The amazing history of coffee
French press method or not, what took Starbucks over 25 years to achieve, has been in discovery throughout the world for over one thousand years! Coffee, found originally in Ethiopia, then dominated by the Arabic culture, was a substance defined early on as a drug. Early civilizations cherished the use of coffee, thus limiting its consumption for long hunting journeys and raiding expeditions.
The Italian thing
Though history eventually wrote itself, when the first forms of this delightful brew began appearing around the peninsula of Turky, and were referred to as the “Turkish Coffee”. A name we are still familiar with today. By the 1600’s, the Italians had embraced their love of coffee and hence was the birth of the world’s first “La Caffetteria”. Yes, that’s right world, Italy was the first country to open a coffee shop. Is it right to give the Italians credit for something they began 400 years ago? I say, yes. However, I think it was a global effort, because as history reveals, coffee became a European phenomenon, pretty quickly.
French press is not difficult, and it’s perhaps the best wholesome approach to making the best cup of coffee. Developed originally by an Italian designer in the early 1900’s, the design and technique took Europe by storm. By the 1950’s, the common name of this press was called the Chambord. As it sought European distribution, the name was changed to a “French Press”, and has hence stuck ever since.
The French Press method takes 5 minutes total, and depending on the size, will serve you a about a liter’s worth of coffee every morning. I think it’s such a nice way to serve this not only for yourself, but for your guests.
Coffee, in my opinion, should be unique to the individual making it. My journey of making coffee began quite standard, in that of an electric coffee machine. It seemed to keep me pretty happy until my machine broke. I didn’t want another electro system, so I bought my first, stove-brew Espresso from Bialetti. Delicious, but the clean-up becomes cumbersome too, and it’s not ideal for guests.
I was then introduced to the pour-over method from my mother in law (very german). Quite a lovely system, but the coffee cooled too quick. My next venture was using a stove-top percolator. A system that my mom began using in the mid 90’s. Very delicious, but takes a good 15 minutes.
I was on the hunt for something new, when I then found the pour-over method from Toddy. This was a nice, cold pour-over which allowed the coffee to be less oily and less bitter, yet enhancing the taste and quality ten fold. I loved this system, but I found always working with a coffee concentrate eventually became cumbersome.
For some reason, the french press method was my last discovery. As an American, was it too threatening? Too obvious to try? I don’t know the reason for this delayed discovery, but I think importantly, I did switch to this method. Today, it’s my only form of daily coffee for me and my family. .
“No” to Nespresso
About 13 years ago when I saw my first Nespresso capsule machine, I thought it would never take off. What a robotic approach to coffee. Pick a capsule and press a button! To my surprise, it was a world-wide hit. Maybe George Clooney had something to do with that. He was the global spokesperson for the Nespresso company, as it became a global sensation.
Forget the robotic approach to coffee. This new convenient coffee system has quickly become an environmental disaster. From the plastic throw away and plastic capsule waste. What’s to love about a system like this? Not only was it a plastic nightmare, but it put a huge demand on coffee production.
coffee and chemicals
Some ugly coffee facts go something like this. For the commercial growers, it has been reported that on average they are using over 250 pounds of chemical fertilizer per acre.
On a global scale, that’s an insane amount of chemical fertilizers and weed killers for one crop, don’t you think? Yes, it’s one of the biggest crops on earth, and for sure over a billion dollar business, but the mismanaged growing methods have not come with out a cost.
It’s been linked to causing the neutral zones or ‘dead zones’ throughout the oceans. Consequently, where the natural water flow empties into the ocean, if the lands practices have been heavy handed with chemical farming practices, the pollutants from land, empty into the ocean’s water ways. When it hits the oceans, the chemicals kill all the beneficial floras in the oceans. Thus causing dead-zones and a complete loss of habitat.
Be wise about your coffee choices. Choose the best option for you, and of course our environment, and most importantly, make your coffee reflective of you and your beliefs.
French Press method
French press…a must.
- 5 scoops coffee ground fine-medium
- 1 liter water boiling
- cream whole, or half & half
- sugar cubes or a nice raw sugar
- First step in this process if grinding your beans. I happen to have a nice vintage coffee grinder. You simply put the whole roasted beans into the silver spout, adjust your level of grinding, turn it on, and let it work.
- (old German Brand, still works like new)
- Finished product is a nice, medium to fine texture…and the smell…..heavenly!
- I have the 1 liter press, so this recipe is according to this size.
Measurements are 5 heaping coffee spoons to 1 liter boiling water. Stronger or weaker accordingly.
- Boil the water-a great time and energy saver is an instant water boiling machine. Instead of the stove method which took a long 5 minutes, this takes about 90 seconds. Pretty instant!
- Once the boiling temperature is met, pour the boiling water into the glass carafe. Use a circular swirling method when pouring. This makes the pressing down part, effortless. Otherwise, you will find it difficult to push the knob down when it’s time.
- Once water is filled, push the lid on, keeping the metal rod raised. Set the timer, and let the coffee grinds and the boiling water mix for 5 minutes.
- In the mean time, gather your condiments. I take my coffee with a good quality cream, or half and half. Some like their coffee sweet with sugar or honey, or agave. While other’s like it with both cream and sugar. There is the hard-core coffee drinker who drinks it black. Yes, I’m hard core, but I love it with cream.
- When the timer has rung, depress the knob and press it all the way down. This process forces the grinds to settle at the bottom, thus leaving your coffee free and clear of grinds. Push all the way down until it hits the bottom. Keep it depressed. Pour your fresh brew of Java.
- Add what you like.