When I hear that phrase, I immediately think of a strong cup of coffee from an indie hole-in-the-wall coffee house I used to know, and wish I could replicate it at home. I'm making progress, of course, but whenever I bring up the idea of an espresso machine at home, my husband raises and eyebrow and turns away. I guess the one I want just isn't practical in our one-bedroom apartment (but so pretty!). So I'm having to adapt my coffee desires with the limitations of not living in a fully-functional coffee house.
Though I don't have one (yet), I think one of the best ways to make a great cup of coffee at home is with a French Press. It's easier to control the strength of the coffee, the temperature of the water, and how much coffee is made over a traditional coffee maker.* It would work out much better for me since my husband doesn't drink coffee--I can make just enough for me and have considerably less waste.
If you would like to use a French Press, I do want to let you know it's easier than you may think. True, it's a bit more involved than scooping coffee into a filter, filling the resevoir and pushing a button, but it's less involved than a manual espresso machine, too. So here's how it works:
- Grind your coffee beans in a burr grinder. You should only grind enough for the coffee you're making at the time since ground coffee stales faster than beans. When you grind the coffee, your grinder setting should be a little coarser than the setting for a traditional coffee maker.
- Pour your coffee grinds into the French press. You should use approximately two level tablespoons for every six ounces of water.
- Boil water on your stove, then take the water off the heat for about five minutes. This will allow the water to get to the proper temperature (195-205 degrees).
- Pour enough water over the beans to wet them, and allow them to expand a little.
- Pour the rest of the water over the grinds and stir.
- Place the plunger over the press to retain the heat, but don't press it down yet. Let the coffee brew for three or four minutes (or longer once you figure out how strong you like your coffee in a French press).
- Push the plunger down slowly. This pushes the grinds to the bottom (under the plunger) and the brewed coffee to the top.
- Pour your coffee.
- Add sugar and/or cream to taste, and enjoy!
- Be sure to clean your French press completely after each use!
*NOTE: If you do use a traditional coffee maker, be sure it's one that boils the water before pouring it over the coffee grinds or a drip-style coffee maker. If the water isn't hot enough when it's poured over the grinds, your coffee will be bitter instead of rich and delicious. (Don't say I didn't warn you!)