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The Way to Brew Great Coffee at Home

Using the French Press is the best way to make great coffee at home?

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    1. re: grampart

      That is a question as the is a question mark at the end: "Using the French Press is the best way to make great coffee at home?"

      1. re: perusalem

        there's no "best way" to brew coffee. a lot of it depends on what you like best in your cup. if you like a full body, heavier mouthfeel, you might like french press best. if you like a very clean cup, you might prefer an aeropress. if you like something in the middle, as i do, look at a Chemex. they've been around for years, but have gained a lot of popularity in the past two years. using paper filters, you retain some of the body of a french press without the muddiness. the chemex requires a certain amount of dedication to a cup of coffee.

          1. re: coasts

            The aeropress is capable of brewing a fuller, heavier cup than a chemex, depending on how you use it.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Sure, with after market filters like the Able disk. Out of the box and using it as intended, the aeropress produces a very clean cup. I'd be interested to hear how you use yours.

              1. re: coasts

                The after market filters let you get more body into the brew by adding some not-fully-dissolved solids.

                But even without an add-on, you can easily up the strength of aeropress coffee without sacrificing extraction %. Inverted brewing, preheated press, using 18-20 grams of coffee at an extra fine grind - that should do it.

                Yeah, the instructions on the aeropress makes a very smooth cup of coffee. But the main reason the aeropress is popular among coffee heads is how much tinkering you can do with it once you put the instructions aside.

            2. re: perusalem

              In my experience, the best way to make great coffee at home is with a Technivorm drip, but as been discussed many times here, the device is only one part of the equation.

              1. re: grampart

                Whats the other part of the equation?

                1. re: perusalem

                  Quality/freshness of bean, quality/freshness of roast, quality/freshness of grind, water quality, temp of water when it hits the ground coffee, and there may be other things that I'm forgetting.

                  1. re: perusalem

                    I'd assume grampart is referring to the beans, grinder and water quality.

            3. No one single best way.

              It depends on the beans you like to use, and what works best for you.

              French press is an easy method. It's pretty all purpose. It uses less coffee than some other methods.

              You can also try pour over cone method. You have to buy the filters, but it's easier to clean up. If you get the timing right, it can have a cleaner, purer taste, but the ideal way to do it is with a small amount of water at a time, so that takes time attending to it.

              1. I dumped the French press long ago. The Bialetti is my choice.

                1. As others have said, it depends on your preferences. The French press can brew a fairly full bodied cup of coffee, though it limits the control you have over the grind size you can select and tends to leave some sediment in your cup.

                  The Aeropress is notable in that it gives you more control over the variables in brewing than anything shy of a Clover machine. Also of note, it only makes one cup at a time with most methods of using it.

                  A pour-over cone or a chemex tends to make for a good and relatively smooth cup. No sediment, less body than a french press.

                  A Technivorm makes a good, consistent cup of coffee, and might be a good choice if you are willing to spend a good chunk of change on extra convenience, or if you're not interested in learning to use some of the other methods to their fullest.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    "A Technivorm makes a good, consistent cup of coffee, and might be a good choice if you are willing to spend a good chunk of change on extra convenience, or if you're not interested in learning to use some of the other methods to their fullest."

                    I guess I would have to pretty much agree with this statement. However, as I said once in a similar thread many months ago, when I make a single large mug of coffee in my $5 Melitta pour-over cone and use the same quality ground coffee and proper temp water, I can't really tell the difference from the stuff that comes from the Technivorm.

                    1. re: grampart

                      Technivorm makes a good cup of coffee - I didn't mean to imply otherwise. It's just a lot more expensive than some of the other ways to make a good cup of coffee. I think we agree.

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      "The Aeropress is notable in that it gives you more control over the variables in brewing than anything shy of a Clover machine."

                      As an ex-Aeropress user I disagree. I have more control -- and better results (for my own criteria!) -- now that I've moved on to immersion cones (Clever/Bonavita). Reason is that these cones give you a lot more room to work with. The Aeropress is a great concept but the chamber is too small. I always hoped the company would make a larger version, but now that I've moved on I'm not at all inclined to go back.

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        I haven't tried an immersion cone yet. It seems like a clever design. I would imagine it might have trouble using a very fine grind of coffee - though in practice that might not be especially limiting.

                        OTOH, I'm not really sure what you mean when you say that the aeropress gives you less control due to its size (unless of course you're referring to an inability to brew several cups at a time). I can't recall ever being unable achieve any particular desired effect in an aeropress (sediment aside).

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          "I would imagine it might have trouble using a very fine grind of coffee"

                          I didn't know the answer to that, so I just tried, using the finest grind setting on my Capresso Infinity. (I usually use the setting five notches back from there.) It worked rather well, producing a very heavy-bodied cup (slightly astringent, now that I've had a few more sips, but pretty good). I just had to drain the cone for an extra 30 seconds longer than usual.

                          All of that said, I don't recall the AeroPress being very good with extremely fine grinds -- wouldn't plunging cause it to compress and clog a bit?

                          "I'm not really sure what you mean when you say that the aeropress gives you less control due to its size"

                          That statement was of course made with regard to my own criteria for an ideal cup. And I should have qualified it by saying that I enjoy a fairly large American-style cup, which is not really possible for me to achieve with the AeroPress. I can only get up to a medium-sized cup before I run out of space in the chamber.

                          My immersion cone brew technique, by the way: 33g of coffee to 440g of water. Preheated cone (applies mainly to the Bonavita). 212F water. 100g water for a 30-45 second bloom, slowly topped up with the additional 340g of water. (I don't stir.) This results in a brew temp of approximately 205F (measured with a Thermapen). 3 minute infusion prior to draining into a preheated mug.

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            "I don't recall the AeroPress being very good with extremely fine grinds -- wouldn't plunging cause it to compress and clog a bit?"
                            ______
                            There is some extra resistance - sometimes a decent bit of it. But you can still manage it, which is better than can be said of some methods. I had been assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that the pressure created via plunging was why you could get away with using a very fine grind with a filter.

                            "I didn't know the answer to that, so I just tried, using the finest grind setting on my Capresso Infinity... It worked rather well,"
                            ______
                            Interesting. Seems like it has a lot of the same advantages as an aeropress, but can brew a bigger cup. Sounds promising.

                      2. re: cowboyardee

                        re: sediment

                        This is why French Pressed coffee generally requires a coarser grind.

                        Nothing wrong with that, but folks brewing with this method need to be aware.

                        1. re: pedalfaster

                          Does it follow that the coarser the grind the more coffee you use?

                          1. re: grampart

                            Not always. The weight of the bean can come into play, depending on how it's roasted and density of what's left.

                            You can also play with a finer grind, to get more flavor, and then just expect a certain amount of sediment. It's typical of a French Press to leave residue at the bottom of a cup.

                      3. In the winter we use a electric percolator, fresh ground beans,and filtered well water.
                        In the summer we use a stove top percolator,fresh ground beans,and filtered lake water.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Raffles

                          We have a French press, drip coffee makers, Keurig coffee makers, an espresso maker etc. We grind our own coffee beans. Lately, the coffee just seemed blah.
                          .
                          A couple of weeks ago, in the back of a kitchen cabinet, I found our old stove top coffee percolator. We haven't used it in about 10 years. I decided to give it a try. Wow, it made a really good tasting cup of coffee.
                          .
                          We have since purchased an electric percolator and use it more than any other coffee making method. The left over coffee goes in the fridge and makes really good iced coffee. We still grind our own beans.
                          .
                          Maybe as you get older your taste buds change, but I now prefer percolator coffee over other methods.
                          .
                          I had forgotten how to use a stove top percolator. After some Google searches and also looking in old online newspaper archives, here is how to use a stove top percolator:
                          .
                          --Stove Top Percolator Coffee--
                          .
                          Here is how to make a good cup of stove top percolator coffee:
                          .
                          -Start with cold water.
                          -Use 2 level Tablespoons (or a level standard coffee scoop) of coarse coffee grounds for each 8-oz cup of coffee. Then add one more scoop for the pot. If using finer grounds for drip coffee, add paper filter to coffee basket.
                          -Add desired amount of cold water to coffee pot.
                          -Add recommended amount of coffee grounds to coffee basket, try not to let any grounds go down the perking tube.
                          -Place coffee perking rod, spring, coffee basket and coffee basket lid in place. Snap exterior coffee pot lid in place.
                          -Place coffee pot on stove top burner and set to medium-high to high heat.
                          -It will take 5 or 6 minutes for the water in the pot to boil and the coffee pot to start perking (water spurting once or twice a second inside clear bulb on top, and dripping the hot water through the basket of coffee grounds).
                          -As soon as the coffee pot starts perking, reduce burner heat as much as possible, while still keeping the coffee perking once or twice a second. You want to use as little heat as possible to perk the coffee, to prevent over-boiling the coffee and a bitter taste.
                          -Perk the coffee for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on coffee strength desired.
                          -Turn off the heat and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

                          1. re: Antilope

                            This reminds me of people going back to drip. I wonder if it's less about age and more about fatigue and how the different brewing methods bring out different textures and sometimes, flavors. It could also be the coffee you're using and grind is just better suited to this method.

                            Appreciate the instructions, by the way.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              Like many things it's individual taste. That can change over time. You just have to try the different methods of making coffee and use the one that appeals to you. That may change later.

                              Two more things about stove top percolator coffee. Use at least half the capacity of the percolator for it to work properly. If it holds 8 cups, don't make any less than 4 cups.

                              Some sources say to use 2 level Tbsp of coffee grounds per 8 oz of water and some say per 6 oz of water.