In my experience, every day committed to simple and intentional living begins the same way — with a quality cup of coffee. The rest of the day seems to flow forth more smoothly after that. Perhaps it’s the caffeine, but I tend to believe it is more than that. I believe it is the whole process—the slow ritual—that has the power to get your day off to the right start.
Brewing coffee is and should be a very simple process. The French press method of brewing is a perfect embodiment of that philosophy. It produces a strong, full-bodied cup of coffee, and it doesn’t even require electricity.
By my count, here is what you need:
- Good, whole bean coffee. Be sure to store the coffee beans in a way that will preserve freshness. I have a few mason jars full of Bent Tree Coffee (locally roasted in Kent, Ohio and stocked at Lehman’s) in my pantry at all times.
- A 1 tablespoon coffee scoop. Or: a tablespoon.
- A coffee grinder. A top-crank manual coffee grinder is my tool of choice. Bonus points awarded for an adjustable blade for fine to coarse grinds.
- A French press. My other tool of choice — its beauty lies in its simplicity: just add coffee, water, and mix with a bit of patience.
- A Kettle (and some way of heating the water inside). This is where electricity usually comes into play, but if you want to get a fire kindling, more power to you!
When I drag myself out of bed in the morning I am usually coming out of a dream about pre-ground coffee awaiting me in the kitchen. It never happens though, because the extra prep time is always worth it. Buying whole coffee beans and grinding them on the spot maximizes freshness and flavor, and really makes a difference in the end result.
Brewing with a French press requires an even, coarse grind: finely ground coffee has a tendency to seep through and around the press filter, into the coffee. Remove the lid of the French press and dump the freshly ground coffee into the carafe.
The best ratio of water to coffee grounds is whatever tastes best to you, but a good rule of thumb is to add ½ cup of water for every 1 tablespoon-sized scoop of coffee. I usually eyeball it. Using a circular motion, slowly pour the water over the coffee grounds in the bottom of the French press. You will want the water to be 200 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 30 seconds off the boil. If it is hotter than that, you risk burning the coffee.
Give the top inch, more or less, a good stir with a wooden spoon or paddle. Put the lid back on the French press and then set a timer for 4 minutes. Four minutes is the time it takes to steep the coffee without under or over extracting the bean. When the time is up, slowly press the plunger down.
Just like that, you have perfect French press coffee ready for your enjoyment! Sure, it takes a bit more effort and time as compared with a standard drip coffee machine, but effort and time are no foreign concept to anyone striving for a simpler lifestyle. As with most things in life, you get out what you put into it — and in this case, it is a fine cup of coffee and a wonderful way to start the day.