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- You can brew coffee in a number of ways, but many caffeine addicts swear by the French Press method.
- Of all the French Presses we researched and tested, the Bodum Chambord is the best one you can buy with its glass and metal design that’s as durable as it is beautiful.
Coffee brewing methods are many and varied – You have pourover, cold brew, classic espresso, and more. One of the most popular methods is the French Press, which lets your coffee grounds swirl around in boiling water to brew before you push the plunger down and pour the coffee right into your mug. There are dozens of great French Press coffee makers out there, but they’re not all created equal.
We’ve researched the best ones and tested a few ourselves to find out which French Presses are the best you can buy. Before we get into our picks, let’s get into important terms, things to look for in a French Press, and how these special coffee makers work.
What to look for in a French Press
- Glass French Presses: Glass carafes are gorgeous because you can watch the coffee brew and see the grounds go down as you plunge. They are more fragile, of course, so you should get one that’s made out of borosilicate glass to avoid thermal shock and breakage. Most glass French Presses also have plastic or metal braces for added protection. Having a sturdy base is important, too.
- Stainless Steel French Presses: A double-walled design is key for stainless steel French Presses. Two walls will help keep the heat in and make for a better brew. You should also check for the quality of the stainless steel – 18/8 and 18/10 ratios of chromium to nickel are best. Stainless steel carafes are more durable, but you miss out on the fun visual element of glass French Presses.
- Plunger and handle design: The plunger keeps the grounds out of your cup of Joe, and the handle helps you keep the carafe steady as you push the plunger down. It’s also key for pouring coffee into your cup. Most plungers have multiple metal screens to keep the grounds out of your coffee, including a large steel screen and a finer mesh screen to catch tinier particles. Some use a basket design, but most don’t. The handle should be sturdy, strong, heat resistant, and not prone to breakage.
- Capacity: How much coffee do you want to make? French Presses come in different sizes, as do coffee mugs. It’s best to look for a French Press with a capacity of one liter or more, depending on your needs. You can always fill a big carafe with less water, but you can’t fill a smaller one with more, so bigger might be better. Take into consideration that many coffee mugs range is capacity from 8 to 16 ounces, so “cups of coffee” is a tricky metric to follow.
Here are the best French Presses of 2019:
- Best French Press overall: Bodum Chambord
- Best high-end French Press: Frieling Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
- Best stoneware French Press: Le Creuset French Press
- Best affordable stainless steel French Press: SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press
- Best travel-friendly French Press: Bodum Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Mug
- Best alternative French Press: AeroPress
Updated on 04/08/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formatting. Added a new pick – Le Creuset’s French Press – based on testing.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best French press overall
Why you’ll love it: There are many French Presses as simple, but few as elegant as the Bodum Chambord and its “form-follows-function” ethos.
Bodrum’s Chambord will, at least in my eyes, forever be the prototype to which all other French Presses are compared, and, unless you’re fussy about grit in the bottom of your mug or particularly accident-prone, it’s almost certainly the French Press for you.
When I was growing up, my parents drank coffee from nothing else, and, apart from someone clumsily dropping one, I can’t ever remember a single thing going wrong, some 20 years, day in, day out.
Okay, so there’s not a lot to a French Press: stainless steel for the frame and plunger, a little polypropylene for the handle, and heat-resistant borosilicate for the carafe. If you want to jazz up your pot a little, consider the cork-topped plunger. Bodum, though a Danish company, makes its French Presses in Portugal, which is, after all, the cork capital of the world.
Reviews of the Bodum Chambord on Amazon are largely positive (about 3,000, rounding out to 4.2/5 stars), but a good number of them complain about the same thing: The stainless steel frame that holds the carafe in place is wont to warp over time, especially if you’re not careful when you remove the carafe. That would be more or less fine if the plastic handle weren’t supported by it on one side with no fastener.
As a result, the handle tends to slip out of the frame once it’s been bent, and that’s how catastrophe takes place. I’ve noticed this myself and had one or two close calls over the years, but I was able to bend it back into place which, touch wood, has held. Still, it’s certainly an inconvenience. What’s more inconvenient is a limited one year warranty that doesn’t cover the glass.
But, while this press may be sort of fragile, and the warranty may not be terribly encouraging, it’s fairly inexpensive and does its job well. Just treat it carefully, and be sure to let it cool down before cleaning. Although it is heat-resistant, borosilicate becomes much less stable when heated up. Otherwise, consider investing a little more in a stainless steel model. Glass is still glass, for now. – Owen Burke
Pros: Affordable, easy to use, attractive design
Cons: Plastic handle, delicate frame-to-handle attachment, strainer allows some grounds to get through
The best high-end French press
Why you’ll love it: The Frieling Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker is the ultimate high-end French Press with its gorgeous design, superb build, and long warranty.
If you want a top-of-the-line, stainless steel French Press, the Frieling Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker is the best one you can buy. It’s made of remarkably high quality 18/10 stainless steel, and it has a double-wall design to keep the heat inside and away from your hands.
The dual-layer steel wall also keeps your coffee piping hot, and Frieling claims it’s four times better at keeping your coffee warm than glass French Presses. The Frieling French Press we recommend has a 36-ounce capacity, but the company also makes French Presses in sizes ranging from eight ounces to 44 ounces.
Inside, there’s a two-stage filter system with both a big metal filter and a fine mesh one, and a metal wire inside the coil presses the plunger tight against the stainless steel wall. Together, these features ensure that you don’t get many coffee grounds in your cup. Frieling’s French Press is also dishwasher safe, so it’s very easy to clean when you’re done.
The company offers a five-year warranty in case of any defects, and buyers on Amazon are very happy with how durable it is. While glass French Presses tend to break in accidents, stainless steel ones like this do not. The handle is also long and comfortable to hold.
Pros: Quality stainless steel design, double wall insulates coffee, durable, large handle
The best stoneware French Press
- Le Creuset
Why you’ll love it: Le Creuset’s beautiful French Press is made from dense stoneware that won’t absorb flavors or crack from too much heat.
Le Creuset is well known for its excellent stoneware and enameled cast iron cookware. Its new French Press is also exceptionally well made and uses the same dense stoneware and enamel exterior as Le Crueset’s other cookware. You can choose from several beautiful colors to get a French Press that matches your style and kitchen decor.
I’ve been using this French Press to make coffee each morning, and it works just like every other French Press. I put in some coarsely ground coffee, pour boiling water over the grounds, and let it steep for a few minutes before plunging the mesh insert down to prevent the grounds from getting into my mug.
I’ve also used it to brew tea, and it’s worked wonderfully. Tea leaves need lots of space to brew properly, and this French Press gives them more room to brew than a small infuser would. I’ve noticed a big improvement in tea taste with this French Press.
The main benefits of Le Crueset’s French Press – beyond its incredibly beautiful design – is that the stoneware is very easy to clean. It’s even dishwasher safe. It doesn’t absorb any flavors from the drinks I brew in it, nor does it imbue any metallic taste to my drinks.
However, because it is stoneware, it can break and chip if you’re not carreful with it. It’s not as durable as stainless steel, but it is more hardy than glass and much nicer looking than plastic.
Pros: Beautiful, fun colors, multiple sizes, solid stoneware, well made, long lasting, stoneware doesn’t absorb flavors, dishwasher safe
Cons: Pricey, stoneware can break
The best affordable stainless steel French press
Why you’ll love it: The SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press is a super affordable, high-class, steel French Press that makes stellar coffee.
If you love stainless steel, but you don’t want to pay $100 for a high-end French Press like the Frieling, the SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press is a great deal at less than $40.
This French Press comes in two capacities, one liter or 1.5 liters, and it’s made out of 18/10 stainless steel. The double-wall design keeps your coffee warm and protects your hands from burning when you touch the sides or handle. Just like on the glass SterlingPro French Press, this stainless steel one has a plunger with two screens to filter out most coffee particles. You also get two free replacement screens.
User reviews on Amazon are largely positive, and buyers love the slick steel design. Coffee bloggers recommend the SterlingPro French Press, too, including Roasty Coffee, the Little Coffee Place, Brown’s Coffee, and Coffee Maker Picks.
Pros: Affordable for stainless steel, durable design, double wall insulates heat, sturdy handle for good grip
Cons: Not as high-end as the Frieling French Press
The best travel-friendly French press
Why you’ll love it: The Bodum Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Mug makes delicious coffee on the go and keeps your cup of Joe hot for hours.
If you always run out of time in the morning, you can make your coffee on the go with the Bodum Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Mug. Just spoon some coarsely ground coffee in the bottom, pour hot water on top, pop the lid on, and rush out the door. Plunge it down a few minutes later when you’re in your car, on the subway, or at work, and voila! Fresh French Press coffee is yours.
Bodum makes a few different travel mugs, but you should buy the French Press style stainless steel one. It is vacuum-sealed and has a double-walled design to keep your coffee hot for hours. The stainless steel one won’t crack or break like the plastic one, and it’ll keep your coffee hotter longer.
Bodum’s Travel Press also has a fun colorful silicone grip around the middle that makes this travel mug easy to hold and prevents burned fingers. You can use it for cold drinks or tea as well, so it’s a very versatile mug.
User reviews for the stainless steel Bodum Travel Press Mug are mostly positive. Those who bought the plastic version tend to complain about durability issues. Many coffee blogs – including Coffee Maker Picks, Coffee Gear At Home, and FreshPresso – also recommend the stainless steel Bodum mug as a great French Press mug for people on the go.
Pros: Portable design for coffee/tea on the go, stainless steel mug is durable, retains heat well, rubbery grip protects hands
Cons: Pricey for a travel mug
Buy Bodum Insulated Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Coffee and Tea Mug on Amazon for $16.42 to $21.42
The best alternative French Press
Why you’ll love it: The AeroPress is small, simple, portable, and easy to use. Oh, and it makes a highly competitive, frothy cup of coffee somewhere between a French Press and an espresso.
One of my favorite discoveries in the coffee world this year has been the AeroPress. I’m predominantly an espresso drinker, and I have my various portable devices for that, but if there’s anything that will suffice in its place it’s a French Press.
The AeroPress is a very simple but effective method for getting a quick foamy cup of rich coffee on the go, and there is a formidable subculture of java heads that have ditched everything else altogether in light of it. It’s also quick, especially because it requires espresso grounds, so there’s not so much steeping time as there is with a French Press.
No, the AeroPress, as you may have already gathered, is not the prettiest thing around. Far from it, in fact, it looks more like some sort of medical receptacle than something you’d want anywhere near your kitchen. But then that’s the beauty of its size: It doesn’t have to live on your counter.
The whole process is only marginally more involved than loading a French Press. You pack a compartment with a shot of roughly espresso-ground beans, slap a paper filter on it, pour some water over it, and plunge it through into your cup. Because the grounds are finer, there’s a good chance you’ll have a cup ready quicker than you would if you were using a French Press.
For less than $30, it also comes with all the utensils you’ll need, start to finish, including 350 paper filters, which can be reused. And if you don’t believe me, just have a look at the astoundingly positive set of reviews on Amazon.
Pros: Portable, affordable, and makes a superbly heady cup of Joe
Cons: Plastic, not the prettiest little contraption around
How to make coffee with a French Press
Making coffee in a French Press is relatively simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on tips from Serious Eats:
- Coffee grind and amount: For a French Press, you should choose a coarse grind to get the most flavor out of your beans. You can adjust the grind to suit your tastes, and a finer grind will result in a stronger brew. There’s no exact measurement of how much coffee-to-water you should put in the French Press, but Serious Eats recommends “60-70 grams of coffee per liter of water.”
- Water temperature: The water should be boiling at around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit or so. You can let it cool down 10 degrees if your coffee is a dark roast or decaf.
- Brewing time: You should let the coffee brew in your French Press for six to eight minutes, but first, you need to stir the grounds to ensure that the coffee grounds are properly wetted and brewing. Wait a few minutes with the press uncovered to let the coffee bloom. If the coffee has sunk to the bottom of the French Press, you can pop the lid on and wait for the brewing time to end. All of this is variable based on your tastes, of course.
- How to Plunge: When it’s done brewing, hold the handle to keep it steady while you slowly press the plunger down. Slow and steady does the trick and keeps the most grounds out of your cup of Joe.
Check out our other great coffee maker buying guides
We’ve included top picks for all of these different types of coffee makers. We’ve tested the majority of our top picks and heavily researched those we have yet to use to bring you the best of all coffee makers.
- Best drip coffee maker: Bonavita BV1900TS Drip Coffee Maker
- Best coffee maker under $40: Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Machine
- Best coffee maker under $50: Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Coffee Maker
- Best coffee maker and grinder: Cuisinart Burr Grind & Brew Automatic
- Best pour-over coffee: Melitta Ready Set Joe Single Cup Coffee Brewer
- Best French Press: SterlingPro French Press
- Best cold brew machine: OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker
- Best pod coffee machine: Keurig K575 Pod Machine
- Best stovetop espresso maker: Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
- Best espresso machine: Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine