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French Market Style Coffee with a French Press

There are so many different ways to enjoy coffee. One of my favorite brewing methods is to use a French Press, especially for a mock espresso and Café au lait. Also known as a press pot, coffee press, coffee plunger or cafetière, the French Press is a simple filterless coffee brewing device, thought to be invented in France in the 1850s, but first patented by Attilio Calimani in 1931.

A French Press is a simple device that consists of a glass or clear plastic pitcher with a lid and a plunger mechanism that has a fine wire or mesh filter. Several different designs are available at reasonable prices. Bodum (http://www.bodum.com), one of the most popular brands, has a great selection – from glass carafes to individual plastic travel styles!

Brewing is easy and pretty much fail proof. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, leaving to brew for a few minutes. Allowing the grounds and the hot water to be in direct contact for a few minutes captures the coffee’s true flavor and the essential oils that are normally trapped in paper or gold mesh filters. Once brewing time is reached, the plunger is slowly depressed to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the carafe.

At a food show a few years ago, the Bodum rep made a a cup of ‘espresso’ using a French Press. The ‘mock espresso’ she prepared for me was impressive, especially since it did not require an expensive piece of equipment. Since I usually drink Lattes, I can’t speak to a straight shot of espresso, but for espresso style drinks, this is an easy, inexpensive, and fast method. Plus, you can brew ‘regular’ coffee and tea from the same press.

Tips for Brewing Coffee with a French Press
Remember that glass can become very hot. Hot glass is more prone to breakage when hit. When stirring the coffee/water mixture, it is best to use a wooden spoon or a silicon spatula.

The grind should be more coarse than that used for a drip brew with a paper or gold mesh coffee filter. Finer grounds will seep through the press filter and into the coffee.

The water should be about 203 degrees Fahrenheit – just a bit under boiling point (212 degrees).

French pressed coffee is usually stronger and thicker and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee.

Used grounds remain in the ‘drink’ after brewing so the flavor is best if enjoyed within 20 minutes.

As with any new method, a little experimentation is required to produce your own ‘perfect brew.’

Espresso Recipe
Grind three heaping tablespoons of dark roasted coffee beans in the grinder (see tip above).

Transfer the coffee grinds into the French press or coffee plunger. Add one cup (8 ounces) of hot (not quite boiling) water.

Slowly pour just enough water to wet the grinds. Wait a few seconds, then pour the remainder of the water into the French.

Put the lid with the press (plunger) over the carafe. Do not press down. After about 60 seconds, slowly depress the plunger, pressing down to filter out the grains from the liquid.

Pour the ‘espresso’ into a heated mug, adding hot milk, if desired.

Enjoy at once!

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