Variations of French Press have been around for over 100 years, but design concepts as…
If you love a rich, flavorful cup of coffee, you’ll love coffee made in a French press. The immersion process allows all the nuanced flavors of the coffee bean to come forward. When you’re shopping for a new French press, you may be surprised by the variety on the market. We created this guide to help you navigate this vast field and find the one suited best for your situation.
The French press is a full-immersion brewer. It’s also known as a cafetière. This type of brewer consists of a cylindrical carafe and a filter attached to a plunger. After the coffee grinds steep in nearly boiling water for about four minutes, you press the plunger down. This traps the grinds on the bottom of the carafe. French press coffee is fairly common in finer coffee shops and as a home brewing method. It’s also common at campsites since it doesn’t need any electricity to brew.
Because no paper filter is used, this brewing method allows more coffee fines and oils into the final brew. This gives you a full-bodied coffee with more complex flavors. One potential drawback is that this brewing method can result in coffee grinds and sediment in your cup, giving a viscous mouthfeel. But unless you turn the brewer completely upside down to get the last drops, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
There is some controversy over whether this plunger-type brewer was first developed in France or Italy. The first patent for a piston-type coffee brewer was filed by a French metalsmith in 1852. But this device did not create a seal around the filter.
The French press as we know it today was developed in Italy and patented in 1929. It wasn’t until 1935 that the spring around the filter was developed to keep the filter flush against the carafe. The most popular design was patented in Switzerland in 1958. It was manufactured in France and was called the Chambord.
Since the French press has been around a while, you’ll find a variety of designs available. Here we gathered some of the best French press brewers. We hope our reviews will help you pick one that fits your needs.
This little French press coffee maker has a streamlined design that stands out from the crowd. The brewer features a borosilicate glass carafe inside a Polypropylene insulating outer shell. What you'll notice immediately is that this French press has no handle. That makes it great for packing but could be a problem if your hands are small.
This is a small French press that only holds 15 ounces. That makes it a perfect travel-size brewer. While not good for a crowd, it is perfect for one person. It's at home in an office, campsite, or wherever you have access to hot water. It makes a great alternative to the ubiquitous automatic drip coffee brewer you find in almost every hotel room. It is available in black or white.
Usually, with a French press, you must use a fairly coarse grind. If you grind too fine, the grounds can slip around or through the filter and end up in your cup. No one likes to chew their coffee (unless it's a chocolate-covered coffee bean).
But with the Fellow Clara French press, you have more freedom to experiment with grind size. That's because of the Enhanced Filtration Mesh. You end up with a cleaner cup for a cleaner taste, even when you use a finer grind size. This allows you more control over the characteristics of the final product.
The Clara French press is made from heavy-duty stainless steel. With the double-wall insulation, the coffee stays hot while your hand stays cool. And the Clara is easy to use. It has markings to help you measure the exact amount of coffee and how much water to add.
It also has a handy lid. With many French presses, you have to line up the lid exactly with the spout to pour the coffee without making a mess. But the Clara has an All-Directional Pour Lid. Because of the unique lid design, just press the plunger and pour. This French press also comes with a stirrer. That helps you agitate the grinds to get a more even extraction. This French press is available in all black or in black with walnut wood handle and press.
Bodum has been in the coffee-making business since 1944. They are well known for their variety of affordable French presses. The Bodum Chambord features a classic design.
The carafe is made from borosilicate glass. Alternatively, you can get this French press with a Shatterproof SAN Carafe. SAN is a recyclable plastic and it gives the coffee a clean taste. Either carafe is held inside a stainless-steel frame. The handle is made from heat-resistant BPA-free plastic.
The 3-part filter on the stainless-steel plunger helps keep the grinds in the brewer. One drawback is that the plunger can be a bit wobbly. That can let the grinds slip around the side of the filter and end up in your cup.
No matter how much coffee your household drinks, there is a Bodum Chambord French press for you. It comes in 12, 17, 34, and 51 ounces. The metal frame comes in black, chrome, copper, cork, matte chrome, and white. We also like that it's made in Portugal.
If you want the best-dressed kitchen, the Le Creuset Stoneware French press can help you get there. It's available in 10 exciting colors, and Le Creuset offers kitchen accessories like kettles and trivets to match. You can even get matching coffee mugs.
This brewer holds 34 ounces. It's also available in a 12-ounce version, but currently, the 12-ounce carafe is only available in white. The gradient glaze is nonporous, non-reactive, and resistant to chips, scratches, and stains. It comes in Cerise (red), Flame (orange), Caribbean (teal), Marseille (blue), Artichaut (green), White, Meringue (off-white), Oyster (grey), Licorice (black), and Deep Teal.
Stoneware provides excellent heat retention. It has a stainless-steel plunger and mesh screen. It's dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Le Creuset stands behind its products and offers a 10-year warranty.
This French press does have a couple of drawbacks. The plunger filter may not completely seal with the sides of the carafe. This means it's possible for grounds to slip through into your cup. Also, the lid may not seal completely. Be careful when plunging so that hot coffee does not squirt out the spout. You'll also want to preheat the carafe with hot water before placing the coffee grounds.
This sturdy and durable French press is made from 18/10 stainless steel. It features a three-layer stainless-steel filter to keeps the grounds down and let the flavor through. This press comes with two extra filters. You can stack filters together to make a finer mesh for a cleaner coffee in your cup.
You can get this brewer in polished silver-colored stainless steel. It is also available textured in black, blue, coffee, grey, and red. Regardless of which finish you choose, these French presses are doubled-walled to keep your coffee or tea hot for an hour. It has a textured, non-slip, heat-proof handle and knob.
The brewer comes in four sizes: 12, 17, 34, and 50 ounces. The 34-ounce carafe fits most households. To keep coffee hot, turn the lid to close off the spout. To pour, align the open part of the lid to the spout.
Bodum produced their first French press coffee maker in the 1980s, and that line continues today with the classic Bodum Brazil. This may be the most affordable French press out there. The simple, straightforward design produces the classic French press taste. Even top food critics use this brewer on a daily basis.
There's a Bodum Brazil for practically everyone. It's available in three sizes: 12, 34, and 51 ounces. You can get the carafe in either borosilicate glass or BPA-free plastic.
The frame, lid, and handle on all models are made from heat-proof BPA plastic. The plastic can help absorb the shock of accidental drops, but the carafe is not shatterproof. The Bodum Brazil comes in black, off-white, and red. This brewer includes a stainless-steel filter and plunger. You can toss everything in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
This brewer features an attractive cut-out frame to add interest to your countertop. The carafe is made from borosilicate glass, and the frame is available in either BPA-free plastic or polished stainless steel. You can get the plastic frame in either black or red. It's available with either a 12- or 34-ounce carafe.
The handle is perhaps the best feature of this French press. It's easy to pour. Better yet, it extends farther from the carafe than similar brewers to prevent burning your fingers. This brewer is dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.
For freshly brewed coffee on the go, check out the Bodum Travel Press. You don't even have to wait for the coffee to finish brewing before you leave home. This is a French press and travel mug in one.
The Bodum Travel Press holds 15 ounces. It's available with either a BPA-free, double-walled, insulated plastic carafe or a double-walled, vacuum-sealed, insulated stainless-steel carafe. Both versions come with a heat-proof silicone band that is non-slip and keeps your hand cool. The band is available in black, off-white, and red.
The insulated carafe keeps the coffee hot for a long time. So long that there are complaints about the coffee staying hot for too long! In my book, that's a good problem to have.
This French press from Frieling has a decidedly different look. It won the 2017 Housewares Design Award. It is taller and thinner than most presses and has a domed lid. The bullet shape is accented by the graceful curve on the handle. It's available with a brushed finish or a polished, mirror-like finish.
The brewer is made of durable 18/10 stainless steel. The plunger is also stainless steel. It features a patented two-stage filter system. The filter is an Italian fine mesh. The coil sports an inner wire to keep the filter secure against the side of the carafe, delivering the cleanest cup possible. Both finishes feature double-walled insulation and a drip-proof spout.
The Frieling press comes in five sizes: 8, 17, 23, 36, and 44 ounces. The price is a bit higher than other entries on this list, but you are paying for quality construction and design.
This French press features a unique design. It holds the grounds in a double-lined filter basket. After brewing, when you push the plunger down, a double silicon lip seals the grounds and effectively stops the brewing process. This prevents the coffee from over-extraction if you like keeping your coffee warm in the brewer.
The durable 18-10 stainless-steel carafe is double-walled to seal in the heat. It can keep the coffee hot for hours. The carafe sports a sleek style with a flared top. It's available with an 18- or 32-ounce carafe. You can get it in brushed stainless steel, polished stainless steel, white, or black.
You’ll find two main types of French press coffee makers: those with a glass carafe and those with a stainless-steel carafe. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some French presses come with a plastic or stoneware carafe, but these are less common.
This is what most people think of when they think of a French press. The classic style is a glass carafe with a polished stainless-steel frame. These brewers tend to be aesthetically pleasing. Some glass carafes have a plastic frame, which can help provide protection from drops. Many prefer the taste you get from a glass carafe. The drawbacks include fragility and lack of heat retention.
The stainless-steel brewers have two main advantages: they are shatterproof and insulated. This is a popular material for portable presses. Many stainless-steel brewers are double-walled vacuum sealed for insulation. For both reasons, they are great for camping and travel. However, many people don’t like the taste of coffee from a stainless-steel carafe.
Although the French press is an incredibly simple brewing method, you’ll still find a great variety of styles and features. Here are some things to think about to select the best French press coffee maker for you.
Glass and plastic carafes typically do not offer much insulation. Stainless steel and stoneware carafes can be good insulators. This may or may not be an issue for you.
For other brew methods, an insulated carafe can be important to keep your coffee hot for hours. The problem with leaving coffee in a French press is that the coffee grounds are still inside. This can lead to over-extracted, bitter coffee. Therefore, it’s recommended to decanted French press coffee immediately after brewing.
Some French presses are specially designed to prevent over-extraction by including extra filters and seals. If your press makes a good seal, you might be fine leaving the coffee in it. Personally, I love my insulated, stainless-steel French press for camping. As long as you’re not swirling the coffee around in the carafe, the brewed coffee above the filter should maintain its taste.
French presses come in a wide variety of sizes. You’ll find brewers that hold as little as 12 ounces. Some of these smaller carafes double as brewer and travel mug, making them very convenient when you’re on the go. You can also find carafes as big as 50 ounces or more. These are great if you regularly brew coffee for several people at a time.
You might be tempted to buy a larger French press than you need. The problem is that a model designed to make 34 ounces may not work very well when you only make 12 ounces. That’s because of the length of the plunger. For the best French press results, the plunger should hold the filter down firmly over the grounds without squeezing them. If the plunger isn’t long enough to hold the grounds firmly when you make coffee just for yourself, the quality can be compromised.
So, carefully consider how much coffee you typically brew before making a decision. Also, since French press brewers are inexpensive, you can buy more than one size. On a side note, you might see capacity listed as a number of cups. Keep in mind that a “cup” for a French press is usually only a 4-ounce serving.
More recent designs can vary quite a bit from the classic look. Stainless steel French presses come in a variety of shapes, with styles ranging from Art Deco to Modern. Some frames might have cutouts or swirls in their design. If you’re into color, some of the brewers listed above come in vibrant and exciting colors. Think about the design choices in your home so you can choose a French press that you’ll love looking at and using day after day.
Brewers vary in how fine a filter they use. With some French presses, you can stack two or three filters together. This may result in a coffee closer to a pour-over that was brewed with a paper filter. One thing to keep in mind is that finer mesh screens may be more difficult to keep clean.
Another factor is how well the filter stays against the walls of the carafe. Cheaper French presses may have a flimsier plunger. That can result in a wobbly filter that lets a fair amount of grinds pass around it. Even those who love the texture of French press coffee don’t like a mouthful of coffee grinds.
It’s so easy to make a bad cup of coffee. Even the most sophisticated machine can produce undrinkable swill if you don’t start with the right ingredients and follow proper procedures. You can get a satisfying cup of Joe with the humble French press. Below should help you brew the perfect cup. We suggest you use our interactive guide for proper ratios, technique, and timing.
Do you like chewing on coffee grounds? A quality French press will have a sturdy plunger assembly that will keep the filter screen flush with the sides of the carafe. That will help keep the grinds in the pot. We should note that price doesn't always equal quality. Brands like Bodum are inexpensive but high quality.
Each has its own advantages. Many prefer the taste of coffee made in a glass carafe. Others don't notice any difference. The drawback with glass is its fragility, where stainless steel carafes are virtually indestructible. And some just prefer the look of one versus the other. It's really about your personal preference.
Use a grind coarser than you would with an automatic drip machine. Aim for about the coarseness of sea salt. Uniformity of grind size is important to prevent coffee grounds from slipping through and around the filter.
You want the water just under the boiling point. 200 degrees is an ideal temperature for brewing in a French press. If the water reaches a true boil, remove from heat and wait about 30 seconds.
Four minutes is the average. You can experiment based on the type of bean and roast and preference. For lighter roasts, steep closer to five minutes.
Caffeine content depends in large part on the type of bean used, but brewing method is also a factor. French press coffee is middle-of-the-road in terms of caffeine. An average 8-ounce serving of French press coffee has about 107 mg of caffeine, which is less than automatic drip or pour-over coffee. Espresso releases the least amount of coffee, and cold-brewed gives the most caffeine.
French press coffee is a perfect base for café au lait, which is simply coffee with steamed milk. Because it does not produce espresso, you cannot use it for cappuccinos or lattes. Of course, you can also serve French press coffee iced, with or without milk.
If you're only brewing for yourself, a 12-ounce French press may be enough. Remember that some coffee does remain in the brewer, so you may want to go a size up. A 34-ounce French Press (sometimes labeled as 8 cups) is the most common size. This is best if you have two or three coffee drinkers.
In our opinion, the overall best French press is the Timemore French Press. It’s on the lower end of the price scale, yet is made from quality materials. We like the innovative, fresh design. Also, the lack of a handle makes it ideal for travel, whether to the office or the backwoods.
If you want to channel your inner barista, you may want to choose the Fellow Clara French Press. Its Enhanced Filtration Mesh gives you leeway to experiment with different grind sizes. You might find that certain types of beans release their flavor more readily with a finer grind. This brewer will allow you to use smaller grinds and not end up with a mouthful of grit.
For some, the bottom line might be the bottom line. The best French press for the budget-minded is the Bodum Brazil. Bodum is a tried-and-true brand. They’ve defined the basics of a quality brewer and present it at a price to fit even the tightest budget.
If you’re always on the go, we suggest the Bodum Travel Press. This handy brewer doubles as a travel mug. Pour in the hot water and you’re off to the races. No need to wait for it to brew and no need to find a cup to pour it into.
Whichever brewer you choose, we’re certain that you’ll love the rich, full flavor you get from your new French press coffee maker.