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Life without a French press

  • Pei Jul 21, 2009 08:35 PM
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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?

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  1. 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.

    http://www.aerobie.com/Products/aerop...

    12 Replies
    1. re: monku

      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

        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

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

        2. re: monku

          Also love the Aeropress.

          1. re: BeaN

            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

              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

                yeah, another home roaster.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  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

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

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      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

                Monku with the Aeropress coffee seduction again!

                1. re: BeaN

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

          2. 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. 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

                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

                  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. 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.

                http://www.coffeedetective.com/one-cu...

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowser

                  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. 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

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

                    1. re: DishDelish

                      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

                        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. 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

                      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

                        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. 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

                        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.