Starbucks cofounder Jerry Baldwin extols the virtues of the French press, or press pots, over drip coffee machines, at this blog entry at Coffee Culture. Jerry Baldwin was a co-founder of Starbucks as the first roaster and coffee buyer. He sold his interest in the company in 1987, when Starbucks had eight stores.
The Press Pot Makes Coffee “Worth the Effort”
The class press pot or french press is simple: a glass or metal cylinder, with a metal screen filter, and a lid. To make the coffee, first you preheat the cylinder with hot water (preferably from the kettle). Measure the ground coffee as two tablespoons for each six fluid ounces of water. Then you pour in hot water, just off boil. The brewing process leaves some will allow some sediment in your coffee cup, but it gives tremendously rich taste.
If you like perfectly clear coffee with no sediment, you may not like press pot coffee. Press pot coffee is steeps for 3-4 minutes at a high temperature just below boiling. As a result, you get a thicker brew and richer taste than from an auto-drip machine. Some people may avoid press pot coffee because of the sediment, but others feel that the rich taste more than makes up for any coffee grounds in you cup.
When Baldwin describes it, the press pot brewing process comes alive. After he adds the hot water ot the coffee, he says, “Fresh coffee will bloom with bubbles of gas. I pick up the pot and swirl it to get the grounds thoroughly saturated with water, but one could also stir. When the gas has dissipated or three minutes has elapsed, I pour in the rest of the water, swirl or stir, then insert the metal filter apparatus, and plunge. The screen separates the grounds, and I pour into a preheated mug after a brewing time of about three and a half minutes.”
Baldwin makes the point that the press pot is great to make several cups for early morning coffee, instead of the single cup available through espresso or single cup brewers. He also likes the metal filter instead of paper, but stresses that it must be kept clean for pure coffee flavor. Also, darker roasts work particularly well with the press pot, and pay attention to getting the grind right, because the longer brewing time lends itself to a courser grind (and will reduce the sediment in your cup).
Looking for the Right Press Pot
When you look for a press pot, look for higher quality. The most popular brand is Bodum. Expect thicker glass, and better engineered handle and knob. You may even want to consider unbreakable stainless steel models, although I wouldn’t recommend the plastic since there is always the concern about the plastic acquiring flavors and more difficult to clean thoroughly.
Price is another benefit of the press pot. You can get this classic Chambord Coffee Press from Bodum, with the right form and function, and an unbeatable value. It looks great at the dinner table as a treat for yourself or your guests. And, I recommend this for your office for a great cup of coffee, is you have access to boiling water.