Follow these tips to make the perfect cafetiere coffee …or watch our quick video!
Our smallholder growers are filled with pride and passion for the coffee that they grow. They are real experts, so we reckon it would be a shame not to do it justice in the pot! We’ve put together some top tips for when you make coffee in a cafetiere (French Press) to make sure you get the best out of this exceptional drink:
1) You’re only as good as your materials
You will need ground coffee for cafetieres. You can’t make a great coffee from second-rate beans, so make sure you find out where the coffee you buy comes from.
Chances are that if it comes directly from small holder growers, who care passionately about the quality of their produce, then you’re off to a good start.
2) Get the right dose
The amount of coffee you use is imperative. Quality coffees will have been carefully roasted to bring out the flavours and characteristics unique to that blend. Under-filling or using too much will ruin the intended taste and will mean you don’t get a true reflection of the coffee’s character.
As a rule, use 7g of ground coffee per ‘cup’ (so for an 8-cup cafetiere you’d need to use 56g) and always fill your cafetiere to its intended capacity. It may look like a lot but it will be worth it!
Top Tip: Buy a 7 gram coffee measure to save time on finding the right amount.
3) Water is a key ingredient
Use recently boiled water that has been left to stand for a minute or so (if you want to be particular then the water should be 92-96 degrees). If you re-boil water then the oxygen levels will be too low to percolate properly and if you pour boiling water directly on to the coffee then you will burn it, resulting in a bitter taste. It’s also a good idea to warm the pot before you pour, like you would with tea.
You’ll want around 125ml of water per ‘cup’ which can be topped up to taste.
Top Tip: Pour the hot water into the cafetiere over the back of a spoon to avoid direct contact with the coffee grounds.
4) Timing is everything
If you are really going to town, then you should ‘pre-infuse’ the grounds by adding a small amount of water to them in the bottom of the cafetiere, stirring them, and then adding the rest of the water. In any case, make sure that you fill you cafetiere to its intended capacity and stir it 5 or 6 times to make sure that all the grounds are well soaked. Leave it to brew for a strict 4 minutes, plunge, then pour out of the cafetiere immediately so as not to leave the ground coffee in contact with the water to over-brew.
DID YOU KNOW? Different flavours within the coffee are released at different times so give your coffee enough time to brew otherwise you will miss out on the full taste experience.
Top Tip: Don’t re-boil kettle water as it loses its oxygen, and this oxygen is what’s needed to percolate the coffee grounds. Use fresh water every time.
5) Know your strength!
The number on the front of many coffee packs, known as the ‘strength’, refers to the roast and the taste profile not the caffeine level. Lower numbers are generally roasted a bit lighter and have brighter, ‘zestier’ notes, whereas higher strengths are roasted more darkly and tend to be more full-bodied and intense.
6) Learn the lingo
Take time exploring different strengths and origins, it’s part of the fun! Like wine tasting, the best (and most interesting) way of describing coffee is through words, not numbers. What is it you like about certain coffees? Do you like rich, nutty styles, or do you prefer refreshing, floral characters? What is it about Peruvian or Tanzanian coffee that you like? Start exploring and describing and a whole new world will open up to you!
7) Beans Vs Roast & Ground
To get maximum freshness out of the coffee you can use beans and grind them yourself with a hand grinder. The benefit of this is not only freshness, but being able to grind exactly how much you need each time. If this is a step too far on your quest for the perfect coffee, then there’s no need to worry: modern packing methods mean that Roast & Ground coffees stay very fresh. Just make sure you store them well…
8) Storing your coffee
…which brings us on to the next tip. Freezers are the best place to store coffee once it’s been opened, but it’s still advisable to drink them fairly quickly to retain the full flavour and freshness.
9) Keep on experimenting
Once you’ve mastered the art of the cafetiere, why not try other ways of brewing coffee? Using methods like filters or pour-overs will bring out different characters in each coffee, which means you can never get bored of trying new combinations!
10) Food and coffee matching
In the spirit of these new-found coffee adventures, why not begin exploring different food and coffee combinations too? Again, in a similar way to wine, different food can bring out various characteristics in certain coffees. For example, a tangy lemon tart will be a lovely match to our Zingy Kilimanjaro coffee, while the creamy mellow textures of Mayan Palenque are heavenly with a rich crème brulee. For more inspiration, download our free coffee and dessert matching book.
You may also like our guide to Making the Perfect Cup Of Tea