Coffee Methods: The French Press

French press - the bold, dark choice! We did a survey last fall on how you make your coffee, and at least a quarter of you said you use a French press. We love ours, and it's an economical and fairly straightforward way to make a good cup of coffee.

Read on for French press tips and facts.

A French press is a simple contraption. It's a glass or metal carafe with a tightly-fitting plunger inside. Hot water is poured over coarsely ground coffee and stirred and steeped for a few minutes. Then the plunger is pushed down and forces all the coffee grounds to the bottom of the carafe. The rich coffee is left above and can be poured out.

We were afraid we started a small coffee geek war (such as they are) with our thread last year on Perfect French Press Coffee. There were some strong opinions, for sure!

But we found a few good tips in that thread. Here's how we make ours.

• We grind the coffee roughly - usually for about three long pulses in our Krups grinder. It's not as fine as drip coffee grounds, but still finer than the crystal size of instant coffee.

• We heat the water to boiling then let it cool for about 30 seconds before pouring it over the coffee.

• Stir the mixture vigorously a couple times then loosely cover with the lid and plunger.

• Steep for 3-5 minutes. We used to brew ours longer because we felt that it was under-extracted, but we grind our coffee a little finer now and brew it for a shorter time. This makes a stronger, richer cup without bitterness.

• Plunge and pour.

• While we love the thermal carafe pictured above, they are slightly beside the point. French press coffee should be drunk quickly. It gets strong and bitter as it sits on top of the grounds. We make one cup each morning and drink it right away.

Do you use a French press? Any good tips or suggestions?

-- See all our coffee brewing coverage here.