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French press problems
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Kendrian
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Oct 2013
Posts: 14
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Hario Woodneck, Aeropress +...
Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 4:16am
Subject: French press problems
 

So, I've had some great brews out of my French press lately; it's normally my favorite brewing method because of the enhanced body. I'm willing to deal with some sediment in the coffee. But in the last few days I've had no success at all pressing my coffee. I haven't changed anything about my technique that I can think of, but the coffee is just tasting underextracted every time. I lengthened the steeping time from 4 minutes to 5 or 5 and a half, and still there's just no life to the brew. It's not undrinkable or bitter or unpleasant, just boring. Any ideas?

My method:
- ~16 g coffee to ~240 ml water
- Press preheated by a flush with boiling water
- Water poured just off a boil
- Bloom for ~20-30 sec; I just play this by ear depending on how fresh the coffee is.
- Vigorous stir to be sure no grounds are suspended in the bloom
- Start timer for 5 min
- Slow plunge and pour into prewarmed mug
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MWJB
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Jun 2013
Posts: 183
Location: UK
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Rocky, Lido, Porlex, Hario...
Drip: Not enough room to list...
Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 11:49am
Subject: Re: French press problems
 

Small pots are harder to get a high level of extraction with, the more water you use the better the thermal inertia, though having said that, you seem to be saying brews with the same pot aren't meeting expectation.

My personal preference is for a smaller dose (14g/250g) and longer steeps times.

I don't bother with blooming, I add the water first, grinds in on top, fold in, then a quick stir & steep. Avoid vigorous stirring...whatever method you use, just get everything wet & use the plunger to submerge grinds.

I don't plunge (picked up this tip from James Hoffmann's blog), when you think the brew is ready, sink any grounds still floating, scoop off any foam, pour out a little coffee into a cold cup to taste - taste it tepid, not hot, as hot you get a false impression of sweetness & it gets more sour as it cools. The first couple of table spoons out of the pot may just be oil, I discard this.

When you are happy with the taste (not before, go by taste rather than time) put the lid & plunger back on, holding the plunger above the surface of the brew (but below the spout obviously) & pour through it. Don't stir/plunge deep into the brew after steep starts.

Lastly, make sure your kettle doesn't taint the the water...some do, some don't, it doesn't seem to follow any particular material, more the precise model.
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squaremile
Senior Member


Joined: 6 Jan 2011
Posts: 84
Location: Portlandia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 5:13pm
Subject: Re: French press problems
 

How old is the coffee and how are you storing it?
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Kendrian
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Oct 2013
Posts: 14
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Hario Woodneck, Aeropress +...
Roaster: Gene Cafe
Posted Sat Nov 2, 2013, 12:46pm
Subject: Re: French press problems
 

I'll try some of these suggestions- I would brew larger pots, except I'm just one person and I rarely consume more than one 8 oz cup at a time.

The coffee was roasted 3-4 days ago, definitely less than a week, and is stored in airtight glass jars.
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GlennM
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Sep 2010
Posts: 18
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 10:40am
Subject: Re: French press problems
 

You might want to play around a bit with your grind of the beans.  I find going just a little bit finer goes a long way to improving flavour extraction and body...
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,082
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 11:17am
Subject: Re: French press problems
 

If playing with the grind doesn't do anything I'd look into the beans.  Can you tell us more about the roasts and green beans?  One thing I noticed when using jars was sunlight.  Direct sunlight can have an effect on the beans.
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