Coffee brewing method: Filter coffee / Immersion
Skill level: Easy
French Press; cafetière or plunger. Loads of us have got one, most of us have used one, but how many of us really know how to get the best out of a cafetière?
Alex, our fabulous account manager and SCA accredited judge recently shared his top tips for brewing coffee using a cafetière with Xanthe Clay in The Telegraph, so in this brew guide we're going to pass on some words of coffee wisdom to help you brew smooth, delicious-tasting coffee time after time using a cafetière.
A simple coffee brewing method
The cafetière is a beautifully simple brewing method and most of us have one in the back of the cupboard.
Its merits are in its simplicity and accessibility.
As a ‘full immersion’ brewing style, you get big, bold flavours in every cup.
It’s a low-cost bit of kit, easily found in kitchen and homeware shops, supermarkets and online.
Let's get stuck in to our top tips for getting the most out your cafetière coffee at home.
What do you need to brew good cafetière coffee?
- A cafetière (aka french press)
- Coffee grinder if you're using whole bean coffee.
- Coffee scales
- Timer (your phone will do it)
- Your favourite mug or cup
- Some truly epic coffee
If you don't have a coffee grinder at home, make sure you buy coffee which is pre-ground for cafetière.
This should be a coarse grind, like sea salt, not fine like espresso. When buying coffee online from Extract, just choose the cafetière icon in grind settings.
We like using the Wilfa Svart coffee grinder for grinding coffee at home. A hand-grinder is also good option is you want something more portable, or are looking for a grinder on a smaller budget.
What coffee should you choose for cafetière?
One of the things we love most about a cafetière is its versatility for different coffees. If you enjoy your coffee black, try one of our single origin filter coffees. These have lighter, fruitier notes and taste totally delicious brewed this way.
Our favourites at the moment include Aricha Honey Filter from Yirgacheffe Ethiopia, Finca El Cedro Filter from Colombia and the incredible Ipanema Plum Gold Filter, an exciting anaerobic natural coffee from Brazil.
If you prefer your coffee with milk or alt-milk, we recommend going for a coffee with a slightly more developed roast profile like one of our single origin espressos or one of our hero coffees. Right now we're really enjoying Guadelupe Zaju Espresso from Mexico - a crowd-pleaser with delicious pear sweetness.
You could also try Musana Bulambuli Espresso. This natural process coffee from Uganda has notes of raspberry and honeycomb and is delicious black, or with milk.
Step by step cafetière brew guide
1. Weigh and grind
We recommend a ratio of 1g coffee : 15ml water.
So, if you're brewing for two people in a 500ml cafetière you need 33-35g coarsley ground coffee for 500ml water.
If you're brewing a smaller / larger amount you're need to calculate roughly 6.5-7g coffee per 100ml water.
Using the same amount of coffee, and the same grind size of coffee each time you brew is key to getting your brew tasting consistently good.
In the roastery, we use the Felicita Incline coffee scales which are designed for baristas and super precise.
At home, you might prefer to use kitchen scales however these will be less accurate, measuring to the nearest 1g when coffee scales will measure to the nearest 0.1g. As a result, your coffee will be less consistent.
It's a trade-off.
The more precise you are, the more consistent your coffee will be.
Coffee hack. No scales? A heaped dessert spoon is about 7g coarsely ground coffee. So you can guesstimate 1 heaped dessert spoon per 100g if you're brewing without scales.
Did you know that minerals in your water can react with your coffee to dull some of the more vibrant, fruit flavours?
That's why we always recommend using filtered water. (It's better for your coffee machine and kettle too!).
Pour the full 500ml onto the coffee grounds gently and slowly.
Try to make sure that the water soaks all of the coffee grounds as you pour to avoid patches of dry grounds floating on the top.
This is where a gooseneck coffee kettle can come in handy.
The thin spout allows for greater precision as your pour, helping you get a really evenly extracted and consistent brew.
We like using the Fellow Stagg Coffee Kettle. If you don't have a coffee kettle then a jug or a regular kettle will do just fine.
Just be as precise and even as you can.
Stir to make sure the coffee and water are fully incorporated and set your timer for four minutes. We use our phone timers for this bit.
After the full four minutes, stir the grounds that have settled on the surface of the water.
The "coffee term" for this is called "breaking the crust".
With the back of a spoon, gently push any coffee grounds which have risen to the surface back into your cafetière and allow them to sink to the bottom to reintroduce them into your brew.
Using your spoon, scoop up and discard any foam which has risen to the top of your cafetière.
This foam is the result of gases like nitrogen and carbon dioxide being released during your brew. It doesn't add any flavour bits to your brew and removing it will result in a cleaner-tasting cup.
After four minutes of total brew time, pop the plunger lid onto the pot of coffee and slowly press down.
You shouldn't feel too much resistance.
Top tip - only plunge half way to reduce the amount of coffee sludge which ends up in your cup.
Serve immediately into your mug or cup and enjoy!
Cafetière coffee: Top tips & FAQs
What coffee should I use in a cafetière?
The cafetière is a super versatile brew method and works with pretty much any coffee.
If you enjoy your coffee black, we'd recommend trying some of our lighter roast espressos and filter coffees.
What grind size should I use in a cafetière?
Use coffee that is coarsely ground - like sea salt, for a cafetière brew.
Because this is an immersion method the contact time between the water and the coffee grinds is quite long (four minutes).
This means you need your coffee to extract slowly throughout this period of time.
If you're using a Wilfa Svart coffee grinder, this has a french press setting on there to help you get the perfect grind. If you're buying your coffee online from Extract and don't have a grinder at home, choose the cafetière icon and we'll grind it for you.
My cafetière coffee doesn't taste good What can I do?
If the coffee is ground too fine, then there will be too much contact between the grinds and the water during the brew time. This means the coffee will over extract and taste bitter and sludgy.
To fix this, try brewing with a coarser grind, or, if you can't change the grind of your coffee, try using a smaller dose, or shortening the brew time.
If the coffee is ground too coarsely, you'll have the opposite problem, there won't be enough contact between the grinds and water during immersion. The coffee will be under extracted and will taste watery, sour and thin.
To fix this, try brewing with a finer grind. If that's not an option, try lengthening the brew time, increasing the dose, or stirring the coffee more frequently to agitate the grounds and speed up extraction.
Check out our blog post '6 ways to make your coffee taste better at home' for more tips.
What filter should I use in a cafetière?
Cafetière brewing doesn't require a filter – the inbuilt metal mesh in the disk filters the coffee as you pour from it.
Give the filter a rinse separately from the glass or metal container that houses it to get rid of stray coffee grounds.
Where can I buy a cafetière?
Any good kitchen shop will sell a cafetière, they come in different sizes depending on whether you want a solo brew, or enough coffee for the whole family.
Supermarkets, some cafes and speciality coffee shops are also a good place to look.
ALL THAT READING LEFT YOU THIRSTY?
Take a look at our latest coffees, freshly roasted and available to buy online now.