Brew Method: Appreciating a Simple French Press

06.08

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve grown in my relationship with coffee over the years and I often catch myself speaking to someone as if  it’s standard to grind and brew fresh roasted coffee at home. Well it’s far from standard, and I often come off sounding like a giant nerd or a pretentious jerk—neither of which are the intention. Those of us who love great coffee get very passionate about it and just want to save our family and friends from drinking anything less—to share with them the joys of truly great coffee.

Recently, I was sent a blog post that reminded me to appreciate the simplicity of the French press. While this is no longer my preferred way to brew coffee, it’s a gateway drug to coffee appreciation that shouldn’t be underestimated. I was given a vintage Chambord French press, as a house warming gift from a good friend, which introduced me to home brewing years ago. Prior to that, I was spoiled by my proximity to Intelligentsia’s Broadway café in Chicago—where I spent a lot of money on coffee, but it was always good. Even as a barista 8 years ago, the batch-brewed beverages I made, never compared to what was now possible at home, made simply with a French press.

So if you’re reading this and have yet to decide how to begin brewing great coffee at home, don’t overlook a French press. Even with all the recent talk of pour-overs and fancy Hario equipment, the French press requires no special technique, fancy kettles or paper filters. Just fresh coffee, a decent burr grinder, hot water and 4 minutes of patience.

This beautiful video and the photos above are from the original Sprouted Kitchen post that reminded me how intimidating the coffee world can be to beginners who just want to brew better coffee at home. There’s a lot of information that can quickly overwhelm consumers and most of it is unnecessary. Start simple and go from there.

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Music by Forest Creatures

posted by on 06.08.2011, under Brew Methods, Misc., Products, Videos

Brew Method: The Sowden SoftBrew

12.13

Two months ago, I wrote about a new way to brew with the Sowden SoftBrew. I immediately fell in love with the object itself and looked forward to comparing it with my trusty press pot. An early article by the New York Times helped the SoftBrew sell out quickly through its only US distributor at the time, and it was initially back ordered until mid-January. I was fortunate enough to get ahold of one a few weeks ago and since then, Sowden has caught up with demand in time for the holidays.

Initially I was disappointed and skeptical of Mr. Sowden. After brewing a number of really weak pots, I increased the brew time to 6, 7, and 8 minutes as suggested by the manufacturer, but that just seemed way too long for a pot of coffee to brew. So, I started playing with the grind to discover the micro-filter’s sediment threshold—slightly finer than drip—and after a few days I dialed in my method. I settled on a 4-minute brew time with a grind that’s in-between a drip and a French press.

The SoftBrew has replaced the press pot as my preferred morning brew method for a few reasons. First, I just love using it. The porcelain is solid, feels nice in my hands and it won’t shatter with a slight tap on the edge of the sink. I can pull the grounds out of the pot right after brewing to prevent over-extraction and the micro-filter creates a cleaner cup, while still producing a full flavor. The porcelain also maintains heat better than a glass carafe and it’s much easier to clean.

Last week, I included the SoftBrew in the DCILY Gift Guide, but realized not everyone is familiar with it, so I made a video to show it in action. Enjoy!

Shop for Sowden Softbrew

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posted by on 12.13.2010, under Brew Methods, Brewtorial, Design, Misc., Products, Videos