Somewhere in the mid-19th century in France, the French press coffee maker was born.  This simple coffee brewing system consists of a narrow cylindrical beaker usually made of glass or clear plastic, equipped with a lid and a “plunger”, made of metal or plastic, which fits tightly in the cylinder and which has a fine wire or nylon mesh filter.

Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, leaving to brew for a few minutes, then depressing the plunger to trap the coffee grounds at the bottom of the beaker.

This sounds simple enough, but there is an art to making the perfect pot of pressed coffee. Follow these instructions and you’ll soon become a master.


  1. Heat water in a tea kettle just before the boiling point.  I find water heated in a  tea kettle seems to hold the heat better than water heated in the microwave.
  2. Using fresh whole beans, grind the beans to a medium grind.  The grind for a coffee press should be coarser than for drip coffee.  If the coffee is ground too fine, then grounds will seep into your coffee and you’ll have coffee silt in the bottom of your cup.
  3. Add coffee to the bottom of the empty press.  I use 3 coffee scoops (around 2 Tablespoons for each scoop) for a full 12 ounce press, but you can adjust this according to taste.
  4. Fill container with hot water.  Put lid on to keep in the heat but don’t press yet.
  5. Allow to brew for exactly 4 minutes.  If left too long, the coffee can become bitter.
  6. Remove the lid and stir the pot right before plunging.
  7. Press the plunger all the way to the bottom.
  8. Voila! Pour coffee and enjoy.
  9. It’s best to not leave coffee in the pot for more than 20 minutes so the coffee doesn’t become bitter.
  10. Rinse out your pot for next time.

You can also brew delicious tea using loose tea leaves. Just follow the same instructions above.

A side note: A nice French coffee press, like the brand Bodum, can retail for as much as $60.  But I’ve bought two Bodum coffee presses plus an almost new tea pot, all at the local thrift store for under $20…total!  Keep your eyes open and you will find one too.