Below you will learn the science, technique and best practices essential to making outstanding French Press coffee. If you want to learn more about coffee extraction and gain an in-depth understanding of every primary coffee brewing method, check out our Coffee Education Program for a complete list of upcoming coffee classes and barista training workshops.
ABOUT THE BREW METHOD:
A vacuum siphon coffee pot works on the principle of expansion and contraction of gases – specifically, water vapor. Water vapor is what allows the device to brew a full infusion style of coffee and filter the grounds efficiently, leaving a generally clean, pristine cup.
Siphon coffee pots are made up of four parts: the bottom container where the water initially sits and the brewed coffee eventually rests; a top container that has a siphon tube attached to it, where the coffee brewing takes place; a type of sealing material (usually a rubber gasket) to help create a partial vacuum in the lower chamber while brewing is taking place, and a filter, which can be made of glass, paper, metal, or cloth.
There is also a heating source, and there’s usually three types – a cloth-wick alcohol burner (slowest), gas or electric stovetop (faster), or a specialty butane burner (fastest). There are additional heating devices, including the halogen burner system which are best for achieving more precise temperatures and best tasting results.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Hot water (202°F)
- A high-quality burr grinder
- A Vacuum Siphon Coffee Pot (Stovetop or Tabletop)
- A butane burner (if you have tabletop version)
- Cloth siphon filters (Only if your pot didn’t come with any)
- A digital kitchen scale
- A digital timer
- A Bonavita Variable Temperature Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle for controlled pouring and accurate water temperature.
- A digital timer
- Either a spoon, spatula or whisk for stirring
26 grams of coffee
Slightly finer than your drip setting. Similar to typical granulated table salt.
Around 4 Minutes
BREWING WATER TEMPERATURE: 202°F
If you are using a Bonavita Variable Temperature Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle, set your temperature to 204 or 205 degrees. The temperature will drop a little bit when it comes into contact with the coffee. If you are using a hot water tower in a coffee shop and use a traditional (non-heated) kettle, such-as the Hario Buono, set the tower to 208 degrees to compensate for the temperature drop that occurs when the water comes into contact with a room temperature kettle. Fill kettle 80% full for best temperature stability.
STEPS FOR BREWING:
- Soak your cloth filter in hot water for around 1 minute. This will allow it to stretch and create a better fit around the metal disk. It will also help rinse away any undesirable flavors the cloth may impart. Place the metal filter disk face down on the cloth filter and pull the cinch strings tight while slowly adjusting the disk placement so that it remains centered in the filter. Tie the string into a firm knot and trim off any excess strings left.
- Install the filter by dropping it in the top vessel, and pulling the beaded metal cord down through the siphon tube and hooking it on the bottom. This keeps everything in place.
- We recommend heating your water in a separate electric kettle. While you are waiting on your water to come up to temp, weigh out and grind 26g of coffee (slightly finer than medium grind setting).
- Place the upper chamber in the plastic holder. Place the lower globe on your scale and press tare to zero it out. When the kettle reaches proper temp, carefully add 375g of water to the lower globe.
- Set the upper chamber on top of the globe, (but do not seal it in place). The siphon tube should be resting inside the globe and the upper chamber should be leaning to one side (allowing easy airflow around the siphon into the globe). Now place your burner/heat source underneath the globe.
- Just before the water in the globe reaches a boil, secure the top chamber by pushing it down into the bottom chamber to create a firm seal. NOTE:There should not be any coffee in the upper chamber yet.
- Soon the water will begin to move into the upper chamber. Once this is complete check your water temperature (if you have a thermometer). Your target water temperature 202 degrees F.
- While simultaneously starting your timer (counting up) gently add your coffee and stir with a rapid back and forth motion with your spatula or whisk relatively deep into the water. Do not be afraid to agitate the coffee. It is important that you have all the coffee fully saturated within 3 seconds.
Note: If you did this correctly, the coffee should convene back at the top as a thick floating crust. Try to avoid creating a whirl pool movement when stiring. If you get the brew moving in a whirlpool, it will continue spinning and cause excess turbulence, which can lead to over extraction.
- As soon as you complete your agitating stir, immediately lower the temperature of your heat source. If you are experiencing a lot of bubbles jetting through the filter, lower the temperature further as needed, just be aware that the brew can prematurely start to draw down into the lower globe.
- 35 seconds into the brew, perform a second stir by gently moving the spatula or whisk back and forth along the top of the crust until it is all broken up.
- After the second stir, lower the temperature of your burner as much as possible without causing the brew to prematurely draw down into the lower globe.
- At 55 seconds, it is time for the final, light stirs. The final stirs and the subsequent draw down are vital to complete the extraction. For the final stir, cut the heat completely and remove the burner from underneath the bottom globe (if you are safely able). Now give two light stirs staying to the outer sides. If the brew has not begun to draw down by the end of the second stir, blow on the bottom globe or carefully touch it with a cool damp cloth.
- The drawdown should last for approximately 45 seconds, even slight differences in drawdown times can have major effects on flavor. When the brew bubbles, it’s finished. Remove the top chamber carefully by slowly rocking it in a circular fashion until the seal is broken and it can be lifted free. Now it’s time to pour and enjoy!
- Be sure to clean your siphon soon after brewing. The cloth filter should be rinsed very throughly with hot water before
reuse. We recommend using a filter no more than 7 or 8 times before replacing it.
- Adjust parameters to compensate for individual coffee characteristics.
- Small changes in technique can result in big flavor changes, so be sure to use consistent heating, timing, and stirring techniques.
- If coffee is too bitter, coarsen the grind to help ease the extraction. Adapting the coffee to water ratio may then be necessary to balance the concentration.
- The parameters work in tandem so it is a good idea to allow for experimentation with each to truly master brews.
CONTINUE YOUR COFFEE EDUCATION
Texas Coffee School offers a variety of coffee and barista training classes that can enhance your coffee knowledge and brewing skills.