Sure, I love tea. And I admire those who go caffeine-free. But I have become one of those folks who need their cup(s) of coffee in the morning. I remember that my 13-year-old self tried the bitter beverage and winced and declared to my grandfather that I would never try it again, but here I am working on a Sunday morning with my French press sitting on the table and a warm cup in my hand.
Honestly, I started out with sugary coffee drinks that packed more saccharine than caffeine, but my taste-buds have evolved in the past several years. While I do still like a sweet coffee treat on occasion, I take my coffee black these days and I can’t stand the stuff that comes out of a drip coffee pot. We don’t even own a traditional coffee maker right now! In fact, the low-maintenance French press is all I need to make a great pot of coffee every day. Check out these tips below to enjoy your very best coffee yet!
1. Use a French press.
French presses yield a stronger flavor which I particularly love. You don’t have to worry so much about burning your coffee with a French press, either, whereas drip coffee can sit for too long on its warming plate and taste icky. If flavor isn’t reason enough for you to pick up one of these bad boys, try this: pay $25-40 dollars for a French press (you really don’t need to get fancy–I have a Bodum Young Press and if you shop around you can find them for cheaper) but you don’t ever have to spend money or waste resources on filters. And the only energy you expend is the energy it takes to heat the water in your kettle. Using a French press has actually allowed me to reduce my coffee intake as well because the stronger brew packs enough punch so I don’t feel like drinking 4 cups a day!
2. Grind your own beans.
The grind of coffee bean required for a French press is a coarse grind. Drip coffee takes a medium grind and espresso takes a fine grind. (The more you know!) You can buy ground coffee and use it in a French press but to get optimal flavor (and to avoid having little coffee grounds swimming around in your cuppa Joe) I recommend buying whole bean coffee and grinding it at home every time you make a pot. Grinding it at the fineness you want and when you want will make the brew taste fresher and also prevent you wasting coffee by storing it for too long. (It also feels cool and DIY.)
3. Pay attention to your coffee-to-water ratio.
I will never forget the day I first made coffee for all my co-workers at my undergrad library. I had never made it before and decided to put a 1:1 ratio of coffee to water in the coffee maker. My co-workers were very polite (they were librarians!) and didn’t say anything until I mentioned that it was a bit stronger than I was used to. They then admitted it was awful and banned me from ever making coffee again! I like to think that I can make a great cup of coffee these days, partly based on that experience. Stick to about 2 tbsp of coffee per 6 oz. of water to get the ideal flavor.
4. Experiment with different vegan-friendly creamers and sweeteners.
I said that I prefer black coffee, but I also like trying new yummy coffee drinks too! To find your “sweet spot,” experiment with a variety of vegan creamers, milks, and sweeteners. So Delicious makes a great coconut creamer and I personally think agave nectar is great as a sweetener. Try some flavored agave nectar for a little variety!
Finally, some general guidelines for brewing French press coffee: You don’t want to pour boiling water into the press or it will scald the coffee and may also crack the press itself. So when your water’s boiled, take it off the heat and let it cool for a couple of minutes. You may also want to rinse the press in warm water before you put the coffee in to prep it. Then, once your water has cooled for a bit and you pour it over your grounds in the press, give the coffee and water mixture a little stir and then let it brew for 3-5 minutes before pressing and serving.
More in Vegan Beverages: Health Benefits of Coffee
Photo: winemegup on flickr; mrcoffee.com; captspaulding on flickr; quintanaroo on flickr