Emily McCaul, assistant lifestyles editor | The Collegiate Times

“Decoction from the seeds of a coffee plant”?

Someone once told me that it was illegal to use the word I was defining, in the definition of the very word.

Admittedly I was in grade school at the time, and it would seem that perhaps Merriam-Webster possesses a certain validity that the average 9-year-old, simply and reluctantly, does not.

It is all very interesting. Regardless of how one chooses to refer to one’s caffeinated cup of joe, most can recognize that, yes, coffee comes and goes by many names, shapes, forms and sizes.

Whoo! Yay for relevant cliches.

To the coffee lovers who identify themselves as Starbucks Gold Card members and K-cup addicts, I say “Hello,” because, you are my people, and I am you.

There is no shame in finding the value in the finer things of your local Kroger aisles and friendly, neighborhood franchises. I would identify myself as a person who finds value in both.

However, I would also identify myself as a person who fosters a curiosity for coffee outside the coffee houses and grocery aisles. As I have recently discovered, while still fully aware that I have much to still learn, there are many ways one can choose to prepare a “good cup of coffee.”

One of particularly good taste? The French press.

A 34-ounce Recycled Coffee Press by Bodum is available for purchase at Starbucks for $19.99.
A 34-ounce Recycled Coffee Press by Bodum is available for purchase at Starbucks for $19.99.

The French press is a simple coffee contraption that transforms the coffee-making experience into one of more personal, dare I say applaudable, involvement — and yes, you will be brewing some smooth and delicious coffee.

Branching out with coffee is fun, often laughable upon the first few tries, but once you get the process down, it can be pretty empowering, honestly.

You have a couple of house guests over to your shabby, college apartment, whip out a French press concealed from behind your sticking, plywood cabinet, and boom. Suddenly, you are dubbed the coffee connoisseur of your inner circle. That, and French press coffee is just downright delectable.

If you are anything like me (i.e. not a barista, not experienced in the coffee field and, let’s be honest, just sort of figuring things out as you go), you will want to know the basics before starting.

A few things to know about the French press:

Do not psyche yourself out — it is a simple machine. There is a pot for water, and a lid. Attached to the lid is a plunger and filter. You will use the lid for that whole “ … decoction from the seeds of a coffee plant” process mentioned earlier.

And what all goes into making a cup of French press coffee? Surprisingly, it is not too much.

This is of course is to be taken in its simplest form, and the process can be made as intricate as the coffee maker (that is you) desires, perfected by the addition of tools like thermometers and scales.

I do not have a thermometer, a scale or even a tea kettle.

So for the beginner’s purpose, you will need your French press, a tea kettle or standard cooking pot, a bag of coffee beans or grounds, a tablespoon, and if you choose whole beans, a coffee-bean grinder.

The process from there is pretty simple. Heat the water over your stove, bring it to a boil, but do not pour it while it is bubbling. You want to let it cool down a bit, so as not to burn the coffee.

If you chose whole beans, grind the whole beans with the coffee grinder. Here, you want to shoot for a coarser grind as opposed to fine. This makes for a smoother cup of coffee, and yes, less grind time.

When measuring out your grounds, you want to be aware of the water-to-coffee ratio. Too many grounds can lead to a bitter-tasting mug, and too much water can lead to a, you guessed it, watery-tasting mug.

You will be able to decide for yourself what tastes best as you play with the coffee, but to start, a standard rule of thumb to follow is two scoops (or tablespoons) of grounds per cup of coffee.

To make yourself a single cup, you will put your two scoops of grounds into the pot, then use your hot water to wet the grounds fully. Here, you will start to see what coffee connoisseurs refer to as “the bloom,” a bubbling at the top of the pot signifying the beans’ release of flavor into the water.

The first few bubbles of 'the bloom' form atop the water as the gasses from the coffee are released.
The first few bubbles of ‘the bloom’ form atop the water as the gasses from the coffee are released.

Let the coffee sit for 30 seconds before stirring and breaking the crust of coffee grounds now presently floating atop the hot water — so cute. Then fill the pot with your desired amount of hot water, and let it steep for 3-4 minutes before pressing the grounds with the plunger filter.

Remember too much water can drown out the flavor, but too little water will leave you with a bitter-tasting mug. I shamelessly and willingly admit to creating both — and that is entirely okay.

This is the fun part. You experiment with ratios, experience coffee making first hand and find your favorite way to brew a good cup of coffee.

So what are the perks?

  • Personal experience

  • Simple process

  • Smooth texture

  • Low startup cost

  • High product yield

As I mentioned previously, it is a process more involved. You appreciate the cup of coffee because it requires more steps than your standard K-Cup-to-Keurig operation and you are also working for that cup of coffee.

Thankfully yes, it is a simple process; however, there is an experience tied to that mug in your hands now — and that is pretty cool. It can leave you feeling pretty accomplished, and of course, caffeinated for the day ahead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *