French press coffee makers are simple, affordable, and old way of making coffee. This coffee maker is also called a coffee plunger, press pot, stamp pot, coffee press, cafetière, cafetière à piston, or caffettiera a stantuffo.
Yes, you guess it right. Same as espresso machines, French presses originate in Italy.
Ugo Paolini assigned his patent to Mr. Calimani and Moneta in 1928 and since then, French presses were modified several times and firstly manufactured by companies such as Bodum or Melior. However, the principle stays the same.
In this article, I will look into how do French presses work, what do you need to do in order to make the best French press coffee, how to use and clean your French press coffee maker, and what to look out for when you decide to buy one.
As always, I will present the best French press coffee makers with all their features, pros, and cons, to make your life easier. S'il vous plaît, let's begin.
How does the French press work?
A French press consists of a beaker (carafe) and plunger or a piston. The coarsely ground coffee (consistency of the cosher salt) goes inside the empty carafe usually made out of glass or steel, then you add hot water (199–205 °F)—about 1.1 oz of coffee grounds to 17 of water, depending on your taste.
You brew it for two to four minutes. Then the thing that gave it its name comes to the scene. You have to press the plunger or piston of your French press in order to separate the grounds and keep them at the bottom of the carafe, not your cup of coffee.
Simple, and effective. You can even spot it in movies or IKEA. The actor Michael Caine operates French press in the movie The Ipcress File, and the worldwide famous design brand makes their own French Press called UPPHETTA.
Why French press coffee is the best?
French press coffee is popular, On the other hand, there are also a few CONS to making French press coffee:
How to make the best French press coffee?
You need to grind your own beans and practice a bit in order to brew the ideal cup of coffee. Let's dig in:
- 1Get 17 grams of coarsely ground coffee per 10 oz of water per one serving (19 grams if you like stronger coffee)
- 2Boil enough water in the kettle (for one serving you will need 10 oz or one cup per one spoon of grounds)
- 3Rinse your carafe with warm water.
- 4Let the water cool down to 205°F before pouring half of it onto the grounds
- 5This is called blooming. A gooseneck kettle is a big help in pouring water, I talk about them as well as the blooming process in my article. Let it "bloom" for one minute.
- 6Then, pour the rest and let it sit. This part is called steeping and lets you achieve the optimal flavor extraction. As I wrote before, with the French press the ideal time is 2-4 minutes.
- 7Then apply the pressure by pushing the piston (plunger) as far as you are able to, but gently.
- 8Serve and enjoy.
- 9Pour any leftover coffee into a carafe.
- 10Clean your French press.
How long should you steep French press coffee?
As I wrote before, the ideal time for brewing the coffee is around two to four minutes. Four minutes max, with exception of the cold brewing method.
What is cold French press brewing?
The cold brew approach of making a French press coffee requires more time to achieve the desired extraction, usually overnight.
The process is similar, however, the water is not hot, but a room temperature. You gently stir it and let the mixture sit in the fridge for 14 - 16 hours.
Only after that your press it and strain it into a jar or a carafe for storing. This cold brew is good for 2 - 3 days. If you still have not tried this brewing method, I highly recommend it. Coffee in the fridge saves you a lot of time in the morning.
How much coffee should you use for a French press?
As I wrote before, about 1.1 oz of coffee grounds to 17 of water, depending on your taste. Many coffee fans and fellow coffee bloggers also swear by the 1:15 ratio aka for every 1 gram of coffee, add 15 grams of water.
Again, it depends on your taste, and also the size of your French press. Many manufacturers give you guidance. I recommend following it. The most common sizes are:
12 oz and 34 oz / 3, 6, 8, 12 cups are the most popular sizes of French presses. Bear in mind, the more grams of coffee, the stronger the cup.
How do I choose a French press?
Not all French presses were created equal. What to look for in a French press? Bear these in mind:
- 1What size do you prefer? I mentioned common sizes of French presses above, but there are big French press coffee makers, too, good for about 10 servings, and travel-friendly ones.
- 2What material do you prefer? Stainless-steel French press is almost indestructible, not hard to clean, and shiny, and good-looking. It also keeps the coffee warm. However, you can not see inside it. Glass French presses are see-through but easier to break and does not retain heat. If you prefer glass, make sure that it is the tougher kind, called borosilicate glass. PS: If you look for a stainless steel French press, 18 10 stainless steel means that it was made with 18% of chromium and 10% of nickel. The higher the nickel number, the tougher the coffee maker.
- 3Do you prefer a nice design or user-friendliness? Some French presses look good on the counter but are not well-functioning, or harder to clean.
- 4Are replacement parts easy to get?
How to clean your French press
If you do not own a dishwasher or one of the dishwasher-safe French presses, cleaning takes a while to get used to but you will get it done easy-peasy with this guide!
- 1Remove the piston (plunger) of your French press
- 2Fill it with warm water and rotate it to loosen any grounds that might get stuck in there
- 3Prepare a mesh strainer
- 4Place it over a sink and pour the insides of your French press into it
- 5Trash the insides of the strainer full of coffee grounds or compost them
- 6Clean everything with warm water and dish soap, ideally unscented, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable
- 7Put the plunger back in and use it to pump the water to get rid of oils
- 8Use a soft bottle brush to clean the residue
- 9Rinse and dry the French press with a soft cloth
Why Do You Need To Grind Your Own Beans?
Except for having the freshest coffee possible, grinding your own coffee beans gives you control over the size of the grounds. One bag of whole roasted coffee beans can last 2 - 6 months. Invest in a grinder and you are able to prepare different drinks from 1 bag of beans: coarse for French press, medium for pour-over method, medium-fine for Aeropress, or fine for espresso. Except for the burr coffee grinder, a gooseneck kettle might be also useful.
What happens if it is too fine?
The coffee needs to be a coarser grind than a drip brew coffee. Finer coffee grounds require an excessive effort in order to lower the plunger, plus they are smaller and can end up in your cup of coffee. French press coffee made with fine grounds will be over-extracted and bitter, too.
Why is my French press coffee gritty?
Some people say that you want some sediment in your French press coffee because it gives it a full body and nice acidity. If you feel that there is too much sediment in your French press coffee, make sure that your burr grinder is in good shape and cleaned often.
You can also work on your grinding skills since grit might mean that your grind is too fine.
Remember, it must be coarse (cosher salt-like.) If it did not help, always make sure that you let the coffee grounds settle and only then pour the coffee through a fine strainer, for example, the one from Compatify.
You also should not swirl with your cup of coffee.
Is French press coffee bad for you?
There are 2 points of view: it contains less caffeine than pour-over coffee or coffee from a drip coffee maker, which is good.
However, it does not filter out cafestol – a coffee lipid in the French press coffee that may cause bad cholesterol levels (LDL) to rise.
However, if your metabolism is not particularly slow or you do not drink excessive amounts of French press coffee and eat unhealthy food, you should be ok.
By the way, researchers say that 5 cups of French press or Turkish coffee raise your cholesterol levels by 6%.
Is there a difference in French presses?
Yes, as mentioned before, some materials and French press brands are better, some more stylish and expensive, too.
Do not only look at the price but also consider how many people do you need to make coffee for, if you prefer to see inside the French press (glass) or if you want heat retention (stainless steel construction)
The principle of how the French press coffee maker works do not change, some of them have nifty features though, such as a thermometer or award-worthy design.
What is the best brand of French press?
Apart from previously mentioned French press pioneer brands Bodum or Melior for which replacement parts are always easier to get, Frieling French Press, Kona, Espro, or Barista are worth checking out.
My favorites are stainless steel French presses thanks to the heat retention but let's look at our complete selection of the 15 best French press coffee makers:
Frieling Stainless Steel French Press
Best stainless steel French press
Kona French Press
Best stainless steel design
Bodum Travel French Press
Best portable/camping French press
Best budget French press
Barista Warrior Double Wall French Press
Best French press with built-in thermometer
Best French press with built-in scale and timer
Bodum Chambord French Press
Best borosilicate glass French press
Best French press with wooden components
Best heat retention
Stelton French Press
Best plastic French press
Best rainbow stainless steel French press
FIIHO French Press
Winner in size
Best for dishwasher
Frieling Stainless Steel French Press
This 18 10 stainless steel French press is our winner.
Why? Its outside is sleek thanks to the polished stainless steel construction and keeps coffee hot for hours thanks to a double-walled design.
Your cup will stay sediment-free, because of the double filter system.
The company perfected its French press coffee maker since 1988 and it is dishwasher-safe, insulated, functional, and good-looking.
Brushed steel model and 5 sizes of Frieling French Press are available.
Kona French Press
Kona is a brand that I already mentioned in some of my articles. This French press coffee maker gets the best rating for its effortless ergonomic handle and a rubber plunger.
Kona French Press is available in two sizes and 3 colors, red, black, and stainless steel. This multi-material French press is easy on the eye but very functional, too.
Some people even use it to foam milk and love it. One of the best French presses that are out there.
Another double-walled stainless steel French press, Espro P7 is a heavier, sturdy-bodied French press with a fine filter so you do not need to worry about breaking it or finding particles in your coffee.
Same as no. 1 from this list, it is almost unbreakable! You can pick from 4 styles and colors of steel and 2 sizes. The plunger might look small at the first glance, but it does the job perfectly.
And it looks great, I would recommend it even as a gift. A close 3rd place on our list of best French press coffee makers.
Bodum Travel French Press
Do you want to take your French press with you? With 15 oz and 0.9 pounds, Bodum Travel French press is good for camping or traveling.
And it works as a travel mug and a travel French press.
Bodum is available in 4 colors, I especially love the green French press that is easy to spot.
You have an option: plastic double-walled, or stainless steel French press with a plastic lid.
However, all parts are dishwasher safe.
Bodum Brazil is the best budget French press on our list with a timeless design from the 80s.
The carafe is glass, so more fragile, but it is borosilicate glass carafe, so it is more heat-resistant and dishwasher safe.
Filter, mesh, and plunger are steel and they come apart easily so cleaning the Bodum Brazil French press is not a chore.
It is cheaper than Chambord, however, if you want better heat retention, opt for a steel French press.
Barista Warrior Double Wall French Press
The durable Barista Warrior French press keeps your coffee nice and warm thanks to the double-walled stainless steel design.
Moreover, it helps you from the start thanks to the build-in thermometer that allows you to brew at the correct temperature of 195-205°F.
It comes with detailed instructions, too. Warrior comes only in 1 size and 1 color. Great even for a less-experienced coffee lover.
KitchenAid is our top choice if you are looking for a French press with a built-in scale and a timer.
And it is cordless, powered by batteries! It provides you with a warm coffee, thanks to doubled walls and stainless steel body, but it is heavier and harder to clean.
Expect to pay more because of its built-in features.
Bodum Chambord French Press
This borosilicate glass French press coffee maker from Bodum is available in 6 designs and 4 sizes.
The carafe is either glass or a recyclable shatterproof SAN one. SAN material is BPA-free plastic.
Only the carafe, filter, and plunger of the Chambord dishwasher safe. Sadly, many reviewers state that the French press is smaller than expected.
However, the price of Bodum Chambord French press is reasonable and the results very satisfying.
Do you like wooden components in your kitchen? Look into Poliviar. This French press design consists of a handle made from teak wood and even if the French press itself is stainless steel, it has a stone-looking coating.
3 other designs are available, I love the green style in particular. You can get a matching kettle, too! Your coffee will stay warm thanks to its double-wall construction and grit-free, thanks to the double filter.
A small minus is that only 34 oz size is available. The Poliviar French press does not rust, comes with an extra screen filter, and cleaning it is easy.
Is heat retention your priority? The Bodum Columbia is double-walled and has a seal-off top that totally closes it.
No risk of spills. It comes in 3 sizes but only 1 color of the surface.
Its design is timeless and it is dishwasher-safe, as well. It is made from steel, only the lid and strainer are silicone/plastic.
All parts are easy to wash. Thanks to its unique shape, it also gets a plus point for its looks.
Stelton French Press
A plastic French press with a glass interior and double-wall construction? Why not.
Designed by Erik Magnussen, Stelton's French press is light, easy to clean, and high-end but minimalist. Reminds me of IKEA designs. If you like Nordic style, check this brand out.
Plus, Stelton also works as a vacuum jug. It holds 4 - 8 oz of coffee so if you look for a bigger French press, read further.
Also if you prefer a see-through design, a good-looking French press with a great system of filters worth checking is Bayka French Press.
Do you love colors? Rainbows? This uni-corny French press by Lady Ironside has a rainbow stainless steel frame (not even one small plastic part!) that gives it nice colors and shimmer, plus it retains heat and resists corrosion.
It comes in 34 oz size, two extra filters, and a coffee scoop. Thanks to the material, your coffee stays hot and it looks awesome. Functionality is important, though: it is easy to clean, easy to use, and light.
Customers also praise Lady Ironside's fast and friendly customer support, shall you need help or replacement parts.
FIIHO French Press
Do you like to receive some extras when you buy a new kitchen gadget? Know that this French press coffee maker from FIIHO comes with a spoon, cleaning brush, and extra filters.
This durable device itself consists of a borosilicate glass carafe with a scale line (very useful), a 4-layer filtration system (most from our list) and it has a lifetime replacement guarantee.
It is available in two colors, I adore the steampunk-looking copper one. By the way, FIIHO is a German brand, that also produces a decent gooseneck kettle with a thermometer, that is useful in the process of making French press coffee.
One of four French presses on this list, that is available in a big, 51 oz size. 2 other sizes are available, there is no selection of materials or colors, though.
This French press coffee maker consists of a borosilicate glass carafe and a chrome cast. The bottom is also chrome, which protects it nicely. It is minimalist, but efficient, thanks to the dual filter.
Great for both coffee and tea. It is dishwasher safe but I would wash it by hand. The carafe is removable, too.
I love that the manufacturer is a social enterprise, supporting Safe Water Project, helping communities that have problems with access to clean, drinking water.
Several reviews praise it more than Bodum, Keurig, or Kona French press. For the price, it is definitely worth checking out.
With every French press coffee maker from this list, I tried to state if it is dishwasher safe.
Secura would be my top choice regarding this. This 3-layered stainless steel coffee press is sturdy, affordable, and good-looking.
If you want to keep your coffee warm, Secura is true to its name. It comes in 5 colors and 5 sizes.
It filters coffee grounds nicely and comes with a spare filter. Definitely a bang for your buck!
THE VERDICT – Which French Press Should You Try?
Glass French presses are classic but more fragile and they do not keep your coffee hot for a long time.
Because of that, I would vote for a French press coffee maker with a stainless steel frame or a combination of steel and borosilicate glass.
However, I included other materials in this list, as well. It was hard to point at the winning French press. The top French press coffee makers in the main categories for me are:
Glass French press - My recommendations are Bodum Chambord French press available in 4 sizes or if you do not mind only one size, a very affordable GROSCHE MADRID Glass French Press, that supports a good cause.
Best stainless steel French press- My overall winner from these 12 French presses and from stainless steel French presses, too, is Frieling Stainless Steel French Press made from 18 10 best stainless steel.
If you look for a colorful one, give Lady Ironside a try, alternatively Espro 7. All of them have good heat retention and keep your coffee hot while looking good, and sturdy.
A combination of materials - Kona French coffee press, Bodum Brazil, Bodum Columbia, and FIIHO are worth checking out.
Looking for a "looker" aka the high-end design that catches the attention? You can not go wrong with Espro7, Poliviar, Stelton, or Lady Ironside.
If you like additional functions, such as a thermometer, look into Barista Warrior French press. KitchenAid on the other hand has a built-in coffee scale and timer. Watching out for the 4-minute steeping time was never easier.
If you do not want to spend a lot and look for the best value French press coffee maker, check Kona, Bodum Brazil, or GROSCHE MADRID French presses.
And the top French press for camping or traveling? Definitely Bodum Travel French Press.
I hope you enjoyed this article about best French presses of 2021.
Whether you brew on the go, at home, for one or several people, let me know what are your experiences and your favorite brand of French press 🙂