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Factors that make a good pot of Press Pot Coffee

If there's one thing that you need to take away from this how to, it's this. Don't skimp on your grinder.

Let's think about something here. What is it about press pot coffee that makes people think the grind should be more forgiving? The bigger size of the grounds? The steep time? No, none of that. There's nothing in press pot coffee brewing that will allow for a crappy grinder to produce the same results that a good grinder can produce.

Grounds Size

With a press pot, particle size of the grounds is as important as it is for espresso. The difference is, you want uniform large particles, instead of uniform tiny particles. Cheap grinders can't give you either - they will give you a mixed bag of big and small chunks. Dust and boulders. It's what leads to the thing people dislike most about press pot coffee - the sludge.

Personally, as someone who cups coffee, I don't mind a bit o' sludge and grit in my cup. Well, that depends. If I find it in my filter drip coffee, it bothers me. But in a Press Pot brew, I can deal with it. What I can't deal with is a funky (in a bad way) extraction because the grinder used wasn't up to snuff. A good grinder gives an even grind. Bad grinders and products pretending to be grinders (read: blade grinders) give a grind all over the map - dust and chunks.

Also, the type of filter you use plays a huge role in what level of grinding you should have. Nylon filters tend to handle a more finer grind (still coarser than drip coffee), whereas metal filters need a true coarse grind, where the particles of coffee are the same size as you would get from a pepper mill set to its coarsest setting.

The fineness of the grind also determines how easy or hard the plunger is to press - the finer the grind, the harder to press. The difficulty in pressing evenly increased with the size of the pot as well. I once scalded myself pretty badly with a 12 cup press, even though the grind was very coarse. Be wary.

I'll say it once more. Don't skimp on your grinder. A quality conical burr grinder, from the Bodum Antigua, up to the Solis Maestro Plus and beyond will suit. You'll get the best possible extraction from your coffee, and a fairly clean, though deep cup.

Other important factors are the beans used (you're only using fresh beans, roasted within 10 days or less, right?), the quality of water used, and the cleanliness of your equipment when you start. All given points, right?

Maybe not. One thing you may not want to do with a press pot, especially a larger model, is use coffee beans roasted less than 2 or 3 days before. What, am I crazy? Nope. There's a problem with ultra fresh beans and it is called "bloom". When beans are only a day or two off the roast, they contain heaps of Co2. Heaps of it, I tell you. That Co2 will translate into a massive bloom of brown suds on top of your press pot, possibly overflowing, but also making it easier for big particulate matter (your ground coffee) to hop and skip over the top of the filter portion when you first apply it. Bloom looks cool, but can make using a press pot more difficult.