French Press Revisited
Last week, I wrote about what I perceive to be one of the most common misconceptions in all of coffee, the myth of the french press. This morning, I got a text message from my buddy Justin telling me that he's becoming frustrated with the fines he's getting in his french press brews. Mind you, he's currently borrowing my Zassenhaus grinder, so it's not as though he's grinding coffee with something terrible; it's just that he's appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of that particular brewing method with that particular equipment.
That said, I've decided to go ahead and post a quick little link to this video from James Hoffmann, which provides a very key addition to the traditional technique: scooping out the mass of grounds at the top. This extra step removes a fair amount of the fines from the final product, and helps to alleviate some of the sludge that naturally occurs in a press, no matter how good the grinder involved. Tim Wendelboe's video -- which no longer seems available -- differs slightly from Hoffmann's, as there is an initial pour of about a quarter of the total brewing water, then a vigorous swirling to saturate the grounds, then a fill to the top. This is the technique I currently use, and as we make presses quite often at work, I've found that taking the extra step(s) to remove the grounds is well worth the minor trouble. There seems to be less muting of the flavors, especially in coffees that shine best in higher, clearer tones or are enjoyed because of their subtlety and complexity.
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$1,687.00(For a guest barista review, click here.) Anfim's Super Caimano espresso grinder, upon its initial release, was a solid addition to any high-end coffee house. It featured a 75mm flat burr set that helped to give a very consistent grind, allowing baristas to rely upon it for excellent shot-to-shot uniformity. When dialing in a coffee, the Super Caimano had 70 holes in its adjustment collar to allow for tinkering between shots. Now, however, Anfim has added an additional 20 spots for a total of 90 holes in the adjustment collar. The benefit of this? When dialing in and finding the sweet spot for any coffee being used to pull shots of espresso, a key factor the barista must take into consideration is the size of the grind particles. Yes, uniformity and consistency of those grind particles is also key, but the ability to make tiny, incremental adjustments is always helpful when striving to find the right balance of all a coffee's characteristics when pulled as espresso.
One of the top coffee grinder manufacturers has just released one of the most versatile grinders to date. With the capability of grinding from French press to espresso, the Mahlkonig Pro M provides the grinding range that would normally require two separate grinders. The grinding range combined with features like the "hands free" operation and break functionality help make this grinder ideal for both low-medium volume commercial settings and home use.
$449.00The Baratza Vario looks much like Baratza's other offerings (i.e., the Encore, Virtuoso, and Preciso) in regard to silhouette, footprint, and general design. Those who've used them extensively, however, know that there's far more than mere nomenclature that separates the Vario from its brethren. Practically speaking, it has shown to give a consistently uniform and desirable grind for the full grind spectrum, all the way from espresso to press pot, something no other non-commercial grinder currently out on the market can boast. It is a highly efficient machine, wasting very little in the way of coffee grounds, but it shines in its ability to produce excellent espresso, shot after shot after shot, a feature aided by the three timed dosing presets it allows the user to store and recall at the push of a button.