The instructions below make 32 ounces, a common size of French press that makes about four servings. But what if you want to make more or less? Here's a general guide to proportions by volume. Note that coffee beans are measured before grinding.
1 serving — 1 cup water (8 fluid ounces) — 2 tablespoons coffee beans
2 servings — 2 cups water (16 fluid ounces) — 1/4 cup coffee beans
4 servings — 4 cups water (32 fluid ounces) — 1/2 cup coffee beans
8 servings — 8 cups water (64 fluid ounces) — 1 cup coffee beans
Measure the coffee beans: Measure out 1/2 cup coffee beans. (Or, if you're making less than 32 ounces, refer to our coffee proportions chart above.)
Grind the coffee beans: Grind the beans on the coarsest setting in a burr grinder. If you don't have a burr grinder, grind in brief, sharp pulses in a blade grinder, stopping every couple seconds to invert the grinder and give it a sharp shake while holding the lid on. Your coffee grounds should be rough and coarse, but still evenly-sized, without a lot of fine grit. Pour the grounds into the French press.
Heat the water to boiling, then cool for 1 minute. Measure 4 cups water. (Or, if you're making less than 32 ounces, refer to our coffee proportions chart above.) Water for French press coffee should be heated to 195°F. This is below boiling, which is 212°F at sea level. Heat the water in a stovetop or electric kettle to boiling, then take off the heat for about 1 full minute before making the coffee. If you want to make extra-sure it's the right temperature, use a thermometer to check. (Or, if you have a fancy newer kettle with custom temperature settings, choose "coffee.")
Add the water: Add the full 4 cups of hot water to the French press.
Stir the brew: Stir vigorously, using an up and down motion.
Steep for 4 minutes: Four minutes will produce a robust brew. If you want to tweak your French press as you learn its nuances, you may find that different roasts of coffee do better with slightly longer or shorter steeping times.
Plunge the press: When the timer goes off, immediately press the plunger all the way to the bottom. Drink the coffee immediately.