Clive·Coffee: Great coffee at home

Return of the French Press

Postby Abe Carmeli on Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:22 am

For the first 25 years of my life, coffee was brewed at home Turkish style, using an Ibrik, or Finjan as we called it in Israel. The added ingredient which made all the difference in the cup was cardamon. We used to hand grind it, add it to the Ibrik and brew it with the coffee. Espresso at that time had its own shrine - the coffee house, and we did not brew it at home. Turkish coffee had an additional advantage: the brew apparatus is portable. You can take it with you when trekking in the mountains, or getting lost in the desert. It weighs no more than a few oz, and unlike the glass french press, it is indestructible.

For the past two years, I've been thoroughly seduced by espresso. I could see nothing else. But when it comes to food, we cannot outrun our past. Scents and flavors are memory triggers and as my mind drifted back to that time, my craving for the cardamon scented coffee of my youth became undeniable.

Last weekend, for the first time in years, I uncovered my Ibrik and got back to work. I have an electric spice grinder which I used to grind 4 dry cardamom pods, set my coffee grinder to very fine grind, added coffee, cardamom, water & sugar to the ibrik, stirred it well, and brought it to a boil 3 times. The brew is served in very small cups ~ 1 oz and it is strong. Each sip was pure nectar. I wanted more of it, but without a caffeine overdose. Enter the french press.

I set my grinder to coarse, added the cardamom ground coffee and water to the french press, and voila: 5 oz of cardamom scented coffee to die for. If you wish to try this treat, when grinding the cardamom, all you need is to grind it enough so that the skin is shredded, and the little seeds are released (2 seconds on an electric spice grinder). you throw the whole thing in the french press, including the shredded skin.
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Postby chelya on Mon Jan 23, 2006 7:40 pm

Abe, What a timely post!

I bought a french press today for work (espresso is out of question for now) and was playing with it at home.
Do you know how does it compare to espresso and drip in terms of caffeine?
Where can I get cardamon? - I am curious to try it.
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Postby Abe Carmeli on Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:09 pm

chelya wrote:Do you know how does it compare to espresso and drip in terms of caffeine?
Where can I get cardamon? - I am curious to try it.


I believe it should be similar to drip but I have no data to back it up. in other words, it has a little more caffeine than a double shot of espresso. You can get Cardamom pods in any spice store and even in a supermarket. The spice stores are likely to have fresher and more potent cardamom. In any case, like coffee, you don't want to get it pre-ground. As to the proper way to brew with a french press, the common method is to ground it coarser than drip, and let it brew from 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how coarse it is. The finer the ground, the less time you want to brew it. An example of a relatively finer ground brew can be found here Sweet Maria's French Press Brew Instructions
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Postby malachi on Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:57 pm

Using a Press Pot

1) Grind coffee.
It is important that the coffee be ground coarse and that it be ground with a quality burr (rather than blade) grinder. By grinding the coffee coarse, you're allowing for a slower and more even extraction which results in a fuller bodied and more nuanced cup. Blade grinders chop the coffee rather than grinding it, resulting in uneven particle size and unpredictable particle size. This results in uneven extraction, which causes coffee that has increased bitterness and which is not true to the true flavour profile of the coffee. In addition, the lack of consistency in particle size results in inconsistent and unpredictable results from pot to pot.

2) Add coffee to pot.
You'll need one tablespoon of coffee for every 4oz of water. In other words, if you have a 16oz press pot, you'll want to use 4 tablespoons of coffee. Feel free to adjust this amount based on your own personal tastes. Make sure the pot is clean and dry.

3) Add water.
You should bring the water just to a boil (electric kettles are great at this) and then let it cool for about 45 seconds. Pour water aggressively into the pot so that it saturates the grounds. The key is to saturate all the grounds evenly. You should move the stream around as you pour to facilitate this. Do not fill the pot entirely. With many fresh coffees you will see significant expansion of the coffee in a sort of "foam" at the top of the liquid once you add water. This is known as "bloom" and is the result of the off-gassing of CO2 from the coffee. Adding too much water can result in a very messy countertop.

4) Start timer.
You're going to want to have a timer that counts down from 4 minutes and has an alarm at 4 minutes. It's very important that you use a timer to guarantee high quality coffee.

5) Stir pot.
After 1 minute, you should stir the grounds in the pot. If you need to add water to top off the pot, make sure it is again right below boiling. Stirring the pot guarantees even and optimal extraction of all the coffee. In addition, it breaks down the "bloom" and allows you to combine the correct amount of water and coffee without spilling all over the place.

6) Put press/top on pot.
Make sure you line up the spout and the corresponding exit in the lid.

7) Press the pot.
At exactly 4 minutes, you should push the press (slowly) into the pot to force all grounds to the bottom. You might have to press and then release and repeat to do this. Do not crush it with all your might - use some finesse.

8) Pour the coffee.
You need to do this as soon as you've pressed the pot. If you're making more coffee than you can fit into a cup and want to hold some for later, pour the coffee into a thermal carafe. Do not simply leave the coffee in the press pot - it will get nasty quickly. If you want to avoid any stray grounds and sediment, you can pour the coffee through a mesh basket filter.

9) Drink the coffee. Mmmm....

10) Clean the press pot.
You need to get all oils off the surfaces of the press pot. Never use detergent to clean your press pot, instead use copious elbow grease, clean towels, your fingers and (if needed) a specially designed coffee cleanser like Urnex. If you use a cleanser, make sure you rinse and wipe very, very thoroughly.


As for the cardamom... if it floats your boat go for it but please, please I beg of you reserve this for coffee that is not CoE or the like! Beautiful coffee needs no additives.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin
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Postby Abe Carmeli on Mon Jan 23, 2006 9:20 pm

malachi wrote:Using a Press Pot

As for the cardamom... if it floats your boat go for it but please, please I beg of you reserve this for coffee that is not CoE or the like! Beautiful coffee needs no additives.


For the non initiated, CoE=Cup of Excellence, the Oscar of the coffee industry :wink: . And thank you Chris for those detailed instructions, I had no idea brew time must be precise to the second. Though I must say that just the thought of using grease to clean my french press gives me the willies.
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Postby NewEnglandCliff on Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:38 pm

malachi wrote: ... use copious elbow grease...


I'm with you Abe. I found this stuff for sale at the link below, and I gotta think Malachi got his topics mixed up.

http://www.lubery.com/store/comersus_vi...oduct=1066
Dolce Vita,

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Postby flttrainer on Sat Feb 11, 2006 2:10 pm

NewEnglandCliff wrote:I'm with you Abe. I found this stuff for sale at the link below, and I gotta think Malachi got his topics mixed up.

http://www.lubery.com/store/comersus_vi...oduct=1066


All American elbow grease in a jar...that's funny! Thanks. :lol:
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