French Press

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 1, 2009

Filed under: Personal 114 comments

A French press, which is used in America and probably made in Taiwan. (Not pictured) The ever-present Brown Puddle.
A French press, which is used in America and probably made in Taiwan. (Not pictured) The ever-present Brown Puddle.
I was surprised to learn that a “French Press” is not some Francophone version of WordPress, nor is it an exercise performed by members of the Foreign Legion. Instead, it’s a strange contraption for making coffee. Now, I’ve always been a traditionalist so I’m used to getting my coffee the natural way, by having an automated machine brew it for me. But when my coffee pot had the audacity to up and die on me yesterday I was forced to turn away from the comforts of technology and embrace the ways of the Trendy New. (Which, I suspect, is probably just something really old that I’ve never heard of before.) I have a deep mistrust of things that don’t plug in (this includes human beings) so I knew this was going to be an uneasy process. If you’re the only other person in the world besides me who has never seen a French press, then allow me to spoon-feed you from the Bowl of Overdue Enlightenment:

A French press is, as I feared, deviously simple. It’s a cylinder. You dump coffee grounds in the bottom. Then you pour in hot water. Then you take the filter and push it down through the water. This pushes the grounds to the bottom, leaving the now-coffee-ified water on top where it can be poured into a suitable vessel for consumption.

Well, that’s the thoery, anyway. Here is how the French press actually works:

  1. 5:00am: Wake up and realize that, predictably, you need coffee.
  2. 5:01am: Open the press to add the grounds, only to discover that you’d left the previous day’s grounds in the bottom. The press doesn’t have a filter that can be lifted out and thrown away, so you must somehow get the grounds out of the bottom of this thing without pouring them down the sink where they will eventually just clog up the works. It will save you a coffee filter, at the expense of several paper towels, a couple of minutes, and the nagging realization that you’re never going to be able to get all of those grounds out.
  3. 5:06am: Add coffee grounds. No, add them before you put the filter in. Idiot. Now you’ve got grounds on the filter. Why aren’t you thinking straight? You need coffee. Now where… oh, right. Wash the filter off (again) and add the grounds.
  4. 5:07am:You need hot water. Note that the press is made of both glass and metal, making it incompatible with both of the heat-generating devices at your disposal. You’re going to have to boil water using the Old Ways, which means using a stove, which means using fire. Since you can’t boil the water in the French press, you’ll have to boil it in some other container – preferably a teapot or kettle of some sort. You must have one of those around here, somewhere. Maybe in the cupboard, back behind the crock pot and the big pitcher that only gets used on holidays.
  5. 5:09am: The kettle is opaque, and thus you’ll have to guess at how much water you’ll need. You could use the French press for this, but you already put the coffee grounds in it, remember?
  6. 5:10am: Put the water on to boil and go back to playing Mass Effect.
  7. 5:32am: After defeating the Geth ambush in the garage and making your way in the Mako across the glacial rift of Noveria, realize that you need some coffee. Then realize that you’re ostensibly in the process of making coffee, which is now something that requires your ongoing participation.
  8. 5:33am: Check on the kettle to discover it’s boiled most of the water away and you now have just enough to dampen the grounds. Add more water. No, even more this time, just in case. Put it on to boil and go back to playing Mass Effect.
  9. 5:45am: The game has presented you with the classic Tower of Hanoi puzzle to reboot the Virtual Intelligence mainframe. Pfft. As if anything so miraculous and grand as intelligence could be expressed by such a simple system of… Ah. Crap. You forgot about the coffee again, didn’t you?
  10. 5:46am: Dash back to the kitchen to discover that there is still enough water left to supply the French press. Pour it in.
  11. 5:47am: Push the filter down through the coffee to remove – or at least displace – the unwanted grounds.
  12. 5:48am: Pour yourself a cup of the stuff. Don’t bother cleaning up the puddle of brown right now. That’s actually part of the rustic charm of the device.
  13. 5:49am: Note that this stuff is frigging hot, for real. This isn’t like coffee-maker water, which is Just Hot Enough. No, this stuff is boiling and will kill you if you do something foolish with it. This must be the secret ingredient that makes French Pressed coffee “better” – danger. You’re going to have to wait for it to cool.
  14. 6:00am: Once it’s cool enough, enjoy some coffee. As you get to the end, chew thoughtfully and reflect on what the filter might actually be for, since it doesn’t seem to remove the grounds from your morning beverage.
  15. 6:20am: Have another cup. Since the Frech press doesn’t actually make or even preserve heat, it will now be cold. Use the microwave.
  16. 6:30am: Realize that since the press is much smaller than the coffee maker, you’re going to have to go through all of this, all over again. Twice.

Maybe I can streamline the process by building a humanoid robot to run the press for me.

Happy New Year.


From The Archives:

114 thoughts on “French Press

  1. Brian Ballsun-Stanton says:

    Some notes from Oz. First, with regards to the French Press or “Plunger” as Ozzies call it, the grind of the coffee matters. You’ll want coarse ground coffee. If you don’t have coarse ground coffee, but espresso ground, the ability to chew on grinds is an Achievement.

    Second, the dastardly old ways… have hidden technology. An electric kettle will make your life *really* simple.

    Third, shake plunger strongly over trash can after brewing. This will take care of most of the sludge. Wash out the rest, it won’t kill you.

    Finally, plungers come in many sizes (I… depressingly have three.) You may want to upgrade. As an American ex-pat, I’ve had to learn this strange tech. I actually like it better than the machine coffee. ::shrug::

  2. Kevin says:

    I have a French Press. I thought it looked like a good idea, and we have a water bottle with a “hot” dispenser so we always have instant access to water that’s hot enough. (And just dump the grounds while it’s still hot and scoot out the rest in the sink.)

    Still, with all that added ease, I only ever used the thing once. I don’t like it. I don’t like the coffee it makes, and I don’t like the grounds it leaves behind. I have a little 18 ounce espresso maker I use now for all my coffee and it’s perfect. In two minutes it’s done and I’m on my way.

    I bet NO ONE in France uses that thing either.

  3. karln says:

    I’m confused by your reference to incompatible heat-generating devices. I can think of none besides a kettle (which every house I’ve lived in has had one of, with a little transparent meter on the side to check the water level) or a pan on the stove. What do you normally use?

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,you have a mistrust of things that dont plug,but have a gas stove?!Pffft!Also,aside from a coffee maker,I have two electric water heaters.One with a timer,and one without.But both can boil the water much faster than any stove,so you might consider buying one.They are really handy.

  5. qrter says:

    5:00am: Wake up and..

    That bit just BLEW MY MIND!

    I wouldn’t think it was possible..!

  6. Browncoat says:

    Geez. Can’t those French do anything right?

    Other than Fries, I mean.

  7. Calle says:

    My wife (who, unlike me, drinks coffee) uses a contraption that’s a combination of a french press and a thermos. It keeps the vile stuff inside hot for upwards of an hour.

  8. Shamus says:

    karln: Stove and Microwave. You can’t use the press directly with either one, and must therefore conscript an additional item for the project.

    Our kettle is just opaque metal.

  9. Kaorael says:

    I’ve been living in France for more than two years now and I’ve never seen such a thing. The coffee making machines here boil water from a deposit through single-use paper filters with the coffee on top down to a serving kettle.

    Coffee in France tastes terrible though, it’s more like dirty water. Nothing beats a good Italian espresso.

  10. LazerFX says:

    Eh… durn foreigners. The Cafetià¨re, a common device in most European households that drink coffee, allows for a much better cup of coffee than that provided through a coffee machine (Except the Espresso-type high-pressure-steam models).

    As a Brit, I can safely say that a kettle is a standard household item (Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate – how else are you going to make them?), and that flushing the coffee down a standard sink has no issue as long as you send a good slug of water down there along with it – and you’re about to rinse that cafetià¨re out anyway, aren’t you?

    *sigh* Yet again, the uncultured masses (Americans) demonstrate how far they have fallen…

  11. Shamus says:

    qrter: 5am is actually sleeping in for me.

  12. SimeSublime says:

    As revolting as coffee itself is, the grounds can always be thrown on the garden to act as mulch or something. I don’t really know, I don’t trust plants.

    This article is rather odd from the Australian perspective. Coffee makers are rather expensive here, and are only slowly coming into vogue. Where-as non-electric kettles went the way of the dinosaur decades ago, not having one is unthinkable.

  13. Shamus says:

    Coffee makers are stupid cheap here, probably because of volume. They’re usually cheaper than toasters, which makes no sense to me.

    (And actually, it’s pretty hard to find a cheapo toaster these days. Nobody just sells the simple bread-browner. No, they’re all fancy with varying digital timers and other pointless gadgetry. I bet if I hunted around I could find a “normal” toaster someplace., but it is strange how needlessly elaborate and expensive they are.)

  14. T-Boy says:

    Be grateful that you don’t have an espresso maker, along with hand-held coffee grinder.

    I’m the one who makes coffee, and it’s been a while since I’ve taken beans, ground them, making sure that the espresso maker is preheated beforehand, and putting everything together so that we can have a slug of espresso to make a latte (cappuccino? HAH! have never been able to make one properly).

    And you know what? I’m not the guy who drinks the coffee in the house.

  15. Shamus says:

    Kaorael confirms what I suspected: A “French” press is about as French as “French” Toast.

    Marketing will put “French” in front of anything if they want you to think of it as exotic and classy.

  16. Primogenitor says:

    So-called “instant coffee” (aka “brown”)is a useful option. Sure, it may not be high-quality coffee, but its easy to make (with an electric kettle, obviously) and it hot and caffeinated (which are the basic requirements at 5am).

    Put brown in mug.
    Put cold water in kettle
    Turn kettle on (this is the tricky part)
    Pour hot water from kettle into mug
    Drink warm brown

    Then there are the all-metal things that bubble water through espresso grounds on the stove/hob. Like the “french press” (cafetiere, I believe), these are more trouble than its worth 90% of the time.

  17. Retlor says:

    This is why sensible people drink tea.

    1. Boil water.
    2. Pour water onto bag of leaves.
    3. Remove bag of leaves. Sensible people use a spoon. Daring and lazy people use fingers.
    4. Add milk (optional)

    And it tastes better!

  18. DrMcCoy says:

    Bleh, I don’t trust no machine to make real coffee. All I need is a hand filter, a pot and a kettle (or an electric water boiler).

  19. Shamus says:

    I would actually drink tea, but (and I know this sounds crazy) it gives me a tummy ache. I like the taste better than coffee, but twenty minutes later I feel like I just drank from one of Fallout 3’s irradiated toilets. Doesn’t matter what brand, either.

    I dunno why. Tea is supposed to calm your stomach, not destroy it.

  20. Retlor says:

    I was hoping to start the first ever serious tea/coffee flamewar, and then you go and blow that by agreeing with me? Fie!

    On a serious note, I had no idea that tea could hurt people. There are different types though, maybe green tea might have a different effect?

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “3. Remove bag of leaves. Sensible people use a spoon. Daring and lazy people use fingers.”

    And smart ones buy those bags with strings.*smug smile*

  22. Lebkin says:

    “And actually, it's pretty hard to find a cheapo toaster these days. Nobody just sells the simple bread-browner. No, they're all fancy with varying digital timers and other pointless gadgetry. I bet if I hunted around I could find a “normal” toaster someplace., but it is strange how needlessly elaborate and expensive they are.”

    I firmly believe that the useless complexity of household appliances is almost scary sometimes. And the gullibility of the American people into believe they NEED that added complexity is even more scary. Finding a simple one is not really that hard. Amazon, Walmart, and Meijer all have <$15.00 basic options. But any salesperson worth their salt will do their absolute best to upsale you to things you don’t need.

  23. Dave says:

    If you are not a coffee purist, put away the French Press. It’s virtue is not convenience, as you have so astutely surmised, but rather preservation of the essential oils that the drip filter otherwise trap.

    You’ll need a burr grinder, fresh-roasted beans, and spring water to complete the setup. And a liberal splash of smugness, typically.

  24. roxysteve says:

    Old? This device was ancient et passé when I was living in France back in 197mumble.

    Two points:

    a) Only a young American of the digital age could make such a fuss about using this thing, which pretty much defines the KISS principle. I’d love to see what you would make of my all-time favourite coffee-brewing device, the Cona.

    2) If you can’t figure out how to fill a kettle, you probably should give up and go back to Starbux.

    As for that … that yahoo who thinks that making tea involves “bags”, well, words just fail me doncha know (five pages of unfailed spluttered words redacted for brevity) .

    Happy New Year Shamus, Apprentice of the Kettle.

    Happy New Year everyone else. May we all be healthy, wealthy and coffee-maker literate by the year’s end.

    May good luck follow us all, and occasionally catch us up.


  25. illiterate says:

    happy new year! coffee sounds like a bad idea right now at 7am pst. not because this is early for me (it isn’t) but because i was up too late last night.

    none of my customers call in today, ok? I need to sleep.

  26. Moridin says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to make coffee on pot? Basically you need to boil water, add coffee grounds, and wait until they have sunk into bottom(doesn’t take very long).

  27. K says:

    Topic of tea: Try green tea (chinese or japanese) which is very different from most black tea. Might work, might not. As for coffee: French presses (weird name) are impractical and old. If you want to have a decent backup solution, use this:

    That is easy to use, easy to clean and produces great coffee (they actually make steam go through the coffee powder). It is also nearly indestructible. Also, you have never sounded more “American” (in a very bad way) than in this post.

  28. Boolean says:

    I came here to defend the venerable French Press (also known around my parts as a Bodum, for one well-known brand thereof) but see that many of my points have already been covered.

    Like [email protected] said, if you’re only in it for caffienation and nothing else, stick to the electric coffee maker. If you want a cup of coffee that tastes good without milk/cream or sugar/sweetener, give it a chance. I find that a cup of bodum-brewed coffee has a fuller flavour to it than a filter-drip cup.

    Take away my geek card if you like, but I get consistently good coffee from my press because — gasp — I read the directions that came with the thing. They do tell you that you should use a coarser grind of coffee than normal, and also, that you can get used grounds from the bottom by using a plastic or wooden teaspoon. Personally, I’ve stopped doing that; I just rinse the vessel out in the sink, and the grounds do nothing to clog up the drain that I’ve ever been made aware of.

    As an aside, the necessity of coarser grounds than normal has opened my mind up to the broad range of coffees that are purchased by the bag at a coffee shop, rather than by the tin at a grocery store. I find them to be fresher and more varied, and (more important to my personal value system) easier to find Fair Trade varieties. Maybe that means I’m smug like Dave said. I like to think it makes me more broadly experienced.

    Like with electric coffee makers, there are different classes of bodum. Cheap ones have poor-fitting plungers and nonfunctional lids, but if you’re willing to spend closer to $25 than $5 on your bodum, you’ll be rewarded with coffee that’s still warm when you pour it out, lands in your cup rather than on your counter, and which has no grounds in it.

    There are also different classes of kettle, as has been pointed out above. Using the failures of your particular kettle as strikes against the bodum is cheap. (:

  29. Joe says:

    I use my french press almost exclusively for brewing loose-leaf teas (to those of you talking about tea in bags: pft.) Several points:

    With coffee, I note that the grounds are a very good addition to compost, and dump them there. A bit of water to wash out the grounds doesn’t hurt.

    But, the most important note is that the press is disassemble-able. At least mine is. The glass cylinder can be reasonably easily removed from the metal frame. You then are left with basically a pyrex beaker. Which can then be filled with water, placed in the microwave, and heated to anywhere in the range “too cool to make good coffee” to “hotter than boiling”. This last point is worth noting: It’s very easy to use a microwave and french press cylinder to create superheated water. Coffee grounds added to such water will then cause millions of ideal nucleation sites to form, resulting in a geyser of boiling coffee mixture, which can be anywhere between “unpleasant to clean” to “let’s take a trip to the hospital…”

    But yes, a coarse roast is imperative.

  30. Coffe freak says:

    To brew some good and real coffee, if you don’t think you’ll be able to operate rightly a good espresso machine, you need at least a Moka or a Cuccumella . There are good chanches that if you serve in Italy a coffee made with the French press you’ll be chased out of the town by an angry mob:P

  31. Shamus says:

    Boolean: This wasn’t a slam against the bodoogle, but a an absurd series of mishaps due to an under-caffeinated brain trying to do New Things. I mean, I played Mass Effect and listed that as part of the directions.

    For my own part: I don’t care what I use. I drink it black. I drink the cheap dirt-flavored coffee. I understand the rarefied tastes require more elaborate equipment. I just thought you’d find my misadventure, you know… funny.

    Tell your bodumajig that I’m sorry I hurt its feelings.

  32. Strangeite says:

    If (and when) an ice storm knocks out your electricity, you will be very thankful for having that french press. You really do need to grind your own coffee using it though. Pre-ground coffee almost always is sold ground for a drip machine. Plus grinding the coffee yourself tastes better and adds about 30 seconds to the morning ritual. Plus buying the cheap store brand whole bean coffee is less expensive than buying the more expensive brands already ground. Save a little money and have better tasting coffee by buying whole bean.

    If you have a Kroger, then Kroger brand French Roast is excellent.

  33. Daraxyl says:

    Even though I don’t drink the stuff, I got a good laugh out of your adventures. Thanks for getting my new year off on the right foot!

  34. Factoid says:

    How’s the Mass Effect coming along? Noveria was a fun planet, but I think Feros was my favorite.

  35. ydant says:


    You might try putting some milk in that tea (assuming black). It’s likely the tannins in the tea that are giving you the distress. Milk helps neutralize that (and is probably why it got to be so popular). Also the blend/type of tea affects the level of tannins.

    I switch back and forth between a good french press coffee (it tastes so much richer than drip coffee) and a good Irish breakfast tea. Actually, good drip coffee at a good coffee shop can be quite good, but their equipment gets the water hot enough for good extraction – I’ve never had a home drip maker that did.

    Even pre-ground tastes better in a press to me, but it’s always ground for drip coffee, so you have to brew for a lot shorter time. You WILL get sludge with that grind.

  36. My grandmother always used a coffee percolator back in the 1970s.

    I still don’t quite understand how bubbling the water around inside a metal tank makes the coffee taste better. But then, I drink tea, not coffee.


  37. Daniel says:

    Strangeite and I must be living in the same house, or something. (Are you that noise that keeps coming from the basement?) The two most valuable things in my possession during the last ice storm were a french press and an old clunky still-works-without-electricity telephone.

    (I can only assume that telephone wires are made of stronger stuff than power cables: the electricity was out for a week and a half because of all the breaks in the line; phone service was never interrupted at all.)

  38. scragar says:

    I’d never seen a french press before(but I have heard them spoke of, so I guess I join you in the minority.

    I don’t drink tea or coffee anymore, I used to, I quit, found I could get to sleep much easier when I wasn’t drinking 3 gallons of caffeine during the day, and since I can sleep easier I can think easier during the day, more than canceling out the bonuses that caffeine offers.

  39. kamagurka says:

    Browncoat: French fries are Belgian.

  40. Robyrt says:

    My father uses a french press, and used to grind his own coffee too (although he is now too lazy to do so). Cleaning out the glass part immediately after you drink the coffee is imperative, or else you’ll get the mishaps you mentioned. :-P

    One other benefit of a french press, besides ostensibly tasting better, is that you can make some extremely strong black coffee with it, depending on how much grounds you put in. It’ll wake you right up.

  41. McNutcase says:

    Back when I drank coffee, the “french” press was my least favourite means of obtaining it. Worst coffee-maker ever. Second from bottom, though, were machines. Their sole advantage was the ability to pre-brew.
    Then it went up via watering down espresso (nice, but impractical for home use) and manual filtering (probably the best easy method) to the ultimate Holy of Holies in coffee-making: The Cona.

    This contraption of glass and more glass was surprisingly simple to use, yet compelling to watch. You placed a heat diffusion thing on the gas burner (as otherwise the flame would shatter the jug), filled the jug with water up to a line, and then attached a tulip-shaped thing to the top, put a sort of glass rod into the middle, and scooped in a suitable amount of coarsely-ground coffee. Then you lit the flame and waited. Magically, the water would rise into the tulip, where it would seethe for a while. When suitably coffee-ified, you turned off the heat, and it settled back down into the jug. You then swapped the tulip for a lid, and poured yourself a cup of the Best Coffee On The Planet.
    Cleaning the tulip was a pain.

    These days, I’ve gone off the smell of coffee, and drink tea. I second the suggestion of green tea for your stomach, since it can’t handle black tea. If green tea works out, but you want more flavour, oolong may be gentle enough on the stomach to get away with. Also, make sure you don’t let the tea get bitter. It takes a while to develop the art of making tea, and while you’re learning the results will often lead to stomach upsets, but in my opinion it’s worth the time.

  42. Strangeite says:

    The cona is nice but I am a lazy lazy man. Especially at 7 in the morning. That is why I use the drip coffee maker for everyday use. But grinding the beans fresh helps alot and saves money.

  43. Eltanin says:

    Well I have one small point to offer which may ease your mind some. I scanned the comments and didn’t see this item, so hopefully I’m not being repetitious.

    My understanding is that coffee grounds (especially the coarse variety which a french press requires) are close enough to round that they will not clog the plumbing. In fact, they are supposed to provide actual scouring to the pipes thereby making things flow better, not worse.

    Now the caveat to all of this is really two-fold: a)this is merely hearsay, unsubstantiated by wikipedia but substantiated by personal experience (so far). b)It sounds like you drink quite a bit of coffee and so I might be shy about blithely pouring all the grounds out. But yeah, a wooden spoon to get the bulk and then don’t worry about washing the rest down the drain.

    Finally, I’d urge to you be wary. I have found that one can make significantly stronger coffee in a press and thereby really up one’s consumption of caffeine and therefore also one’s addiction to it. Be forewarned.

  44. Krellen says:

    It amazes me sometimes that video games still think the Tower of Hanoi is some great mystical puzzle. You’d think they’d be able to come up with something else

  45. MintSkittle says:

    I dislike both coffee and tea. For my morning routine:

    1. Wake up
    2. Go to refrigerator
    3. Grab a Sobe Energy
    4. Unscrew cap
    5. Enjoy

  46. Cat Skyfire says:

    That was fun! I think one key point though is it was 5 am. The brain isn’t fully there. (Game playing doesn’t always call for heightened thinking, as we know).

  47. Arnsholt says:

    To get rid of the grounds, I usually put a decent amount of water on the grounds, slosh them around a bit and flush the whole mess down the toilet. Gets rid of everything quick and easy.

  48. David V.S. says:

    My wife loves her French Press. She uses it much more often than the “normal” coffee machine.

    It really helps to have one of those instant near-boiling water spouts at your sink. If you don’t then something like this will probably become your new best friend.

    Also, a baby bottle brush makes cleaning out the old grounds quick and easy.

  49. Christian Groff says:

    Alton Brown, my patron saint, used a French Press very easily. Of course, he is a SAINT OF CULINARY EPICNESS, so obviously he had been training in it for years. :D

    For us primitive heathens who cannot handle anything which doesn’t flip a switch, the French Press is a living nightmare.

    Thankfully, I loathe the taste of coffee and will turn to a nice frosty can of root beer for my caffiene fix. ^_^

  50. Boolean says:

    [email protected]: Okay, you got me. (: You trolled me without even trying! I didn’t mean to slag your tastes, and my little Bodie has thicker skin than that. I just thought that you were giving it a review on par with your gaming reviews, but the Mass Effect steps should have set me straight.

    I can’t play video games in the morning, or I’ll be playing video games all day. Only a bad thing if I have to work that day.

  51. Scott says:

    I’ve been getting my coffee using ‘The Bodum’ since I was 10. Even when I’m out I wait the extra 5 minutes to get ‘French pressed’ coffee at coffee houses.
    When you’ve grown up with something you just get used to the way it works.
    I would suggest continuing to use the contraption (although, an electric kettle would be better, especially the kind that notifies you that it’s boiling in some way) and to let it steep for a bit, Dump the grounds right after finishing off the last of it and use a larger grind! If you buy your coffee from a person (meaning you don’t buy it off the shelf at a store or something or *cringe* from a can) you should be able to request a larger grind for your press.

  52. Nawyria says:

    I found a typo:

    Quote: “# 6:20am: Have another cup. Since the Frech press …”

    I think you meant FreNch press

  53. Telas says:

    For the ultimate in lazy geekery: Coffee Pods!

    1. Set machine to turn on automatically about 30 minutes before you wake up.
    2. Stumble into kitchen.
    3. Put your big-assed mug under the spout.
    4. Drop a coffee pod into the maker.
    5. Press the “small cup” button. Let the incredibly loud pump help wake you up.
    6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to fill the cup.

    Occasionally, you need to fill it with water, and order four more boxes of pods off Amazon (four boxes = free shipping). If you’re not interested in quality of coffee, you can just buy them wherever you see them.

    (Yes, it’s a bit wasteful, but damn, it’s convenient.)

  54. Robert Conley says:

    Cheap Toaster = Walmart $10 to $15. Squirreled away on a bottom shelf. Why do I know this? I have a cat with a fetish for peeing on the toaster. We have long ago switched to using a basic bread browner. My Wife says that browning the cat is NOT an option.

  55. LexIcon says:

    First off, Dave @ 23 is a wise man, with one exception. A burr grinder is probably the biggest obstacle between the average man and great coffee.

    The spinning blades grind coffee unevenly, causing the smaller particles to over-extract and become bitter, and the larger ones to give weak coffee. The combination makes for an uneven, mediocre cup even if you’re using fresh-roasted beans.

    Go in for a mill-type grinder. I got one for 20 bucks, and never looked back. Perfectly even grounds, every time. And I started drinking coffee black just because it was so much better then it used to be, I didn’t feel like it needed anything added. They are exceedingly loud, however. Soundproofing your grinder might be advisable if you don’t want to wake up the misses.

    For fresh-roasted coffee, I go to Volcanoes Coffee, but they’re probably not anywhere near you yet. Any smallish coffee shop ought to be able to point you in the right direction for fresh-roast, except Starbucks. I guarantee Starbucks coffee has sat in a warehouse for at least 3 weeks, and it’s all Columbian blend anyway. The labels are just for show.

    As a proud coffee snob, and two-time coffeeshop barrista, I’d be more than glad to see you on the path to great coffee. I myself am working on getting a Turkish Ibrik for Turkish-style coffee. A lot of work, but it makes an amazing cup.

    /coffee rant

  56. Kat says:

    Thanks, this was very funny. The french press is my husband’s second-favorite way to get coffee (after espresso), and he pointed me at this article because I am intimidated by the french press—mostly by the strength of coffee it brews.

    If I’m making the coffee, I’ll either use the percolator or make capuccino with the espresso maker. More likely, I will just make tea.

    By the way, the secret to tea that won’t hurt you is not letting it oversteep. If you have teabags, and *especially* if you have (God help you) Lipton or (not as bad) Tata teabags with strings, you want to pour the water over the tea, dip the bag twice and remove it. You might even want to start with the water in the mug, if you’re sensitive to strong tea, and just dip it twice. Lipton and other cheap teas are made from “fannings”, which is to say very very fine particles. That means that they steep really really fast and if you are not careful your tea will be bitter and overstrong.

  57. Dave says:

    to continue your old ways.. the grounds go into your worm bin .. or.. Gods forbid!! you don’t have a worm bin.. really?? Then you just dump them in the garden.. it’s 5am.. she ain’t up yet to yell at you.. cold out?? that’s what the big plant in the living room is for!

    Now.. go to a camping store and get a 12v device that you stick into the car’s cigarette lighter hole to heat up water.. it’s like a heating coil connected to a big thing that jams into the cigarette lighter hole.. ..

    Next, get one of those cigarette-lighter-hole Y-adapters.. and dig in your garage for an AC adapter that does 12v…

    Now.. clip the wire from the AC adapter.. and from the male part of your cigarette lighter plug Y-adapter.. connect the wires from these two things together..

    Plug the AC adapter/Y-adapter into a wall plug in the kitchen.. minding to keep the part where the wires are spliced together out of any water… not that 12v will hurt anything.. but it’s just a good idea.

    Now.. plug your camping, single pot, hot water heater into the Y-Adapter/AC adapter.. then put the heating end into your French Press full of water.. .

    .. damn.. it doesn’t work if the water is in the press cold.. so.. buy another french press so you can heat the water straight in the French Press and have the other one loaded with the grounds…

    Heat the water.. pour into the other pot with the grounds..

    … crap.. take out the old grounds, dummy!…

    now.. take the whole mess.. with one big sweep of your hand dump it all into a big bucket..

    .. go to .. buy some coffee and get a free coffee maker..

  58. Johan says:

    I have a much simpler solution to morning caffeine needs:
    1.) wake up
    2.) open refrigerator
    3.) get coke
    4.) open coke (note, this is the most complicated step and at 5 o’clock may require a fork, knife, or other utensil for leverage)
    5.) drink, trying hard not to spill.

  59. Lanthanide says:

    In my brief touring of America a couple of years ago, I didn’t see a single electric jug (or ‘kettle’ as you foreigners might like to call them). It seems that Seamus is also using the old stove-top kettle, something which no one here has used for 20+ years.

    To use one of these amazing hot-water generating devices, you fill it up, flip a switch, and then when the water is boiled it turns itself off. The water stays hot for a good 10+ minutes also. You can use it wherever there is a power outlet and water supply – you don’t need a stove at all.

    Similarly, Americans haven’t caught onto vacuum cleaners with retractable power cords. All of theirs just flop all over the place and have to be wound up externally on the vacuum. I find stuff like this really bizarre. It’s sort of something I could imagine being hyped up on a TV informercial as some amazing breakthrough – No more tangled power chords! So easy to store – just press a button and it puts itself away automatically! But wait, there’s more!

  60. mc says:

    Personally, my routine is as-follows:

    1.) Wake up.

    2.) Go to kitchen, open fridge.

    3.) Extract chilled pitcher of coffee made previous night.

    4.) Place half contents of pitcher in blender with full can of coconut milk, large amounts of ice.

    5.) Pour into three large glasses.

    6.) Imbibe!

    And I have that problem with tea too. It’s not so much a tummy-ache so much as it is “get out of my way, I’m going to crap myself!” though.

  61. Illusionary says:

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but coffee grounds are REALLY good for compost and worm farms.

  62. gwarg says:

    One more time…

    If it’s good enough for Benjamin Linus, it’s good enough for me.

  63. DaveMc says:

    Ha! Very funny stuff (the parenthetical “this includes human beings” was a particular highlight for me).

    Fun fact: We have made use of a device called a French Press, for lysing (breaking the cell walls of) bacterial cultures, to get at the goop inside. It works on the sample general principle, but operates at such high pressure that it will explode and kill everyone in the room if used incorrectly. We don’t own one ourselves, we borrowed the use of it from another lab, and let the well-trained folks down there set it up, thus saving both lives and the time-consuming process of scraping graduate students off the walls.

  64. Pederson says:

    Eh. I brew a quart of tea first thing, dump it into a thermos, and drink tea all day long. Does seem to contribute to some mild indigestion, now and then, though. One the odd occasions that I need/want to brew coffee at home, I usually resort to boiling a cup of water in the nukebox and dropping the ground coffee into a T-Sac, or a re-usable single-cup filter (of these, Bodum seems to make the best–usually sold with a mug; Tea Republic’s is a bit too minimalist to be genuinely useful).

    Which is not to disparage you, Shamus. I destroyed a perfectly good stove-top kettle several years ago because I was too wrapped up in Vagrant story to realize that the whistle had *stopped*. (Whoops! Lucky I didn’t get a fire, actually.)

  65. Josh says:

    I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of this post, but still I have to ask: how did you not hear the teakettle whistling?

  66. Vendrin says:

    Maybe someone already said it in the 66 comments, but why not just microwave the water until it’s hot enough instead of boiling it?

  67. Shamus says:


    As to why I did not hear the kettle whistle:

    1) My home office and the stove are on opposite corners of the house.

    2) To aid in concentration, I have lots of sound-dampening going on in this room. (Mostly a fan. White noise can mask any distraction.) This is on top of the sound of exploding robots I was already hearing.

    3) Our kettle has no whistle.

  68. Adamantyr says:

    Sheesh, if you like quick fast cheap coffee, Shamus, get yourself a Bunn coffee maker. They keep water perpetually hot so you just put in your filter and coffee and fill it up at the top, and bam, a full 8-10 cup pot in 3 minutes. 15 minutes later you can make another one.

    If you lived close to Seattle, I got a new one for Christmas, and I’d be happy to give you my old one.

  69. Brandon says:

    The key to making good tea (loose, bagged, regular, and herbal) and good french press coffee involves an electric water kettle and a garbage disposal. With a garbage disposal you just rinse the grounds down the drain and run the disposal. With an electric kettle you get hot water quickly in appropriate amounts and the decent ones shut off to prevent boiling down the water.

    Also, while french presses are breakable, so are regular coffee pots. My wife killed out coffee pot with, of all things, regular use and too much water. Now she’s committed to the french press, because there’s nothing electrical she can break.

  70. Jabor says:

    I use one of those. Coarse grounds, electric jug. And we just rinse out the grounds instead of throwing them in the bin or something.

  71. bardster says:

    Cant believe any hasnt mentioned the aeropress,
    makes much better coffee than the french press, almost espresso like. Easier to clean too. And heath the water to 80 degrees in the microwave in about 30 seconds!
    Mind you an American friend has told me before the most US households dont posess a kettle!

  72. Ingvar says:

    The most amazing device I have seen to turn water and ground coffee beans into coffee is, um, I know them as “don pedro”, but that is a mere brand name.

    Basically, a glass kettle thing, with a bowl on a pipe that plugs in to the top of the kettle (that also serves as serving vessel) and the pipe almost touches the bottom.

    Stick water in the kettle-thing, the grounds in the bowl-thing, assemble and stick on a hot plate. Through the magic of steam pressure, it will suddenly force the water out of the kettle into the bowl. At that point, take it off the heat and filtered coffee will eventually appear in the kettle. Usually quite good quality, too.

  73. Sam says:

    “Chew thoughtfully” was the line that killed me. This whole chain of events makes me happier that I don’t drink coffee.

  74. AstroBoy says:

    Wait, so what’s the normal basic way people make coffee at home in the US? You don’t bother with instant coffee? Though, it’d be more of an issue without a kettle. Also, don’t boil water in the microwave as stated earlier.

  75. XPav says:

    If you drink Tea or Coffee, get yourself an electric kettle for heating water. These are great for heating water up in general, reducing the time needed for boiling water for pasta, etc. Some people use them for hardboiling eggs in.

    Plenty of electric kettles around these days in the US. My french press is in the camping gear for when I do that, in which case the water comes off the propane stove.

  76. Burning says:

    My wife swears by her French Press (a.k.a. Plunger Pot). I refuse to drink coffee in any form, so I can’t speak to the relative merits. Since she doesn’t care that I don’t clean a pot full of grounds when I’m doing the dishes, everyone is happy.

  77. vdgmprgrmr says:

    Hmm… This makes me think…

    I don’t know much about coffee, but your predicament gave me an idea, concerning your predicament.

    Couldn’t you apply tea logic to the preparation of coffee? My idea (which may or may not be preposterous or retarded) is to take a thinner-than-average (are they available in different strengths?) coffee filter, put some coffee grounds in it, wrap it up and tie it into a sort of pouch with a string or – if necessary – a rubber band, then let the coffee bag float around in some piping hot water for a while? It works with tea, and it seems similar (but easier to clean up and easy to set up (by making a bunch of coffee-bags for later use) ahead of time) to the way this French Press works (that is, having the grounds going through the water to coffify it).

    Might it work?

  78. I can recommend the Aeropress too. It’s that rarest of kitchen gadgets – inexpensive, easy to use, and easy to CLEAN as well.

    I wrote a review of the Aeropress a while ago.

  79. nilus says:

    Glad to here you are enjoying Mass Effect :). French Press is crap, get a cheap coffee make and be happy. And as far as the you tea stomach issue. Try adding a little ginger to your tea, My stomach gets upset when I drink straight tea but the ginger seems to do wonders for me.

  80. RodeoClown says:

    Don’t push the plunger down quickly.
    Do it (real) slowly, and you shouldn’t get grounds in the coffee.

  81. Sharon says:

    in regards to #79:
    Maxwell house makes “coffee singles” which are “coffee bags”. Just like a tea bag with coffee in it. Each is sealed in foil so thy stay fresh for a long time. MUCH better than instant coffee. good to use when the power goes out, when camping, or the decaf variety when guests who drink decaf arrive. Decaf would get stale waiting for us to drink it. Also, a whistle on that t pot would help. Sounds like a the first day of the year was a bit of a struggle. Have you ever heard the saying that the things you do on January 1 will be the things you do all year?
    Shamus, you have finally written an entry your sister would read- if she had a computer.

  82. kmurphy says:

    @Telas, The pod systems are awesome in theory. In reality it seems if you are intent enough to spend that kind of cash on the pot and the individual coffee pods there are other issues. My coffee addict had to put in a water filter so the water used would taste its best. THEN he ordered the aftermarket caps you can put on used pods to recycle them. Now instead of a tidy encosed system we have more paraphenalia than ever! *LOL*

    The pod machine really does work well and makes great, fast coffee – especially at 5 am. Even in our ritual-soaked idiocy we can’t justify the French Press.

    Thanks for the timely laugh, Shamus.

  83. Wait, so what's the normal basic way people make coffee at home in the US? You don't bother with instant coffee?

    The preferred method would be a Drip Coffee Maker aka Mr. Coffee Although Black And Decker (The Tool company) make the least expensive and most reliable model.

    I loathe instant coffee. I’ve been reduced to drinking it on my occasional trips to Australia because those people don’t know how to make a decent cuppa. Seriously, they don’t. What they THINK is coffee is actually either mud with some little flavor or watered-down espresso.

    Back in the day (Quiet, son, this is old folks talking) I had a percolator. It made a lovely blurp-blurp-blurp sound and made the most heavenly coffee. Like a french press it worked fine in the absence of electricity and could even be deployed over an open flame. My favorite one was, however, an electric-only jobbie that was basically the Aussie’s ketle mated with the french press to produce a coffee pot I could plug in and it would produce with a minimum of fuss a pot of fine coffee with no sludge in the bottom.

    And as a poor college student I could even re-use the grounds for a second (and occasionally a third) 4-cup pot of slightly weaker and less flavorful coffee that would get me through when needed.

    I replaced that model with a B&D Drip coffee maker after I killed my percolator in a hot cocoa incident. And I’ve waxed nostalgic about it tonight to my wife who says that there might be a percolator in my birthday presents.(Yay!)

    Now I can retire the latest in a series of accident-prone drip coffee makers with a true coffee maker from days of yore without resorting to instant or the dreaded press thingie.

  84. Telas says:

    @kmurphy – My Keurig system was a side deal for (IIRC) well under $100. The pods are about $0.44 each on Amazon, and the coffee’s almost as good as I can make it using any other (non-espresso) method.

    The only real downside is when I forget to reorder, and then I use the reusable thingy with my own coffee.

    But yeah, I can definitely see how a nerd like myself can get obsessive about coffee…

  85. AstroBoy says:

    C. David Dent: I loathe instant coffee. I've been reduced to drinking it on my occasional trips to Australia because those people don't know how to make a decent cuppa. Seriously, they don't. What they THINK is coffee is actually either mud with some little flavor or watered-down espresso.


    It depends where you go and who you talk to. I don’t drink coffee so I cant tell you specifics. Part of the reason starbucks closed 3/4 of its stores here was because there are a lot better ways to get a coffee such as a proper cafe of which there are many.

    But, most people at home (i believe) only have instant coffee. On the other hand, my father has had a number of percolators in the past and now has a small espresso machine which he is very happy with. He also likes a turkish coffee though he doesnt make them at home. I don’t know why but he doesn’t like drip coffee nor do many in Australia I believe.

    I think it boils down to the background of the people. If you were mainly with anglo-australians and went to large chain coffee houses you’d have a much worse impression than if you went to a cafe on Lygon Street.

  86. NobleBear says:

    Dude, Shamus,

    This post was incredibly funny and reminds me why 1)I drink Dew for my caffeine because 2) managing most machines and having enough patience waiting for what i want to drink to cool down are among the tasks am am less than adept at. :D

    [PS:I forgot to mention this before but have you considered producing an audio podcast. I have slow visual processing and tend to absorb better by listening (though I will often benefit from and really like like your visual aides) even if its just you reading old posts/game reviews/DRM rants into a mic I would totally subscribe.

    Thanks for all the great work you’ve done here. :D

    PPS: Is there any chance of The Escapist picking up Reset Button? (BTW, I like that name)]

  87. ClearWater says:

    The first indication I had that the French press was possibly not related to publishing — and incidentally also the first time I heard of it — was this poster at a Ya Kun coffee shop in Singapore. I don’t drink coffee but people tell me the Ya Kun coffee tastes good. Must be the extra flavours from the sock. Although I understand that the socks they use haven’t actually been worn.

  88. AstroBoy says:

    Apparently there’s a distinction between percolators and this , which I missed. My dad enjoyed these and dislikes the other type. Details, I cannot provide.

  89. william says:

    my lord
    86 (now 87) comments about coffee, including passionate debunkals…
    shamus you are popular :D

  90. Ravens_cry says:

    Happy New Year Shamus!
    And it’s stuff like this are why I drink tea when I feel the need for speed. It does mean however when I do drink the strong stuff, I get more wired the Flash on crack. And more jittery then teenager and her first pregnancy test.
    It makes dish pit duty a breeze however, no voluntary action required, I just let my arm muscles twitch. Ever had cayenne pepper in your coffee? It’s actually pretty darn good.

  91. MuonDecay says:

    If your water was seriously scalding hot after making it, you’re brewing your coffee with water that’s too hot anyhow.

    You don’t want to wait for the teakettle to whistle or come to a full rolling boil. That kind of temperature extracts more of the unfavorable bitter flavors of the coffee. If you just bring it to where it’s barely boiling (there is a quantified ideal temperature, but you likely don’t care, you just want practical, good coffee in the morning after all).

    I guess I’m kind of a coffee nerd or something, but if you do things just right, the result impresses you with how good it tastes. I have a very poor tongue, I can’t appreciate subtle flavor differences at all and I’d probably assume a $200 wine and a $5 wine were about equal as a result… but between coffeemaker coffee and a well-made pressed coffee I notice a big difference.

    Myself, I use a cheap and effective little coffeemaker called an Aeropress. It’s $24 and it makes coffee as good as a $200+ espresso machine does, and is much easier to use and clean up afterward.

  92. MuonDecay says:

    … oh! darnit, I remember this after I can’t edit my other post.

    When I just want mediocre coffee fast… I just have a little plastic funnel which is made so that you set it atop a cup, boil some water, drop a filter into it, add the grounds, and fill it with the water. 45 seconds later you have a cup of fresh coffee and a painfully simple clean-up. They can’t cost more than $4, either.

    It also makes better coffee than a coffeemaker, because instead of immersing grounds in water constantly while the stuff slowly percolates through, you get it all in one flush and filter. This leaves behind a lot more of the things in coffee grounds which taste like arse (so they don’t wind up in your beverage)

  93. Zaxares says:

    Man, my morning drink is REALLY easy compared to you guys.

    1. Night before. Leave a full glass of water on the table beside my bed.

    2. Wake up.

    3. Sit up, reach over and take the glass.

    4. Drink.

    The only things I ever drink are water, milk and orange juice! Once in a long while (like once or twice a month), I will have a cup of tea or a can of Coke.

  94. NobleBear says:

    I usually keep a 2ltr of Dew or mug of Tang handy at my desk; not as healthy of course, but no less convenient. :D

  95. Leonardo Herrera says:

    Heh. Nothing like watching geeks getting all heated up arguing about coffee or tea.

    Of course, we all know that the only way to properly enjoy a cup of coffee is when you toast and grind the coffee by yourself.

  96. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Meh. You need practice, that’s all.

    Personnally, I’ve always lived with a Boddom (that’s how we call it here, in French-Canada) and there just ain’t coffee like Boddom-Coffee..

    First thing to do, shamus, is leave marks on your “French Press” (with permanent marker) to check where 1 cup is, where 2 cups is, etc… It won’t be perfect on the first tries (since you will forget to account for the coffee’s volume) but eventually, you will know to pour water just above mark 2 for 2 cups, about an inch above mark 3 for 3 cups, etc… One day, you will have put ennough skill points into “Volume guessing” that you won’t need it.

    Second, get an electric water-boiling machine. Putting water on the stove to boil it in the morning is receipe for disaster, even more if your tought process if afore-coffee!!! I don’t understand how you can live without an electric boiling-machine. What do you do if you want tea?

    After, take the (good) habit of cleaning your press after use. Mere water is ennough, but once a week use soap to clean bacterias.

    One day (in 2 week’s time) you will notice that you grew on the habit of a little manual labor for superior coffee taste and caffeine than a boorish coffee machine. Try not to feel smug :-)

  97. UtopiaV1 says:

    Holy crap, you actually made a post about this? Well, at least it’s a nice little story to send me to sleep, seeing as though I’m just going to bed here.

    Whatever happened to coffee in cup, water in kettle, heat then pour, friggin enjoy. Do I get special coffee that somehow dissolves in water, or is all coffee in England like that?

    Btw guys, nearly 100 reply’s to this? Really? Really??? To a story about a coffee maker? On a nerd website? Now, Relentless or Red Bull or Pepsi or Mountain Dew or Mana Energy Potion (check it at, you see THOSE are geek beverages, the stuff you use to stay awake at a Lan or whatever, but this is about c-o-f-f-e-e! No, bad Shamus!

    Also, Happy New Year everybody!!! Night all… ¬_¬

  98. @Astroboy

    I had coffee (proper Brewed coffee) at a Lygon street cafe and was in heaven, but they are the exception and not the rule. The device you showed was what I would call an Espresso Pot (as opposed to a Maker) because it makes coffee by forcing steam through grounds.

    It is just hard to find Proper Brewed Coffee in Australia.

    What most places bring you when you order Coffee is Cafe Americano (aka a Long Black) which is 1 part espresso to two parts of hot water. And if you don’t care for Espresso like me, it isn’t the same.

    Of course my wife is having the same problem with Bacon over here. What WE call bacon isn’t what the AUSSIES call bacon. Funny how that goes.

  99. WWWebb says:

    Yes, my English friends would use a French press to make coffee…it made me realize why they think tea is so much better. Of course, they also think that Italian coffee (espresso) is “good”. What they don’t understand is that espresso is made from old, nasty beans that are roasted to hell and back to disguise the fact that it’s crummy coffee in the first place.

    My only advice would be to find a local coffee roaster (call a fancy restaurant or hotel and ask where they get their coffee) and buy good beans from them. A hundred comments worth of advice aren’t going to help you if you don’t use good raw materials.

    If they’re convenient, buy small quantities and ask them to grind it for a French press…their grinder is better than yours. If it’s a hassle to get to, buy beans in bulk and keep em in the freezer.

  100. fred says:

    its not all good.
    there is a chemical compound on coffee that helps harden arteries.
    it is filtered out when using paper filters.

    its a trade off.
    i prefer piping hot of brewed coffee.
    sometimes coffee pots can get a bit cool

  101. Dix says:

    They do make french presses with four- and even six-cup capacities, but because of the no-heat issue they’re only good for a crowd, not one person who needs a whole pot to themselves. *shiftyeye* We haven’t had nearly the trouble with our FP in terms of grounds removal and filtering, but we use it only when we want ‘better’ coffee yet cannot be bothered to travel to a coffee shop.

    As a side note, toasters are easier to make with risk of fire than without. Coffee makers, being a ‘wet’ process with no direct coil-style heating element (the hot plate is different), are less likely to make fire – the big concern is a water-related short. Assuming your customers’ households all have GFCI (as required by modern code) means you can include some basic short-circuit protection in the coffee maker and you’re done. A toaster needs some real work to make it so A) it’s unlikely to make fire and B) if it does, it shuts off or otherwise does something that will prevent it from causing major electrical chaos that affects the whole circuit. I don’t make either product, but I’m almost sure some of the difference in price break has to do with making a (hopefully) lawsuit-proof device.

  102. jamie says:

    I passed on the french press and went straight to the aeropress (it’s french-press-like, without all the mess and hassle, and takes just minutes to have your cup of coffee). Google it and give it a whirl. Good coffee you don’t have to chew is quite awesome.

    Also. DEAR GOD, FIVE IN THE MORNING IS SLEEPING IN FOR YOU? (Forgive the asscaps, I’m just in total disbelief.)

  103. Hawk says:

    This craziness reminds me again why I drink tea instead of coffee (besides the awful taste of that coffee stuff).

    But we use an electric coffee maker to make our tea, and it works exceptionally. Go figure.

  104. RibbitRibbit says:

    Coffee buff wife says:

    1) If you have grounds in the coffee, it probably was not ground coarsely enough. Ask for a press grind at [wherever it is you get your coffee from].

    2) You should wait before pouring the water, a minute or so. Coffee usually should not be infused with scalding-hot water (well except for Turkish grind maybe).

    3) French press work extremely well for tea and herbal infusions.

    As you can see, I got a coffee-maker wife, of the kind that delivers espresso to the bedside… :-)

  105. Stephanie says:

    Electric kettles are very useful devices, and their complete absence was one of the strangest things about visiting the US for me. (That, and the related absence of any good cups of tea. And hardly anybody served me hot drinks with milk, they kept giving me packets of synthetic creamer powder that didn’t lower the temperature of the drink at all. Weird.) Plunger pots (what you’re calling a French Press) are very common in New Zealand now, although I can remember the days when at home you had instant coffee, and in cafes you had filter coffee which is now hard to get, because most establishments only serve espresso coffee at exorbitant prices.

    Some comments:
    Electric kettles – look for one with a level gauge, an auto turnoff feature, and that is cordless (it will slot into a base that’s plugged into the wall.)
    Making coffee – posh people prefer not to have the water boiling hot, because it will scald the coffee. I don’t have enough of a palate to tell the difference.
    Making tea – get and keep the water as hot as you possibly can. A microwave will not do. For preference, rinse out your cup or teapot with hot water from the kettle before filling it properly, as this will stop your water from losing temperature from contact with the cup. Adding the milk before or after you take the teabag out will have a big effect on the flavour.
    Plunger pots – push the plunger down Very Slowly, to stop liquid from gushing up through the vents. Doing this twice in one week can give one a reputation at work that will never go away.
    Composting – yep, coffee grounds and teabags are all good for that. A more compact alternative to a worm farm or old-style compost heap is a Bokashi Bin, which I find very convenient.

  106. mark says:

    I find it hilarous that americans have yet to realise the wonders of the electric kettle. some can boil a litre of water or more in under a minute, and ALL OF THEM switch off when the water is boiled. Forget to go back after it clicks off? Just switch it on, and it’ll bring it back up to the boil in 10-20 seconds! I dont even drink tea/coffee, and I have one, for Pot Noodles and the like.

    Edit: also, if its too hot for you (I hate all hot drinks, and dont even like soup, but my mum does this) then make it a little too strong and then add some cold water. I guess it helps that UK tap water is totally drinkable, and given the climate, ice cold. :P

  107. Alexis says:

    Good god 108 comments.

    Quite interesting fact: French fries are more accurately known as frenched fries. Frenching is a way of cutting.

  108. Nathanael Phillip Cole says:

    Interesting. I love my French Press, but I’ve never once used it for coffee. Ugh, seriously, why would you ever try that?

    Works great for tea, though, oh yes.

  109. Bryan says:

    @ Shamus #19:

    Strangely enough, coffe has the same effect on me as tea has on you. Go figure. Tea also upsets my stomach, but only slightly, enough to let me know I drank tea. When I want to wake up, it’s hot chocolate for me!

  110. John Darque says:

    i heart coffee

  111. henrebotha says:

    Plungers make the BEST coffee. My parents have access to a glorious selection of coffee goods: an espresso machine, a plunger, and instant. The plunger is the best. Espresso machine is less effort, but the plunger is the best.

  112. I love my french press machine, but I hear what you’re saying about the work it takes to clean manage it. It’s not the easiest way of making coffee, and in a early morning fog, I can see how it’d be a pain.

    But I like it exactly for it’s manual nature. No cords, no messing around with attachments or disposable filters. Boiling Water + Grounds == Coffee. I suppose I could make it quicker, but it’s a great diversion halfway through my morning to make a good cup of coffee w/ my press and take my mind off work for a few.

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You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

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