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Life without a French press

Pei Jul 21, 2009 08:35 PM

I broke my French press, and it occurred to me:

-I own plenty of small pots
-I own several fine mesh sieves of various sizes

Why, really, do I need a French Press at all? If I boil water to the correct temperature, stir in ground coffee, let it steep, and then pour it through a sieve, will there be any detectable flavor difference?

I tried it, it was fine, and I decided there's no reason to spend any money on one more thing that takes up room in the kitchen. Plus, a sieve is easier to clean than the French press presser. At most, I might go shopping for a dedicated sieve that sits on a mug and won't have other things being poured through it.

Anyone else with me on this? Tips? Pitfalls to watch for?

  1. jeniyo Jul 31, 2009 01:42 PM

    i've used the sieve and open container deal but i always like my coffee hot. I got a insulated coffee press that i'm in love with and i'm happy. i too live in a small apt, but it's not THAT big...

    somehow i think coffee press makes it taste better but never had an scientific test. i had a good impression when we went to a nice resturant in my college days~ that was the best coffee yet, i'm been stuck ever since.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeniyo
      scubadoo97 Jul 31, 2009 02:53 PM

      Jeniyo, better to decant your coffee from the FP into an insulated thermos the moment it's brewed than hold it in the insulated container. If not the gounds are still in contact with the water so more bitter compouds are infusing into your brew.

    2. Will Owen Jul 27, 2009 04:29 PM

      I've never understood the fascination with the French press, unless you're one of those people who think the French make good coffee, like my pa-in-law. Except for a couple of years when we were using an automatic maker with a thermal carafe (until it died on us), we've used either a Melitta cone or a Chemex. Nothing much to clean up, nice clear non-chewy coffee, buying the filters gives me an excuse to got to Peet's...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen
        Vetter Jul 30, 2009 09:18 PM

        Will, I now know what non-mud drinkers like-- "nice clear non-chewy coffee"! that's priceless! I love my dense press pot coffee in the winter. Raw milk and heavy coffee are heavenly together.

        Anything is better than a smelly plastic-y coffee maker.

        1. re: Vetter
          Will Owen Jul 31, 2009 01:06 PM

          I gotta be able to see through it. That's why one of the best parts of a trip to France back in '91 was the three days we spent over in Italy - three glorious days of limpid, sparkling coffee (by then, after three weeks, I'd totally given up on French coffee and stuck with wine, beer or tea). The good lord gave me teeth for food, not for my beverages!

          Our carafe machine wasn't bad at all; it was a Rowenta, and their stuff is mostly decent. The worst part of most automatics is the pot on the warmer plate. However, when it gave up the ghost we discarded it with no regrets.

      2. scuzzo Jul 27, 2009 01:27 PM

        Take a cheap coffee filter fold into quarters, to make a tall cone shape. Run a skewer thru the top to set over mug, fill with grounds and pour coffee thru. Done this for backpacking. Easy and good.

        Also look up other posts about "cold brewing" coffee, which is something I hope to try this week.

        3 Replies
        1. re: scuzzo
          DishDelish Jul 27, 2009 01:38 PM

          I just found out about the cold brewing too. I'm so excited to try it! Sounds amazing!

          1. re: DishDelish
            Vetter Jul 30, 2009 09:16 PM

            Cold brewing has saved me from crappy office coffee. Now I just take in a quart jar of coffee concentrate once a week or so. Hot or cold, it's excellent, and never requires me to partake from the filthy pot.

            I broke the manual drip glass pot I bought recently, and found that a cheap glass florist's vase I have (it has a nice wide open mouth with a lip) works PERFECTLY with my gold filter. So now when I'm really lazy and not wanting mud, I hot brew in that (pouring hot water through). And when I want concentrate, I steep the grounds in the vase and then sieve the concentrate through the gold filter the next day. Nothing gets thrown away!

            1. re: Vetter
              DishDelish Jul 30, 2009 09:37 PM

              Ohhh I remember office coffee. Yuck! I used to be tempted to bring my french press with me to work because I hated it so much.

        2. chowser Jul 25, 2009 06:12 AM

          I used the filter cone that sits on the mug for a long time, after my french press broke, but decided it was easier to use a regular coffee maker and just make one cup. I liked the control of the manual better but mornings are too hectic sometimes. This is a good article comparing different methods of one cup brewing.


          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser
            paulj Jul 26, 2009 07:03 PM

            I like the paper filter when minimal cleanup is desired, along with minimal equipment. For example in an office, where you can boil water, but don't have a good place to wash out a pot. Just toss the paper filter. I also prefer it when camping - again minimal cleanup mess. There are even compact filter holders. Mine is homemade.

            GSI Outdoors has some new coffee makers. One uses a hard plastic pot, with insulating sleeve, and a press filter than dissassembles for packing. They adapted the same pot and lid to work with a flexible rubbler paper filter holder, and include a cloth filter (washable) for when paper isn't available. Canping stores even have lightweight titanium pots.

          2. s
            shaebones Jul 21, 2009 10:55 PM

            Sorry, not w you on that. I couldn't live w/o my french press. In fact I have a spare one made out of unbreakable material so when my regular one breaks I can still make the coffee.

            2 Replies
            1. re: shaebones
              Pei Jul 22, 2009 09:01 AM

              Given how popular the french press is, I figured most people would feel as you do. I did love my french press, but I think out of sheer habit or aesthetics rather than flavor.

              I think I'll try paulj's suggestions and see how it goes. One annoying thing about having a one-person pot (I'm the only one who drinks coffee around here) is that I can't make coffee when people come over for dinner. But I definitely don't want to keep a 32 oz press pot lying around (tiny city apartment, you know).

              1. re: Pei
                DishDelish Jul 24, 2009 10:07 PM

                I did this for a while when my last French Press broke and it works great however it does take a bit more time so when my sister bought me a new French Press for Christmas of 07 I was delighted because it saves me time with the kiddos.

            2. paulj Jul 21, 2009 10:09 PM

              I've been doing that for some time. As a matter of fact, I started that way, then used a Press until it broke, tried a small drip machine till its carafe broke. Then back to the steep and strain.

              The trick is to have the right size mesh for the grind. For real fine stuff I use the Melita paper filter and cone. But for freshly ground (with an inexpensive hand grinder) the strainer works great. I also have the Vietnamese metal filter in my coffee gear. You could even use the paper filter as the strainer - just allow for the slower straining time.

              The best strainer, with just the right size mesh, is a small one with a white plastic frame that I found in Korean grocery some time ago. The ideal is one that catches most of the grounds, but isn't so fine that it clogs and drains too slowly. This size also does well with loose tea.

              Your steeping pot will develop a coffee stain over time. But then you probably noticed that with the Press pot as well.

              1. monku Jul 21, 2009 08:48 PM

                Try the AeroPress.
                Unbreakable, easy to clean, you can use the same paper filter for a week and it makes great coffee. Some say better than a French press.


                12 Replies
                1. re: monku
                  goodhealthgourmet Jul 21, 2009 09:02 PM

                  crap, i wish this had come up last week - i was just at Zabar's on Friday and they carry it. i might have to get one...

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    monku Jul 21, 2009 09:12 PM

                    I got mine about a year ago from Amazon.com and free shipping...less than $30.
                    Compact and great for traveling too.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      scubadoo97 Jul 25, 2009 12:30 PM

                      Been using the Aeropress. Makes excellent coffee, easy to use and travels well

                    2. re: monku
                      BeaN Jul 27, 2009 04:53 PM

                      Also love the Aeropress.

                      1. re: BeaN
                        monku Jul 27, 2009 06:07 PM

                        Works on the principle of the French press and expensive Clover machine(full immersion of coffee and pressure). With a French press you get some of the bitter grinds that the filter doesn't catch. You can make an espresso like shot(s)-no crema.

                        Great for summertime iced coffee-- make ahead of time and put it in your fridge, add water and ice cubes when you're ready to drink.

                        Easy to clean, I just rinse the paper filter and holder and wipe the end of the plunger.

                        Alan Adler inventor of the Aeropress says you can re-use the filter up to twenty times. http://coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/m...

                        1. re: monku
                          BeaN Jul 28, 2009 04:24 AM

                          I use the same filter for about a week by rinsing it after use - 15 cups or so. When my husband is here it lasts for more cups but fewer days. He'll use it until the coffee presses through.

                          I've got to roast coffee tonight or go buy some. Or life as we know it will cease.

                          1. re: BeaN
                            scubadoo97 Jul 30, 2009 04:57 PM

                            yeah, another home roaster.

                            1. re: scubadoo97
                              BeaN Jul 30, 2009 05:01 PM

                              You live in Florida, don't you? I think you've met my husband at the cigar club with the rude name.

                              1. re: BeaN
                                scubadoo97 Jul 30, 2009 08:09 PM

                                I've been tagged. You lived in NOLA before FL?

                                1. re: scubadoo97
                                  BeaN Jul 31, 2009 09:54 AM

                                  I lived in Florida, then NOLA (among other places) and then Florida again. Now NC. The Jester is still in Florida, at least most of the time.

                          2. re: monku
                            BeaN Jul 31, 2009 09:56 AM

                            Monku with the Aeropress coffee seduction again!

                            1. re: BeaN
                              monku Jul 31, 2009 10:15 AM

                              I also use a Melitta that's 20 years old and a Gaggia for espresso.
                              Retired the French press when I got the Aeropress.

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