Last summer, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to go out on a date to take in a movie and visit a coffee shop in my in-laws home town. We were on vacation, and my mother-in-law was all too happy to babysit the girls for us (yay!). I don’t remember what movie we watched, but the coffee shop made a lasting impression on me. Perhaps it was the smell of fresh roast coffee, or maybe it was the warm lighting and oh-so-chic pub tables that looked as if they could grace the pages of a Paris Match magazine, but I still have fond memories of our time together, sipping Columbian roast and whiling away the time…
One thing that I really enjoyed was how the coffee shop actually made the coffee. Unlike most coffee shops I was familiar with, this establishment didn’t dispense the coffee from a commercial maker or silver urn, but rather my husband and I each received our very own coffee press and electronic timer. As soon as the timer went off, the coffee was fully steeped and we pressed down the plunger and poured a wonderful cup of coffee, steaming hot into our mugs. This experience made an impression on my husband as well, and this Christmas he surprised me with my very own coffee press. I’ve used the press daily now for almost two months, and in my opinion, I’ve never enjoyed a fuller, more luscious cup of coffee since the time of our vacation. My old drip coffee maker can’t come close to matching the richness of flavor.
If you’re curious, this is how to use a coffee press to make an awesome cup of coffee:
1. Get a coffee press. There are many brands available, and in many different colors. My husband purchased mine at Target for around $20, so they’re very affordable. A coffee press is sometimes known as a French press or press pot.
2. Get fresh ground coffee. Your best bet is to use coarse ground coffee (if you use a finer grind it may clog the press). I personally buy whole bean coffee and grind it at home in an electric coffee grinder (another present from my husband). At most supermarkets, you can purchase whole beans and grind them in the store. Just make sure the coffee is coarsely ground.
3. Add the coffee to the press. Remove the top of the press (the plunger with attached metal filter) and add your coarse ground coffee to the pot. For a single cup I add two rounded teaspoons to the press. After a bit of experimenting, you can add more or less to taste.
4. Add hot water. Slowly pour the right amount of very hot water (almost boiling) into the coffee press. Some of the coffee grounds will float to the surface, and it’s a good idea to gently stir the water and grounds at this point. Never use a metal spoon however (you can scratch or break the glass pot). I personally use a plastic baby spoon, but I’ve read that some people use a wooden spoon or chopstick.
5. Set your timer. Replace the plunger/filter but do not press down yet! The coffee grounds need time to steep. In my experience, 4 minutes of brew time is perfect.
6. Press the plunger. When the timer goes off, gently press the plunger down. This isn’t a Warner Brothers cartoon, so don’t go all Wile E Coyote and slam the plunger down like you’re detonating TNT — use a gentle hand. If you press the plunger too fast, you could possibly cause very hot coffee to shoot out of the pot (something a luckless coyote would be sure to do).
7. Pour the coffee. Pour the coffee from the press into your favorite mug. You don’t need to remove the plunger/filter — the coffee press has an open spout at the top for pouring.
8. Enjoy the world’s best cup of coffee. Take a sip. Savor the moment. You’ve earned it! Once you’ve tasted coffee made in a press, you won’t want to make your favorite brew any other way.
9. Clean the coffee press. OK — this part is a bit of a hassle. With a drip coffee maker, you simply toss the paper filter and old grounds away. With a coffee press, there is no paper filter, so the pot and plunger assembly will need to be cleaned of wet, sludge-like coffee grounds. I use the baby spoon I stirred with in step 4, and gently scrape the grounds out of the pot. After rinsing the pot and plunger, I then hand wash with soap and water, rinse and dry. This step does involve some work on my part, but cleaning the press is a small price to pay for an awesome cup of coffee. It’s a labor of love.