The Joys of French Press Coffee

Cafetière/French press.
Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever enjoyed a steaming mug of French Press coffee? If not you will be quite astonished by the bold flavor and heavenly aroma, and also by the fact that it is incredibly easy to make.
A French Press is a two-part device that relies on a glass carafe and a lid with a specially designed plunger. This plunger utilizes a fine metal filter that separates the coffee grounds from the boiling water. This way of making coffee really gives the cook a great deal of control over the results. Unlike traditional percolators, espresso machines, or regular coffee pots, the French Press devices allow the user to determine the ratio of coffee to water, the fineness of the grounds, and the length of time that coffee brews. This is the reason that it can be used for almost any type of coffee and any type of grind.
It does take a bit of practice to perfect the technique because the optimal results come from pre-heating the carafe and also making the ideal mixture to suit the taste of the drinker.
To begin, the cook must use a kettle to heat double the quantity of water that they anticipate using in the coffee-making process; and this is to first heat the coffee cups and the carafe. Next, it is usually best to grind the beans just prior to making the coffee, and for the novice maker it is best to use a very moderate and even grind.
Once the water is just about to boil the maker should use a small amount to heat the carafe and cups. They must then measure the amount of coffee necessary, and a preliminary formula uses between two to four tablespoons of coffee to every eight ounces of water. Measuring is key to the best results as well, and simply “eye balling” either of the ingredients will give inconsistent results.
Once the carafe has been pre-heated and emptied of water the maker can add the proper amount of coffee, pour the water over the top, and then stir this briefly with a wooden spoon. The minimum brew time is three minutes, though a longer period can be used for a stronger pot of coffee. After that time has passed the maker can position the plunger into place and slowly push down the stem until it hits the bottom of the pot.
It is this point of the process that will indicate if the grind of the coffee is too coarse or too fine because the plunger will tend to create some resistance. If there is absolutely no resistance then the grind is far too fine, and if it is incredibly difficult to sink the plunger then the coffee is too coarse. Generally it requires a count of twenty for the plunger to reach the bottom of the pot.
Once this done the coffee is ready to be served. You can empty the mugs of the pre-heated water and add sugar or cream to your liking. It is never a good idea to allow coffee to remain in the press overly long as this can create a very bitter mixture.

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Coffee Knowledge 101

Dark roasted coffee beans
Image via Wikipedia

Served hot or cold, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. We drink it at home, at the office, and at coffee shops with friends. It’s estimated that more than half of the adults in the United States drink coffee every day, with even more people being occasional drinkers.

Clearly, coffee culture reigns supreme. There’s a coffee shop on almost every corner and a coffee maker in virtually every home. However, most people don’t know much about the caffeinated drink other than that it tastes good. Read the mini guide below to familiarize yourself with behind-the-scenes information on coffee.

Coffee History

Coffee beans were most likely discovered by the Ethiopians hundreds of years ago. However, it wasn’t until the beans were transported to Yemen that they were used to make a drink. By the 15th century, the entire Arab world was enjoying coffee. Shortly thereafter, knowledge of the beans and drink spread to Italy and the rest of Europe.

Coffee was available in North America when the first settlers arrived, but it didn’t become popular until the late 18th century. Now, coffee consumption in the United States is so great that it is one of the country’s biggest imports.

From Plant to Cup

The coffee plant is a shrub with glossy green leaves. It produces small white flowers and berries. Inside each berry are two coffee beans. Berries take about eight months to mature; they start out green and then ripen to yellow and red. Once harvested, the berries are dried and the seeds are picked out.

The seeds are fermented to remove any slimy substances from the interior of the berry. Then, they are washed and allowed to dry. Roasting comes next in the coffee production cycle. Beans are roasted for various amounts of time until they meet the requirements for light roasts, medium roasts, or dark roasts.

Next, the beans are packaged in airtight containers and distributed worldwide. When it comes time to brew a cup of coffee, the roasted beans must be ground and mixed with hot water. There are many ways of preparing ground coffee–from French presses to pressurized machines–and all give variations in the coffee’s complexity and flavor.

Coffee-Producing Nations

Almost 8 billion pounds of coffee beans were produced worldwide in 2008. Brazil produced the largest percentage of that total, with approximately 17 million tons cultivated in the country. Coffee is grown in tropical climates all over the world. In fact, most coffee names are derived from the region in which the beans were grown. Regional differences in taste and flavor can be extreme, and most coffee connoisseurs have a particular variety that they prefer over others. For example, Columbian coffee is mild, with a bright taste, full body, and rich aromas.

Caffeine in Coffee

Many people drink coffee for the pick me up that comes from its high caffeine content. The average cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 150 mg of caffeine. A single shot of espresso has about 60 mg. In comparison, a can of cola has about 34 mg of caffeine.

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