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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$81.98It can be difficult in the world of specialty coffee to find a brewer that not only looks fantastic but also produces a fantastic product. Eva Solo has done an exceptional job of combining both elements into the Cafe Solo. The Solo seems a little strange upon first glance for the very reason that it may be the first coffee brewer of its kind: one that is clothed. The designers at Eva Solo had the ingenious idea of using the same material that keeps divers warm (neoprene) and wrapping it around the glass carafe... thus keeping the coffee hot during the 4 minute brewing period.
Not only are its looks something to take seriously, but the Solo's coffee is not to be underestimated. Because of its use of "total immersion" brewing (similar to that of a french press), the grounds are evenly and completely submersed in water. This provides extraction that is difficult to achieve by other methods of brewing. It is advisable, however, that once the 4 minutes of extraction is complete, the coffee should be immediately served or transferred into a thermal pot (we recommend one of the Zojirushi carafes). This will prevent over-extraction from taking place which results in a bitter tasting coffee.
The Cafe Solo is unquestionably a unique and exceptional specialty coffee manual brewer. Because of its simple usability and superior design, the Cafe Solo is a force to be reckoned with in the specialty coffee world.
Compak is a company dedicated to quality and craft. Their newest endeavor is a line of espresso grinders that raises the bar on control and efficiency. Aptly named "Fresh" for its innovative design and functionality, these grinders were created from conversations with baristas around the world and from the experience of a company that has been around for over 50 years. The K-10 Fresh offers a number of innovative features including: the ability to pre-set the the dosing time for a single and double shot to within a tenth of a second, manual push-button doser that keeps time of amount dosed on the digital display, and a completely new dosing system, electronics and control system. Also, the electronic display shows the selected grinding point, a configurable warning to change the burrs, promotional message with your logo, shot counter, and multi-language display.
$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.