Using a French press to make coffee is like buying a new wardrobe: It takes a little experimentation to figure out exactly what works for you. This method lets hot water soak the coffee grounds for deep, rich flavor you can't get from a drip maker. Starting out, you may need to play with ratios and brewing times before you find the combination that pleases you the most. Once you've found that combination, you'll get the same flavor from every cup you brew.
Things You'll Need
Measuring cups and spoons
Pot or water boiler
Inspect the mesh plunger of your pot for any oily residue or trapped grounds from previous use. Disassemble the plunger and wash the pieces if necessary.
Measure out whole coffee beans and water. Most coffee brewers use a ratio of somewhere between 8 and 16 parts water to 1 part coffee, so to make a single serving of coffee you might use 1 cup of water and between 2 and 4 tablespoons of beans, depending on whether you prefer your coffee on the strong or weak side. Some recipes also call for the coffee to be measured after it's been ground.
Boil the water on the stove or in a clean boiler. Use filtered water if your tap water has any distinctive taste.
Grind the beans. If possible, use a burr grinder, which creates more uniform grounds than a blade grinder. Aim for a consistency resembling coarse sand or breadcrumbs; grounds that are too fine will seep through the mesh when you press the coffee.
Pour the ground coffee into the French press pot. Pour the water over the grounds as soon as it boils. Gently stir the contents of the pot to combine them.
Place the lid on the pot, but don't push down the plunger yet. Watch the clock. Most brewers suggest letting the coffee brew for between 3 and 6 minutes. The longer it brews, the stronger the coffee.
Push the plunger down slowly until it reaches the bottom of the pot. Pour the coffee immediately, keeping the plunger in place.
You may use pre-ground coffee in a French press, though the results won't taste as fresh. Look for grounds that are coarse and uniform in size.
Some brewers recommend measuring grounds and water by weight. If you have a kitchen scale, you may prefer this method. Roasting company Intelligentsia recommends using 25 grams of coffee to 400 grams, or about 14 ounces, of water.
Preheating your pot by filling it with hot water while you prepare the grounds will help the coffee stay extra hot. Dump this water out just before pouring in the grounds and boiled water.