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Easy Tips for Brewing a Good French Press Coffee

brew french press pot tips

brew french press pot tips

I always start my day of work by brewing a pot of French Press coffee. I am picky about which coffee beans I buy. It has to taste fresh and strong. If it is not, I will throw it away. I will take extra steps to ensure a great cup of joe but I am not a coffee snob. Although I grind my own beans right before brewing my coffee, I won’t make a fuss if some grounded beans from yesterday are in the pot.

coffee french press pot

Here are the few essential steps to brew a robust French Press pot.

1. A coarse grind

The larger particules eliminate the unpleasant sludge caused by the fine grit. I take that with caution. The coarser setting of my old entry-level grinder does produce some powder and tiny coffee bits. But the metal filter of my Bodum pot doesn’t a decent job at keeping them out. I found that pouring the coffee into a carafe as soon as it is ready diminishes the effect.

If you are on the market for a coffee grinder, go for a burr grinder instead of a blade one. Be prepared to invest $300 or more for a grinder that will produce an even grind time after time. Remember that an entry-level burr coffee grinder will always beat the best blade coffee grinder. Fopr the moment, I will continue to use my 25 years old grinder.

2. The right amount of coffee

Personally, I put 2 rounded tablespoons for 2 mugs and a half of coffee. I have an 8-cup model but I don’t fill it up. Find what works for you and for the coffee beans that you use.

3. The water temperature

Water should be about 200ºF (anything between 195-205ºF is fine). I don’t need a thermometer since my Breville electric kettle has a French Press setting. Otherwise, know that the right temperature is slightly lower than boiling temperature. It is because you don’t want to burn your coffee.

4. Pour a Little, Stir and Set the Timer

I initially pour a third of the total water that I will use to make a press pot. I stir with chopsticks until I create a small foam. I set my stove the timer to 3:40 minutes. Since I aim for a total  brewing time of 4 minutes, I offset the stirring time and the time it will take me to cancel the timer and reach the pot.

5. Fill the Pot

Pour the hot water. Add the filter assembly. I put down the filter a little, just enough to make sure that the coffee is fully immersed.

french press coffee pour in mason jar

6. Pour into a Carafe

As soon as the timer rings, I pour me a cup and pour the rest into a Mason jar. To avoid the sludge, don’t pour every sip of liquid. I also throw away the bottom of every mug. Maybe, it is time that I invest in a better coffee grinder after all.



Happy New Year 2012 with a Delicious Chocolate Caffè Latte

my chocolate latte

my chocolate latte

Who can resist a good cup of hot chocolate this time of the year? Not me! I found the next best thing, after a true hot chocolate made from melted dark chocolate is the dark chocolate Variation 2011 coffee from Nespresso. I usually dislike flavored coffee. Now, I am in love. It makes a latte that almost tastes like my favorite hot chocolate. I wish that we bought more capsules since we are running low.

I quietly celebrated New Year’s Eve at home this year. But it suited me. I hope that you had fun with your celebrations. I wish you all the best for 2012: health, peace, love, success and happiness. What are your resolutions? I do not take resolutions per se. Instead, I set overall goals.

With the birth of my son last spring, 2011 was a big year both emotionally and physically. I needed a break, which is why I blogged less over the last two months. I took this time to rest, but also to analyze what I did so far, how to balance life/work and to explore what I want to accomplish next. I still have to figure out the details, but I have a better idea of what’s next for me on a professional level. And it involves blogging, curating and inspiring people. Let’s chat more often in 2012! In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of the Holiday season with your loved on. This is what I will be doing.



Mason-Style Drinking Jars

latte served in drinking jar at griffintown cafe

latte served in drinking jar at griffintown cafe

I wanted to get my own drinking jars ever since I drank a latte served in a drinking jar at Griffintown Cafe. I have been so busy since the start of the year that I did not had the time to shop for them. It just happened that I found them while I passed the kitchen aisles of the Canadian Tire.

mason style drinking jars

I bought a pair to see if they work nicely with our Nespresso machine. As I arrived home, I noticed it is written on the jar that it is not for hot beverages. But they look exactly the same. I guess that means that I am due for a delicious brunch at Griffintown Cafe soon to see if they are exactly the same. This time, I will try one of their eggs Benedict.

eggs benedict at griffintown cafe


Umbra Handisleeve and Dandisleeve

umbra handisleeve and dandisleeve

umbra handisleeve and dandisleeve

The Handisleeve by Umbra has an handle, which means that it is easy to hold and drink from. Some textile coffee sleeves can be slippery. It won’t happen with the rubber coated Handisleeve. I see it as a must-have for when you are driving your car. It comes in blue, red, green and black.

Alan Wisniewski designed two two models: the simple Handilsleeve and the Dandisleeve (in black or pink) which shows a flower cur pattern. Both models can fit several sized of cups. You can watch what people have to say about it.

+ Handisleeve by Umbra $5
+ Dandisleeve by Umbra $5


The Winter’s Scarlet Dip Tableware Collection by Heath Ceramics

winter's scarlet dip collection by heath ceramics

winter's scarlet dip collection by heath ceramics

Heath Ceramics introduced a seasonal collection that mixes red with winter grey. For the bud vase trio, they played with finishes. Serving as the base for their Winter’s Scarlet Dip pattern, the trio features two glazes, ruby red and suede red; the second is a beautiful orangey red. Serving bowls, prep bowls, a dip tray and three styles of cups complete the 2010/2011 winter collection.

espresso set from winter's scarlet dip collection by heath ceramics

Imagine how nice it will look to serve real hot chocolate with the mugs on the Scarlet dip tray. My other favorite piece is the espresso set. If you wish to add of hints of reds on at your Christmas table, this is the way to go.

+ Winter’s Scarlet Dip Bud Vase Set $110 USD at Heath Ceramics
+ Scarlet Espresso set $32 USD at Heath Ceramics
+ Scarlet dip tray $60 USD at Heath Ceramics
+ Stores where to buy Heath Ceramics, including one Canadian store


A More Colourful Home with Pantone

Pantone chairs tin boxes

Pantone chairs tin boxes

Pantone is known as the world authority on colour. Their standardized colour reference system is used throughout the design industry. I always enjoy flipping through the Pantone colour reports for inspiration and ideas, and to learn which shades will be the next trend. Just check out the Pantone report for spring 2011.

Pantone colour mugs

Pantone has made the leap into lifestyle with funky collectables, including coffee mugs and espresso cups, notebooks and totes. You may already recognize the coffee mugs from design shops; I can attest they make a thoughtful gift for design-minded friends (I was gifted a Pantone “Grape” 520C mug).

The graphic metal tins would make perfect clutter catchers in a kid’s room, while these standard aluminum folding chairs get a stylish upgrade with the help of Pantone reference codes. Not only are they a cool, colourful seating option for an office or kitchen, they look pretty great on the wall, too.

+  Set of 10 PANTONE mugs – original blend of best selling colours £72 at W2 Products
+ Whitbread Wilkinson Pantone 10 Pack of Mugs in Mixed Colors $110 USD at Velocity
+ Pantone Colour Chair £54 at The Holding Company
+ Pantone Colour Tin Box £17 at The Holding Company


The Coffee Catcher Solves Two Problems with One Tool

coffee catcher

coffee catcher

I have to admit that I am curious about this French press accessory. I make my daily coffee with a French press. I love the taste but I always pour my coffee over a fine strainer to make sure no coffee grains go into my cup. My technique eliminate to the bitter tail of the second cup is to throw out the last couple of sips. There must be a better way.

Apparently, there is with the coffee catcher. The disk acts as a second filter, which is supposed to prevent the bitter tail. The other useful feature of the coffee catcher is when it comes the time to clean your French press pot. You simply affix the handle when you are ready to remove the coffee grounds.

The Coffee Catcher is available in three sizes. I want to know if any of you have tried it before. If so, did you like it? Does it worth the small investment?

+ Coffee Catcher $18.95 to $21.95 USD at Kaffeologie


A Handpresso for Father’s Day

handpresso wild outdoor set with a portable espresso machine

handpresso wild outdoor set with a portable espresso machine

For the April 2010 episode of On Est Ensemble where we had the former professional soccer player Nick de Santis as the star guest, I introduced a portable espresso machine.

I selected  the outdoor set by Handpresso because it contains the very essence of the nomadic espresso: the portable espresso machine called Handpresso Wild working with E.S.E. pods, 4 unbreakable cups, a 300 ml thermos-flask in stainless steel to have hot water always close to hand, and 2 small napkins. All that store neatly inside a small carrying case. Imagine the bright smile on the face of your dad if you show up with this kit on Father’s Day.

A Funny Moment of Web TV

But when you are recording live, things do not always as good as planned. It happened to me on my last design segment for On Est Ensemble.

The researcher for On Est Ensemble tried the Handpresso Wild before the show with success. In fact, he told me that it was easy to use. Therefore, I did not expect a miss in front of the camera. We thought that if I simply watched the tutorial video and had a look at the machine before the show, I will be alright. But making a delicious espresso with a machine that you never used before while recording a live Web TV show is not as easy as it seems. Many factors influence the quality of the coffee you produce with a manual machine. But it is also what allows the quality of a barista to shine.

My demonstration assured me of one thing. I recommend to give the Handpresso Wild only to an active person who does not mind a little exercise. To pump the machine to 16 bar requires more stamina than I imagined. Just watch the video of my design segment. There is no need to understand French to see what I mean. If you speak French, I am sure that you will laugh.

What is the right technique?

When it is done right, the coffee drops more quickly than on my design segment. This is the principle behind the espresso. Since the show, I learned what were my mistakes in handling the Handpresso Wild. So I suggest that you:

  • Go a little bit over the 16 bar mark. This way, you will make sure that you have enough pressure when you hit the press button
  • Use very hot water. Ours was not hot enough
  • Watch the .How to Use the Handpresso Video

If your coffee is dropping slowly like mine, you did something wrong. Start again. Like anything else in life, practice makes better. You can buy the Handpresso Wild machine separately. A portable espresso machine is very appealing if you live in a small space or do not wish to allocate space on your counter for the big machine.

+  Handpresso Wild ESE Pods or Dome (Ground Coffee) Version $145 CAD
+ Handpresso Outdoor Set $245 CAD – link to place an order online in Canada
+ In the States: Handpresso Wild Outdoor Picnic Set on sale at $179 USD, reg. $219  at
+ See the entire show at On Est Ensemble


A Cute Retro Milk and Sugar Bottle

make my day retro milk bottle :: milk and sugar serving set

make my day retro milk bottle :: milk and sugar serving set

The Retro Milk Bottle is a new product by the Australian brand Make My Day.  The milk bottle is divided in two parts to create a unique milk and sugar serving set. The bottle part is the sugar container. A silicone lid adds a touch of color to the creamy white ceramic old-fashioned milk bottle. I did not find a retailer in the United States or Canada but there is a distributor in each country.

+ US distributor: The Sarut Group


The Espresso Set by Fellina Sok-Cham

espresso set by Fellina Sok-Cham

espresso set by Fellina Sok-Cham

It is a great start for Fellina Sok-Cham. Winner of a student design contest, her Espresso set is a best seller at the MoMA store. This set is ingenious. The bamboo serving tray doubles as the support for the inset bamboo saucers. The spoon nests in the cup. The kit includes 6 porcelain cups and the spoons.

+ Espresso Set by Fellina Sok-Cham $48 USD, members $43.20


I love my new Breville Variable Temperature Kettle

breville variable temperature electric kettle

breville variable temperature electric kettle

I first introduced it when I talked about innovations for tea kettles. Our electric kettle broke last December after 4 years of service. I started to use an Italian stainless stove kettle that I bought many many years ago. It works fine except that it takes ages to boil the amount of water I need to fill my husband’s tea pot and my pot of French press coffee. In fact, I had to rearrange my morning routine. This was not working for me.

My husband, who knew that I wanted one, bought the Breville Variable Temperature Kettle. I love it! We both love it. The hold temperature button, which can be activated anytime in the process, comes handy more often than we think. We enjoy our morning beverage at the ideal temperature without no fuss. I first make his tea, put back the kettle on its base, press on the French press button and wait a few seconds for my water to reach the ideal temperature. Voilà! I am very happy.

+ Breville Variable Temperature Kettle $145 USD
+ Bodum Crema French Press Coffeemaker 12-oz (3 cups) $30.32 USD, 32-oz (8 cups) $49.99