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Jason11

Cafe au Lait using French press

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Hi

 

I’m after some advice with regards making a Cafe au Lait using a French press. I want/need to make the coffee stronger to allow for the quantity of milk I’ll be adding to it probably a 50/50 ratio. Is it just a case of less water/more grind to achieve this ? I’m guessing this shouldn’t affect the extraction of the coffee ?

 

My newfound limited knowledge tells me as long as grind size, water temperature and brew time remain the same the extraction rate shouldn’t change and I would just get a similar tasting but stronger brew.

 

Have I got this right or wrong ?

 

Thanks

Jason

 

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I'll be interested to hear others' views on using a French press to give a more concentrated brew. As an alternative, I suggest getting a moka pot like a Bialetti - they don't cost much and take up little room. This will typically give you something pretty strong and a little bitter (if you use a pre-ground Lavazza or similar) which cuts through milk well. It's how I was introduced to coffee through an Italian schoolfriend and I still go back to making it that way from time to time.

Edited by edpirie

Caravel, various drippers (v60, Wave, Mountain), Kinto/Wave kettles, Feldgrind, Hausgrind

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There'll be a maximum strength you can get out of a French press, you'll also be battling against temperature drop with a lot of coffee vs water. At very high brew ratios your extraction will drop.

If the French press is glass & small, then brew time cannot correct this, maybe a double walled steel press will fare better but you might still be looking at very long brew times (which doesn't necessarily matter, you could make a batch of coffee concentrate for the day & add to the hot milk?).

Moka pot is a good call, or for strong immersion brews an ibrik.

Bear in mind, you asked about "extraction", if you get something that tastes nice to you, but is not a typical extraction, then don't sweat it, enjoy :-)


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Thanks for the advice.

I guess it will be a case of experimentIng and see. A strong and full flavoured (if that’s the right terminology) bean would be a good starting point ?

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1 hour ago, edpirie said:

I'll be interested to hear others' views on using a French press to give a more concentrated brew. As an alternative, I suggest getting a moka pot like a Bialetti - they don't cost much and take up little room. This will typically give you something pretty strong and a little bitter (if you use a pre-ground Lavazza or similar) which cuts through milk well. It's how I was introduced to coffee through an Italian schoolfriend and I still go back to making it that way from time to time.

Snap! Absolutely agree. Love the Bialetti

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If it's strength you want then a blend with some Robusta might give some extra.

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Thanks for the advice.
I guess it will be a case of experimentIng and see. A strong and full flavoured (if that’s the right terminology) bean would be a good starting point ?

Debatable terminology I’d say.

If you want the coffee to be “strong” and “cut through milk” a dark or very dark roast might suit your beverage better. I second the Bialetti or even an AeroPress.

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I join the Bialetti club here. With a  kicker of a coffee from Italy, you should get what you need for your Café au lait. 

Bear in mind that the standard capacity for a cup with a moka pot is only 50ml. So a 4 cup moka pot will only really be for 200ml. Saves you picking a size too small if you opt for that option!  

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I can see this starting to get expensive very quickly before I’ve even considered the espresso machine/grinder combo !

My Wilfa Svart grinder should be arriving today so I take it that will be good enough for the grind for any of the above options ?

Cheers

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Basically the finer you grind the higher your extraction will be. Stirring might up it, as well as using just off boil water. It might not taste great though.

If you look up the "Hoffman" low silt method you can mitigate a fine grind so that you lower the silt in the cup rather than plunging and the kick up of silt that causes.

You can easily use a fine aeropress grind in a FP. If it's a full pot let it steel for 20/30 minutes.

But I'd recommend finding a balanced brew rather than strength. If you want flavour to cut through milk maybe try a natural process bean?

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28 minutes ago, Jason11 said:

Forgive my ignorance but what’s a natural process bean ?

Cheers

A natural or dry process is a method of drying the coffee cherries after harvest in the sun. This is common in areas where water is scarce. The beans take on extra fruit and sometimes a slight fermented flavour from the drying cherry.

After drying the outer husk and dried fruit are mechanically removed. A lot of people who like milky coffee report favourably on how the "extra" flavour cuts through milk.

In a washed process the pulp is removed before drying.

When you buy coffee from a reputable roaster the process used to dry the coffee will be specified.

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I see, thanks

I have seen washed on some packets. So it’s the non-washed I’m looking for them which will be natural ?

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Where are you sourcing your beans? It should state clearly the process on the packet. 

There are also lots of in between hybrid processes just to complicate things. Eg. In Indonesia semi natural is common, in Central America "honey" etc are common.

For an example of a natural process Rocko Mountain from Ethiopia is a popular choice. See thread above.

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I’m haven’t looked at a source for beans yet as I’m only just starting to make proper coffee.

I will check out the suggestion, thanks

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If you have been buying supermarket beans you may find this type of information is not provided. You are more likely to get "100% Arabica" or "intensity level X" or some other useless marketing blurb.

This is a reason to buy from reputable roasters. You'll find several who advertise on the forum and often offer member discounts.

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Once you start getting coffee from a good roaster, you will never look back! You will be amazed at all the different flavours and aromas you can get depending on the coffee you pick and the method you use. Not going to go on and on about it but it's worth going to see a coffee roaster, have a chat and try for yourself. Good luck!  

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