Perfect Cup of Coffee

French Press Coffee

I like the coffee shop that opened up in our neighborhood.  I like the friendly employees at the Starbucks with a drivethru on my way to work.  However there are times I don’t have those extra few minutes to stop for coffee, and sometimes I feel like I should put more money into the kids’ 529 plan than spending my lunch money on coffee, which is why I keep trying to figure out how to brew the absolute perfect cup at home.  You know what I mean: hello, I can deal with you now type cup of coffee. 
To do this you need:  good quality whole coffee beans, a teapot, a pitcher with a water filter, a coffee grinder and a french press.  
  1. What I’ve learned so far is you have to use good quality coffee beans that have been recently roasted.  In a pinch the supermarket brand Eight O’clock Coffee will do.  Always buy the beans whole and grind them right before using.
  2. When grinding them, do not grind them into a fine powder: this will clog the french press.  It will also make me cringe and shriek something unintelligible like “Don’tdothatyou’reruiningexpensivecoffee”.  Conversely, if you don’t grind it enough, which I’m prone to do, then your coffee is too weak.
  3. Bring filtered water to a boil, and then let it cool for a few seconds.  I remember Cooks Illustrated had said to let it cool for something like 12 seconds, and then they lost me in their two pages of analysis.  I’ve recently learned that boiling water will burn (some say “scald”) the coffee, so bring it to a boil and then let it cool for a second.  Or 12.
  4. From here, brilliant minds can disagree, or people other than me can just be wrong.  Some say 1 spoonful of ground beans per 4 oz of coffee.  Some say 1 spoonful per cup plus 1 for the pot: harder to do since I use a travel mug and my husband uses a ceramic cup.  My husband claims he just knows how much to put in; maybe he does, he does a good job.  At any rate, figure out how much you’ll need and put it in the press while the water is (almost) boiling.  Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture, as the glass is too delicate to use a metal spoon to stir.
  5. Regarding how long to steep the coffee, it’s in between 3 and 4 minutes, to taste.  Generally, I think the longer means more bitter.  In the meantime, warm the coffee cup with the extra hot water in the teapot.
  6. Finally, if there’s any extra in the french press, pour it into another cup so it doesn’t steep too long.
  7. Finally finally, if you’re the type to compost coffee grounds, I recommend you know which plants require high acidity before saving the grounds.  Hydrangeas are the only ones I know that benefit from the acidic grounds, and we don’t have any, so our used grounds go in the garbage can.

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