The French press, or the cafetière, or the coffee press, is the go-to coffee-making method for many people, myself included. Can’t you tell by how many name options there are? The simple French press has been pretty standard in the United States and European kitchens for a really long time and is catching on stateside.
When you want a big pot of good coffee, does drip really cut it?
I know my answer!
Why a French Press?
French presses are easier than pour-overs, provide more coffee and are more environmentally friendly than single-serve pod systems, and are more reliable and portable than electric drip-coffee machines. They make sense!
If you want a whole pot of coffee to sip on, say, while you work from home, the French press is a great shout. They generally come in small two or three-cup and large eight to ten -cup sizes.
A French press needs a coarse, even grind. A fine grind will plug up your press, and a very coarse one will result in weak coffee. There are often options to buy pre-ground coffee at the right texture, but it is, of course, always best to grind your own. Preferably in a high-quality burr grinder.
Using a French Press
The cafetière has been around since the 1800s according to coffee-paraphernalia professionals Illy. Using one is really simple.
Add 7-8g (one tablespoon of coffee) for every 200ml of water (just under a cup), pour-over not-quite boiling water and stir. Then, put the lid back on leaving the plunger just above the waterline. Wait 3-4 minutes before carefully pushing down the plunger.
And there you have it! A great pot of coffee, with very little fuss.
My favorite French presses range from budget to top-end, but as they’re so simple none of them will break the bank.
This is a double-walled pot, so it not only keeps your drinks hot four-times longer than glass but also stays reasonably cool to the touch. The outside has a mirror finish, which along with the full-length handle gives it a really modern almost professional look.
Coming in four sizes from 17 to 44 ounces, a version of the Frieling will suit everyone’s French press needs. The screen on the press itself has a double screen, to keep all grounds out of your coffee!
This is really easy to use a French press, which ticks all the boxes. The thing about a good piece of simple equipment is that it often includes features you didn’t realize you needed! In this case, it’s those double walls and additional sizes.
The whole thing is really easy to disassemble and clean. Frieling also makes milk frothing wands and grinders, so you can get all your coffee making kit from them in a bundle.
This is a great choice for the picky, because of its extra sizes. If you’re working from home, the insulation is fantastic because it means you can sit with a pot on the desk all morning and it won’t get cold.
- Four options for sizes
- Double walls for insulation
- Stylish looks
- Easy clean
- A little on the expensive side for some
The perfect French press for the freelancer or flexi-timer, and it should last years.
Bodum products are always reliable for quality and usually style too. This French press, though, isn’t totally to my tastes in terms of looks. It comes in three sizes: 17oz, 34oz, and 51oz. The smaller ones look more like a metal teapot than a standard French press, which is quite cute, but the largest size looks a bit like a catering coffee pot.
The three-part plunger works well and can be cleaned fairly easily. It’s also made of silicone and mesh rather than mesh and metal, meaning it always plunges smoothly and won’t scratch and damage the inside of the press.
This press needs coarser than usual grounds, as a fine grind will get through the mesh. The Columbia has a really nice ergonomic handle that doesn’t get hot. Overall, it’s classic Bodum quality at a middling price.
- Dishwasher safe
- Double-walled stainless steel keeps drinks hot for two hours
- Available in three sizes
- Unique and acclaimed design
- No-scratch filter
- Interesting looks that won’t appeal to everyone
- Not as insulating as other similar presses
This is a coffee press for people with an individual sense of style, especially for people who are loyal to the looks and usability of Bodum!
3. Sterling Pro
This simple stainless steel press has been on the market since 2014 and has been awarded a ‘Best Overall’ award on Amazon.
It’s made of surgical-grade stainless steel and is double-walled for insulation. Inside, there are cup and ounce markers to get your coffee to water ratio right.
The filter is multipurpose, and can also be used for frothing milk if you don’t mind putting some work in!
- Three (large) sizes
- Surgical grade stainless steel
- Really durable
- Good value
- The markers on the inside really help with dosing your coffee
- No standard sizes
This press comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so why not try it? It’s perfect for the office, or a large and caffeine-obsessed family.
4. Coffee Gator
The Gator has a cool-touch handle and a double-layered filter for gorgeous rich coffee with no errant grinds. It’s designed to treat your grinds gently, making sure all the oils make it into your cup and onto your tongue!
Plus, the Coffee Gator is really great looking. Coming in several muted colors as well as black and stainless steel, it’s got clean stylish vibes perfect for the hipster on the go! Plus, there’s a cute little pot for your beans.
- Beautiful design
- Keeps coffee hot
- Really portable
- Comes with a coffee canister
- One size only
- May not be best for at-home coffee making
If your lifestyle is on the move, but you still like to stop and smell the coffee, then get yourself a Coffee Gator.
It also comes in three sizes, 17, 34, and 50 ounces. Double-walled, the Secura can keep your coffee hot for ages, so even if it’s just for you, a larger size makes sense for coffee guzzlers.
The filter is triple-layered, one more than usual, meaning even the finest grinds release their flavor without muddying your coffee.
As it’s practical and beautiful, this press makes a great gift for coffee snob friends and family.
- Really stylish
- Three sizes are available
- The three-part screen on the filter
- Lots of color options
- Easy to lose bits of the filter when it’s taken apart to clean
It’s definitely the press for the fashionistas among us!
This glass-walled press comes in an unusual, wavy plastic frame in red or black, or there’s a stainless steel frame option.
The KONA is dishwasher safe, and the glass can go in the microwave. Of course, the detachable stainless steel filter system has to be removed to do this!
The red is really popular, and with plastic, the handle is comfortable, cool, and easy to use.
Of course, with all glass presses, there’s the possibility of the carafe cracking or breaking. That being said, being able to see the exact water level and color of your brew is important to a lot of coffee drinkers.
- Interesting design
- Available in two sizes
- Easy to clean
- All glass carafes can break
The KONA is a great budget option.
The Chambord is a really classic French press from Danish kitchen experts Bodum.
It’s available in four sizes, right up to 50 ounces. Borosilicate glass means the carafe keeps coffee warm for much longer than many similar glass cafetières, and the three-part plunger extracts loads of flavor from your favorite coarse-ground beans.
Looks-wise, the metal frame and glass carafe are really classic but the integrated, curved steel feet are unusually clean and stylish design and give the Chambord a really European look. It would be an asset to any kitchen.
Plus, Bodum’s patented safety lid and well-designed lip mean that there will be no annoying spills when it comes time to get caffeinated and the huge handle both looks cool and helps avoid any scalded knuckle incidents!
- Available in four sizes and six finishes
- Dishwasher safe
- Iconic Danish design
- User friendly
- The classic French press
- All glass carafes can break
This is a great, practical all-rounder.
8. Espro P7
The P7 is the newest model in the series and the first to be largely stainless steel rather than glass in a frame.
Founded by engineers, Espro presses include a coffee basket beneath their filter, keeping all the grounds in so there’s never a sludgy final cup situation!
It’s not cheap, but the Espro P7 is, as the makers themselves say, ‘built like a tank’. Unless you need a travel press too, it might be the last French press you ever buy
- Very stylish
- Signature design ensures a really good mug of coffee with no sludge
- Comes with a coffee paddle
- Extremely well built – in fact, should last a lifetime!
- Very much on the expensive side!
This is the press for style-savvy coffee lovers who didn’t mind spending a bit more than usual to ensure quality.
9. Mueller 310
This stainless steel, 34-ounce French press is designed by Danish kitchenware makers Mueller and made in China.
As the price tag implies, this is a simple French press but it’s also solidly built.
Double walls insulate your hot drinks, keeping them warm longer, and it’s a heavy-duty piece of kit.
The Mueller also comes with a little coffee canister, so you can keep your beans fresh.
- Includes a coffee canister
- No-frills design, but looks pretty good for it!
- Only available in one size
- May be a little basic looking for some coffee aficionados
If you want a budget French press, but prefer stainless steel to glass, then the Mueller 310 is the answer.
With three entries in my top ten, Bodum really kill it in the cafetière game!
The mug is available in four colors. The color is the nonslip rubber sleeve inset into the stainless steel body, which is double-walled to keep your drink warm.
You can brew coffee or tea in this 15-ounce beauty. Usually, I think black teas get a bit too steeped in a multi-cup French press but this is to be drunk pretty quickly on the go so tea makes much more sense.
- Dishwasher safe and easy to clean
- Very portable
- Affordable and light
- Keeps coffee really hot
- Lots of style options
- One size, and really only for on the go
- Potential for leakage through the drinking hole, though there is a cover system
If you run into work with your travel mug in hand, then simplify your morning with the Bodum Travel Press!
So, that’s French presses.
Sometimes I think the more simple a piece of kit is, the harder it is to decide on.
Hopefully, you can prioritize these picks. Do you want to travel in style with the Gator, have the expensive and styles best of the best in the Espro, or make a smart budget choice in either glass or steel?
The basics when you’re buying a French press — you need to think about practicality. Is the handle comfortable? Does it splash? How long will it keep drinks warm?
Most importantly… do you want the solidity of metal or the ease of use and looks of glass?
In terms of parts of the machine, I think looking at the filter is really important. They can be flimsy, and they can be hard to take apart and reassemble when cleaning, so don’t be afraid to really poke around if you’re buying in person or ask a lot of questions if buying online.
Without a doubt, my ultimate best French press all-rounder has to be the Espro P7. It looks gorgeous and will probably last a lifetime. That being said, who has the money for a really high-end French press? Realistically, the Bodum offerings are also really, really good and come at a more reasonable price.
The Gator is also fantastic and will be my choice next time I need a travel coffee system.
There’s something great about the lack of faff with a French press. There’s no pomp and circumstance, and your non-coffee-head friends won’t roll their eyes when you get it out the cupboard to make a pot of coffee to chat over.
Whatever you call it – French press, coffee press, cafetière – everyone should have one in their arsenal!
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