Let’s be honest: there’s something simple and appealing about French press coffee, and it’s not just the taste.
That little carafe with the plunger hearkens back to a simpler time.
Well, maybe it’s just me, but it’s got a romantic feel to it. There’s a secret to the French press — getting a good machine is easy on the wallet.
We’re going to show you how easy by showing you the 5 best French press coffee makers. Sit tight.
Considerations for Choosing the Best French Press Coffee Maker
Now, just because they look cool and make good coffee doesn’t mean you should run right out and buy the first one you see. There’s a few things you’ll need to get right if you want to make good coffee and look good when making it. And no, we’re not talking about wearing a damn beret.
The Devil’s in the Details
French press coffee isn’t that complicated. It’s been around since 1929 (or even before) and it’s fairly simple to figure out: You put some hot water in, add the appropriately ground coffee, put the top on and four minutes later, push down the plunger.
If you’re more of a visual person, here’s a video showing the whole process. Go ahead and skip past the song that starts at about 3:00, it’s not that good (sorry, Matt).
While the process is fairly simple, getting all parts working together to make great French press coffee takes some trial and error.
There are a few things to think about, however, such as the mesh, the carafe and portable vs home presses.
There’s no two ways about it – when you make French press coffee, you’re more than likely going to get some grounds or grit in your coffee.
How much is going to depend on a variety of factors, starting with the grind of your coffee. French press machines are designed to be used with a coarser grind.
The closer your grind matches up to what your french press is designed for, the better your results. Too fine and they flow through the metal mesh filter leaving you with gritty, muddy coffee. Too coarse and you don’t get enough extraction
The second most important thing is the mesh. Some French press machines use double or triple filters to screen out the fines and grit in the coffee.
While these will reduce the amount of grit in your resulting coffee, the tradeoff is going to be the amount of cleaning required – usually more levels of filtering require more cleanup. But if it’s very important to you, then that’s a tradeoff you’re likely willing to make.
Now, what exactly do double and triple screens or filters mean?
Honestly, it will vary by manufacturer. All will have at least one filter on the plunger. If they don’t, keep looking. Aside from that, the press will have either a single, double or triple filter on the plunger and possible an additional screen mesh on the pour spout.
They all work well and in general, the more layers of mesh, the less gritty the coffee will be. Few things, however, are foolproof, and getting a little bit of grit or grounds in your coffee is something to be prepared for.
This is the place, other than the design, where you’ll get most of the variations.
Truthfully, you’ll have about two options — glass or stainless steel. Most glass carafes are going to be removable from the framework that holds them. This is good, allowing you to quickly and easily wash them. Most stainless steel carafes are going to be a one-piece item.
Bodum is a Danish kitchen and appliance maker that makes one of the most wide-spread French press makers on the market. Pretty much every glass thing they make is made with borosilicate glass. It’s tough and durable and has become the standard for French press machines. If you’re going with glass, get borosilicate glass, even if you don’t get a Bodum.
Stainless steel carafes come in two basic versions — single wall and double wall. Single wall is the basic, double wall is the fancy. Why double wall? It helps insulate the carafe so you can keep the coffee warmer longer. We recommend going with double wall on stainless just because there’s no real reason not to — the prices are about the same between single and double wall stainless versions.
Here’s the thing — you don’t want to keep the coffee in the press any longer than you have to. Once it’s pressed, the longer it stays in the carafe, the more bitter it gets.
So be cautious when buying a stainless steel version. The temptation to let the coffee sit there too long may be too great, resulting in terrible tasting coffee.
That’s it. The French press is a simple design that hasn’t changed much in 80-some years.
Travel French Press
Oh, except for the idea of a French press coffee maker you can take with you pretty much anywhere.
We’ve got a travel French press coffee maker listed down below, and there are others on the marketplace but I wanted to take a quick minute to go into more details about the drawbacks. They will do the job very well, but they still suffer from one problem – coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup.
Why is that a problem?
It’s not if you like your coffee really bitter. But if you don’t, then you’ll need to remove the grounds after the cup is made, then clean out the grounds, and the filter, before you drink your coffee. Doing so is going to require the place and equipment to do this.
Not a big deal if you’re making the coffee at home – use your travel French press, pour it into another container, clean up your press, then put it back in the mug and go.
But if you’re at the office or dream of great French press coffee out on the trail, you might be better served with a second travel mug in addition to your travel French press. That allows you to make the coffee when you can, drink it when you want and clean up when you can. Even if those three things aren’t possible in the same time frame.
While many of the travel French press makers are fairly rugged, getting one to match your intended use (traveling in a suitcase vs traveling in a backpack) is key to fine coffee enjoyment.
Trying to use your glass carafe maker as a travel French press is probably a bad idea, no matter how durable borosilicate glass is.
Our Picks for Best French Press Coffee Makers in 2019
Like we said above, the French press is not overly complex. Other than a decent press, you’ll need a good grinder to get the right kind of ground coffee. But as far as the maker itself, here are our best picks.
- The standard French press in Europe
- Stainless steel frame
- Heat resistant handle
- Stainless steel mesh
It’s the classic.
There’s a reason the design hasn’t changed much since they started making this one in 1982 — it looks good and it works.
Bodum’s borosilicate glass and 3-part stainless steel press round out the package, resulting in a tough, easy-to-clean press. Of course, if you don’t like the look of chrome, there’s a copper variant.
If you dig what you see here and want to stop, go ahead. Nobody’s gonna blame you. But if you’re interested in what else is available, keep reading.
- It’s a classic, proven design from a proven manufacturer
- Replaceable carafe makes for easy cleaning
- Looks like everybody else’s French press. Because it is
- It’s made by the Danes. Just kidding. We love Denmark
BEST SUITED FOR: A lover of the classics. Bodum is the gold standard and the maker of the most recognizable French press across the world. If you want no surprises, go with this one.
- Borosilicate glass, of course
- HDPE (High Density Polythene) BPA free plastic cage as opposed to the metal of the Bodum and others
Most French press coffee makers are made with stainless steel cages, which is great. Shiny, nice. But if you really don’t care for the look or don’t like how it can smudge and show every single fingerprint, the Kona could be a good choice.
It works like pretty much every other French press out there. The difference is in the cage — it’s plastic. Well, BPA free HDPE, but it’s plastic. The internals are stainless steel and rightly so. Anything else doesn’t make sense. The carafe is borosilicate, like it should be.
It’s a decent little French press with a different look. If it matches your style, then you’re in luck.
- The plastic isn’t a fingerprint magnet, making it easier to keep looking nice than stainless steel
- Plastic provides some shock protection if dropped
- Carafe not removable making it more difficult to wash
- Not removable means it’s not replaceable – it breaks, you’re springing for an entire French press
BEST SUITED FOR: The Kona is best for someone looking for an alternative to the traditional stainless steel or metal used for most French press coffee makers. The plastic can provide some shock absorption if you’re prone to dropping your coffee pot.
- Double wall stainless steel
- Spill resistant lid
- Silicone grip
Well, Bodum went and did it. Took all their experience making French press coffee makers and made one for the person on the go.
If you want French press coffee on the trail or in the office and don’t want to mess with multiple devices, this could be your ticket to caffeinated bliss.
The only problems we see is the fact that the grounds need to stay in the bottom of the mug while you drink, making the coffee bitter. You could pour out the coffee, pull out the press, wash it off, rinse out the mug, then pour the coffee back in. That seems like a lot of hassle, but if it’s your only option for French press coffee on the go, then it might be a tradeoff worth making.
- The obvious one — French press on the go
- Keeps your brew warm for hours
- Brew your coffee at the office or on the trail
- The coffee grounds stay in the mug while you drink, making bitter coffee
- Getting the grounds out and still using the mug is a hassle
BEST SUITED FOR: the person on the go who really wants French press coffee and doesn’t mind the coffee grounds staying in the mix while they drink.
- 18/10 stainless steel construction
- Double walled to keep the insides hot and the outsides cool
- Handle stays cool as well
The stainless cage on the Bodum isn’t enough? Going for the full-court shiny press? Don’t like seeing the coffee pressed up against the glass of the standard French press?
The SterlingPro is right up your alley. It, like most French press coffee makers, is a fairly simple design. It has a double-screen mesh, which will do a better job of keeping the fine bits of ground coffee from getting into your cup.
Also, the whole thing is made of metal – no plastic parts come in contact with your coffee. That can be very important if you really hate the idea of plastic touching your coffee.
- Lots of shiny stainless steel, making it super durable
- Water stays hotter longer than with the single wall presses
- Double mesh filter should result in cleaner coffee
- No plastic parts in contact with your coffee
- Little bulkier to handle than standard glass presses
- More difficult to clean — all that stainless steel is a fingerprint magnet
BEST SUITED FOR: Lovers of heavy metal. Just kidding. It’s a sleek design that looks great. The double wall construction helps keep things warm inside and no worries about little fingers getting burned touching it.
- Bamboo lid, handle, and plunger knob
- Borosilicate carafe, stainless steel cage and internals
Yep. If you just don’t dig chrome or plastic, there’s a viable third choice — bamboo. The Gourmet Bamboo French Press sports the same borosilicate glass carafe and the same stainless steel cage and internals as many other French press coffee makers.
What sets it apart is the bamboo lid, handle, and plunger knob.
Why is that a good thing? Honestly, it looks awesome. Also, some people are very sensitive to plastic, BPA free or not, being in contact with their food or drink. This little machine gets around that.
- Frankly, it looks great. The bamboo will turn heads in your kitchen
- No plastics come in contact with your drink
- All natural, environment-friendly construction
- Hand wash only
- Sold in 300 ml. and 1000 ml. sizes. Make sure you know what you’re getting
BEST SUITED FOR: The Gourmet Bamboo French Press is great for someone looking for a unique and different looking French press. Also good for people with aversions to plastic touching their drinks.
If we had to choose, and it’d be hard, we’d go with the classic Bodum Chambord. It looks great, you can easily get replacement carafes, and millions of buyers can’t be wrong. Right?
A French press coffee maker is a great way to easily enjoy excellent coffee.
With so many options available on the market, and most of them inexpensive, you’d be crazy to not give it a whirl.
Chose from one of the ones we review here and you’ll be getting one of the 5 best French press coffee makers available.