At least a month has passed since I began my French Press challenge, and there were some definite ups and downs along the way. Here’s what I learned while trying to master this brew method in the sloppiest and least scientific way possible…
1. I can brew a solid cup of coffee without a scale or timer – As I got further into my challenge, I quit using a timer or scale, not even to measure the beans before grinding. I treated every variable as “close enough” in order to see how consistent the results could be without that scientific precision favored by coffee geeks (like myself). As long as I didn’t sip the last, sediment-filled sludge at the bottom of my mug, the brew was comfortably good, and depending on the particular coffee, even delicious. That said…
2. I still don’t like metal filter brews – My biggest gripe with the French Press is the same I would have with any non-paper filter, whether it’s full immersion or otherwise. I just don’t like that sediment, and if I try to finish a mug brewed in a French Press, that last sip is going to make me gag and reach for something else to drink. I got around this, mostly, by always leaving a little coffee in the bottom of my cup, but I really do prefer a paper filter for every coffee I drink. This experiment caused me to drink more French Press coffee than I ever have, and thus confirm my personal preferences.
3. Good coffee can taste great regardless of the brew method, however… Paper filters can produce a cleaner and clearer cup, showing more of the delicate characteristics of specialty coffee. While I confirmed that technique alone can produce a good, even great cup of coffee, the flavors of this brew style was always muddled. Flavor was there, but without any brightness or clarity, and I missed my favored brew methods as the weeks dragged on.
I spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking about minimalism, cutting down my stuff, trimming the unnecessary coffee gear and wondering what I would choose if I wanted to brew as simply as possible.
Honestly, there’s not much of a contest for brew method. I’ve been a V60 fan since day one. It was my first piece of coffee equipment, and after spending the last couple years brewing countless cups at home, I’ve formed a decided preference toward this type of cone. I can use it for both hot and iced coffee. I can brew a small or large mug, even push it to 40g in the filter when I want to share a single batch.
So that’s the brewing device, but what else makes up my minimalist coffee setup?
With those few things, I could easily let the rest go. No more Chemex, no more Aeropress (travel doesn’t leave much time for brewing coffee anymore), no more French Press… ok, I will always have a batch brewer for making a pot for the family, so the Bonavita stays. But for most of my hot or flash-chilled iced coffee, the V60 does the job.
And what makes it minimalist isn’t the design or the number of items. It’s knowing that I have enough.
And from that place of contentment I can better focus on the coffee itself.