Un cafe, s’il vous plait! (that’s French for “I love my French Press!”) (Sort of)
I think I’ve mentioned before that I love coffee. A few dozen times I might have mentioned this. When I was a kid my mom let me drink coffee, heavily sugared and diluted in milk. (I’m 5’10”. If the tales of coffee stunting one’s growth are true, my mother may have utterly ruined my chances of a future with the WNBA. On the other hand, I’m a klutz whose finger jams whenever it even looks at a basketball, so probably not.) I don’t drink it for the caffiene, I drink it because I think it tastes really nice and it’s a socially acceptable morning ritual. I have to curtail myself on it because if I have caffiene after 1pm I don’t sleep at night, which stinks, but that’s life…
(And before you even say it, decaf is the pits. I can smell decaf coffee about as easily as I can detect “seriously you won’t be able to tell it’s low fat” “chocolate” cookies. If it’s not the good stuff, what’s the point? I’d rather have what I like in small quantities than a bad imitation in plenitude. Accept no substitutes.)
I, like much of America, have “run on Dunkin” for the past few years–mostly because they make better coffee than I do, it’s fairly inexpensive, and if I order a small it comes in a cardboard cup instead of the styrofoam the medium and large come in. And I’ve felt a little guilty about it, because I’m still spending discretionary income on COFFEE, for God’s sake, and still generating more garbage.
A couple of months ago I dug out my old Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker, determined to make it work. (This is after two or three failed attempts to just stop drinking the stuff.) I tried, but the coffee the thing made was desperately unfulfilling, even when flavored with eggnog instead of cream. At some point I sent out plaintive and wistful wishes for my own French Press, even while admitting I really didn’t need one, and Santa Claus (alias my mom) obliged me with my very own single-use French Press coffee maker. It says it makes “three cups,” but it means three cups of 4 oz. each, which by American standards is more like one cup. Or to say in another way, “one person’s total coffee intake for the morning.” (Even in France, people order more than one, right?)
As I’ve said in the past, I am not generally a “product placement” kind of person. But MAN, this thing makes good coffee. Heat the water in the microwave, pour it into the beaker, let it sit for a few minutes, press down the grounds, and there’s this delicious lovely coffee–good enough that I could drink it black and still love the flavor. (I don’t, though. I still do milk and sugar.)
Because the thing is, what I never quite thought of from the name of the “French Press” is that with it I’m making coffee pretty close to what I used to order every day during that lovely week I spent in France 10 years ago, in another life. What I used to get in a lovely small heavy white ceramic cup at the corner cafe when I’d go in in the morning and say, “Bonjour, Madame! Un cafe, s’il vous plait. Et un pain au chocolat aussi, si’l vous plait.” (I spent that week walking about 6 hours a day. I lost not a pound. It was the pain au chocolat, I’m sure, though the crepes au miel didn’t help.) This French Press makes the kind of coffee you make real cafe au lait out of–half coffee, half milk, and it’s still plenty strong. So, yeah, three cups from that coffee maker is pretty much right, assuming you’re doing 4 oz. each of milk and coffee. And it tastes an awful lot like my memories of those cafes, where I was always served by staff that gave the lie to all those rumors about how “rude” the French allegedly are. I found everyone I met, except the folks at the airport, to be absolutely lovely.
Heating water by microwave is a fairly efficient way to heat water (an electric kettle is even more so), and the Press uses no additional power, and with the small coffee maker you have very little waste. And it takes up almost no space on the counter and is easy to clean. What’s not to love?