The plunger, or french press, and its relatives are all classified as immersion brewers. The coffee and water are mixed together, steeped, and then a metal filter is pushed through the brew, dragging the grinds down with it. The coffee is then poured off the top.
These brewers make coffee that’s very rich, with heavy body and poor flavour clarity (more on this later). The advantages of a traditional plunger are quite clear : it’s easy and fast to use, easy to clean, and depending on the size of the plunger, it can be an excellent way to brew great coffee for a large number of people.
The Espro Press is your old IKEA or Bodum plunger on steroids. With its microfilter screens and double wall stainless steel construction, it has all the advantages mentioned above plus more.
Unlike traditional glass plungers, it will never break. The welded handle will never come off.
Double wall construction means that the coffee will stay hot for at least an hour (depending on brew size) and that while the brew is steeping, the temperature is stable.
One of the downsides to the traditional plunger is the murky, gritty residue left in the bottom of your cup. Because the holes in the screen are quite large, when you plunge it, bits of coffee get left behind. These fines are held in suspension in your cup and contribute to the muddy flavour clarity commonly associated with plunger coffee. You don’t want to take a lovely, sparkling single origin and brew a cup that’s gritty.
To combat this shortcoming, the Espro Press has a unique double walled micro filter basket that is 7 – 12 times finer than traditional plunger screens. It has a double o- ring seal around the edge (instead of the traditional wire ring) to prevent stray grinds getting through.
PLUNGER BREWING GUIDE:
- The grind size for french press is usually quite coarse, although exactly how fine or coarse depends on the brewing time and coffee. Shorter brewing time and/or lightly roasted coffee means smaller grinds, and vice-versa.
- Use water between 95 – 100 degrees, so just off the boil.
- Remove the brewed coffee from the vessel as soon as the brew is complete. Otherwise, the continued contact with the grounds will make the brew stronger as it sits.
- Make sure you keep all the coffee wet throughout the brewing cycle.
- As with all filter brewing, use the filter ratios sheet to determine the coffee:water ratio for your desired batch size. Being precise about measurements will lead to consistent results. Unlike many brewing methods, the plunger (particularly tall and narrow models like the Espro) can be used to brew different batch sizes quite easily.
You will need:
- Acaia scales
- Coffee grinder
- Coffee beans
- Plunger (Espro press)
- Spoon, paddle or other flat stirring tool
- Boil a kettle of water. Fill the brewer with boiling water and install the plunger to preheat it all.
- Grind the coffee.
- Empty the water from the brewer.
- Place the brewer on the Acaia scale, tare and then add coffee to the desired weight.
- Tare the scale again.
- Pour boiling water to the desired weight. Start a timer for 3 -5 minutes as you begin to pour.
- Dunk the bloom (the dry crust of coffee grinds that rise to the surface) gently with the back of a spoon, so that all the coffee is evenly wet.
- Install the plunger and it down just enough to submerge the bloom completely in the brewing liquid.
- When the timer sounds, plunge the coffee (or don’t – you can pour straight through the filter if you want), and serve immediately or decant the brew into another pre-heated vessel to get it off the grinds.
Variation: iced filter
Cold brew and cold drip coffee is currently very fashionable. There is a variation on this theme that has a more underground popularity, at least in Australia. This style of iced coffee is very popular in Japan. Instead of brewing the coffee with cold water, you brew a concentrated batch with hot water then crash chill it to lock in the freshness and vitality of hot coffee, characters so often lacking in cold brew. As the ice melts it will bring the coffee back to regular strength.
You can make iced filter with any filter brewing device. It’s quite common to make it with a manual pourover such as the Hario V60 or the Kalita Wave. I find it’s easier to use an immersion brewing device, like the CCD or a plunger.
The method is the same as above to that above, except use only half the brewing water – when the brew is finished, pour it over ice that weighs the other half. For example, if you were brewing 600g of coffee, use only 300g of hot water and when it’s brewed pour it over 300g of ice.
This is delicious stuff. Try mixing with a bit of sparkling water and lemon, particularly with zingy East African coffees.