DIY Lifestyle Training

French Press Coffee: Nature’s Pre-Workout

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Coffee as a Pre-Workout Drink

I'm sure many of you out there are already using coffee to perk yourselves up in the morning. Why not use that same get-you-going effect before a workout? Caffeine is the main ingredient in commercial pre-workout drinks that gives you that energy and focus. This makes coffee the original pre-workout and using a french press has an advantage over other brewing methods in the caffeine procurement department.

The caffeine content of french pressed coffee is higher than traditional drip coffee. Caffeine content is dependent on extraction time (how long the water is in contact with the grounds). With a drip coffee maker, the water is simply poured onto the grounds, filters down, and is allowed to drip freely into the pot. This method results in an extraction time of maybe 20 to 30 seconds. With a french press, the grounds are submerged for the entire brew time, up to about 4 minutes. 

Enjoy a cup of caffeine-rich, french pressed brown gold before heading into the gym and use the energy and mental clarity to take your workouts to the next level.

Why I Started Using a French Press

When I first started making coffee at home, I used a drip pot like everyone else and it worked…sort of. It was extremely easy to use but the coffee was sub-par. I started thinking about what could cause this and realized that the inability to totally clean the machine in-between brews was a main contributor to the “off” tasting cups I was getting.

The water reservoir at the back of the machine was getting kind of dank and couldn't be cleaned easily. The basket that holds the grounds accumulated a sort of “seasoning” from repeated use. The results weren't good either, kind of like brewing coffee using stale coffee. Plastic just isn't an ideal surface when dealing with near boiling water. The plastic taste is transferred to the coffee and the coffee is absorbed into the plastic.

It was then that I found the french press. The only material your coffee will come in contact with is glass and stainless steel. Both of these materials are non-reactive and non-porous, meaning they won't impart any taste on your coffee and they won't absorb any odors from repeated use.

The press can be easily disassembled between uses for thorough cleaning, removing that second and third generation coffee taste. As an added bonus, I learned that I could control the taste of each brew by controlling variables such as water temperature, brew time, grounds to water ratio, agitation, and grind size. Over the course of about 6 years (with the same press-pot btw), I've come up with a system that works well for any coffee I buy.

Like I said, I've been using this same pot for 6 years, sometimes once but mostly twice a day, and it's still in perfect working order. Just for fun, let's look at some cost per use calculations here.

1.5 uses per day (average) x 365 days = 547.5 uses per year

547.5 uses per year x 6 Years = 3,285 uses to-date

This was a gift, but cost around $40. So, $40/3,285 uses = 0.012. Or about 1 cent per use!

What You'll Need

  • French Press (I use and love a BonJour)
  • Coffee (whole beans are preferable to pre-ground)
  • Grinder (a Burr grinder is best)
  • Glass Measuring Cup (I use a Pyrex, these things are bulletproof)
  • Measuring spoon or food scale
  • Meat thermometer (I'll explain below)
  • Microwave

Besides the coffee beans, the rest are a one-time purchase. Some reviewers will tell you that the glass of a press-pot is fragile. I've been using mine for over six years and it hasn't had so much as a single chip, despite a few careless bumps. If you're not prone to breaking dishes on a regular basis, you shouldn't have a problem with this kind of coffee pot.

How to Brew French Press Coffee

Step 1

Fill your measuring cup with the desired amount of cold water from the tap. I use 16 ounces, which works perfectly with my mug of choice.

Step 2

Microwave your water long enough to bring it to a boil. Mine takes 4.5 minutes to boil, but every microwave yields different results.

Step 3

While the water is in the microwave, you can measure out your beans. You'll need about 4 teaspoons ground coffee, or better yet 26 grams, per 16 ounces. Through trial and error, I've found that an old protein powder scoop gives me this measurement without having to weigh it out every time.

Step 4

Course grind your coffee beans, preferably using a burr grinder. There will be a coarse grind setting on a burr grinder, but you'll have to use a little trial and error with a blade type grinder. A coarse grind prevents over-extraction (bitter taste) and the plunger screen from getting clogged during pressing.

Step 5

Place the grounds in the glass cylinder and check the temperature of the water with your meat thermometer. You can use water ranging from 195 to 205 Fahrenheit. Set the timer on your microwave for 4 minutes and pour in the hot water over the grounds.

Step 6

After 1 minute, gently stir the coffee to ensure even extraction. Then, place the plunger on top of the pot, but do not press yet.

Step 7

When the timer goes off, gently press the plunger all the way down. Pour and enjoy!

Top Tips

Pour all the coffee into mugs or a carafe immediately after pressing. If left in the pot, it will continue to brew and get really nasty, really fast.

Don't drink the last two tablespoons. Since the french press uses a metal screen instead of a paper filter, smaller particles get through and collect in the bottom. Although the sediment doesn't add anything to the experience, the metal screen allows the natural oils to get through, enhancing the coffee's flavor.

Measure your coffee by weight. It'll be more consistent and you won't have to guess how much to grind.

Experiment with temperatures. When you get a new bag of coffee, brew a pot at 195 F, one at 200 F, and another at 205 F to see which works best for that particular coffee. Just keep the other variables such a the grind size and grounds to water ratio constant. I knew those science  labs would come in handy one day!

A french press is great for camping trips – no electricity required!

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  • Reply
    Damian @ Dareandconquer
    April 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    1 cent per coffee?I have never thought of it that way.

    From my experience i have also been benefited from french press coffee. I am skipping breakfast and drinking coffee instead.

    The result? I am more focused and energized and can have longer concentration periods. What i think that works the best is drinking your coffee about 1 hour before hitting the gym and then don’t drink coffee again the same day.

    This way caffeine’s effect is maximized and your body is not getting resistant to caffeine. If you drink coffee 2-3 times per day then you get used to it and need more caffeine to get the same effect.

    I can’t really get why people use pre-workouts. Don’t you think they are useless? You can drink a cup of heavy coffee and be pumped like a bull.

    • Reply
      April 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      You’re right about limiting frequency for max effect. I’m a bit of a caffeine junkie and don’t even feel 2 or 3 cups of coffee anymore. One day I plan on switching to decaf for a month or so.

      I don’t think there’s a real reason to use pre-workouts if you can get the same buzz from coffee. They’re nice to have once in a while, but most are too expensive and I can’t justify daily use.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Pro tip take a shit at your house before going to the gym and after drinking your coffee really throws off the workout if you gotta stop when nature calls lmao

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