Coffee connoisseurs who don’t want to fuss with pour-over techniques or espresso makers will appreciate the simplicity and ease of a French press. Also known as a press pot or cafetière, French press coffee makers are manual devices that produce a robust and full-bodied brew, extracting the maximum amount of flavor from your coffee grounds.
French presses are a great option for those with limited counter space because they have a much smaller footprint than a standard drip coffee maker. They can easily be stored in a drawer or a cupboard while not in use. Read on to learn more about how to select the best French press for you.
- BEST OVERALL: Bodum 1928-16US4 Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee and Tea Maker
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: Frieling Double-Walled Stainless-Steel French Press
- BEST GLASS: Cafe Du Chateau French Press Coffee Maker
- BEST STONEWARE: Le Creuset Stoneware French Press
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: ESPRO Stainless Steel Insulated Travel French Press
- MOST VERSATILE: GROSCHE Madrid French Press Coffee and Tea Press
What to Consider When Choosing the Best French Press
When shopping for a French press, there are some key factors to consider. The following sections detail some of the most important qualities to keep in mind when shopping for the best French press for your kitchen.
Standard vs. Portable
French presses can be either standard or portable.
- Standard French presses are meant to be used in a home kitchen. Made of glass, stainless steel, or stoneware, they typically have a capacity of 34 ounces, though both smaller and larger sizes are available.
- Portable French presses are designed to be used on the go. They are typically constructed with double-walled stainless steel, making them durable and providing heat retention. They usually have a smaller 12-ounce capacity and are designed to fit in a standard cup holder. Some may offer features that allow you to stop the flavor extraction process to prevent your coffee from taking on a bitter flavor.
French presses have carafes that are made from a variety of materials. The most popular ones are glass, stainless steel, and ceramic.
- Glass carafes usually feature borosilicate glass, which offers increased thermal resistance to prevent the material from shattering due to thermal shock. They are typically ensconced in a frame of protective material like stainless steel or plastic. Because of their translucent finish, they allow you to watch the coffee as it brews. They are easy to clean, but even with careful maintenance may crack over time.
- Stainless steel carafes are much more durable and may offer double-walled construction to aid in heat retention.
- Ceramic stoneware French presses are typically coated with enamel and offer natural heat retention though they are heavier and can be breakable. They can come in an array of stylish colors.
While many manufacturers measure their French presses’ capacity in cups, it’s important to establish how many ounces of liquid it can actually hold. A standard US cup is equivalent to 8 fluid ounces, but a company’s definition of a “cup” can vary widely—with some considering a cup to be as little as 4 ounces. Most standard French presses have capacities of approximately 34 fluid ounces (or 1 quart) but can also come in a variety of sizes. Smaller versions are available, which are useful if you simply want to brew a single cup and can also be used while traveling.
A French press’s handle should be sturdy and resistant to heat, allowing you to easily balance the carafe while you use the plunger. Since French presses with glass carafes are hot to the touch, the handle must be designed so that you can pour your coffee without accidentally burning yourself by having your knuckles come into contact with the glass.
Some French presses offer double-walled construction and boast optimal heat retention, but the reality is that your coffee shouldn’t be sitting in the press for long after it has been brewed. The hot water will continue to extract flavor from the grounds after the 4-minute brewing time, creating a bitter, unpleasant taste. However, if you like your coffee piping hot, an insulated carafe can retain heat during the short brewing time.
While drip coffee machines can use finely ground coffee, it’s preferable to use medium or coarsely ground beans when using a French press. Most French presses feature steel filters and mesh screens as their primary filtration system. The filters typically have three layers to ensure that no grounds or sediment end up in your final brew. It’s also important that the plunger features a tight seal to prevent grounds from finding their way into your coffee.
Ease of Cleaning
French presses need to be washed after every use, so they must be easy to clean. Make sure you can disassemble and easily clean the model you choose. While some feature components that are dishwasher-safe, others need to be washed by hand.
If you plan to store your French press on your countertop or use it as a serving vessel, it should fit your home’s decor style. French presses with glass beakers and stainless steel frames have either a classic or a modern aesthetic, while models made solely from steel tend to look more industrial. The enamel coating on stoneware presses comes in a wide range of colors to match your other cookware or the accents in your kitchen.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about French presses, it’s time to start shopping. The following picks consider all of the features above, including aesthetics, materials, filtration system, and heat retention. Sift through a variety of choices to find the best French press for your needs and budget.
The Bodum Chambord has a carafe made from borosilicate glass, which provides thermal resistance, ensuring a rapid temperature change that won’t cause it to shatter. The filtration system consists of a fine mesh filter and a perforated steel plate, providing an even flavor.
It has a classic design with a durable stainless steel frame protecting the glass carafe. It also has four steel feet, which raise it half an inch, so there’s no risk of burning your tables or countertops.
This model’s carafe has a 34-ounce capacity but smaller and larger sizes are also available. Bodum sells replacement parts for their French presses, allowing you to easily purchase new filters when needed.
The Bodum Brazil is more affordable than some of the brand’s other models due to its polypropylene frame, but it performs just as well. It’s constructed with a heat-resistant borosilicate glass carafe, and the shell and handle are BPA-free. While the frame is made of plastic, the plunger and filter are constructed with stainless steel. The triangular handle ensures that your hands don’t come into contact with hot surfaces.
It’s dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean. This model has a 34-ounce capacity, but smaller and larger models are both available.
Those looking for a French press that provides heat retention will appreciate this model from Frieling. It’s made from double-walled 18/10 stainless steel, which keeps your coffee warm, allowing you to use it as a serving vessel. Because of the steel carafe, it’s also very durable and doesn’t have a risk of breaking.
It features a dual filtration system with the first filter to strain larger grounds and a finer filter to remove smaller sediment particles. Its components are dishwasher-safe, and you can easily disassemble for cleaning. This model has a capacity of 36 ounces, but larger and smaller models are also available. It also comes in two finishes: a brushed matte finish and a glossier mirror finish.
The Cafe Du Chateau French Press is made from a glass carafe with a stainless steel frame. It has a 4-level filtration system which includes two stainless steel screens, a spring-loaded base that seals the edges while plunging, and an additional strainer in the lid to trap coarser grounds. It’s made with 304 stainless steel, which has high nickel and chromium levels in order to prevent corrosion. The borosilicate glass prevents shattering even after stark thermal changes.
It has a 34-ounce capacity, and all components are dishwasher-safe.
Le Creuset is known for its stoneware cooking vessels. This enamel-coated coffee press matches the brand’s classic aesthetic, providing a French country look to your kitchen. The enamel finish is chip-resistant and prevents staining and cracking. It retains heat well to keep your coffee warm and is even microwave- and oven-safe, lending itself to varied applications in the kitchen.
It features a stainless steel plunger and a mesh press as well as a well-designed handle to prevent your knuckles from coming into contact with the carafe. It has a capacity of 34 ounces and is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
If you’re particular about your coffee and wouldn’t dream of drinking the filter coffee provided at a hotel, consider investing in a travel-friendly French press. This model by Espro has a 12-ounce capacity, making it perfect for a single serving on the go. The insulated double-walled stainless steel construction keeps your coffee warm for hours. It’s sturdy enough to pack in a suitcase or a backpack for use while you’re away from home, but it can also be used on your commute. It includes a feature that allows you to stop the flavor extraction in order to prevent your coffee from becoming bitter. It has a double microfilter to ensure that the final brew is clear of grit and sediment.
It comes in four different finishes: brushed stainless steel, matte white, matte black, and matte grey—all of which are BPA-free. All components can be washed on the top rack of the dishwasher.
While most French presses are designed solely to make hot coffee, this model from Grosche can also make cold brew and even steep tea. Use finely ground coffee or loose-leaf tea to make a wide variety of beverages. With coarsely ground beans, it makes a great cold brew for hot days.
The beaker is made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass, and the stainless steel frame has a chrome finish. The dual filtration system ensures that there is no sediment in your tea or coffee with a filter on the plunger and another on the lid.
It has a 34-ounce capacity, but a smaller version is also available for single servings, and a larger version accommodates households with multiple coffee drinkers.
FAQs About French Presses
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about French presses.
Q. How do you make coffee using a French press?
To make coffee using a French press, add medium-ground coffee to the carafe, then pour hot water over it. Insert the plunger, letting it rest above the water line. After 4 minutes, press down slowly. Pour out the coffee into a mug or other vessel—coffee should not remain in the press.
Q. How much coffee do you use in a French press?
How much coffee you use in a French press depends on your personal preference. To produce 34 ounces of coffee, you’ll need approximately 4 to 5 level tablespoons of grounds.
Q. Is French press coffee stronger than drip coffee?
Because the filter screens used in French presses are more porous than standard coffee filters, the flavor of French press coffee is more robust. That doesn’t, however, mean it contains more caffeine.
Q. How do I clean my French press?
All components of a French press should be washed after every use. If it’s dishwasher-friendly, it can simply be disassembled and put in your washer. Alternately, French presses can be hand washed with warm soapy water and then thoroughly dried.