Last Updated: 5/26/19
The Best French Press
Top Rated Overall
We absolutely love french presses. Despite all the advancements with drip coffee makers and the surge in popularity of pod machines, the perfect balance of simplicity, functionality, and quality from a french press remains untouched. The french press is the perfect coffee maker in so many ways. They’re compact, affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and above all they makes fantastic coffee. While a sizeable, pricey, premium drip coffee maker strives to give you brew strength settings, coffee and tea options, milk frothers and easy cleaning, a french press can do all of this without the huge price tag and bulky size. They are reliable, simple to use, and affordable! So without further ado, here’s our list of the best french presses for 2020.
Why use a French Press
Despite french presses being one of the simplest and most affordable ways to make coffee, there are many people out there who believe that it truly makes the best cup of coffee. And there is really one key reason for that: flavor.
Most coffee makers use a filter. While these does keep those stray grounds out of your beverage, the paper also absorbs a lot of the oil in your coffee. This can vary depending on the type of filter you use. Human taste buds are very proficient at picking up fats and oils, so removing this from your coffee can take a lot of the taste away.
Not only will a french press allow you to experience more of the natural flavors found in your coffee, but it also allows you to steep your brew. This give you a more complete flavor, and this applies to both tea and coffee.
French Press Reviews
Whether you're looking to improve the flavor of your coffee or simply find an easy, affordable way to brew your own, our reviews are here to help you out.
First, we'll be taking a look at our six favorite models on the market. We'll go in-depth and show you the facts: good and bad. Once we've looked at each review individually, we'll wrap everything up and help you decide which one best suits your needs.
Need more info? Read on to learn about what we look for in a french press, how to use one, and why you might prefer this method of brewing to that of a more traditional coffee maker.
Best All-Around French Press
Why We Love It
It’s a durable french press that you can use almost anywhere.
Who Should Buy This
Those who want a french press that can withstand the great outdoors
The Coffee Gator has quickly become one of the most popular french presses on the market, and for good reason. It’s a super durable coffee maker made with military grade 304 stainless steel, designed to cater to all your coffee needs. There are two huge advantages to a stainless steel french press. One is it’s durability, and the other is its ability to hold heat. Stainless steel french presses will keep your coffee hotter quite a bit longer than glass will. Some folks don’t particularly like the look of a stainless steel french press, but the Coffee Gator comes in a variety of different, unique colours for you to choose from. It also comes with a handy coffee canister and an e-book full of tips to help you brew the best coffee. The Coffee Gator comes in the standard 34 oz size, but unfortunately that’s the only size available. The coffee canister is also pretty small - it only holds about one brew’s worth of grounds - but it is free. Also, despite its durability, it’s not recommended for use in the dishwasher (partly due to its coating). Overall, the Coffee Gator the perfect all arounder.
Why We Love It
It’s a quality french press at an excellent price.
Who Should Buy This
Those who want the most bang for their buck.
If you’re on the market for a french press, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the brand Bodum. Bodum is such a popular french press brand that a lot people mistake the brand name for the universal name of the product. There’s a reason Bodum has been so successful, and part of that is their ability to balance quality and cost with their products. The Bodum Brazil is excellent because it’s washing machine safe, BPA free, and it comes in 12 oz, 34 oz and even 51 oz sizes. It has an ergonomic handle that makes even its largest size easy to pour, and a sturdy plunger with a nice round hold. This is a great standard french press, though it’s not ideal for the outdoors since it is a glass model. It’s not the most durable of all our choices, but can definitely withstand the usual wear and tear. If you want great value above all, the Bodum Brazil is a no brainer.
Why We Love It
It’s beautifully designed and plunges smoothly.
Who Should Buy This
Those who love the delicate aesthetics of a french press, but don’t want to sacrifice durability.
The Grosche Madrid is definitely one of our favourite looking french presses of all time. We absolutely love the minimal silver banding that compliments the clear glass, and it looks even better full of hot coffee or tea. French presses have a natural romanticism to them, and the Grosche Madrid perfectly encapsulates that sophistication and style. The best part is that it uses high quality German Schott Duran glass and a dual filter system for increased durability contrary to its delicate appearance. It’s dishwasher safe, and a portion of all proceeds help fund the Grosche Safe Water Project - bonus! Of course, it’s not a great model for the outdoors and the handle and plunger are not quite as ergonomic as some other models. This is most noticeable in the larger size options, which can be heavy when full of tea of coffee. But if you’re like us and find that coffee always tastes best out of a good glass french press, you can’t beat the Grosche Madrid.
Best Insulated French Press
Why We Love It
It’s a rugged, affordable french press that keeps your coffee at its hottest.
Who Should Buy This
No frills folk who want hot coffee from a coffee maker they can take anywhere.
As the name suggests, the Sterling Pro Double Wall is designed with two walls. The interior wall keeps your coffee or tea hot, while the exterior wall remains cool to touch. This is the absolute ideal camping french press with its ultra durable stainless steel body, super insulating properties and no-frills appearance. It comes in multiple different sizes up to 1.75 liters and is completely dishwasher safe. The plunger also has a dual filter system to keep pesky grounds/tea leaves out of your drink. It’s not the nicest french press to look at, but it really delivers where it counts. The Sterling Pro Double Wall is the perfect french press for insulating your beverages long term, and withstanding all the adventure you can throw at it.
Why We Love It
It’s an innovative design that combines french press and pour over style coffee.
Who Should Buy This
Those who like to try something new.
As lovers of both coffee and creativity, we are strong proponents of the Aeropress. It is a truly unique coffee maker that is both fun and wildly easy to use. The Aeropress combines pour over style with the “bloom and press” method of a french press, resulting in something that’s remarkably simple in its innovation. Because of its unique properties, we had to give it it’s own in-depth review, which you can read here. The Aeropress takes a couple of tries to get the hang of, but if you get as excited as we do about this kind of thing then you’ll definitely have a blast with it. Another huge upside is that it is dead easy to clean. You simply detach the reusable filter, dump out the paper filter and grinds, and rinse the pieces. It’s all dishwasher safe, really easy to transport, and great for outdoors. It is a limiting product in that it’s only really good for single servings. It also does require small paper filters, so if you’re all about waste reduction then you might not like that aspect. But in all, we highly recommend reading our full review and giving the Aeropress a good college try.
Easiest to Use
Why We Love It
It’s simple and straightforward.
Who Should Buy This
Those who want a french press that’s easy to use and long lasting.
One of the real stand out features of the Kona French Press is that it’s a great combination between having the glass carafe but also more durability and insulation. It has an insulating protective shell that helps protect the glass as well as retain heat, but you still get that higher flavour quality and “window” into your coffee with the glass. It’s a very easy french press to use, with an ergonomic handle and smooth plunging thanks to the glass. It comes in only 12 oz and 34 oz, which is less variety than some models but better than others. It’s still doesn’t quite measure up to the durability and insulating properties of a stainless steel model, but it does an excellent job of balancing the two without sacrificing the glass. This is an awesome french press for those who want something that’s easy to use and gives you the best of both worlds in the stainless steel vs glass argument.
Which French Press is Right for Me?
If you’re having trouble choosing a french press, you’re not alone. For such an apparently simple coffee maker, there seem to be endless options out there. How different can they really be? We’ve done the hard work for you and tested our favourite french presses to help you narrow down your choice. The good news is that because french presses are so affordable, it’s hard to find one that isn’t good value. So all that’s left is for you to decide which model is best suited to your needs.
Coffee Gator: Best All-Around
The Coffee Gator is excellent for those of you who want a french press that has a little bit of everything. It’s well insulated, super durable, and has more to offer aesthetically than your average stainless steel french press. It even comes with a miniature portable coffee canister and coffee instruction book. All this makes the Coffee Gator a great addition for almost anyone interested in a french press style coffee maker.
Bodum Brazil: Best Value
If your primary concern is getting the most bang for your buck, it’s hard to beat the Bodum Brazil. Bodum is well established brand in the french press industry, and for good reason. The Bodum Brazil has a BPA free glass beaker, protective shield and ergonomic handle, and comes in 3 convenient sizes. At a hard to beat price, the Bodum Brazil is perfect for those looking to get the most bang for their buck.
Grosche Madrid: Best Looking
If you want a french press that appeals to your inner aesthete, we highly recommend the Grosche Madrid. It’s a beautifully designed french press that strikes a perfect balance between delicate appearance and durable build. It’s built with quality materials including Schott Duran German glass, making it stronger than it looks. Combined with its double filter plunger and multiple size options, this is a fantastic french press that looks as good as the beverages it brews.
Sterling Pro Double Wall: Best Insulated French Press
What is good coffee if it isn’t hot? One of the downsides of a french press coffee maker is that without a heating pad like drip machines, the glass beakers don’t retain heat for very long. If you like to drink your coffee at a more leisurely pace, this can be a bit of a pain. Stainless steel french presses are one solution to this problem since they retain heat so much better, and we think the Sterling Pro Double Wall is the best in its class. Other being an all around great french press with its dual filter plunger super durable build, it boasts two stainless steel walls to keep your coffee hotter longer. That makes it perfect for lovers of slow mornings, hot coffee, and products that are built to last.
If you’re all about the latest and greatest in the coffee world, we can’t recommend the Aeropress enough. It’s a nifty, unique french press that actually seems to sit somewhere between a pour over and french press style coffee maker. It’s outstandingly simple without being boring, and is definitely an appliance you can enjoy tinkering around with. Because it’s so unique, we decided to give the Aeropress its own separate review. But for the purpose of this list, the Aeropress is a unique, durable, portable coffee maker that speaks to trend seeker in all of us.
Kona French Press: Easiest to Use
Some of us are just looking for a little simplicity in life, and the Kona French Press is a reflection of that. If you’re feeling torn between a glass and a stainless steel french press, the Kona might be the answer. It is easy to use in the sense that it gives you the best of both worlds. It has a glass beaker but an extra protective shield and ergonomic handle, as well as a smooth pressing plunger. If you want to keep things simple and reliable, the Kona French Press is the perfect choice.
5 Reasons to use a French Press Instead of a Drip Coffee Maker
While we are huge fans of the french press, not everyone sees the value in this style of coffee maker vs a conventional drip coffee maker. With no disrespect to the beloved drip machine (you can read about our favourites here), there are actually a lot of reasons to go for a french press instead. Here’s our list of 5 reasons to choose a french press as your coffee maker.
Drip coffee makers tend to be viewed as the modern man’s quick and easy access to his coffee fix. A fresh pot of coffee at the push of a button? Sign me up! The problem is that drip coffee makers are machines afterall, and while they come with a host of benefits, they are much higher maintenance product. Day to day, a french press does require a little extra effort in terms of cleaning. But unlike a drip coffee maker, they will never require any more than that. Where a drip machine can malfunction, break down, and requires semi regular deep cleaning, a french press never demands more than to be washed after each use. It’s the beauty of a simpler, non-electronic design.
Much More Affordable
One of the greatest aspects of french press coffee makers is the price range. French presses are notoriously affordable, and typically some of the cheapest coffee makers you can buy. Even premium french presses rarely break a 2 digit price tag, meaning you have a lot more flexibility in terms of getting value out of your dollar. In fact, french presses are commonly owned alongside other coffee machines simply they’re great to have and so affordable that investing in one is usually a no brainer.
Ultimately More Control over your Coffee Flavour
Drip and pod style coffee machines that rely on technology have come a long way in expanding the control users have over their coffee. It’s pretty rare nowadays to find a coffee machine that doesn’t have at least two brew settings. The problem is that even with this technology, it’s quite difficult to beat the flavour of french press coffee without spending a lot of cash on a premium machine. The beauty of a french press is that they are dead simple, but ultimately give you more control over your brew. Controlling vital aspects like water temperature, fineness of grind and bloom time are all in your hands just by nature of the french press method. Generally speaking, they brew better coffee more easily and more affordably.
The compact size of a french press is another big plus when compared to drip coffee makers. While there are some pretty compact drip machines on the market, their size often comes at the sacrifice of brew amount or extra features. Even a large french press (the largest size is usually about 1.75 liters) takes up barely any more space than the size of the beaker. This makes them easier to store, or if you prefer to have them on the counter, they take up far less real estate than other coffee machines.
Some people don’t care about being involved in the coffee making process - they are perfectly content with an average cup of joe, brewed conveniently with the least amount of effort on their part. But others, such as ourselves, love to be able to play around with the coffee making process. French presses are great because they offer that extra bit of involvement without the user requiring any real prerequisites. Learning about coffee comes naturally with a french press, and they are actually surprisingly versatile. Any french press can be used for tea just as easily as coffee, and here’s a great insider tip - you can froth milk with your french press by simply filling the beaker with warm milk and pumping the plunger. Where drip machines require more features, a bigger size, and ultimately a larger price tag for these benefits, the beautiful simplicity of a french press makes it naturally versatile.
5 Things to Look For When Choosing a French Press
French presses come in a surprising variety of different designs. Depending on what you want out of your french press, each design will bring something to the table. Classic glass french presses are great for their sophisticated appearance and smooth plunging, whereas stainless steel french presses are more durable and better at holding heat. There are also designs like the Aeropress that vary from the traditional carafe/plunger style and give you something a little more unique. Everything from the ergonomics to the size of a french press will alter the way you experience your coffee. When you’re selecting a french press, you’ll want to choose a design that reflects what you want this experience to be. Coffee while camping? You might want to try a stainless steel model. Hosting a brunch? Perhaps an aesthetically pleasing 1L glass french press is the way to go. Keep in mind that a large french press full of hot coffee or tea is going to be pretty heavy - which is where factors like a thicker, ergonomic handle would be a commodity. When you think about each aspect of a french press - the carafe, the plunger, the lid, the handle - picking the right design is the first step in satisfying your coffee making needs.
Going hand in hand with the design, the materials used in making a french press will have a huge impact on everything from the functionality to the quality of the coffee. When most people think of a french press, they think of a glass carafe in a metal or plastic shell. The beauty of glass is that it handles heat well, does not interfere with the flavour of the coffee, and it just looks nice. There is also value and aesthetic pleasure in being able to see the colour of your coffee. On the other hand, stainless steel french presses are much more durable and they hold heat a lot better than glass ones do. Depending on the type of glass or stainless steel, a french press may or may not be dishwasher safe. Delicate types of glass will likely break in a dishwasher, and are prone to cracking if they encounter cold water immediately after hot. Some stainless steel models are prone to rusting in a dishwasher. Plastic is another material often used in french presses. Some glass presses have a plastic shield to increase its durability and insulating abilities. But a plastic plunger or lid may not last as long or work as well. The point is, there are a lot different materials used to to make the parts of a french press, and each one has its own advantages and downsides. Overall, it’s important to look for quality materials that reflect your own personal taste.
Value is important in any product, but it can be hard to judge with a french press. Since the design of a french press is so much simpler than that of a drip or pod machine, they are universally much cheaper. However, that doesn’t mean all french presses are good value. Since the general cost of a french press is quite affordable, it is well worth choosing a good quality model. A few extra dollars can go a long way with a french press. The other great thing about the affordability of french presses is that they allow for the option of owning more than one for different occasions. While there are lots of models that provide users with great all-around value, it’s also easy to justify having both a camping french press and a fancy glass one. French presses are one of the easiest coffee makers styles to get great value on, so it’s well worth doing a bit of research.
As we’ve already laid out, the design and material of a french press can impact its durability. Just how durable a french press needs to be depends entirely on your personal needs. A glass french press is clearly the more delicate design, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t durable glass presses out there. Unless you’re planning to take your french press on camping trips or have rowdy children in the house, high quality glass is durable enough for the usual wear and tear. This includes handling a dishwasher cycle and not smashing if you stir the coffee with a metal spoon. However, if you are more of an outdoor person or have other concerns, stainless steel or plastic designs will withstand the most. Looking for durability in a model goes hand in hand with seeking out quality materials that suit your needs.
Size is a relatively minor factor, but important nonetheless. Many people are under the misconception that a french press is bad choice for serving large groups. In reality, a lot of french presses are offered in numerous different sizes up to 1.75 liters. Alternatively, there are french presses that come in single serve sizes as well. Just as you can opt to purchase multiple different styles of french presses, you can also indulge in different sizes you suit different occasions. It’s very easy to control the amount of coffee you make in a french press, but you can also just invest in different sizes. So if a typical 34 oz french press is not quite right, look for models that offer a variety of size options.
How to Use a French Press
If you’ve ever used a french press, you’ll know that it’s one of the easiest, most straightforward coffee makers on the market. You simply add coffee grinds into the carafe, pour hot water over the grounds, and press the filter down. However, depending on how picky you are about your coffee, there are actually a number of tricks and strategies you should use to improve your french press game. None of these tricks are overly complicated, and with a little research and practice, you can be a french press pro in no time.
*Side note: The Aeropress style french press has a slightly different and more specific brewing procedure, which you can read more about here.*
The first great thing to know about french presses is the type of coffee grounds to use. How you ground you coffee can have a profound impact on the resulting taste, and different coffee machines require different coarseness. The first thing to know about ground coffee is that ideal coarseness is intrinsically linked to how water is being passed through the grinds. Espresso should be ground very fine because hot water passes through quickly, and a fine grind allows more flavour to be extracted in a shorter period of time. Since coffee grounds sit at the bottom of a french press and water is in contact with the grounds for much longer, you’ll want to have a coarser ground. If your coffee grounds are too fine in a french press, the coffee will taste over extracted and bitter. Furthermore, very fine grinds can seep through the filter and end up in your coffee. A coarser ground allows the water to extract flavour more slowly since there is less surface area exposed, and you won’t end up with fine coffee grains in your coffee mug.
When you are making coffee in a french press, one of the most important steps is letting the coffee grounds sit (or “bloom”) in the hot water before pressing it. This gives the water time to properly extract the most flavour out of the grounds. Ideally, you should let the mix sit for 2.5-3.5 minutes before pressing the coffee with the plunger. To make the most out of this time, you should also give the mix a slow stir to make sure all of the grounds are wet. If you have a long-spout kettle and some coffee know-how, you can skillfully pour the water in such a way that you won’t actually need to stir the grounds. Either way you do it, just make sure there are no dry grounds sitting at the top where the grounds are floating. The good news is that the bloom time for a french press is not a hard and fast rule - you can adjust the time depending on your personal taste. As long as you try to stick within the 2.5-3.5 minute window, you’ll get the best flavour out of your coffee.
Plunge and pour
Once the bloom time has finished, you can press the coffee with the plunger. Whether or not you place the lid/plunger on top of the coffee while it is blooming doesn’t really matter, as long as you don’t press the plunger down until a few minutes has passed; this will result in under extracted coffee. Plunging takes a little bit of finesse, but is easy to get the hang of. If you try to press the plunge down too fast, the pressure will cause resistance and you’ll have a surprisingly hard time getting the plunger down. Plunging too fast can also cause the coffee to spill over the edges of the carafe. At a reasonably slow speed, push the plunger down until you’ve compressed the grounds at the bottom of the carafe. Then, simple as that, you’re ready to pour yourself a fresh, hot mug of coffee!