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tedmarx
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Jan 2013
Posts: 3
Location: nj
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 2:20pm
Subject: Questions on French Press coffee technology
 

I've used a few of these makers designed for home use and while I've read a number of internet articles about this approach, I'm still curious about some aspects and would appreciate any insights.

For one, I initially assumed that "press" mean to literally squeeze the daylights out of the grinds in order to extract all the wonders.  It seems that this isn't true at all, and that only firm pressure gets applied.  Am I correct to assume that all that's really accomplished through this "light press" is separating the grinds from the brew?

Second, I understand how filters retain certain elements such as oils when one uses autodrip and that the press approach therefore allows these to remain in the brew.  However, I'm not grasping then what's really different about this vs. using a percolator without a filter....the old fashioned "put a pot of coffee on the stove" technology.

Combining one and two, it therefore seems like all you really do with the press approach is steep the ground beans as if making tea, and then separate out the grinds.  However...I'm probably missing something and will appreciate any insights.  I'm new to this hobby as may be obvious.  Thanks.
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Pourista
Senior Member
Pourista
Joined: 20 Dec 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Davis, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Mishka's Medium Roast
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 7:14pm
Subject: Re: Questions on French Press coffee technology
 

I think you are right on both accounts.  The basic idea for french press is to steep and separate.  I've seen many variations of how to go about french press just like there are variations for pour over techniques.  I alternate between both because they yield different results and I enjoy changing it up once in a while.  I like french press more than say a percolator or "old fashioned stove top" because it's really simple and there aren't many parts to it.  I don't need a filter (good if I ran out) and all there is are the press and the cup.  It's also fairly small and easy to clean out.  The trickiest thing with french press is getting that perfect grind.  Too fine and you can't push the filter down and too coarse and not enough flavor will be extracted.  In the end, it's up to personal taste though.  Good luck!
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MerleApAmber
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Nov 2012
Posts: 203
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES900
Grinder: Baratza Preciso + Esatto
Vac Pot: Yuma
Drip: bah-humbug
Roaster: Hot Top 2K P
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 10:03pm
Subject: Re: Questions on French Press coffee technology
 

I can't disagree with your thoughts on the basic of french press method, seems you've got the point.

One thing I'd point up about percolation; the mechanical process is exposing what ever coffee compounds in the boiler/riser to boiling point temperatures for your altitude. In my experience, this is often a way to remove many of the more subtle taste components we buy exceptional coffee beans for.

You'll discover most people feel roast coffees give up their best flavors when exposed to waters heated between 180 to 205 F.  Many will tell you a degree or two is significant - some represent even half degree changes can make a reproducible variation they can reliably identify.
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andys
Senior Member
andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 857
Location: NY
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Speedster, Londinium 1
Grinder: EK-43,Robur, HG One, M3
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: various
Roaster: PIDed Popper
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 11:18pm
Subject: Re: Questions on French Press coffee technology
 

tedmarx Said:

I've used a few of these makers designed for home use and while I've read a number of internet articles about this approach, I'm still curious about some aspects and would appreciate any insights.

For one, I initially assumed that "press" mean to literally squeeze the daylights out of the grinds in order to extract all the wonders.  It seems that this isn't true at all, and that only firm pressure gets applied.  Am I correct to assume that all that's really accomplished through this "light press" is separating the grinds from the brew?

Second, I understand how filters retain certain elements such as oils when one uses autodrip and that the press approach therefore allows these to remain in the brew.  However, I'm not grasping then what's really different about this vs. using a percolator without a filter....the old fashioned "put a pot of coffee on the stove" technology.

Posted January 5, 2013 link

Yes, only light pressure to separate liquid from the grounds. Percolators have gone out of style for two reasons: (1) As Chris says, brewing at boiling temperature is generally too hot for best flavor, (2) recirculating the coffee again and again through the grounds also doesn't produce the best flavor. Percolators make the kitchen smell good, but it would be better if those good aromas remained in the brew.

tedmarx Said:

Combining one and two, it therefore seems like all you really do with the press approach is steep the ground beans as if making tea, and then separate out the grinds.

Posted January 5, 2013 link

Yup. Although as the man said, "Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks."

Every brew method is different. It's true that french press retains oils that would be removed with paper filtering. Also, since french press is a "total immersion" method, the thorough mixing of brew water and grounds means a very even extraction. With pour through methods, if one isn't careful, some parts of the bed may be overextracted and some parts underextracted, and the flavors won't be as good. Also, the relatively large quantity of fine particles that make it through the french press filter tends to make a brew with a heavier mouthfeel.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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