Monday, April 7, 2008

5 Steps to a Better Pot of Coffee

Harmless. That’s what you call a non-fat decaf latte in a London café. I wish it would catch on here; a double tall harmless latte is so much quicker on the tongue. Plus, if you feel like showboating your cockney accent you can call it an ‘armless.

I’m a bigger fan of harmful coffee. Not so harmful that it burns holes in the gut or anything. Not quite as harmful as the sludge they brew at Peets (great beans but beware the drip!), and nowhere near as harmful as the angry brown water churned out by my old drip coffeemaker.

I’ve spent some time (too much time) perfecting the pot of coffee and have boiled it down to 5 essentials:

1. Meet your maker. I really enjoy the coffee from my Bodum thermal press. It keeps coffee warm longer than the glass variety and I don’t have to worry about breaking it. I picked up mine at Bed Bath & Beyond with one of the discount coupons they’re so generous with.
2. Know your roaster. Peets has been a favorite for many years, though they’ve changed their tune about the importance of fresh –roasting and the quality has slipped. The beans were way better before the company grew larger. I’m looking for a good micro roaster in Chicago.
3. Get a grinder. The grind is critical here - it needs to be coarse. I have a basic Krups grinder that I’ve been using since college. I just pulse the beans 9-10 times (8 pulses is easier on the plunger but I like the richness of the coffee with 9-10 pulses).What I really want is one of those groovy burr grinders. Alternately, have your coffee ground for French press when you purchase it. Once ground measure out 2 tablespoons per 8 oz. (1 cup) water and add to press.
4. Call your kettle. Our tea kettle lives on the back burner of our stovetop. It never moves. To make French press you need hot – but not quite boiling – water.
5. Set your timer. Four minutes steeping time is standard. Plunge and serve.

Mmmm…I’m enjoying a cup right now. Nothing better.

Further reading:
Starbucks co-founder and former Peet's owner Jerry Baldwin on why you need a press pot


Unknown said...

Does your French press come out smooth? A few weeks ago I had a falling out with my Capresso machine (which has served me excellently for years) over the fact that the coffee isn't coming out hot enough to stay hot in the mug for more than 5 minutes. (Mike thinks this is because we don't heat the house much.) Anyway, I stormed off to Target and bought a $20 (glass) Bodum press. I followed the instructions and used the coarsest grind my burr grinder will do, but the coffee, while it tasted ok, was slightly gritty. So I patched things up with the Capresso and found I really appreciated how smooth it makes the coffee, even if it doesn't stay hot long in my cold house.

Katie Fairbank said...

There is some grit but it stays at the bottom of the cup and, frankly, it's just not a problem for me. I suppose you could shove a piece of a paper coffee filter in the spout to catch the grit. My sense is that if you really appreciate filtered coffee the press may not be the thing for you.

Katie Fairbank said...

Slow news days are silly. The other morning CNN or MSNBC was postulating on reflection in Dick Cheney's sunglasses. To their eye it looked like a naked lady (he was smiling quite cheerfully). Anyway, it made me take a second look at this photo to see what may have sneaked into the reflection off the Bodum. See the doggie?

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