become a home barista (part 1): the french press

May 05, 2020

become a home barista (part 1): the french press


For this week's blog we have partnered with guest writer, coffee expert and overall wonderful being, Maxine Thiart from First Light Coffee Bar in Jeffreys Bay.  Their freshly roasted single-origins, as used in the tutorials, are available on our shop (even during lockdown):

Hello Folks,
Since lockdown has us home-bound without the privilege of a barista-brewed coffee, we thought we'd send a few tips to make you a more effective home barista.  Yes, you can do it at home!
We will send a series of 4 brew methods each suited to the specific coffees that we roast.  These can also be applied to any coffee that you would like to use, bearing in mind that each method tends to draw out specific flavours in the coffee.
Some helpful tips to remember with all brewing methods:
1. Consistency is key! Even if you do not have fancy equipment (like a scale or a pouring kettle) you can make a delicious cup by keeping your measurements and times consistent.
2. Let your kettle settle. Allow your kettle to cool down for at least 30s - 60s once it has boiled before you pour your water onto your coffee.  This will help with the extraction of better flavour.  If you are worried that your coffee will be cold, heat your cup with boiling water while you make your coffee.
3. Time: Pay attention to the contact time of the coffee and water. Generally, too much time may leave it tasting bitter and too little time may leave your coffee tasting slightly sour and flavourless.
4. Grind size: Each method of brewing will suit different grind sizes. Choose the right grind for the right method - it will do wonders for flavour.
5. Rinse your filter: If you are using a method that uses any type of paper filter, rinse the filter with warm water before you put your coffee in it.
6. Use Fresh Coffee: Coffee has a shelf life that is much shorter than what your local supermarket would lead you to believe. Since the coffee bean is porous, it releases gasses constantly and the more time it has to do so, the more flavour it loses. A coffee bean's shelf life is 2-3months after roasting date and best drunk within the first month of it being roasted.
In this blog we will cover one of the most widely used methods: the french press, known in South Africa as the plunger.  Please note: when brewing coffee we would generally use a scale and measure precise ratios of coffee to water for the best extraction.  However, for those less technical (most normal people), we will focus on the most user friendly way to measure and get a good cup. 
For the French Press: 
- grind size: Coarse
- ratio: 1 heaped tablespoon (15-18g) of ground coffee for every cup (250ml) of coffee you are making
- total brewing time: no more than 3.5 minutes
We chose our Single-origin Honduras as the coffee of choice for this method because it is balanced and bold with some wonderful sweetness and it lends itself well to the slightly muddy texture that a french press elicits when brewing. It is recommended to use less "delicate coffees" when using a french press.
Step one:
Boil your kettle and get your cup and french press ready.  Once the kettle is boiled, pour some boiling water into your cup (this is to heat your cup) and rinse out your french press.
Step two:
Add ground coffee to your french press based on ratio mentioned above. Pour a small amount of water over the dry coffee (approximately 60ml) - enough to wet the coffee, but not drown it.  Leave for 30 seconds.
This is called blooming and is very important for the chemical reaction that begins to release flavour in coffee.  If the coffee is fresh you will notice that it bubbles.
Step three:
Slowly pour the remaining amount of water in circular motions, ensuring that all the coffee is submerged when pouring.  Once you have finished pouring, give a gentle stir and leave to steep for 2-3 minutes.
Step four:
Press your coffee firmly but gently, taking care to capture all the particles beneath the mesh filter.  Serve immediately into your heated cup.  If you leave your coffee in the plunger it will continue to interact with the grinds and will become more and more bitter as you leave it.
There you have it!  Enjoy.


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