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Date: 29 Apr 2007 04:11:22
From: CoffeeGuy
Subject: French Press Coffee
Hello again,
I recently visited a friend and noticed that he had a french press.
Can I get your opinions on the french press with respect to the
quality of the coffee produced. How does it compare to say regular
coffee, or espresso?





 
Date: 29 Apr 2007 12:40:52
From: Randall Nortman
Subject: Re: French Press Coffee
On 2007-04-29, CoffeeGuy <cppgod@gmail.com > wrote:
> Hello again,
> I recently visited a friend and noticed that he had a french press.
> Can I get your opinions on the french press with respect to the
> quality of the coffee produced. How does it compare to say regular
> coffee, or espresso?

As I am a newbie on this group and this is an obvious newbie question,
I'll pay my dues and answer it. "Quality" is completely subjective
and always debatable. Try it, and if it tastes good to you, go with
it. I'm not going to comment on quality, just characteristics.

The most differentiating characteristics of press coffee vs. drip are
sediment and oils. French presses vary widely in how well they filter
out sediment, but none of them do it perfectly. This leads to a
gritty texture in the coffee due to the fine sediment, and in the
worst cases, there will actually be sludge at the bottom of the cup.
In addition to affecting texture, this will affect flavor, as those
bits of coffee will continue brewing in your cup, even if you pour it
out of the press. This will lead to over-extraction; i.e.,
bitterness. If you want to diminish these effects (and you are free
to consider them good things if you like and not try to avoid them),
you need an excellent grinder that's capable of producing a coarse
grind without fine dust. This way you'll end up with very little
sediment sneaking past the fairly coarse filter. Whirly-blade
grinders will not do a good job, nor will cheap burr grinders. If you
want to make french press coffee "right", you'll spend a minimum of
$100 on the grinder, and that's assuming you shop around for a good
deal. You can also grind on the grinder in the grocery store, but it
would be better not to admit that publically, at least not in this
forum. Spending more on the press can get you a better filter that
passes less sediment, but it's better to have a grinder that doesn't
produce the fine particles in the first place.

The oils are also an important part of press coffee, because there is
no paper filter, and pretty much all the oils will remain in the brew
because they naturally float to the top, and the grounds end up at the
bottom (opposite of drip). Oils contribute a lot of flavor and
mouthfeel to coffee. If you are concerned about your blood
cholesterol, though, you'll want to look up cafestol and kahweol, two
compounds in the oily part of coffee that seem to raise cholesterol.
Other compounds in coffee seem to have positive effects on health, so
in the balance it might be fine, and it really in the end depends on
your personal situation. I'm not making any recommendations.

Comparing it to espresso... I'm not sure where to start. Espresso
also has some sediment (much less if done right) and plenty of oils,
but the similarities end there. The brewing method is so different
that the flavor and texture are not really comparable -- it's apples
and oranges. At least not until you dilute the espresso with water to
make an americano, and then the differences are more subtle. And if
you add milk, all bets are off. I think I'll leave it at that.

My personal recommendation, if you're on a budget, is to have a look
at either manual drip pourover (google it) or an Aeropress (google
it). The latter is completely different than a French press, despite
gross superficial similarities. Both of these methods get you the
brewer for hardly any money, and then you can spend as much as you can
afford on the grinder, which is really the most important part of any
brewing method. And you are going to be grinding your own freshly,
just before you brew, right? Because if you're not, it really doesn't
matter how you brew, you will not be getting the most out of the
coffee.

--
Randall


  
Date: 29 Apr 2007 16:28:46
From: Ken Wilson
Subject: Re: French Press Coffee
"Randall
> As I am a newbie on this group and this is an obvious newbie question,
> I'll pay my dues and answer it.

just the job.

of course, the trouble with all discussions with a disparate series of
people is that opinions vary and change over time. (i was horrified to read
this week that a livia only comes second in the prosumer class, a silvia 2nd
in the level below expert , and one of the Senior Editors favourite cups
came from an electra microcasa leva )

anyway, consider a coffee bean. its sort of rugby ball shape with stitching
and even with a microscope and my bestest carving tools and a great deal of
head scratching I would find it impossinble to cut it into even shaped lumps
without some smaller than average bits. The trick to avoid overextraction
is to make as much as you are going to drink immediately; pour it out after
the three minutes (ish) and don't drink the dregs of your cup. then make
another.

in addition to aeropress, electric filter, manual filter, the OP should be
aware of two main others - the ubiquitous mokka pot ( the little italian
pots) strong, bitterish coffee and goes well with milk; and the vac pot
(arguably the ultimate extraction device in terms of coolth and flavour
(excluding espresso) but a lot of faffing around).


ken " don't forget the sock method" w




 
Date: 29 Apr 2007 12:37:24
From: D. Ross
Subject: Re: French Press Coffee