It’s (Been) Time to Ditch the French Press

I am here, to tell my story…it’s long, dark and has a scary part in the middle and is entirely focused on my morning coffee routine over the past five years.

Coffee for me used to mean going out and getting coffee — which is how I acquired my daily dose for a few years in undergrad. I now fear to do the math that would probably prove I could be debt free if I had put my Starbucks money towards college (obviously that’s hyperbole — student loans are no joke in this country).

I had attempted a few home-brew methods along the way, using an old French press, the traditional coffee pot, and even instant espresso.

And then along comes the Aeropress. The Aeropress, for those of you who don’t know, is basically a black plastic tube with a plunger, and a paper filter. The basics are (click here for a great little animation):

  • Grind your coffee
  • Place in tube (on top of filter)
  • Pour water in
  • Stir it up
  • Press plunger into tube, while coffee goes through filter into vessel
Photo by Aleksander Soroka on Unsplash

The nectar that comes out of this plastic tube isn’t quite coffee, but it’s not quite espresso either — I often add a little hot water over the top to make a pseudo-Americano.

The important fact is: it’s the best “coffee” I’ve ever had.

As I continued learning how to adult, I learned of the importance of good beans. I tried a number of roasters — some national favorites like Stumptown and Intelligentsia, some more local to Boston, like Little Wolf (my personal favorite) and Barrington Coffee Roasters.

The Aeropress handled them all with masterful delicacy unbefitting of a plastic tube.

Now here’s where the story gets dark and scary:

Two years into my love affair with the black plastic tube, I got a French press. I would wake up in the morning and waiver over how I wanted to make my coffee. Over time, the convenience of the French press won out. Slowly, the Aeropress faded to the background, reserved for the occasional camping trip, or to be ordered at certain hipster coffee shops (where the guy in that photo definitely works).

A year after this development, my wife and I moved into a house where all of a sudden we had infinitely more space than ever before. So I go ahead and buy a pour-over, to see what that’s about. I go to a friend’s house and try his Syphon. And every time I’m at that guy’s hipster coffee shop, I try another more exotic method of extracting flavor from dried beans. I even bring the French press camping at one point, despite the obvious advantages of a black plastic tube to a larger glass container.

Then came a Monday, where I woke up and decided to give up caffeine. So I didn’t make coffee that day…or the next… and I didn’t have coffee for a month. Finally, after a month I decided to experiment with decaf — realizing that what I missed were my routine and my beverage, not the caffeine.

Now the happy ending:

Recently, I reached up for the French press and I hesitated. I saw the dusty, black tube hiding behind all the other tools — behind the pour-over, behind the fancy Japanese grinder, behind the Turkish coffee pot (yes, I even tried that)… and I decided to go for it.

I got the Aeropress out, oddly sticky from its years of neglect, gave it a good wash, and began the process I was so familiar with (btw, for the hardcore, I prefer the upside-down method which won the 2016 Aeropress world championship, I think…).

Once I finished the process, I was delivered with, again, the best cup of (decaf) coffee I’ve ever had. So now, we are about three weeks from that day — and the French press is beginning to gather dust.

I’m a Product Designer at Grubhub working on the LevelUp Team to create branded apps for restaurants.

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