Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Press it Good- Ooh Baby Baby!

Coffee.  The fuel of America.  More than oil, Americans need this black gold every morning in oversized mugs and plastic travel cups featuring popular gas station logos.  Our habit in all of our years of marriage has been to have coffee ready first thing in the morning.  Our first coffee maker didn't have a timer, but we quickly upgraded thanks to our family to a timer-operated model.

We were accustomed to filling the machine with water and coffee grounds and setting the start timer for just before we were to wake up.  Nothing helps get someone out of bed more than the smell of freshly-brewed coffee waiting in the kitchen.  These timer-driven coffee machines needed to be plugged in and drawing power all the time, just another one of those appliances we never noticed drawing power all day-every day.  A machine like this wouldn't work in our new power plan paradigm, not after our reflection on power socket switches.

No worries, as machines like that aren't widely (and cheaply) available here anyway.  What can we use to make coffee in the morning?  Do we have to switch to tea?  Nope- enter the French Press.

Here, it's called a cafetiere.  That, ironically, must be the French word for what Americans call the French Press.  Confused?  Good.  These devices are certainly not unheard of in the States, but they are new to us, so they warrant the blog space here.  How do we use the press every morning?  Easy.

A white plastic water kettle in the kitchen in Dublin, Ireland
Water Kettle
We keep, as do many people here, a hot water kettle on the counter.  It can bring 1.7 liters of water to boiling in about two minutes.  This works much faster than a whistling tea kettle on the stove (or the charcoal chimney) and we are ready to roll!

Coffee grounds in a cafetiere French press coffee maker on the table in Dublin, Ireland
Grounds in the pitcher
Two or three spoonfuls of coffee grounds go in the bottom of the pitcher while the water is boiling.  In the photo, observe the pitcher and the press mechanism on the table.  The press mechanism has a flat screen filter connected to the plunger rod going through the metal lid.

A cafetiere French press coffee maker is full on the table in Dublin, Ireland
Fill 'er up
Remember going camping and making cowboy coffee?  Think along those lines for the next step.  Pour water just off the boil over the grounds and mix well.  The result will be a black, chewy, grounds-y (sp?) sludge in the pitcher.  Not to worry, it gets smoother.  Let it steep for a few minutes depending on strength preference.

Pushing down the plunger on the cafetiere French press in Dublin, Ireland
Press it good
Depress the plunger (gently!) through the mixture.  The disc-shaped screen pushes down through the water/coffee ground mix and smashes all most of the grounds into the bottom of the pitcher and safely out of your cup.

Pouring coffee from the cafetiere French press in Dublin, Ireland
Good morning!
When the grounds are in the bottom, pour the smooth, ground-free coffee from the top of the pitcher into the mugs.  This system makes less coffee than our old 12-cup drip machine, so our old habit of having one or two cups of coffee while getting ready and bringing along a travel mug to work has to go out the window.  Now we can have a much more reasonable caffeine burst in the morning: one cup each.  We can try to squeeze out another cup from the pitcher, but it usually ends up being a bit... crunchy.  Just like the old cowboy coffee from the camping trips.

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