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I have been following James Hoffmann french press technique video. But am otherwise new to coffee-making in general and have two basic questions.

  1. Is it necessary to stir after the four minutes as he says? I have heard some say that in certain situations it is actually inadvisable to do this, if so what are these situations?

  2. Why is it unnecessary to plunge? He says not to plunge through the coffee—what effect does partial/full plunging have (on the pouring of the coffee)?

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  1. Whether to stir or not to stir is entirely a matter of personal opinion. Stirring will create the effect of superior extraction, as not stirring will saturate the water around the grounds before stirring is complete. However this can lead to overextraction if your grind is too fine or if your brew runs too long or too hot. The effect of greater extraction may also be undesirable with certain batches of beans. And lastly, there's positively no accounting for taste. Don't feel bad about doing it the way you like.

  2. Plunging or not shouldn't make any difference at all unless you're compressing the grounds when you plunge. If you plunge with enough force to compact the grounds, you can cause the release of compounds from the coffee that are undesirable in terms of taste. The effect here is similar to overextraction due to too long brew time. Generally I advise plumbing just to make the pour easier, but a halfway plunge is plenty sufficient. Don't squeeze the grounds.

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  1. I've seen a few tutorials saying stir after 3 minutes and then left it for another minute. In my experience, it lets a nicer layer of crema to form, so personally I like doing it.

  2. If you plunge too much, you will get more tiny coffee grounds in your coffee! :)

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Plunging too forcefully can create enough pressure to overcome the push of the spring against the mesh. This can push coffee grounds around the mesh "piston" instead of through the mesh

Pushing extra hard doesn't speed up the plunge. It just risks muddying your coffee. If plunging tales too long, its because the grind is too fine. Or because you used a mill rather than a grinder (which produces a lot of fine coffee "dust")

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