Set a timer for four minutes. One minute in, pull out the plunger, and using a spoon, gently break up the crust of grounds that has accumulated on the top of your coffee. Put the lid back on and wait until the remainder of the four minutes is up. Then plunge all the way down slowly to avoid agitating the grounds. Pour your coffee into mugs or a carafe right away to stop the brewing—coffee that remains in the press will continue extracting and turn bitter and sour. For more guidance, watch Carey’s French press how-to video, which we consulted before brewing batches for our tasting panel.
For those who prefer darker roasts or who are switching to a French press directly from a low-performance automatic drip coffee machine, a low brewing temperature may not produce noticeably disappointing results. However, sub-optimum brew temperatures definitely will not bring out the best in dense-bean, high-grown, freshly light- or medium-roasted coffees. And some lower-priced French presses offer better insulation and heat retention, as well as a better-performing filter and a less wobbly lid.
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