Four Reasons Why My French Press Will Stay Empty

A French press coffeemaker

My three-year-old super-cheap Mr.-Coffee coffeemaker broke this morning. I woke with a migraine. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to write. I just wanted coffee. My coffeemaker was broken. It was shaping up to be a tough day.

In the midst of drowsiness and pain, I started digging. I knew we hadn’t thrown it out. I searched seven cabinets before I found it. The old trusty french press. Coffee would be mine.

I ground the beans, I heated the water, I combined the two, and I waited four LONG minutes. I pressed. I poured. Then I sipped.

As I sipped my coffee I realized something that I had forgotten. Coffee from a french press tastes much better than coffee from a super-cheap Mr. Coffee. It made me a bit nostalgic for my barista days. I was drinking real coffee. Too bad it felt like the right side of my skull was imploding. I might have enjoyed the moment.

Sipping my real coffee, I almost decided that I’d forgo buying a new drip machine. Why not just use the press from now on? Then I remembered why.

1. It’s a lot more labor intensive. It’s bad enough having to wait for drip coffee at 5:30 in the morning. Do I really want to go through all that extra effort while I wait?

2. It’s a lot more labor intensive. Cleaning a french press is about as much fun as washing dishes by hand. Oh wait…

3. The coffee doesn’t stay hot. I like to have a small cup of coffee, and then another small cup of coffee. A french press is too time sensitive. You’ve got to gulp that first cup down or the second will only be lukewarm by the time you pour it. The Bible doesn’t approve of lukewarm stuff in the mouth.

4. The coffee doesn’t burble. I know it’s a little Pavlovian, but I need to hear the drip machine make its noises in the morning. It is part of my ritual, and I don’t want to give it up. Along with the noises, a drip machine makes the kitchen smell like coffee more than a press does. With drip coffee you get sight, sound, taste, and smell!

I’ll admit it. Coffee from a french press tastes better, but taste isn’t everything. I need the whole package. I need another cheap Mr. Coffee.

23 thoughts on “Four Reasons Why My French Press Will Stay Empty

  1. You are a patsy. If brewing a decanter of coffee is worth doing, then it is worth doing well. In stead of buying another hot-plate drip coffee maker, get yourself an insulated jug. And maybe there’s an app that will play your gurgle sound. All is not lost. Be strong. And don’t let me read about your weak moment that you bought a Keurig (gasp).

      1. Deep down I know you are right. I still grind my beans and brew in the press, but I know exactly where my drip coffee maker is, on a shelf in the garage, and if something should happen to that one, there is yet another stashed in the camper. Here’s to the next time we raise a mug together.

  2. As a confirmed tea snob, I know relatively little about coffee and its preparation. Would a Chemex flask satisfy the desire to have better coffee without a lot of mess to clean up? (I have no idea how long it takes to make coffee by this method, but my experience as a chemist tells me probably longer than four minutes to filter an entire pot through a mess of grounds.)

      1. With such a large amount of solids in the filter, one could scarcely avoid some amount of burbling as entrained air is displaced. This setup is kind of like a long-stemmed filter funnel over an Erlenmeyer flask, except without the stem. There should be dribbling noises at the very least as the coffee comes down out of the filter into the flask. And! There are no moving parts to break. So unless you break the flask, it’ll work forever. All you need is a supply of filter paper of appropriate porosity, the flask, a coffee grinder, and some means of boiling water while you get everything else ready.

  3. Dude– The Brits are crappy at a lot of things (think automotive wiring) but they’re good at two things: making great beer (I just had a summer’s worth of been consumption over a week there, mostly beers that aren’t exported anywhere) and keeping tea hot. How do they do that? With a clunky, ugly pos energy guzzler? No: they put a cozy on the tea pot. Make Something that fits over the press and it will stay hot, You think when I take the popovers out of the oven I put them into an open basket? That the steaks or potatoes or corn off the grill go on open platters? That the cast iron dutch ovens I use to make pilaf (if you use pilaf mix we are done talking) sit out on the table radiating heat willy nilly? No! Everything is covered. My dining table may look like the area used for sorting laundry on Dish Towel Washing Day, but by golly, the food stays hot. When you reach for that second steak or baked potato or ear of corn or popover, yoou best reach carefully because everything is still hot, hot, hot. Insulate! Insulate and Press and be happy…

  4. How about a Bialetti espresso maker. Yum! (Although, admittedly I am too lazy to do even that during the week and meekly consume the flavorless coffee my husband makes in our Mr. Coffee every weekday morning)

  5. Collin, love your coffee man. I’m going to go ham on you:

    It’s a lot more labour intensive – bullsh excuse.
    The coffee doesn’t ‘burble’ – bulsh excuse.
    The coffee doesn’t stay hot – use a smaller jug, drink it quicker or as pointed out use a therm.

    The one valid point you have is that cleaning the fucker is a nightmare, but realistically it does only take a few seconds.

    Actually making the coffee is no more difficult than using a machine, unless you’re a lazy bast. You still gotta clean your machine’s filter et al.

    I use a stovetop or aeropress. Depends on my mood.

    I prefer the stovetop because every morning, I have to carefully prepare the correct amount of coffee, make sure I don’t overfill the water, make sure it’s screwed together properly without any grains on the rim, keep the temp consistent so the coff comes out delish and not burnt – take the actual time out of my morning to make me some badass coffee.

    It’s a pleasure. Like cooking.

    The whole process of making the coffee, doing it well and putting the effort in is what makes that delicious cuppa-joe all the more rewarding.

    You made that cup taste delicious. Not a machine-o-same-crap-daily.

    Bonus tip:

    Get good at making coffee (you clearly are), make your chick a cup to wake her up with every morning, she knows it’s an art form making something so delicious – in exchange, she cleans up the pot, happily.

    C’mon bro! Put some passion in your pot!

    1. Thanks for giving me the man-up speech. I still haven’t bought a new drip machine yet. Who knows? Maybe my laziness will keep me in the french press longer than I expected. It’s a beast of an ordeal to drag myself to the store.

      1. I’m joking with you bro, but still, a lot of truth said in jest.

        At times, it’s a pain in the ass to make some coffee in a morning, but taking the time t do it is a nice way to ease into the day. At least that’s what I find, imho

  6. Bravo Collin. It would be wonderful if you could follow this up with four reasons why you no longer grind your own coffee beans. Do it! I got your back, man.

  7. Cold brew indeed. Hippie idea! No, make it hot and keep it hot! And who said quilting? You can’t wrap a kitchen towel around the press three times and then clip it with a clothes pin or binder clip? And cleaning a french press requires dumping the coffee out (pretty sure you have to do that with the electric jobbie) and putting it in the dishwasher. Poof, done.

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