Coffee connoseurs praise the French press because it remains one of the truest and most authentic way to brew higher quality coffee grounds. If you are looking to switch from a regular coffee maker or a single serve machine, you are in for a treat!
We tested a total of 22 French press coffee makers in order to determine the best five. We reviewed their durability, filter capability, and plunger functionality in order to find out which one makes the most delicious grit-free cup of coffee.
KONA FRENCH PRESS
ESPRO PRESS P5
Meanwhile, Kona was first tested in the beginning of 2017, and to this date (March 20, 2018) it keeps outperfroming other brands.
Below are 3 more top of the line presses that we recommend based on 3 categories: budget, travel needs, and people’s favorite. Enjoy!
Best French Press – Kona
Of all the different coffees we tried with this press, all of them tasted better than when made with a standard French press. Sure, they weren’t all elevated to gourmet status, but the taste difference was noticeable and if you are on a budget it will really bring a smile to your face.
The usual worry with glass carafes is how easy they are to break or shatter with one drop – but with the protective plastic, this is never a worry. It’s easy to grip and won’t slide off the counter when you’re not looking.
It holds the standard 34oz which is plenty for most people and the infuser/filter system (yes, you can make a fantastic cup of tea too) is made entirely from durable stainless steel.
The mesh filters are nothing special, they get the job done and very few coffee grounds made their way into our cups. The filtration system did seem to get more from the coffee oils and drastically reduce the bitter aftertaste.
The only real problem we encountered was that the plastic outer-shell cannot be separated from the glass carafe. It is dishwasher safe, but we foresaw the plastic and glass slowly warping away from each other with the hot temperatures from multiple washes.
For the price, this is a fantastic French press carafe and the one we recommend you buy!
Outstanding Feature: Best overall French coffee press in terms of quality, functionality, filter system, materials, and coffee flavor produced.
Espro P5 Press
The first thing that stands out with this Espro model is the double mesh filtration system that they use. This is standard for most Espro presses, but we found that it performs exceptionally well on this model. Meaning, you will not get any grit in your coffee brew.
With the P5 Espro was also clever enough to offer an 18 ounce as well as a 32-ounce carafe. Making this French press a perfect fit for one or more persons.
Lastly, the P5 simply looks good. The polished steel casing and the engraved Espro signature complement the glass design really well. You will have zero shame placing this press on your countertop!
Primula PCP-2306 DST Tempo 6 FP
There also is the design of the outer frame, which although is made from plastic, still has a very nice contemporary feel with crossing black bands. This plastic is heat resistant so the handle will always stay nice and cool unlike some of the stainless steel handles on more expensive models.
Dimensions are average at around 8inches tall and honestly, if you just saw an image of the coffee press without the price tag and our “best budget” review, you would never know it was so cheap!
The single filter and plunger are made from stainless steel. The quality of coffee produced is still very good, although, you may find the bitter aftertaste lingers a while longer than it should.
For us, the Tempo coffee maker was consistently good.
Outstanding Feature: best budget option! It works well and doesn’t look too shabby.
SterlingPro DoubleWall FP
Unlike many other brands, the smallest version of this model is 34oz (1 liter) with 51oz (1.5 liters) and 68oz (2 liters) versions also available. That’s a lot of coffee and it makes this the French press of choice for hotels, offices and large families of coffee lovers. Such a large amount of coffee will also stay hot for a very long time inside the stainless steel double walled carafe.
Again, you’ve got the issue of not being able to tell how much water is in the carafe by eye, but really you wouldn’t be making just one cup in this press anyway. It’s designed for heavy use, being dishwasher safe (if you’ve got a dishwasher large enough) and very sturdy. It’s the most durable French coffee maker on this list.
The European style version is a curvy, voluptuous carafe that also holds 34oz but with a slightly different flip lid. For some reason, the rounded shape tends to hold heat marginally better. Both styles are very well made from high-quality stainless steel, easy to grip handles and a lovely, rust-resistant mirror finish.
The double filtration system is made of 2 stainless steel “screens” that ensure that no coffee grounds escape the filters around the edges. SterlingPro are marketing this technology a lot, and while we did find it to be effective, it wasn’t any more revolutionary than other filter systems we’d already reviewed.
Outstanding Feature: people’s choice for brewing a large volume of fantastic tasting coffee.
Bodum Travel French Press
The heat retaining qualities are phenomenal – it will keep the coffee almost burning hot for hours. I would recommend carrying a small cup with you in order to pour the coffee in it. This way you don’t need to add milk or sugar to the flask and you can also let it cool a little before sipping.
It holds 15oz, which is one large cup of coffee – just 1oz short of a Starbucks Grande. The carafe is double walled stainless steel with a matching stainless steel plunger and single mesh filter. The rest of the press is made of sturdy plastic that’s easy to grip and won’t break in transit.
Some consumers report that their Bodum units have started leaking after heavier use. I have not noticed this, and I use mine 5 days a week.
Once you’ve pushed the filter down, it will hold the grains in the bottom of the cup throughout the day, putting strain on the filter. While it’s designed to cope with this pressure, I sometimes feel like I am tempting fate a bit by having it pushed down for long periods of time.
It’s dishwasher safe and will fit in most vehicle cup-holders. Plus, the anti-spill lid means you won’t get coffee on your legs with every bump on the road.
Outstanding Feature: best design for travel! Hot coffee all day long.
How We Picked
Any good French press must have an airtight plunger with a steel double mesh filter. This way there is a far lesser possibility of grit ending up in your brew.
Brew capacity – this will be defined by how much coffee you drink in a 20 minute period. Alternatively, you need to think about how many people you are going to be serving.
In my opinion, it is always better to have a bigger French press, so you can brew all of your coffee at once. The important thing to note is that quality of the brew is not affected by the size of the carafe.
Filtration – This will directly affect the type of coffee that you are going to get.
There are two different ways when it comes to filtering coffee in a French press. The classic way includes a wire mesh filter that is on the bottom of the press. When pressed down, that will separate the coffee grounds from the rest of the coffee into the decanter.
Unfortunately, if you use this filtration method you will likely get a little bit of grit. For this reason, some models come with 2 or 3 wire mesh filters.
The second method is often referred to as the Espro way (named after the brand). This filter also consists of two different wire mesh filters, but the design allows for better separation of the coffee grounds from the rest of the coffee.
Heat Retention – There is no competition here, as stainless steel presses will retain heat for up to 2 hours. In this regards, they are the definitive winner. Ceramic designs come in second place with 40 minutes of heat retention.
With most glass French presses you’ve got about 20 minutes before you will need to reheat the coffee again. Double thickness glass is one way that this time period can be extended, but not by much.
PRO TIP: Make sure you preheat your French press. Adding a little bit of hot water will make sure the press gets better heat retention.
Types Of French Press Carafes
The original 20th-century carafe designs were strictly made out of metal or cheesecloth screen. Nowadays, most manufacturers choose high-resistance heat glass as their primary material for carafes. Latest trends and consumer demands, however, have resulted in the utilization of stainless steel, stoneware, and even plastic materials.
This is the same type of glass used to create bakeware that can withstand oven temperatures of 450 degrees or higher. Unlike regular glass, borosilicate consists at least 5% of a compound called boric oxide. When putting together with silica and boron trioxide, this glass becomes extremely resistant to thermal shock. In non-science and geeky words: your carafe will not explode into hundreds of tiny pieces when you pour hot water inside. It will, however, break should you drop it on a hard surface.
NOTE: There French presses that are all glass, with no caging material. They are a little bit more of a designer type items. The most common designs, however, include glass, metal and a little bit of plastic. The Bodum and Espro are good examples of such models.
Stoneware & Ceramic
The most aesthetically pleasing and expensive French presses are designed using ceramic or stoneware materials. Due to the original composition of these inorganic materials, they need to be additionally coated in order to become resistant to stains and odors.
Science aside, the nature of stoneware and ceramic allows for a variety of vibrant colors to be used in the design of French press carafes; hence, their widely acknowledged good-looks.
NOTE: Most ceramic presses also have a little bit of metal in their designs – mostly aluminum or stainless steel. Rubber seals are also becoming popular in stoneware and ceramic French presses.
This is by far the most durable carafes available. When double walled and vacuum sealed, they create a perfectly hospitable environment for your freshly brewed coffee, while assuring it stays hot for hours.
Even though there are some color options when it comes to stainless steel, most models come with a mirror finish.
This is what the cool kids on the block tend to use for their portable French presses. Made out of durable styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) and BPA (bisphenol-A) free plastic, these carafes are perfectly capable of handling high temperatures.
NOTE: There are certain negative health effects associated with BPA when combined with boiling water (which you need in order to brew coffee). This is why it is essential that you look for BPA-free materials.
At Coffee Dorks we are separated when it comes to which carafe produces the best-tasting coffee, because, we all have different expectations. However, you will need to be quite the expert to notice any significant difference in taste between coffee brewed in a ceramic, stainless steel or glass carafes.
10 Models That Did Not Make the Top 5
Rather than the double walled stainless steel carafes that many leading brands now favor, Bodum have stuck with the classic glass carafe. It’s very sturdy, made from borosilicate glass that is happy to go in the dishwasher and is difficult to scratch or break (although shattering is possible if you’re heavy-handed).
As for the filter, it’s a single mesh layer with a stainless steel plunger (the handle on top is disappointingly plastic). It is better than paper filters but still can’t compare to the dual and even triple filter layers in other presses.
Outstanding Feature: the classic coffee press – ideal for beginners and those that like a traditional looking press.
Can we just stop to admire the design for a few minutes? The thick Borosilicate glass carafe is very pretty, with the Ritual logo on the side.
The dual mesh filters are great, nothing special though, and you’re going to get a hot cup of coffee every time. They also market the French press as being ideal for loose leaf and blooming tea as well, which is great for when you fancy tea instead of coffee.
Outstanding Feature: fantastic design is hard not to fall in love with.
Secura Stainless Steel FP
The real, noticeable difference with this Secura model is the flavor of the coffee. Rather than having 2 filters as many top-of-the-range presses have, this unit has 3. There was no bitter aftertaste or coffee grounds in our cups! It’s completely dishwasher safe too, so cleaning those filters is as simple as tapping out the remaining grounds and putting them in the wash.
Outstanding Feature: 3 filters, rather than one or two, are incredibly effective.
LINKYO French Press Coffee Maker
The carafe is double walled for heat retention, as you would expect, and there is a double filtration system inside. Despite being a brand that few know of, LINKYO are keeping up with the big brands in terms of quality and functionality.
The 2 years warranty is a nice touch, but hopefully not necessary. This is a durable, strong carafe. We have had reports that this breaks easily and has plastic components. This is likely to be a rip-off version of this particular Linkyo press rather than the genuine product, so be careful where you buy this model from.
Outstanding Feature: unbeatable shine on the mirror finish – matte version also available.
Bodum Brazil FP
Considering the appearance of the other budget range French presses on this list, we were quite disappointed with the Bodum Brazil Coffee Maker. It’s a simple, heat-resistant carafe with a plastic base and lid – BPA-free, thankfully. It stands at just 7 inches tall and holds 2 or 3 small cups of coffee (12oz) so this is a compact, single serving type of coffee press for the individual.
Outstanding Feature: tiny size is ideal for single servings.
Frieling Double Wall FP
Beyond that, this is a very decent French press. It holds 23oz (although you can get models that hold a massive 44oz if needed) when full within the double-walled, stainless steel carafe.
All parts are durable and dishwasher proof. Our only quibble with the materials was the fact that they’re sourced and manufactured in China which throws up some quality issues. With many cheaper brands making their coffee presses from German glass and other US and EU steel, there are plenty of other great options if this is a deal breaker for you.
Outstanding Feature: 2 mesh filters (a pre-filter and a super fine filter) are the most effective we’ve seen.
Le Creuset Stonewall FP
It only holds 27oz, which is about 4 cups of coffee and just like the above mentioned Bellemain brewer, you can’t really tell how much is in the press by eye, so you need to go to the trouble of measuring water before you pour in.
The filter and press are made from stainless steel and you can also pop this press in the dishwasher rather than washing by hand. Very standard stuff.
The only downsides to this French press, that we could find, are the weight (nearing 3lb when full) and the lack of replacement filters included in the box.
Outstanding Feature: stoneware carafe with a delightfully glossy enamel finish.
Bellemain Stainless Steel French Press
If you’re a coffee connoisseur with a modern or industrial style kitchen, this coffee press is most likely made with you in mind. With 2 years warranty and the excellent filter system inside, we decided that the Bellemain definitely works as brilliantly as it looks. The micro mesh filters really do guarantee no grounds in your cup.
Outstanding Feature: 2 micro mesh filters for incredible coffee with zero grounds (plus an extra filter included in the box).
GROSCHE Madrid FP
We tested the 34oz model, but you can also purchase the same coffee press in 11.8oz and 51oz sizes depending on how much coffee you usually make.
The main features besides the ultra-strength glass include dual functions (coffee and loose-leaf tea) with a changeable filter to suit both, glossy chrome accents and a heat retaining lid.
Another factor that may sway some people into try thing coffee maker is the Safe Water Project that gives clean, fresh water to those living without it for every Grosche press sold.
Outstanding Feature: dual functions for both coffee and tea from loose leaves.
Hario Olivewood Cafepress
The mesh was finer than most, capturing even the smallest of coffee granules and we found the quality of the brew to be good. But, regardless of the coffee we used, somehow it always ended up with a far bolder taste than anticipated.
Overall we felt that it was a very pretty French café press. But, besides that fine mesh and the wood accents, it wasn’t worth the price, especially when compared to similar brewers on this list.
Outstanding Feature: luxurious olive wood handle and lid.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.