind have perfectly good reasons for doing so.

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And here I come, with my little post trying to set the record straight. I’ll go through some common ideas and try to teach what I consider reasonably good technique, i.e. the bare minimum you need to do to get good coffee. There are ways to further improve these methods by additional steps and tricks, but they might be a tad too fussy for most people. And if you’re going to muck about a lot, why not use a press pot instead, the reason for using an automatic drip brewer (aka the garden variety coffee maker) is convenience, not necessarily quality.

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Turkish Coffee – The Chemists Way – Experiment

I’m a tad crazy, and normally I like it, but sometimes I really need a new outlet just to stay on the right side of the line between crazy and insane.

Well, yesterday was such a day, so I made Turkish coffee in an Erlenmeyer flask. Let me explain what got me here;

2 and a half years ago while doing some casual surfing I found a guide on how to make Turkish coffee, but the problem was that I don’t own, nor can procure a Turkish ibrik, the copper pot which the coffee is made in. I got the idea that a Erlenmeyer has about the same shape, very heat resistant and, due to it’s normal use in a laboratory, quite excellent for heating stuff in. But I couldn’t find one in my town, and googling didn’t help much either. So I forgot about it, until a couple days ago.

The alignment of the stars or something equally weird must have been conspiring against me, since I got the idea from out of the blue, while visiting a chemists shop (drug store for you Americans), and I just couldn’t leave without asking them if they had Erlenmeyer flasks. Well, they didn’t, but they could order them, and cheaply as well (quite surprising, as these are quite expensive borosilicate ones).

Well, then I got my flasks yesterday, and I just had to try them for the (un)intended purpose. Worked out quite well, but I need to find a better method than just standing the flask on an electric stove plate. I think I have a Bunsen burner somewhere, and when I find it I will make a video of the process and upload it somewhere, because I think this method is superior to the Ibrik method, especially since it avoids the copper in the Ibrik, which could theoretically dissolve into the coffee due to the pH of coffee (probably not such a big danger, but still a possibility), and the damn flask is a lot easier to clean than any funky copper pot. =)