Of course soon enough in time on the coffee journey you come across a cafetiere to make coffee with (or French Press as some like to call it). This is a simple yet clever device, with the mesh disc to push the ground coffee down in the coffee maker and keep them (mainly) separate from the coffee that will be drunk.
There are lots of things that can be said about making coffee this way – and I’m sure we’ll come to them one day – but the biggest thing that puzzled me was how much coffee to use. And it’s not like I did the sensible thing and work it out then remember it: so every time I make coffee this way was like starting afresh.
It actually gets complicated by the fact that making coffee in different homes, with different coffees, and different size cafetieres means that even if you get the amount of coffee right one time, the next coffee you make with a different blend may need a different amount. And what about the 1 cup vs the 4 cup, 6 cup, 8 cup vessels?
How can anyone ever get it right?
And how do you judge the right amount of water each time?
In fact here we are at the heart of the brew recipe: a phrase which at first (for coffee) seems bizarre, yet is increasingly used by coffee fans to record how they made their latest coffee.
In simple terms something like – 2 scoops of ground coffee to one mug of water. [In reality a brew recipe will potentially record all sorts of things, but that’s for another time].
At its simplest remembering the proportion of water and ground coffee that you use is a first key step to getting a consistent approach to coffee making. And a first simple brew recipe.
A lot of it is about proportions – so you can then double the numbers for 2 mugs, quadruple for 4 etc. Maybe a bit more complex than that, but not far off.
If you use the same type of coffee all the time, you will no doubt hit on proportions of coffee and water that you prefer: and it is worth experimenting with this as it can affect the enjoyment you get from your mug. Also try with different lengths of time after the kettle has boiled, as the temperature of the water can be an important factor. And different timing before you push the plunger down.
Write down what makes the best cup for you, along with the blend of coffee that you made it with.
Once you start weighing the coffee for more precision you know you’re taking it seriously !
So learning the cafetiere is not quite as complex as learning a musical instrument, but maybe a bit similar – you can pick it up and get some coffee out of it: but if you play it well, the notes the coffee delivers will change and become more melodic perhaps. And just like music, I’ve hinted that timing is important too: but that’s also for another time!