How to Make a Perfect Press Pot of Coffee the Ascension Way: a Step-by-Step Guide

While pour-over methods are becoming increasingly popular, press pots are the go-to "technology" for most home coffee geeks. If you've transcended the standard automatic drip coffee machine that dominates most American counter tops, chances are you decided on a press pot to elevate your coffee game.

The instructions that accompany most of these devices are great for getting started. But even if you follow them to the letter, you're likely leaving something on the table. To help us all elevate our coffee making game at home, I talked with Mike Mettendorf at Ascension, Dallas' hottest new coffee joint, and compiled some tips and tricks for a perfect cup of java at home. Incorporate just one, and you'll notice an improvement. Incorporate them all and you'll be drinking some of the best coffee in Dallas, right on your couch.

Warm up your cup Use some hot water to warm up your serving cup. You're going to put a lot of work into this cup of coffee: don't serve it at a tepid temperature.


Mind the grind The most popular method for grinding coffee at home is a blade grinder, which Mettendorf vehemently opposes. He actually recommends a mortar and pestle with a straight face, should you not have a burr coffee mill. Whatever method you use, you're looking for a coarse grind that won't slip through the fine mesh of your plunging screen.

Use the best beans you can afford and only grind what you intend to immediately drink. Want to get crazy? Mettendorf weighs out seven grams of coffee for every 100 milliliters of water.

I just eyeball it.


Heat water to precisely 198-202 degrees What? You don't have a fancy digital kettle like the folks at Ascension? Mettendorf says a liter of water brought to a boil and allowed to cool off the burner for 30 seconds should be just about right.


Flowers aren't the only things that bloom Pour just enough water over your grounds to saturate them. If you're using good, fresh beans that were recently ground, the coffee will react to the hot water, releasing carbon dioxide and other nasty compounds you don't want in your cup. When the grinds stop "blooming" (you can watch as they release gas), it's time to move on. Depending on the coffee you're using, this should take between 30 and 90 seconds.


Finish adding the water Gently pour the remaining water into the press pot. Give the whole thing a stir with the handle of a wooden spoon, a pair of wooden chopsticks, or anything you want provided it's not plastic or metal, and put on the top. Get ready to wait.


Gently Press I'm amazed at the almost zen-like meditation these guys employ when pressing the plunger on a press pot. It takes Mettendorf a full 30 seconds to completely depress the plunger, which assures no grinds are forced through the screen. Mettendorf starts the plunge at 3 minutes, 30 seconds so he can finish at 4 minutes.


Pour Immediately Seriously, after taking all these steps to assure perfection, don't let the coffee chill out in the press pot for a second too long. Pour what you've brewed and enjoy it. You've just made one hell of a cup of coffee.

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