“Reverse French” Coffee Making


A new take on brewing coffee

Many coffee aficionados prefer the French press method of making coffee. It and the Aeropress method are the only two methods that immerse all the ground coffee in hot water, then removes all the ground coffee all at once (the French press pushes the grounds to the bottom of a carafe, while the Aeropress pushes the coffee through a small paper filter into a cup.)

The French press method gives a uniquely syrupy, rich cup which I personally prefer. But the carafe is usually fragile glass. Also, some coffee-gentsia don’t like the idea of the grounds remaining in the bottom of the carafe; they suspect brewing may continue after the plunger has been pressed down. So after breaking my fourth carafe, I decided to try another method. This is what I hit on.

To make a single cup of coffee: Grind coffee beans at a medium grind. Pour into a two-cup measuring cup (because it has a pouring spout. I use a heavy Pyrex model.) Pour hot water, just off boiling, over the coffee and stir. Start a timer running, and after two minutes or whatever you think is appropriate, pour into a cup through a fine tea strainer.

So instead of pressing a filter through the coffee, the coffee flows through a filter. Hence “reverse French.”

For the tea strainer I use something like the model shown here, though all that matters is that the mesh is fine enough to catch the coffee grounds. I use two tablespoons of beans per cup, and the strainer is big enough to catch nearly all of the grounds. Use a bigger strainer if you want to brew more coffee at a time.

The advantages over a French press should be clear. All the parts are durable, cheap, and do not have to be any particular brand or model. Indeed, you can use them for other things than brewing coffee! You do get a bit of silt in the bottom of your cup, just as with French press coffee, but that has a lot to do with your grinder also.

The Aeropress produces a different style of coffee (thinner and to me, not as satisfying) but the reverse French method has the advantage of avoiding contact between plastic and hot water. The Aeropress doesn’t have BPA or phthalates, but if want to be especially careful, the reverse French method might be for you.

-- Karl Chwe 02/26/13

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