A French Press is a glass container with a wire mesh attached to a plunger. Some French Presses will also have an optional nylon fine filter that will help to catch dust produced while grinding.
To make coffee, you first allow water to come very close to a boil but just short of this point. You are looking for around 195 to 205 degrees. For more information on temperature see the section on water temperature. The press should be pre-warmed before preparing coffee in it. This will help keep the glass from absorbing as much heat when the hot water is put into the press thus making for a warmer coffee extraction. The press should contain approximately the same amount of very coarsely ground coffee as you would use for drip coffee. Let it brew for 2-3 minutes or until it is easy to press the plunger down.
Coarse ground coffee is a must here or there will be a great deal of sediment in the cup. The wire mesh on the plunger is the filter. You will have a small amount of sediment no mater how great a grinder you have so if you can not stand the idea of a little bit of mud in the bottom of your coffee the press pot may not be for you. If you give your coffee about one minute to rest after you press the plunger down this can help to reduce the sediment that ends up in your cup. Due to the fact that there is no paper filter, all oils make it into the cup. This is a great cup of coffee. You should resist the urge to take that last swallow unless you enjoy the sensation of fine coffee particles in your mouth.
Bodum really is not a proper name for this device. It just happens to be the predominant brand of press pots in the United States so they sometimes get called a Bodum. Cafetiere is a similarly an old trade name for press pots.
A number of new innovations have happened over the last few years in the production of press pots.