Time to make the coffee

I love coffee. I love the smell of the roast, the brewing process, and the taste. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was about six or seven years old. My grandmother would serve me a cup of mostly milk coffee in a small enamel mug. Good, times and great memories.

I’ve used automatic drip coffee makers and pour-overs, but over the last ten years, I’ve used the French Press method. It’s simple, and the only waste is the coffee grounds. No disposable paper filter of plastic mesh filters that need replacing or heavy cleaning. Pour the grounds into the trash and put the pot and filter into the dishwasher. Replacement parts — a new press pot or filter — are easy to find online or at home good stores.

I use the following equipment to brew my perfect cup.

  • French Press (Bodum)
  • Metric scale (Salter)
  • Measuring cup (Pyrex)
  • Coffee scoop
  • Kitchen timer

NOTE The photos were taken with my wife’s Sony DSC-W55 compact camera. The objects were set against a white craft board and lit by the natural light coming from the kitchen window.

Time to make the coffee Equipment HDR CX7 20130105
You’ll need a French Press, a coffee scoop, a container to heat water, a scale, and ground coffee.
 Aperture ƒ/2  Camera HDR-CX7  Focal length 7.2mm  Shutter speed 1/60s 

I’ve always used a Bodum Chambord, but any brand will do. I have three different sizes – a small server for the office and a single server for travelling – but the one I use every morning makes about eight servings ( about 4-5 fluid oz or 125mL per serving ). I have an inexpensive Salter scale I picked up at Walmart to keep my measurements exact. I bought this one because it uses metric measures.

Time to make the coffee DSC W55 20130105
Zero out the scale and measure 14g of ground coffee per serving.
 Aperture ƒ/2.8  Camera DSC-W55  Focal length 6.3mm  ISO 100  Shutter speed 1/25s 

It’s best to use freshly ground coffee. I’ve not found a quality burr grinder at a reasonable price point, so I make do purchasing fresh ground coffee once a week from local roasters1. I bought just enough to last the week. I want the freshest possible cup, so I keep my ground coffee in an airtight container from Oxo. I use about 233mL of water and 14g of ground coffee for each serving of coffee. To make three servings of coffee I weigh out 45g of ground coffee into the French Press. To put it simply, 45g of ground coffee and 720ml of water will yield about three cups of brewed coffee.

Time to make the coffee Make the slurry DSC W55 20130105
Pour boling water into the French Press. Use 233mL of water per serving.
 Aperture ƒ/2.8  Camera DSC-W55  Focal length 6.3mm  ISO 100  Shutter speed 1/20s 

I know this may be sacrilege to some, but I heat my water in the microwave in a Pyrex glass container. The Pyrex allows me to measure the right amount of water to brew the amount of coffee I want; usually just slightly more than I need since some will evaporate. Through experimentation, I worked out exactly how long I need to heat the water to get it to boiling point. In my GE microwave, it is about three minutes for each 267mL of water. I typically brew three servings of coffee, so I heat 800mL of water for about 9 minutes in the microwave. Make sure to use fresh cold filtered water. We have an am Amway water treatment system in our kitchen so filtered water is always available.

Time to make the coffee Make the slurry DSC W55 20130105 2
Pour boling water into the French Press. Use 233mL of water per serving.
 Aperture ƒ/2.8  Camera DSC-W55  Focal length 6.3mm  ISO 100  Shutter speed 1/20s 

Once the water is heated, I zero out the scale and slowly pour the hot water into the press pot. I use the scale to make sure I use just the right amount of water for the amount of coffee. In the metric system 1g of water is equivalent to 1mL of water. So for three 233mL servings, I pour 720mL or 720g of water.

Time to make the coffee Timer DSC W55 20130105
Brew the coffee for 4 minutes. Stir the coffee after one minute has passes.
 Aperture ƒ/2.8  Camera DSC-W55  Focal length 6.3mm  ISO 100  Shutter speed 1/20s 

Once I start pouring the water, I set a timer for 4 minutes. This timing will vary depending on the type and roast of your coffee. I almost always drink an Ethiopian coffee — Harrar or Yirgacheffe — and four minutes works for me and my taste. You may want to experiment a bit to get a brew that suits your tastes.

Most often in the morning I use the microwave timer, but I’ve also used a free iPhone2 app from Intelligentsia Coffee. The oven timer is another option. There is some variation to my method after I pour the water. Sometimes I wait one minute and then gently stir the saturated coffee grounds — I used two wooden chopsticks — to bloom the coffee. Other times I wait until just after the timer goes off. Doing it after one minute seems to produce a bolder cup.

Time to make the coffee Drink DSC W55 20130105
After four minutes, slowly (with finese) push down on the plunger. Immediately pour the coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy.
 Aperture ƒ/2.8  Camera DSC-W55  Focal length 6.3mm  ISO 100  Shutter speed 1/30s 

Immediately after the timer goes off I place the plunger on the French Press and gently press down. If I do this too quickly, the plunger will jam, or coffee may spurt out. Use finesse. Once the plunger is at the bottom, I immediately pour into my cup. Note: Don’t leave the remainder sitting in the pot. The coffee will continue to brew and will become bitter. Either serve the remainder or pour into a vacuum thermos to keep it hot.

I think they detract from enjoying the subtle flavour and aroma of the coffee, but Bhavna enjoys her coffee with one of those low-fat flavoured creamers. I drink my coffee black or with one packet of Stevia in the Raw or Susta. Brewing the coffee is the first part of my morning ritual. The warm liquid in my cup is the perfect thing to enjoy while reading saved news articles.


  1. I frequent Rocky Hill Buy the Cup but also buy from Thomas Sweet
  2. The Intelligentsia Coffee application allows you to view the current coffee offerings with details from Intelligentsia Coffee. Additionally, you are given step-by-step instructional illustrations and descriptions for preparing coffee on multiple brewing devices. 

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