Originally Posted by VLSI
Awesome, thanks a lot for the info. I used 8 ounces of water and 15grams with a 4 minute steep and water ~175 degrees (did some experimenting with microwave times vs. temperature before making the cup). Next time I would like it a little stronger, so should I increase coffee or time? Going to have to find a better bean source too, I think mine smell a little burnt and I doubt they were recently roasted based on looks of the place I bought them from.
That is a pretty good starting ratio of water to grounds. The exercise in brewing coffee is controlling extraction. Too little extraction, and you have sour and/or weak coffee. Too much, and it turns too bitter. Some bitterness is good --- it gives the coffee structure --- but it has to be pleasant and balanced against the other flavors.
Try 3 things, but each one at a time, so you can tell what effect each has:
1. Try a coarser grind size. The individual clicks on the Hario are pretty good steps. I just had a bean where 1 click made a huge difference, but on some other beans, it makes very little difference. I think it has to do with how delicate the flavors are in the bean. Coarser grind size will lower extraction.
All else being equal, you want to use the finest grind size you can get away with without going into overextraction.
In a French press, you have to balance grind size against the sediment. A lot of people like sediment because it gives more mouthfeel and increases the "coffee-ness" of coffee for many people's tastes.
2. Try hotter water, like 204F. Hotter water will increase extraction. 175F is too low. But when you drink your coffee, give it a bit of time to cool down in the cup before really tasting it, because coffee that's drunk too hot will hide many flavors.
3. Try a longer steep. 4 minutes is pretty standard, but that tends to underextract the coffee. Try 10 minutes. Longer steeps increase extraction.
How are you stirring the mixture? That makes a difference in the extraction, too: more stirring gives you more extraction.
All these things get tweaked each time you brew a different bean, but don't worry too much about it in the beginning. Just try to get a feel for what you like and try to really taste what each bean is like for whatever brewing parameters you use. After a while, you'll know how to tweak these things depending on what you like.