Hi! My name is Ben Contois, and I’ve been a barista with La Colombe Torrefaction for the past three and a half years now. Before working at La Colombe, my knowledge of coffee and the industry, as a whole, was quite minimal. Even now as I type this post, the industry is expanding and evolving, and I hope to share with you my brewing experiences and my never ending journey to learn as much as I can. Working behind the bars in both Philadelphia locations has taught me a lot about coffee and what’s happening in the coffee scene here in Philly, the U.S., and around the world. It has been such a pleasure to talk to folks from all over about their experiences with coffee and coffee bars, and how they compare with our little spot on the earth.
I enjoy learning from others, and I also like learning from fellow industry professionals who have shared their knowledge through blogs, twitter feeds and links, YouTube, and anything else I can access. I have recently become a member of the Barista Guild of America, which has given me access to a wealth of information through the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America), and this spring, I am looking forward to beginning my Barista Certification process. I hope that my posts will help dissolve some of the mysteries and misconceptions of brewing coffee at home as well as provide you with some new ideas. I want to also learn from those who read my posts, so please be in touch if you have any questions or comments – let’s learn together! For my first post, I’d like to focus on a brew method that perhaps most people are familiar with – the French press.
This week, I spent some time brewing coffee with the Frieling stainless steel French press. The French press (or press pot) method is how I began my homebrewing journey. I liked the simplicity of the process. I admired the sleek design of the glass carafes and metal frames. However, I’ve heard over and over again from folks at the cafe that they now use its plastic versions after breaking their first carafe. Myself – I’ve broken at least 3 glass French press carafes at home (mainly due to rushing while trying to clean them), so I am a big fan of the Frieling’s sturdy construction. It’s also double-walled, which helps keep the water hot during the brew. I usually use 28 grams (1 oz. or 4 leveled Tablespoons) of coffee for every 16 oz. (2 cups) of water. Fresh roasted, freshly ground coffee is always best to brew with. I used La Colombe’s Mexico – Atoyac De Alvarez single-origin coffee for my latest pot. After 4 minutes of brewing, the resulting cup was smooth and balanced. Soft notes of blueberry in the finish, and as it cooled, hints of honey, golden raisin, and tobacco snuck in.
As a barista, I try to go the extra mile for all my customers. Since you are making coffee, for YOU, the extra attention paid to details will go a long way in your cup.
Protips: To keep coffee hot after brewing, store it in a thermos. Or take out your old glass carafe to hold the coffee for a minute while you clean out your Frieling. It’s best to not hold your brewed coffee in with the grounds. If you don’t have a grinder at home, there are some affordable Burr grinders on the market. Or get it ground at the shop, and pick up an airtight container to help maintain freshness. Store it in the cabinet – never in the fridge or freezer!
Stay tuned for my next post. I’ll be talking about one of my favorite 1-cup brewing methods – the Aeropress. If you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter @benzinoreal, or start it up in the comments section below. Take care, and drink great coffee!