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French Press Revisited

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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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