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How to Use a French Press

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Here at Food52, we're serious about our coffee. So we got our friends over at Stumptown Coffee to teach us everything there is to know about it -- and to make our morning (and afternoon) routines a little bit brighter.

Today: The best way to brew coffee in a French press.


french press from food25

The French press is likely the most popular of all the manual home brewing equipment at Stumptown. It's how we've made house coffee in our Portland cafes since the beginning, and it's a pretty foolproof method to make at home. However! There are a few things you must do to keep a rich, full-bodied brew from becoming a sludgy drag at the breakfast table. 

First, make sure you start with a clean French press. Old coffee grounds stuck in the wire plunger will not serve you well. Before you begin brewing, preheat the glass and plunger by pouring hot water inside the pitcher and plunge once to warm everything up. Discard the rinse water.

Grind your coffee and scoop into your French press. For the 8-cup French press, we use 56 grams (or about 8 tablespoons) but in a pinch, you can eyeball it by pouring enough ground coffee in until you have a finger's width of space from the top of the coffee bed to the bottom of the handle. The ground coffee should be about as coarse as breadcrumbs. 

Next, pour hot water 30 seconds off the boil (around 200°F) into the French press, saturating all of your grounds, and pouring to the halfway mark. Start your timer for 4 minutes. After 1 minute, stir the "bloom" (or top layer) and pour the rest of the water evenly to the top and affix the press pot lid. After the 4 minute timer goes off, plunge away. 

One more thing! Make sure you pour your coffee into serving cups or a carafe right away because if you leave the coffee sitting on top of the grounds, it will keep extracting and get stronger and sludgier by the time you are ready for your second cup. Et voila! You're pressed and ready to go. 

Tags: coffee, how-to & DIY, stumptown coffee, french press

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