If you’re a fan of coffee made quickly and easily without compromising the quality of your cup of joe, you should consider using a French press.
This traditional brewing method is incredibly simple but also rewarding. Just throw some of your favorite coarsely-ground beans into the carafe and add some off-boiling water – between 195F and 205F is ideal – then wait 5 minutes. Plunge down and serve.
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What could be easier?
The lengthy contact time with this immersion method leads to a consistently fine extraction with the very minimum of effort.
Luckily, even the most expensive French presses are still quite reasonable when compared to the cost of a drip coffee maker. Nevertheless, we’ve tried as usual to target a range of price-points in our reviews so there’s something for everyone.
There really isn’t too much to differentiate most French presses. You typically get double-layered filtration to combat the sediment that can spoil some coffee made with this brewing method. Build is usually stainless steel or borosilicate glass. Each come with their own advantages and drawbacks as we’ll outline today.
In fact, we’ll give you everything you need to know so your buying decision is streamlined every step of the way.
And we’ll get started at the very beginning with a glimpse at how to use a French press effectively.
- I. Our Top 10 Picks for French Press Coffee Makers
- II. How a French Press Coffee Maker Works
- III. Coffee Beans for French Press Brewing
- IV. Getting The Water Right
- V. 10 Best French Press Coffee Makers
- VI. Things To Consider
- VII. Step-by-Step Guide To Making French Press Coffee
- VIII. Guide To Cleaning a French Press
- IX. FAQs
- X. Conclusion
I. Our Top 10 Picks for French Press Coffee Makers
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Bodum Chambord French Press Our #1 Pick
|Also Great: Secura French Press|
|Upgrade Pick: Espro Press P7, Stainless Steel French Press|
|KONA French Press Coffee|
|Coffee Gator French Press|
|SterlingPro French Press|
|Bodum Columbia Thermal French Press|
|Grosche Madrid French Press|
|Frieling French Press|
|Bodum Brazil French Press|
II. How a French Press Coffee Maker Works
If you prefer a lighter coffee to espresso, the French press is a simple, economical method to make coffee.
The French press is also known as a cafetière, press pot, coffee press, or coffee plunger.
There are rumors that the French press was invented in France. However, it was first patented in Italy by designers Attilio Calimani and Guilio Moneta in the late 20s.
The French press is a pot usually made of metal, ceramic, or glass with a mesh disk filter attached to a plunger. The mesh filters the coffee as it is pressed down onto brewed coffee.
The result is a gorgeous rich, mellow brew.
Immersion Brewing Method
The immersion method of brewing coffee is straightforward and economical. There’s no need for expensive and fiddly machinery.
Coffee grounds are steeped in hot water which acts as a solvent. The hot water extracts the compounds from the coffee grounds.
French press coffee tends to leave a silt in the cup. This is the extracted oils and compounds from the coffee. Some people may enjoy this, while others prefer a wholly filtered coffee.
Coffee to Water Ratio
It’s essential to get the right coffee to water ratio for the best cup of coffee.
French press coffee, a ratio of 1:12, is considered ideal. But, this can vary depending on the type of coffee bean is used. What this means is for every 30 grams of ground coffee, add 350 grams of water.
You may find that darker roast coffee beans need a lower coffee to water ratio as it’s stronger and darker.
To get your ideal coffee to water ratio, it’s worth investing in a set of digital weighing scales that can measure to the nearest milligram. Now, this may sound excessive and crazy, but believe us, you’ll find it much easier to find the right coffee to water ratio.
If you make a perfect cup of coffee, you’ll know exactly how much coffee and water you put in. You can then guarantee that you’ll get the same cup next time. Or if it’s too weak or too strong, you can adjust the dose of coffee. This is known by the industry as ‘dialing in.’ Dialing in involves adjusting the water to coffee ratio for the best cup of coffee.
A coarse grind is ideal for French press coffee due to the lengthy brewing time. The longer the brew, the coarser the grind. If you use fine espresso grounds, they will over-extract, creating a bitter taste. If you don’t like silt in the bottom of your coffee cup, a coarser grind will prevent that residue from ending up in your drink.
Grinding your own coffee beans will produce a higher quality cup of coffee. Get everything ready and then grind your beans just before you make the coffee. Pre-ground coffee oxidizes and goes stale, which reduces the quality. Instead, grind beans as and when you need it right before you brew.
Grinding Your Coffee Beans
The most common way to grind coffee beans is to use a grinder.
There are two types of grinders:
- Blade grinder
- Burr grinder
A blade grinder works like a food blender. It has spinning blades at the bottom, which literally chop the beans into tiny particles. This isn’t the ideal way to grind your coffee as it doesn’t grind consistently. Some parts will end up coarser.
You could use a food blender to grind your coffee, but the ground coarseness may be inconsistent. Also, the coffee residue will taint food if you use a blender for both preparing food and grinding coffee.
Burr grinders are more effective than blade grinders. Two abrasive disks inside the blender revolve and crush the beans. This is the best tool to use for grinding coffee because the grounds are more consistent.
Burr grinders are either powered by electricity or by hand.
Electric Burr Grinders
Electric burr grinders have different settings for coarseness, so it grinds to the precise coarseness you want.
Manual Burr Grinders
A manual burr grinder works similarly to a pepper grinder. To adjust the coarseness, turn the adjustment ring to the coarse setting. You can then check that the coffee is the correct coarseness as you grind it.
How To Grind Coffee Without A Grinder
If you don’t have a grinder or food blender, here are some ways you can freshly grind your coffee beans.
Mortar And Pestle
This will be a bit time consuming, but if you grind a few beans at a time, you can grind them to a suitable coarseness.
No, MC Hammer isn’t going to grind your beans for you. But how cool would that be?
No, but seriously, using a Ziploc bag, tea-towels, and a hammer, you can get freshly ground beans. But you probably won’t get an even grind.
Simply put the beans inside the bag. Place the Ziploc between two tea-towels and, using the hammer, tap away at the beans until you get the consistency you need.
Same as the hammer technique, but with a rolling pin.
Do the same as you would if you were using a hammer. And use the long edge of the rolling pin to bash the coffee beans until you get the coarseness.
III. Coffee Beans for French Press Brewing
If you’re after a perfect cup of coffee, you’re going to want a good quality bean. Ideally, you’ll get your coffee beans from a specialist supplier.
Types Of Coffee Bean
Let’s look at the different types of coffee beans and see which one is right for a lovely cup of French press coffee.
There are more than 90 types or species of coffee but the most popular bean is Arabica. Arabica beans account for 60% of the world’s coffee.
After Arabica, Robusta and Liberica are the next most popular coffee beans.
Robusta beans are the second most common coffee beans. They have twice as much caffeine as Arabica.
Liberica beans are seldom available outside the Philippines.
Which Coffee Beans Are Best For French Press Coffee?
Now, when you hear people talk about coffee, they might say a type of coffee is more ‘acidic.’ This doesn’t mean that it’s less healthy, it just means that it has a slightly acidic flavor. It’s not a damaging chemical.
In fact, acids contribute to the flavor of coffee. They’re not harmful to your health in a stomachy sort of way.
To explore and understand these acids, here are a few that create flavor in coffee:
- Citric Acid – This is where most of the acidic taste comes from coffee
- Malic Acid – This adds a hint of pear or apple to coffee
- Phosphoric acid – Adds a sweet hint
- Acetic Acid – Vinegar is composed of acetic acid
- Tartaric – A slightly sour taste, like in wine or grapes
If you drink a lot of coffee, you’ll probably be able to identify these flavors in your coffee.
Why Roast Coffee Beans?
Coffee beans are roasted before they’re ready to be used for coffee. If you make coffee from beans that aren’t roasted, you’ll get a very different drink to what you would typically get.
When coffee is roasted, its chemical makeup is completely changed.
According to the Journal of Medical Food, lightly roasted coffee contains more antioxidants than darker roasts. It also found that lightly roasted coffee contains more anti-inflammatory properties.
You might be surprised to learn that there is more caffeine in lightly roasted coffee than dark roasted coffee.
We mentioned before about acidic flavors in coffee. Well, lightly roasted coffee is higher in acidic flavors. The original sweet, tangy flavors of the bean are preserved with a light roast. So, the character is more complex than darker roasts of coffee.
Medium coffee beans have a fair amount of acidic flavor as well as caffeine but are less pronounced than in lightly roasted coffee.
The longer roasting time, medium roasted coffee is darker and a bit sweeter.
Dark roasted beans are very dark, almost like dark chocolate. They have a shiny surface from the oils.
Dark roasted coffee contains less caffeine than lighters roasts, and its flavor is quite bitter.
IV. Getting The Water Right
Water is a key component of great French press coffee.
The optimum water temperature for French press coffee is 200 degrees Fahrenheit, just under boiling point.
Leaving the water for 30 seconds after boiling will let it cool to the right temperature. If it’s too hot, it could over-extract the coffee, which will give it a bitter taste.
Make sure that the water you’re using tastes right. If your water doesn’t taste good, it won’t feel right. If it’s too hard, either use bottled mineral water or filter your tap water.
V. 10 Best French Press Coffee Makers
1. Our #1 Pick: Bodum Chambord French Press
To kick off, our overall favorite in the form of the iconic Bodum Chambord. Why does this pricey carafe continue to fly off the shelves in such numbers?
To start with, you’re buying into great brand heritage and that comes at a price.
Size-wise, choose from the following options:
Whether you want a small carafe ideal for a single serving or enough to fuel the whole family in the morning, Bodum makes that easy.
The triple-tiered stainless steel filter does a great job of keeping those coarse grinds out of your cup. The mesh extracts the oils and flavors in your coffee beans where paper filters absorb them. You’ll also sidestep the ongoing expense and environmental impact of buying replacements.
As with all French presses, throw in some coarsely-ground coffee beans and enjoy a lip-smacking caffeine fix just 5 minutes later.
2. Also Great: Secura Stainless Steel French Press
Stainless steel carafes keep your coffee hotter for longer while also offering improved durability. This model from Secura comes in 3 sizes:
The structure of the robust filtration means even the finest particles are trapped so you get a crisp, clean drink that’s free of all sediment.
The resuable filter comes with a free screen thrown in. Stacking these filters allows you to get an even smoother experience.
While the stainless build keeps all the heat inside, both knob and handle are cool to the touch so you won’t get scorched fingers in pursuit of nicely warmed coffee.
One of the key selling points of this model is the fact all parts are safe to pop in the dishwasher. This eliminates the messy clean-up that can mar the experience of using many French presses.
3. Upgrade Pick: Espro Press P7 Stainless Steel French Press
Next up is one for those with slightly more fluid budgets. If you’re hunting for a cheap French press, this is not for you. If you’re searching for the very best, we strongly recommend the classic Espro Press P7.
Double-walled vacuum insulation keeps your coffee warm for hours rather than minutes. Make a whole 32oz pot and you’ll have enough to keep you going through the morning.
The intricate dual-filtration system gives you a crisp and clean drink without any of those finer particles that can make their way through the filters of most French presses. The only drawback here is that the screens are slightly fiddly to handle.
You’ll get everything you need here except the coffee beans including a bamboo paddle that won’t damage any of your coffee supplies.
4. KONA French Press
KONA proves you don’t need to sacrifice function to achieve great form. The snaking plastic draped around the borosilicate glass carafe does more than just make a design statement. It offers valuable extra protection against those knocks in a kitchen that can easily shatter a glass cafetière.
Filtration keeps those coffee grounds out of your cup. Reusable, you won’t face any ongoing running costs either.
The 12oz model yields 3 cups of coffee while you can step things up to a 34-ouncer capable of making 8 cups.
If you tire of coffee, why not try brewing up some loose leaf tea or an infusion? This carafe gives you a great deal of versatility at a keen price-point. What’s not to love?
5. Coffee Gator French Press
Choose from racking up delectable French press hot coffee or rolling with some cold brew.
With a robust double-layered filter, you’ll keep all the grinds out of your cup while enjoying the most flavor and aroma possible.
Don’t think by stopping all the sediment you won’t benefit from the taste of those beans. Extraction is fantastic and you’ll end up with a full, rich and deep-bodied coffee.
If you tire of the usual bland kitchenware, try one of the brighter colors and inject some fun into your kitchen.
6. SterlingPro French Press
Not all stainless steel French presses cost a fortune. SterlingPro come up with a wonderful meeting point of price and performance but what makes this carafe stand out?
Both the 1L and 1.5L models give you more than enough coffee for everyone in the morning. If you’re just serving yourself, the stainless steel will keep any leftovers warm for hours on end, ideal if you work from home.
Filtration is excellent and you’ll get fewer floating particles in your coffee than you find with many French presses. Washable and reusable, you also cut running costs to nothing more than your fresh beans.
7. Bodum Columbia Thermal French Press
Bodum caters to everyone with their range of coffee makers and the Columbia is ideal for anyone who prioritizes looks. The rounded lines set off any kitchen counter and you won’t want to pack your French press away when you’re done! Is it a case of form over function, though?
Luckily not! The dual-layered filtration makes certain that the coffee grounds stay in the carafe rather than working their way into your cup.
The stainless steel build and double walls keep your coffee drinkable for up to 2 hours.
You can just as easily use this container for making tea or other infusions so you’re spoiled for choice.
The lid is designed with special care so you won’t get coffee cascading over your worktop. Clean-up couldn’t be easier – simply slip your carafe in the dishwasher and you’re good to go.
8. Grosche Madrid French Press
If you want a dainty but powerful French press giving you a choice of sizing from 12oz through 51oz, try the Grosche Madrid.
Borosilicate glass ensures you’ll get a bit more durability than regular glass. This is strengthened further by the protective stainless steel surround.
As with most of the best models we highlight today, filtration is dual-layered meaning you’ll fight off pretty much all those fine grinds that can spoil your cup of joe.
Whether you want hot or cold brewed coffee or even loose leaf tea, this carafe is well worth popping on your shortlist.
9. Frieling French Press
The Frieling French press is not cheap so if you’re looking for a bargain, scroll on. If, on the other hand, you appreciate the finer things in life and don’t mind paying for the privilege, read on…
Tall and slim, this carafe is the perfect addition to a crowded kitchen where counter real estate is at a premium.
Choose from 4 sizes:
Whether you want enough coffee for yourself, your partner or the whole family, there’s no excuse not to get the sizing you need.
The pre-filter and main filter team up to capture all that sediment that could otherwise mar your morning caffeine fix.
Stainless steel build results in exceptional lifespan alongside remarkable insulating properties.
10. Bodum Brazil French Press
Last but absolutely not least, we have yet another entry from the inimitable Bodum in the form of the Brazil.
You get 3 sizes to choose from with the Brazil:
Get the day started in style with first-rate coffee in 5 minutes flat. While the French press brewing method is deceptively simple, that makes it very beginner-friendly. Beyond that, the end result is a full-bodied and powerful drink to kick off your morning in style.
If you fear the messy clean-up required with many cheap French presses, throw your Bodum in the dishwasher fuss-free.
VI. Things To Consider
Buying a French press is pretty simple.
If you want to avoid as much silt and sediment in your cup of coffee as possible, then you’ll need a sound filtration system.
If you’re going to travel with your French press, it’ll need to be made of durable unbreakable material.
The material you decide on will influence how it looks, its portability, its durability, and its ability to insulate.
Glass cafetières are ideal as you can watch the coffee brewing. Some cafetières are made entirely of glass, including the plunger. These are things of beauty but rather delicate. Not a great option if you’re clumsy.
Everyone knows the Bodum French press coffee maker with its iconic lab beaker glass. If you do break your glass container, it can be replaced pretty conveniently online.
Borosilicate glass is the strongest and best option.
Insulating and stylish, ceramic cafetières are great for keeping coffee hot for longer. The only downside is that you can’t see your coffee brewing and have to lift the lid from time to time.
Even though ceramic is breakable, it won’t break as easily as glass.
Stainless steel looks sleek and modern, plus it’s unbreakable. Ideal for those with two left feet!
Again, you can’t watch your coffee brew, but at least you know it’s not going to break while you’re washing it.
Plastic might not be everyone’s favorite material as it’s not biodegradable. But plastic is unbreakable, it’s a good insulator and is usually cheaper.
The most crucial factor to consider when buying a cafetière is the filtration system. This will considerably influence the taste of your coffee. If you’re after a really clean cup of coffee with no silt or sediment, then you’ll want a French press with an adequate filter system.
Freshly ground coffee always has some variation in particle size, even if you use a burr grinder. Smaller particles brew faster than coarser coffee particles. These smaller particles can over-extract because they take less time to brew. This can give your French press coffee a bitter taste. Filtration systems are designed to prevent over-extraction of smaller coffee particles.
Everyone knows the Bodum cafetiere. It has a single mesh disk filter attached to a rod which is pressed down on to the coffee.
This can make a perfectly good cup of coffee.
The SterlingPro French press has a dual filtration system. This means it has two filters with the same size mesh. The additional filter prevents fewer microparticles from getting into the coffee. The result is a well-filtered cup of coffee with less silt or sediment.
The Frieling French press has a dual filtration system with two filters. However, one of the mesh filters is finer than the standard mesh filter. This means that even fewer coffee microparticles are entering the coffee. This means less bitterness, less silt, and more flavor.
Paper filtration is popular as it filters out microparticles and harmful oils and cholesterol.
The portable AeroPress cafetiere uses a paper disk. As the paper filters the coffee so finely, there’s no danger of over-extraction.
The Espro Press uses both a stainless steel and paper disk, stopping any microparticles from over brewing. The Espro Press has a unique design as it does something that other coffee presses can’t. When you push the plunger down, it stops the contact of the coffee to the water. This halts the brewing process, which prevents over-extraction.
It has a dual filtration system, using metal and paper. In fact, the metal has smaller perforations, so you can use more finely ground coffee.
VII. Step-by-Step Guide To Making French Press Coffee
- When you’re armed with your French press, coffee grinder, coffee beans, digital scales, coffee scoop, and kettle, put the kettle on. You’ll want to grind your coffee right at the last minute
- Next, grind the coffee beans coarsely in the coffee grinder
- With the scoop, measure out one scoop of coffee to each cup. You can start with one scoop at first. If you need to adjust the dose, you can add more or less to your taste next time
- When the water is boiled, take it off the heat and leave for 30 seconds to reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Next, pour the water slowly over the coffee grounds
- Stir for 10 seconds. Use a wooden spoon if your cafetiere is made of glass to prevent breakage
- Leave to steep for 4 minutes
- Take the wire mesh plunger and slowly press down evenly onto the coffee until it reaches the bottom. If you do it too quickly, it can squirt out. If it doesn’t press down initially, try lifting the plunger to release it and push it down again
- Leave it to stand for a few seconds and pour
VIII. Guide To Cleaning a French Press
- Empty the coffee grounds. Avoid washing coffee grounds down the sink as it tends to block the U-bend. Instead, scoop out the grounds with a spatula straight into the bin or compost
- When you’ve scraped as much of the coffee grounds as possible, you can then wash the pot in hot soapy water. Avoid using harsh scourers as they can scratch the surface. Instead, use a soft sponge or cloth
- To wash the plunger, unscrew the mesh filter from the end of the rod. Immerse in soapy water then scrub them clean with a brush or a sponge
- Rinse the soap with running water and leave to dry on the draining board
You should now be clear on how to find the best French press the easy while. While these cafetières are simple, you should pay attention to our guide to get the most suitable press for your needs. Many vary quite significantly in small ways so take your time on the buying trail.
To round out, we’ve rounded up the most frequently asked questions about this classic and highly effective brewing method.
1) How often so I need to replace the wire mesh on my French Press?
Some recommend replacing the filter every year. However, some feel this is entirely unnecessary, as it’s possible to clean it with vinegar.
2) Is French press coffee bad for you?
A 2016 study at Harvard suggests that French press coffee could raise cholesterol levels. Part of coffee’s flavor comes from oils called diterpenes. The study found that people who drink 5 to 8 French press coffee a day had higher cholesterol levels. If you love your coffee, the advice is to limit it to 4 cups a day. You should also refrain from drinking coffee later in the day if you don’t want problems sleeping.
3) How much coffee do you put in a French press?
This really is a personal preference, so it’s up to you to find your perfect coffee to water ratio. As a rule of thumb, try starting off with 1 part coffee to 12 parts water. You can use digital weighing scales for the accuracy or use a measuring scoop. See if you like the ratio and adjust the coffee dose according to your taste.
4) How do I prevent making bitter coffee in a French press?
To ensure a lovely smooth tasting French press coffee, make sure the brewing time is less than 5 minutes. Any time over 5 minutes will over-saturate the water with the coffee compounds. The over-extracted coffee will take on a bitter taste. You can pour out the coffee from the French press into a separate jug to stop it brewing any further. Using a dual filtration system can also help by separating the microparticles, which tend to brew faster and so are more likely to over-extract.
5) What do you do with used coffee grounds from a French press?
Don’t send your used coffee grounds to landfill, you can use them in other ways.
Some plants love coffee grounds. Plants that love acidity such as carrots, blueberries, lilies, and hydrangeas respond really well when grounds are mixed in with the soil. You can also add them to your compost heap for a lovely nitrogen-rich fertilizer. But take care not to put too many grounds in the soil. Aim for a maximum of 15 to 20%.
6) How can I replace the glass beaker in my cafetiere?
It’s easy to replace the standard glass beaker as they are sold widely on the internet. For an 8-cup cafetiere, a replacement beaker will cost around $15. It may be wise to keep a spare beaker in the back of a cupboard just in case you have a little accident.
7) Which French press is best for traveling?
The Bodum travel press is considered best as it is durable, heat, and spill-resistant. It’s made of stainless steel so it’s pretty tough. As it’s well insulated, it’ll keep your coffee beautiful and hot for hours.
8) Which French press has the best value for money?
Bodum Chambord is considered the best value French press on the market. The iconic Bodum has been on the market for years and is easily recognized by its glass beaker. The price of an 8 cup cafetiere starts at around $15. Prices do vary, and they increase according to additional design features.
9) What can I use my French press for?
Apart from making coffee, you can use your cafetiere for other purposes. You can use it as a milk frother by adding heated milk and then frothing it by pumping the plunger up and down. In fact, you can also whip cream the same way. Add cream to the beaker then pump the filter until you get the right consistency. You can also make loose leaf tea with a cafetiere. Simply place tea at the bottom of the jar and add water. When it’s brewed for long enough, strain the tea with the plunger.
10) Can I use pre-ground coffee in my French press?
The answer is yes, you can, but you won’t get a flavor as rich and smooth as freshly ground coffee. Pre-ground coffee starts to oxidize as soon as it is ground, which means it goes stale. Ideally, you should grind your coffee beans immediately before brewing your coffee for the freshest, most delicious cup of coffee.
Well, you should by now be an expert on the French press! Don’t dismiss this simple brewing method as crude or ineffective. While certainly simple – throw in some coffee grounds and water then wait 5 minutes – the result is a rich and powerful drink you’ll be eager to fire up in the morning.
If you pay attention to our buying guide, you should then easily navigate our recommended models and choose the most appropriate one for your needs. While a French press is not complex, these cafetières do differ in small but important ways. As with any buying decision, don’t rush and make sure you focus on your needs.
Also, bookmark La Mano Coffee and keep coming back as we aggressively build out our site. We have one primary goal: to become your go-to resource any time you want the low-down on the best coffee gear. Along with our curated lists of the finest products, we also make sure to bring you as many handy hints as we can dig up!