If you have followed my Instagram page (mr_cigarman) even for a day, you will know that I like coffee. 


I. Love. Coffee. 

It is the magical elixir that catalyses my daily metamorphosis from a grumpy, sleepy mess to a bright eyed and bushy tailed member of the community. Believe me, that is quite a feat for six o’clock in the morning.

Needless to say, my morning cigar cannot go unaccompanied by a rich ristretto, my preferred offering, achieved either through the nine bars of pressure supplied by my espresso machine, or by my trusty stovetop espresso maker. However, as of late, I have experimented with another brewing method which produces a gratifyingly rich cup that pairs especially well with longer cigars such as toros or gordos. I am referring to the humble French Press. 

With much experimentation, research, trial and error, I have found a method which works best for me; I emphasise this because, like cigars, every opinion is just that: an opinion! Ultimately we will all have better experiences when we learn from each other, and if there exists a way to make coffee and cigars even more enjoyable I need to know about it! Please follow and contact me via my Instagram page (mr_cigarman), I would love to hear from you! Now, on to the method…

Freshly Roasted and Ground Coffee 

I buy freshly roasted beans rom my local roaster The Beanery and grind them at home. This is game changing; freshly roasted and ground coffee provides the richest possible expression. Furthermore, should you produce a cup which you are not overly pleased with, the grind setting is something you can adjust (more on the later). If you want to produce good coffee, grinding should be something that you take control of yourself. When brewing with my plunger I grind somewhere between the coarse and medium settings; the end result should resemble something like fancy flaked sea salt. 

Water : Coffee 

Without getting overly scientific, the water to coffee ratio requires some specificity; as such I use a digital scale to ensure consistency. This also allows me to understand where and how I need to make adjustments should I brew coffee which I do not particularly enjoy. I find that for 500ml of water, 45g produces a nicely full bodied brew dependent on the beans that I am using. Refer to the table below for a starting point, before making adjustments to satisfy your preferences. Note that 1ml of water weighs 1g, so measuring with your scale is quite straightforward.  

Coffee (g) Water (ml) 
27g 300ml

Brewing and Troubleshooting 

Before I begin brewing my coffee, I prepare the carafe by pouring in some hot water and swirling it around. Scientifically speaking, this is to ensure that the ideal temperatures and conditions for premium extraction are achieved and maintained for longer throughout the brewing process; simply put, keeping your carafe warm will improve your coffee. After tipping out the water, I add the ground coffee and poor the water over it. Now, I have seen everything from a straight pour, to a figure eight, to the elite coffee connoisseurs of the world embellishing their pour with a greater level of finesse and complexity than da Vinci’s brush required to create the Mona Lisa. Honestly, the pattern of your pour is not important, draw smiley faces if you must; that which is important is agitation, ensuring that there is enough movement in your pour to swirl the coffee around, allowing all of the grinds to come into contact with the water. 

Allow this to sit for no less than four minutes before stirring the crust which forms at the top. You will notice a lot of the crust will break away and fall through the coffee, leaving a lightly coloured foam on the top in which excess coffee grounds will be suspended. This is not an espresso style crema: should you have the time, scoop it off using a tablespoon or small sieve. Now, slowly push the plunger down without letting it hit the bed of coffee grinds which have settled at the bottom, as this will stir up a whole lot of undesirable sediment. If the plunger gets stuck, move it up slightly and continue to press. 

At this point, allow the coffee to continue brewing for five minutes or so. After this time has elapsed, your coffee is ready to serve. If you have brewed only for yourself, pour it into your cup and enjoy. If there are multiple cups to be served, pour the entire contents of your plunger into a seperate carafe; the repeated stop-start of multiple pours will disturb the sedimented grounds and result in sandy, sludgy coffee from the second cup onwards (I discovered this quite unpleasantly). When pouring, be aware of those last couple of inches of coffee filled with sediment: you do not want those to end up in a cup. 

Ultimately, this is all about trial and error. If you achieve a perfect cup on your first attempt, I wholeheartedly congratulate you, but for the rest of us mere mortals there are some simple adjustments you can make should your cup not be as enriching as you had hoped. If your coffee tastes a dull and flavourless, consider increasing the amount of coffee to water. Alternatively, you may need to grind your beans to a finer degree, thereby increasing the surface area exposed to the water during the extraction. Inversely, a bitter cup suggests an overly fine grind: bitterness in this instance, is resultant of over extraction caused by the exposure of a larger surface area. If you struggle to push the plunger down, your coffee is far too fine. In essence, experimenting with ratios, grind sizes and even brewing times is the only way to find the cup that is perfect for you. It took me about 5 plungers worth of mediocre coffee before I started honing in on what I deemed acceptable. However, it was most definitely worth it, and will be for you also. 

French Press and Cigars: My Preferences 

The reason I enjoy French Press coffee is because, in many respects, it is a perfect accompaniment to a long cigar: sustained, rich flavours and a full bodied experience that last the length of my longer smokes. This extraction method is incredibly forgiving with regard to the types of coffee it works with: it will get the richest flavour from light, medium and dark roasts, which is perfect for those seeking to pair their coffees with a premium cigars. Should you wish to start somewhere, I have found three coffees which seem to work perfectly in my French Press and are beautiful to pair with cigars: St Ali Orthodox, St Ali Italia Disco and Liquid Amber by The Beanery. I like to pair these varieties with rich maduros to accentuate their chocolatey, earthy notes, or sometimes with Cameroon wrappers (such as the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto) to provide a sweet and spicy contrast. If this process of pairing cigars and coffee interests you, stay tuned to this page for my next article, in which I will provide an in depth primeron understanding different coffee varietals and how they pair with different cigar types, allowing you to put what you’ve learned from this piece to good use and expand on it further. 

I hope this helps you enjoy coffee in a fun new way. Thank you for your support, and as always, happy sipping and smoking. 

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