The French press coffee pot, also known as the plunger pot or press pot, produces an exceptionally rich cup of coffee. The grounds are steeped in hot water for several minutes, which gives the coffee a richer, fuller taste than the liquid produced by your run-of-the-mill electric coffee maker. Coffee made in the press will contain a bit of sediment, which increases the coffee's body and produces a texture similar to that of espresso. The coffee seems stronger and more full-bodied.

Brewing coffee in a French press is easier than you might think, and results in a superior cup of coffee every time. Although the technique is important, so is the quality of the coffee you use in your press. For the best result, always use freshly ground coffee. Buy roasted whole coffee beans at your local market and grind them just before you use your French press for the best taste. You can use pre-ground coffee, if absolutely necessary, but you won't experience the full benefit of using a French press coffee pot without using fresh grounds.

The following French press coffee how-t0 guide provides general directions for using the device, but always check the manufacturer's directions for your particular model if possible.

Using Your French Press Coffee Pot

  1. French Press Coffee PotTake the plunger out of your French press coffee pot. It should just slip right off, but if you're unsure about this step, consult the instruction manual that came with your pot.

  2. Grind your coffee beans coarsely. Add 1 rounded tablespoon of coffee grounds to the glass cylinder for each 4 oz. cup of coffee you're making.

  3. Pour hot water (not quite boiling, but very hot) over the grounds in the glass cylinder. To get water the right temperature, bring a kettle to a boil, remove from the heat and wait about 1 minute, or until it stops bubbling.

  4. Stir the coffee grounds and water using a wooden or heavy plastic spoon. Do not use metal, as this can crack or break the glass. The object of this step is to thoroughly saturate all of the coffee grounds with the hot water.

  5. Place the plunger back on top of the glass cylinder in its original location, but do not press down yet. Allow the coffee to steep for 3 to 4 minutes.

  6. Depress the plunger with a steady hand, making sure to apply even, consistent pressure as you push down. Some resistance is normal, but if it's very difficult to press, this means you ground your coffee too fine.

  7. Pour the coffee into warmed serving mugs and enjoy!

Tip: Serve your coffee immediately after preparing the French press coffee recipe, and don't try to store it in the glass cylinder. If you won't be drinking the coffee within about 5 minutes, transfer it to a thermal carafe, where it will keep for up to an hour.

Troubleshooting Your French Press Coffee Pot

If your coffee tastes too weak, you probably ground your coffee beans too coarsely. There's a fine line between too coarse and just right when it comes to brewing in a French Press. Likewise, coffee that tastes too bitter most likely results from grinding the coffee too fine. Invest in a good quality coffee grinder that won't grind too coarse or too fine to get the best cup of coffee out of your French press coffee pot. Almost all the problems a beginner could have with a press pot result from an incorrect grind.

Cleaning Your French Press Coffee Pot

Most types of French press coffee pots are easy to disassemble and clean. Check the manufacturer's directions for your particular model for the best results. In most cases, you'll need to remove the filter and clean it out, and thoroughly rinse the glass cylinder to remove any lingering coffee grinds. Some models are dishwasher safe for everyday cleaning, but be sure to check your model for dishwasher safety before you attempt to clean it this way.