The French press coffee maker is one of the most popular non-electric ways to make coffee, but some people overcomplicate it.
There's this stigma surrounding the French press that leads to many thinking it's something that only coffee snobs own and that you must have a high degree of coffee know-how to use it.
While that's completely untrue and it's much easier to use than it looks, there are certain things you should do to ensure you get the best coffee possible when using a French press.
If you have the option, coarsely grind fresh coffee beans before using them for the best flavor. You don't want to finely grind them if using fresh, as that can result in over-extraction during brewing and more particles getting into your cup.
A burr grinder is best and will make your job a lot easier.
If you want better tasting coffee but don't have time to grind beans everyday, get the best tasting store brand you can find. Get the "regular" size that's grind for automatic drip coffee makers, avoid the fine grind made for espresso, and use less grounds so your brew doesn't come out too strong.
Use filtered water when possible, especially if you have hard water in your area. You'll notice that the coffee's taste is cleaner than when you use unfiltered tap water.
If your first few attempts at using a French press coffee maker turn out weak brew, you're probably not using enough grounds. Put more coffee in the next time around.
Ensure the water you use is hot enough, but not boiling. 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit is the best range.
Warm up your French press coffee maker by putting hot or boiled water into it and letting it sit for a few minutes. This will prevent the finished coffee from cooling too quickly.
Bloom the coffee by wetting your grounds with a small amount of water, waiting 30 seconds, and then pouring the rest of the water into the French press to finish brewing.
After the blooming, avoid stirring the coffee. Just let it sit undisturbed. This will allow for better extraction and a deliciously flavored cup of coffee.
After you've poured yourself a cup, put the remaining coffee into a carafe or another cup instead of letting it sit in the press. This will prevent over-extraction.
Keep your French press clean so you don't have a taste of old coffee in it. The oils left behind need to be cleaned with soap and water, simply rinsing a French press coffee maker after using it won't do.
You'll have to experiment with the ratio of coffee grounds to water to get the mix that's perfect for your palate. No one hits it on the mark the first time, it takes a bit of trial and error.
Brew time affects the strength of your French press coffee significantly. Go for 3 to 4 minutes if you're using drip grind coffee and 6 to 8 minutes if using coarsely ground beans.
If you want to get technical, weigh your grounds with a kitchen scale once you figure out the perfect ratio to get it exactly right each time.