French Press

maggie5ilNovember 30, 2005

I'm thinking of buying a Bodum french press coffeemaker. Has excellent reviews. Anyone here make coffee in a french press? I've only had it Europe, many years ago, and don't remember it. I am a coffee snob. Can someone describe the difference between drip coffee and french press coffee? I know there will be sediment, but what about taste comparisons? I had also considered one of the Chemex glass coffeemakers. The drawback to those is filters have to be ordered online. Help me , help me. I want some good, strong coffee. Better than I can get in an automatic drip coffee maker.

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If you want good strong coffee, the French Press will deliver it. As a coffee snob you know that good coffee relies on 1. freshly ground beans (DH grinds them at the market, then puts them in an airtight container in the freezer) 2. Very clean equipment with no traces of old sediment (why so many of us hate the taste of auto drip makers and all their hard to clean plastic parts) 3. temperature (although DH has been making coffee for so many years, he just has a knack of knowing the proper temp) 4. timing (allowing the coffee to "bloom")

Personally, DH and I did not care for the sediment in the French press coffee and it disturbed us to read that they are finding this sediment supposedly gets into your blood stream and arteries. That aside, I found the extra work involved in properly cleaning the press and all its screens was bothersome, so, back to the old faithful Melita we went.

Then, about two weeks ago, I purchased him a Chemex coffee brewer. I did some coffee research and I really like the look of these pots, (they are in the museum of modern art, whooped de do!) and the history too. We found these pots make an excellent cup o' java, but, the secret IS THE FILTER! They are thicker than the store filters and for good reason. It slows down the process and allows the coffee to "bloom" delivering more flavor and bang for your buck. Negatives about this brewer are:
1. because of the filter, the coffee takes a little longer to make then the old Melita. DH didn't like that 'cause his tea pot is heavy and yes, you have to order the filters unless you find a shop that carries them. But they are what makes the brewer work properly.
2. DH likes to have coffee all day, so I went all out and bought him the big, expensive handblown 10 cup unit which is too tall, (we're constantly banging into it and it into the upper counters etc) and it's cumbersome.
3. the traditional style Chemex has no handle, but a cute wooden collar that is supposed to act as a "pot holder" for pouring. DH says this sucka gets kinda hot and it is uncomfortable for one handed pouring. What's more is you gotta take it off to clean or the wood will get ruined.

Those negatives aside, last night, I ordered the smaller 8 cup Chemex with a handle. It's not handblown (but really, who cares?) This will solve pretty much all the negatives with exception of the filters, but, DH says he doesn't mind the little extra time since the coffee is excellent and worth it. You can always order them in bulk.

You can get Chemex coffee pots used on Ebay, and I noticed folks collect them. I was bidding on one from the 40's with the original booklet but got outbid. They are a truly functional piece of collectible art :-)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 10:30AM
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What kimbaOO says ;)

I bought the Bodum french press and *loved* the coffee it produces, except that it was never quite hot enough for me, so I always ended up microwaving it. The sediment didn't really bother me, but I wasn't aware of it possibly ending up in your bloodstream - ewwwwwwww!!!!! I still have it, but haven't used it in ages because of the hassle. For me, it's great for occassional use, but not everyday.

I tend to have 1 or 2 cups a day, but DH drinks coffee all day. Every machine he's used has left a lot of sediment, leaked, etc. Maybe I'll check out the Chemex!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 10:44AM
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I forgot to include where I got both my Chemex pots from. See link below.

goldgirl: I hate to sound like an alarmist, but just about everything we eat will eventually kill us. I do a lot of reading (perhaps too much) and I wish I could find the article about the sediment in your bloodstream, but can't. My point is, this week they'll tell us butter is no good, next week margerine is bad. All we can do is go about our lives and enjoy the important things and one of those important things is to enjoy a good cup of coffee!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sweet Maria's Chemex Brewers

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:07AM
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I have a French Press, a Bodum Santos vacuum pot, and an ADC. Despite the fact that the ADC makes the least flavorful coffee (though it's still pretty good), the ADC gets the call most of the time because it can run unattended. When I have the time, though, the vacuum pot does a fine job of making a pot of coffee. I save the French Press for when I want to make a good cup of coffee at work. I think the coffee from the French Press and the vacuum pot taste fairly similar -- a "darker" taste, if you will, than ADC-brewed coffee.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:14AM
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This is the third attempt to post this article, didn't know I had to change the subject line to comment. Anyway, below is the article and I'm sure it's probably been proven wrong by now :-) My thoughts are, enjoy your coffee today, no matter how you make it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cholesterol and French Press

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:42AM
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On the Chemex when you say the teapot is heavy, is that because you have to wait to fill it with water because it's so slow dripping? Not sure what you meant. I think the Chemex is the way I'm going to go. I have enough vices without starting a brand new one of filtering sediment thru my veins. Yuk. And it's a good, rich cup of coffee, right? I see myself using it more on weekends for now but what a treat that will be.

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 11:55AM
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No, the Chemex is light. I'm speaking of our tea kettle. It's a 2 quart Le Creuset and it's heavy. We used to use a simplex tea kettle and it was wonderful, but had to replace it because it would not work on our new induction cooktop. Anyway, that is not an issue with the Chemex, but and issue with us :-) Now, if you ever had Melita manual drip coffee, then you will have an idea of what the Chemex coffee will be like. It is not as full bodied as the French press, but that is because the sediment has been filtered out. What's nice about manual drip coffee (Chemex or Melita) is you can control the final product by using different coffees, grinds, amount of coffee, etc to make it right. Can't do that with an automatic drip. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 12:04PM
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Thanks Kimba - interesting article! I imagine the cream I put in my coffee will do me in before the sediment ;)

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 12:16PM
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We use a bodum French press when we are in a hurry. It does a fine job, but day to day it's the cona pot for her coffee and espresso machine for mine. Sweet Marias sells the cona pots. They are fun and unique. They make a great pot of coffee. The only down side is they do occasionally "stall" during a brew. Average brew time is 15 minutes but can be as quick as 10 min or as much as 20 min (I force it down at that point) but is usually 14-16 min. I preboil the water in a tea kettle. I do not use the little alcohol lamp the cona comes with but a butane burner from Garrett Wade.

Fresh coffee is really the most important component though. Ours is never more than a week old.
Grind it daily, at home. Coffee deteriorates badly 20 minutes or so after grinding -
Do not freeze ground coffee, it will absorb flavors from your freezer.
Yes! Keep your coffee maker incrediably clean. One of the nice things about the cona is it's all glass. Easy to get it very, VERY clean.

Ken (redefining the phrase 'coffee snob'!;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cona D

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 3:18PM
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Forgot to mention, do use a burr style grinder, not one of those whirling blade things (regardless of what they told you in the Bamix demo!). The slower burr style will not destroy the delicate coffee flavor oils. Zassenhaus makes a number of great coffee mills for folks who can take the time to grind coffee non-electrically. For me to grind two espresso shots and one cona pot takes about 10 minutes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Zassenhaus

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 3:33PM
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I love bodums and the full flavour and sediment that goes along with them. Unfortunately, the 2 bodums I had broke within a month of each other. I've been scouting out new ones since, and came across one that's sold at Starbuck's that's insulated, so you can have hot coffee longer. Thought this might be something of interest to you, maggie?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 4:31PM
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