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What are the pros/cons and effects of stirring, either "too much" or "too short", in a French press? My rule of thumb for steeping is to let the coffee cool down to a drinkable temperature, then serve immediately.

I was going with the thinking that in whatever chemical reaction is occurring during the brew, I would want to accelerate it with maximum stirring. Particularly when maximizing caffeine?

The video here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_press#Preparation

shows a quick stir only, however. They mention a range of brewing times.

(side question: the only reason not to stir with a metal spoon is to prevent breaking the beaker?)

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It's mostly a personal preference

Stirring increases the turbulence, which is supposed to help for a more even extraction and change some flavor qualities of your coffee (such as the acidity and bitterness).

In reality, you might not even notice it. I know I don't, and so far I've only met one (non-barista) person who's able to tell the difference (he didn't like a lot of turbulence).

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Based on my experience, I can say that stirring does not affect the brewing process in a French press a lot. The initial stirring is just for homogenously distributing the grounds in the water. Then, the rest of brewing happens itself in the water by chemical extraction itself and the main factors are time and temperature.

According to your question, I can say that you may be over extracting if you are waiting for the water to cool down.

One quick recipe and other related discussion are mentioned here.

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Assuming that your grind size is french press coarse, stirring may speed extraction.

Stirring is a bit like higher temperature, it moves around the molecules such that you are dissolving soluble compounds from the coffee. It's like having a convection oven, you can cook food with a lower temperature in the same time it takes a conventional oven. They're both going to get the job done.

Convection ovens do sometimes dry out the food more, which can be analogous to stirring sometimes over extracting unwanted flavors like bitterness.

In brewing coffee it's all about your preferences. And I'm not just talking about taste. Speed can be a major factor. It is for me, which is why I use an AeroPress with a fine grind setting. I just make sure I don't let it brew very long nor do I use much pressure at all in order to keep the flavor where I want it.

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