The Fox’s Finery: Coffee & Croissants
September 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
This week in The Fox’s Finery – we delve a little deeper into the morning ritual of brewing a nice cup of coffee and enjoying a delectable treat. The Fox is no stranger to coffee. Decoction, immersion, gravitational or pressurized – he embraces all brewing methods. As a coffee geek The Fox has immensely enjoyed the recent upsurge in local coffee roasters, independent cafes and the general re-embracing of taking time to enjoy a few sips of a decent cup of joe. When out, The Fox looks for a decent cup practically everywhere he goes. He’ll take drip brewed or pour-over, espresso or Turkish, perked or siphoned. At home, when at his leisure, The Fox loves a good French Press.
Italian designer Attilio Calimani patented the coffee press in 1929. Since his initial designs, the press has undergone some modifications to not only the beaker, but the plunger and materials used as well. Today’s press comprises a narrow beaker, typically glass, a metal or plastic lid and pouring frame and a plunger that fits tightly in the beaker and has a fine metal or nylon mesh. It is a simple mechanism that produces fantastic immersion coffee.
Immersion brewing is literally brewing coffee by fully immersing the grounds in water just 30 seconds or so off boiling, for a period of minutes before the pour. Immersion brewing allows you to carefully control so many variables of the brewing process that it is becoming an increasingly popular method for home and cafe brewing alike. You can change the quality, depth and richness of flavor you brew by adjusting the bean grind size, adjusting the water temperature, steeping for variable amounts of time, stirring or not stirring, filtering with cloth, metal or paper – all options which change the way the beans open, the oils are released and filtered. The coffee press is one of several immersion brewing methods you can consider. The mad scientist in The Fox loves the siphon and cannot wait to get his paws on one. Siphon brewers, such as the Hario TCA-5, utilizes fire, physics and theatricality to brew what some say is the best possible cup of coffee as it allows for fantastic temperature control, perfect immersion or brewing time and the best of cloth filtering. The siphon produces an extraordinarily flavorful and dynamic cup of coffee that is complex and smooth without all the murky sediment. There is also the Clever Dripper, which is a modified pour over method that uses a unique stopper and release mechanism to keep the coffee and water together until ready to be poured. The Aeropress and Eva Solo methods are also growing in popularity but tend to have some of the highest price points – taking these out of The Fox’s sights for now.
Ok, so now you’re a bit more familiar with immersion brewing. The coffee press, or as The Fox prefers the French Press, is a favorite method for its relative ease of use, its ability to extract fuller, richer cups of coffee from a coarser grind, and the press’ ability to better brew the darker roasts of Mexico, Sumatra or Brazil than any other immersion method. Now for the drawbacks. One; there can be a minor amount of sediment in a press-brewed coffee. This can be minimized by perfecting your grind size (coarser is better), or investing in a press, such as the Espro, with a barrel-shaped mesh filter that cuts back on sediment. Drawback number two; temperature control. Once the near boiling water is added to your grinds in the beaker – many presses will lose temperature more rapidly than other brewing methods. You can work towards solving this problem with your existing press by pre-heating the glass beaker with very hot water – allowing the water to sit and then dumping it right before you are ready to add the grinds and brew – which aids in cutting temperature loss. Another option is to invest in a double-walled glass beaker press, such as the Hario Double-Walled, to increase heat retention and consistency during the brewing process.
Phew. Now you know a little more about the coffee press and some of the ways you can influence your perfect cup. How do you brew that perfect cup? Well dear reader, ask and you shall receive.
The Perfect French Press Cup
A coffee press
Favorite coffee mug
Step One: Grind your coffee beans to the size of breadcrumbs.
Step Two: Add your coffee grinds to a squeaky clean French Press beaker.
Step Three: Pour hot water that is approximately 205°F, or 30 seconds off the boil, into the press; making sure to fully saturate your grinds and pouring to just cover the grinds. Start a four-minute timer.
Step Four: About one minute in, stir the “bloom”, or top layer, and pour the rest of the water evenly to the top line of the beaker and affix the top. Press the plunger so it just touches the water & grinds – making sure all the grinds are fully immersed.
Step Five: After the four minute timer dings, plunge the filter and serve immediately. Pouring all of the coffee is best (even if it means you will have to reheat your second cup in your not-so-favorite-mug later), as this prevents the coffee from further extraction and a stronger and sludgy second serving.
Now that you’ve brewed your perfect cup of French Press coffee; you need the perfect French pastry to accompany it. The Fox recently decided to undertake the making of croissants from scratch. Having little experience with yeast, a bit of a baking reputation (that could easily crumble) and no experience with laminated pastries ever – it was a terrifying prospect. Undertaking the task of preparing the pastry most often associated with France (but with floury roots originating in Austria in the early 1200s) began with reading up on this most fluffy, buttery, crispy, golden, delectable of pastries. After researching recipes, laminating techniques and possible vegan variations (not to mention a whole awful lot of drooling all over the keyboard whilst staring at photos of croissants that were sure to be more amazing than any The Fox could himself prepare) – The Fox felt ready to take on this basic and relatively easy recipe from an extremely reliable blog, the Vegan Dad. After letting the prepared dough rest in the fridge for about 36 hours, The Fox cleaned and floured the counter for the ensuing mayhem.
Three hours of rolling, folding, rising and baking later, The Fox was able to enjoy an extremely satisfying breath of relief as he enjoyed his very first homemade croissants and pain au chocolats. Paired with that perfect cup of coffee and The Fox was most certainly enjoying the finer things.
What The Fox Uses:
The Fox loved his Bodum Chambord press, until he broke the beaker. Alas, his wallet could not stomach another Bodum, or even the replacement beaker, but was happily surprised at the bargain priced Ikea Upphetta press he recently purchased. Once again, the Swedes prove that greater expense does not always mean greater quality.
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