Just this summer, my faithful coffee pot began to bite the dust. It was a hand-me-down, but it served us well. If you know me at all, you know I'm coffee crazy (although I keep it to 3-4 cups a day, max!), and not having a coffee pot just wouldn't do.
I've been considering a press pot (AKA french press) for quite a while, because I've only heard good things about them from coffee enthusiasts. In a press pot, the water and coffee beans brew together in the pot, and don't pass through a paper filter. After a few minutes of brewing via direct contact, a metal sieve is pressed down, separating the water from the grounds. This allows the delicious coffee oils to stay in the coffee, rather than being soaked up by the paper filter in a conventional pot. If you're at all familiar with espresso machines, it's a similar method, minus the intense pressure.
Additionally, the coffee tasters fresher by default, because freshly ground coffee beans are really required for this technique. I did try to brew a pot with pre-ground coffee, and while it did work and taste okay, pre-ground coffee is often too fine for the metal filter, and too many grounds pass through into your cup. This is fine if you don't mind chewing your coffee. :)
So, my coffee is supposed to taste fresher and more delicious now - what's the catch?
1. Press pots essentially require you to buy a coffee grinder if you don't already have one (I got mine for $10).
2. Press pots generally aren't very big - usually just ~32/34 ounces, but 12 cup pots are out there.
3. Press pots are almost always glass, and because these are not electric devices, your coffee goes cold and looses flavor quickly
4. You have to heat water for your coffee manually, before pouring it into the pot. This takes a few extra minutes each day
5. You need to rinse or clean your pot after each use (which I guess... you should do for your conventional electric coffee pot, but I did not)
There are some pros, though!
1. They're inexpensive: I got mine for $20, and it's a thermos version, so it keeps the coffee warmer for much longer
2. They're portable, and no electricity required! Perfect for camping (though you still must have access to hot water)
3. They include a reusable metal filter - no more buying and wasting paper filters
4. The coffee just tastes better. I bought a bag of cheap whole beans, and when ground fresh, the coffee still tasted better than pre-ground specialty brands (this is of course subjective); also because the oils are not separated from the brewed coffee.
5. It may be cheaper to buy whole beans in bulk - it depends on what brand you like, but whole beans have a longer shelf life, and it may be a better deal to buy a bigger bag of them (this still applies to the conventional method of coffee brewing).
So, how does it work? It's really quite simple. Here is a typical morning in my kitchen:
First, measure your desired ounces of water into a small pot (or tea kettle, if you prefer). Set to high.
Second, grind your coffee beans while the water heats. I measure 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water.
Add your coffee grinds into the clean press pot. Once water is almost boiling, pour it into the press pot.
Put the lid on the pot, with the plunger all the way up, and set a timer for 4 minutes.
During these 4 minutes, perhaps you could get your breakfast ready?
After four minutes, press down the plunger to separate the water from the grounds.
Pour coffee into your cup. You may see a bloom (that lighter brown, almost creamy substance) on top. The bloom can be encouraged by a quick stir of the pot after pouring the water in, but before the 4 minute steep, although some people don't even like this feature of the coffee.
If using a glass pot, it's recommended to finish your pot within the hour, but if you have a thermos version like mine, it stays hot and fresh a while longer.