It’s no secret that coffee is a handed-down beverage that is widely enjoyed worldwide. It has become a favourite commonplace drink across all age groups thanks to its refreshing and sobering caffeine levels. A horde of studies has even shown the extensive benefits a person stands to gain from consuming coffee on a daily basis. Other myths have also played a significant role in fuelling the popularity of coffee, especially those that claim that drinking coffee regularly improves mental concentration levels and quadruple one’s brain functionality! But that’s a story for another day.
Nonetheless, theoretically and strictly scientifically speaking, coffee can help those battling obesity and an unhealthy weight gain. It has been proven to be a useful accompaniment to the fat burning process – something that makes it the ideal drink to incorporate in your weight loss diet program.
Furthermore, a cup of coffee contains essential nutrients for your body like Riboflavin, Pantothetic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and Niacin. It’s amazing how all these nutrients are packed in every cup of coffee you sip – although we take a lot for granted.
But making the best coffee drink requires more than knowing all the nutritional values that come with each cup of coffee. It takes exceptional coffee making skills and the right equipment to deliver that great mouth feel, flavour, and texture we all look forward to at the start of every day.
What is so special about the Cafetiere?
There are many coffee brewing techniques one can use depending on the type of drink you wish to make and, of course, your preferences. While some people enjoy coffee made using equipment like espresso machines or baristas in cafes, others prefer their cuppas brewed the old traditional way in their homes.
That aside, one of the best ways to make a deliciously good cup of coffee goodness is by using a Cafetiere. For those who have watched Jason Segal’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshal, Cafetiere befits the same character. It is the perfect equipment that anyone needs to make good coffee.
Also popularly known as the French press or coffee press, the Cafetiere is simply a cylindrically shaped beaker with a plunger. The main housing can either be a glass, plastic or steel encasement. The piston is made of mesh designed to let through the liquid while blocking the larger coffee grounds.
In other coffee brewing methods, the beans grind size and the amount of coffee you wish to make quite often affect the flow of water through the coffee. It also affects your total brewing time too. This problem is noticeable too in pour-over, drip brewing and, at times, with an espresso machine. But the story is quite different when using a Cafetiere.
With this machine, the grind size, brew yield and brew time are not intertwined. What’s more, the Cafetiere can be used to make a bit or a lot of coffee depending on how much coffee you need. You also have the liberty to grind the coffee in whichever manner you want, and brewing can be stopped anytime: either in 10 seconds or even ten days! As you can see, none of the variables straightly affect it.
10 Rules of Brewing Coffee Using the Cafetiere
Before getting into the specifics of how to brew your coffee using a Cafetiere, here are some ground rules.
1. Know your coffee
If possible, at the very least make an effort to know which country the coffee beans are sourced from. As it usually happens, coffee from different places around the world bears different flavours. For those of us who have been consuming coffee for years, it is not hard identifying the best flavours. And you should be able to do in one or two sips!
Most often than not, the coffee packaging is branded by the country of origin of the beans. If you are a first timer, it is advisable you try out coffee from different countries until you find one with a flavour you can’t keep off. Of course, there is always a first time for everything.
2. Always Use Fresh Coffee
It’s no secret that the best coffee is made from recently roasted beans. And the best way to ensure that you always get the freshest coffee beans is by roasting your own coffee or buying from a local roaster. It is definitely not recommendable to shop for coffee in bulk from the supermarket or grocery store then stock it up at home as the beans might lose their original flavour before use.
Just for the record, bright light and oxygen are the leading roasted beans flavour busters. Unless your favourite store is diligent in selling fresh coffee, it’s very likely that the coffee storage tube they use is layered with coffee oils. Something that makes the beans turns rancid even before you buy them. Always go for coffee beans that are well packaged and sold in the market in sturdy, airtight sealed bags by roasters who are quality-conscious.
3. Storage of Your Coffee Beans Matters
The best way to store your coffee beans is in an air-tight container. Ceramic crocks with rubber –gasket or glass canning jars are a good pick for storing your coffee beans. The biggest mistake you can make is refrigerating your coffee beans (roasted coffee beans are porous and highly absorbent of food odours and moisture). All coffee experts discourage refrigeration of coffee beans, particularly dark roasts. As far as stock levels go, it is optimal to be buying 5 – 7 days coffee supply and storing them at room temperature.
4. Pick Good Coffee
Well, it’s no use denying that coffee drinkers are known to have a level of snobbism that’s only second to that of wine enthusiasts. As much as this is not worth a chest pump, the truth is that a fantastic universe of coffee savouring readily awaits anyone who wishes to go beyond the mass-marketed brands found in the commercial domain.
Sphere coffees – those that clearly show origin roots of the coffee (country or region) – provide a lifetime of tastes. So be sure to prioritise these when in the supermarket.
5. Arabica or Robusta
Yet another confusing subject. But let’s clear the air here. If possible, stick to 100% Arabica beans. Robusta beans are the cheaper alternative to the Arabica beans and are noted for their high levels of caffeine and harsh flavour.
6. Coffee Grinding Should Be Personal
Coffee starts replenishing in quality almost instantly after grinding. And for this reason, coffee connoisseurs recommend you grind your coffee beans in the more expensive burr mills, e.g., Zassenhaus, Solis, and Rancilio. But electric “whirly-blade” grinders like Bodum and Braun can do if the expensive mills are out of reach. With whirly-blade grinders, a bit of rocking when grinding gives an even, fine particle size. The finer the grinds the more flavour you get.
7. Good Water a Must
Nothing can spoil good Cafetiere coffee like tap water that contains off-flavours or high levels of chlorine. If you’re really serious about getting the best of this type of French coffee, experts recommend that you have an activated charcoal/carbon filter installed on your tap to sieve out chlorine from your tap water. Alternatively, you can use bottled water from the store.
Distilled or softened water is not good for coffee. In other words, it makes a terrible French press coffee. For the best cup of coffee, minerals found in good water are essential for enhancing the flavour of the coffee.
8. Cheap Filters Are an Enemy of Good Coffee
It’s a bit interesting to know that experts recently pointed out that cheaply-priced coffee filters produce bad coffee. When buying a filter, go for the “dioxide-free” or “oxygen-bleached” like Mellita and Filtropa paper filters. If the durability of a filter means anything to you, then investing in a gold-plated SwissGold filter is highly recommended.
Not only are they durable but are also known for delivering maximum flavour. The only downside is that sediments can be let through the Cafetiere if coffee is finely grounded. But this should serve to your advantage rather than a downside. The sediments give a sensation of richness and viscosity. At least to me.
9. Avoid Skimping on the Coffee
Applying tricks when using a Cafetiere – like the less coffee more hot water trick – will ruin your French press coffee. If anything, such tricks end up making your brew bitter.
A standard measure of brewing good and strong coffee using the Cafetiere is 3/4 tablespoons per 8-ounce cup or 2 level tablespoons per 6-ounce cup. Also, you should avoid estimating the amount of coffee to use by volume.
Measuring your coffee using a scale is much better than doing it the traditional way. A recommendable scale for a strong cup of coffee is about 7.5g of coffee to 150mL of water.
10. Keep Your Cafetiere Clean At All Times
Ensuring that your Cafetiere is clean anytime is essential to making good coffee. Eliminate oil build-up in your Cafetiere by cleaning it regularly. You can use vinegar or Urnex (specially designed for this purpose) to dissolve any mineral deposits in the Cafetiere.
Time to Brew That French Press Coffee
Making great coffee comes down to three important phases: wetting, dissolution, and diffusion. And the right coffee making equipment acts as the top cream on a cupcake.
- Wetting: This refers to the coffee grounds saturation process. Coffee is composed of cells, with each cell holding some amount of the coffee solids which needs to be extracted. Fresh coffee also contains carbon dioxide in the cells. Wetting the coffee helps rid the carbon dioxide trapped in the coffee cells.
- Dissolution: This is where the solids get dissolved with hot water as a solvent
- Diffusion: here, coffee-water concentrate moves to the surrounding liquid.
A general term, “extraction” is normally used to bundle dissolution and diffusion together, though it is important for the two terms to be approached independently for clarity purposes.
Just like with any other brewing method out there, brewing with the Cafetiere is more of an experimental process that needs a bit of an adjustment, tweaking and noting variables to land the best result. The slow brewing process of the Cafetiere is more forgiving than the conventional fast brew techniques. You can equip yourself with a stopwatch to time yourself which should not be a problem if you are a Smartphone owner.
1. The first step is grinding your coffee beans
Your grinder should be set at the coarsest grinding level. The coffee particles should be ground until they appear like steel-cut oats or coarse salt. If you find your brew to be weak, adjust your grinding to a finer level. But if the brew is over extracted, unpleasant, or dish-raggy, you will need to grind a bit coarser.
2. Have clean, filtered water ready
The Cafetiere allows you to pour boiling water directly unless it is a double-walled (insulated) Cafetiere. With insulated Cafetiere, you have to wait for at least 30 seconds before pouring. Decaf or dark-roasted coffee require water that is about 10 to 15 degrees lower.
3. Add water and start your clock
Some coffee drinkers add a portion of water, stir a bit, and then pour the rest in. Whichever method you use, it doesn’t matter. What counts is what precedes the adding of the water. If you decide to sit down and wait for your coffee to brew, carbon dioxide gas will rise your grounds up and float on top of the water, leaving you with an under-extracted brew. You should stir the mixture of water and coffee for at least 30 – 45 seconds before stopping. If there is no coffee flowing, it is an indicator to put the lid on and wait.
4. Brew for longer
If you want to get a good flavour, skip the 3 to 4 minutes brewing time manual you were taught and upgrade to 7 to 8 minutes. It sounds outrageous, but there is science behind this (though not rocket science). The latter leaves you with a perfect flavour that would require you to grind your coffee beans finer to achieve the same in 3 – 4 minutes.
5. Once you are ready to stop brewing, proceed to plunge
You have to be careful not to ruin your French press coffee with bitter and negative flavours by accelerating extraction. Plunge gently, avoid being in a rush. If the plunger gets tight, withdraw an inch or more then resume the process. The minute you hit the bottom, you are done!
6. Pour off the Coffee
The only ideal remaining part is to pour off the coffee to halt the brewing process. Other than this, your French press coffee is ready to drink and enjoy!
For many coffee enthusiasts, as long as the coffee tastes great, the technique used to brew it matters less. All we care most is the quality of the cup of coffee rather than the method used in preparing it. With a Cafetiere, you can never go wrong when brewing your favourite drink. It is a perfect tool that you badly need for that perfect cup of coffee, but you have to look closely to realise its unbound potential in coffee making.