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Sludge clogging my french press filter - help!
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Junior Member

Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 1:23am
Subject: Sludge clogging my french press filter - help!

I've been using a Bodum french press for about 5 years.  I don't have a grinder, I get my coffee beans free from Sbucks (family member is a partner) and I get them to grind them for me.  Until today this system worked just fine.

2 weeks ago I moved to Tokyo, Japan for a 3 mth stay.  I brought a pound of my coffee beans from home and once I was settled I took it to my local Sbucks to get it ground.  While at the counter, I showed them a french press that they were selling, and asked them to grind the beans for a french press just like the one in my hand.  

The coffee has been fine.  I hadn't noticed an increase in the amount of sludge in my cup but then I stop pouring before I get to any sludge at the bottom of the press.  What I've noticed, just today, is that the mesh filter is starting to clog up.  Currently it's clogged all around the sides of the mesh, though the middle is still clear.  I've never had this problem before.  The mesh is too fine for anything I can do in my apartment to clean it and get rid of the clog.  

I had the concierge call the Sbucks where I had the coffee ground (because I don't speak Japanese) to ask if they have some way of cleaning the mesh filter for me (maybe use the steaming wand?) and they've asked me to bring it in on Saturday.  

Anybody have any other ideas on how to get the particles out of the mesh?  I'm going to be really peeved if after 5 years of using it practically every day with no problems I'm going to end up with a permanently clogged filter.
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Senior Member
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,744
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 8:32am
Subject: Re: Sludge clogging my french press filter - help!

I'd suggest an overnight soak in a coffee machine cleaning detergent, such as Cafitza or Joe-Glo, you may need to scrub it after that too, but more likely than not, all it'll take after the soak is a rinse to get the detergent and any remaining loose debris off.  Given that espresso and other coffee preps are relatively popular in Japan, and you're in Tokyo, you should be able to find somewhere to buy cleaner - even if it's online with the help of a translator.

Other options:
Bar Keeper's Friend or similar

and a stiff nylon brush.

Also, if you can afford it, get yourself a Hario/Kyocera Skerton or Slim, or a Porlex manual grinder and use freshly roasted beans.  It'll make a huge difference in the cup.  The *$$ you go to might even sell them.

Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Jan 31, 2014, 7:48am
Subject: Re: Sludge clogging my french press filter - help!

Two things will make a HUGE improvement in your coffee.
1 FRESH BEANS, PROPERLY ROASTED. With the rare exception, this is what you will NOT find at Starbucks. Often we must make due with what we have, I understand that so to get the best you can from there, do not choose a coffee roast that has any trace of oil on it. SB is famous for over roasting their beans, once they get to the point where oils are seeping from the beans, either they are old beans, they are over roasted beans or both. Do not buy a bag from the shelf, there is no way to tell how old they are, the roast date/best by date is very hard to establish, well the best by date is easy but the time that they say the beans "are good" is hard to find out. Pretty much, for espresso two weeks is the peak for flavor and the quality quickly falls after that, for other methods, while the peak is still falling, good brews can be had up to a month or so FROM THE DAY THEY WERE ROASTED, forget about a BEST BY date. So how do you get the freshest they have? Ask for your purchase to come from the bin-O-beans that they are using in the store to brew with, their turn over is much faster than the consumer bags on the shelf and you have a better chance to get fresh beans. As to properly roasted, again if there is oil forming, they are over roasted and burnt, they will taste like the roast, not the high quality beans you are supposed to be getting. Often over roasting is a way to use lower quality beans as once they are burnt, they taste a lot alike, again the roast, not the beans.

So to recap, get fresh, properly roasted beans.

2, Get a burr grinder, Coffee goes stale in about 15 MINUTES from the time it is ground. You must grind just before use, there is no other way. Burr grinders produce an even GRIND while blade choppers give a range from dust to boulders. The dust will over extract in an instant and produce a nasty flavor while the boulders will never give up the good flavor in them. EVEN GRIND, JUST BEFORE BREWING is mandatory.
Would you buy an apple in a store then have the store chop the apple into hundreds of pieces so you can easily eat it next week? What would you have? Brown rotten mush. This is EXACTLY what you have when you have the shop grind your beans, the difference is that the pieces of coffee are much smaller so they will spoil MUCH faster and they are brown to start with so you do not SEE that you are drinking rotten mush.

After you do the two items above and are able to clean your FP, then you will get a MUCH better result in the cup, though I would advise you to seek out fresh roasted coffee you can count on. If there is not a roaster in your town then there are many quality mail order roasters who roast and ship the same day, getting your coffee to you within 4 days of roast, or right at the peak of flavor as coffee needs to rest at least 3 to 4 days after roast to degas.

In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Junior Member

Joined: 30 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 1, 2014, 7:12am
Subject: Re: Sludge clogging my french press filter - help!

Thanks for the replies!  I took the filter into Sbucks and had them use the steam wand to force the sludge out of the fine mesh.  It took a bit of doing but it cleaned the mesh quite nicely.
Problem solved!
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