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I’ve Tried Nearly Every French Press Coffee Maker. Here Are My 5 Favorites.

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Brewing the most perfect cup of coffee doesn’t have to be complicated. Nor does it have to involve an electric appliance that hogs space on your countertop. Most aficionados agree that the best way to brew is actually with a manually operated French press.

Whether you like to make a couple of cups for you and your SO in the morning, keep yourself caffeinated throughout the day, or serve an after-dinner coffee to guests, there’s a French press that’s best for you.

Why You Should Trust Our Gear Pro

For more than 30 years, I was in charge of testing and reporting on everything from wooden spoons to connected refrigerators at the Good Housekeeping Institute. I’ve walked the floors of every trade show and read every new product release for longer than most digital publications have existed!

My street cred? I also worked as a chef in New York City restaurants for seven years. And I drink a lot of coffee.

I’ve tested, used, and played with nearly every piece of kitchen gear (including French presses) to come on the market for years. When it comes to gear, it takes a lot to impress me, and I know what actually works.

Picked by a Pro. Tested by Real Home Cooks.

I’ve tested what feels like every French press on the market (at all the price points, low to high!) and these are my all-time favorites. But you don’t have to take my word and my word alone, either. Kitchn editors — a unique hybrid of professionals and home cooks, who develop and test great recipes in real home kitchens — and real Amazon shoppers weighed in on some of these picks too, testing my favorites in the context of their actual home cooking.

After all, when it comes to kitchen gear, what matters is that it works for a home cook — not just that a chef endorses it, or that it passed some high-flying bar in a sterile test kitchen. You want gear that is, above all, practical, long-lasting, and mindful of real cooks, real kitchens, and real budgets.

First, a Few Things to Know About French Presses

  1. All French presses work the same way. What differentiates them is their size, the way they look, and special features that make them more convenient or easier to use or clean.
  2. Consider the ounces — not the cup capacity. When it comes to any coffeemaker, a cup is considered five ounces, or the equivalent of an old-fashioned six-ounce tea cup that’s not filled to the brim, so there’s a little room for milk. A true cup is eight ounces and many mugs are 10 to 12.
  3. Make sure you use coarse ground coffee. If your coffee grounds are too thin, they’ll float right on past the filter and into your brew, which will result in a gritty drink. Because a French press brings out all the flavor from coffee, you definitely want to use fresh, high-quality coffee. If you’re just too busy to fuss with grinding your own beans, don’t buy more than a week’s supply at once.

More on French Press Coffee

The Best Basic French Press for Everyday Use

Why this French press: The elegant Chambord French press has been around since the 1950s. It’s the one you see in your mind’s eye, when you visualize a French press. It has a chrome-plated steel frame, a glass carafe, and a plastic handle that doesn’t get hot. It’s a basic classic, and it works just as well as more expensive options and way better than the cheap-o ones out there. Choose from 12-, 17- and 34-ounce sizes. Some sizes also come in other colors and finishes.

Second opinion: “I actually have two of these at home,” says our News & Culture Editor, Ariel Knutson. “I already owned one when I got another one as a gift and I just had to keep it, too. I use one for tea and one for coffee, although it doesn’t matter if you mix them up. I think they’re super stylish — I’m obsessed with my copper one — but also functional and relatively easy to use. If you’re just getting in to French press, this is a great choice — especially given the price.”

The Best French Press for Entertaining

Why this French press: Not only is this stainless-steel model gorgeous, but it’s also extremely well-insulated so it will keep a pot of coffee piping hot at the table for more than an hour. (Yes, we took temps and were way impressed.) No jumping up when someone asks for a refill!

Plus, you don’t have to worry about your java becoming too strong as it sits: After you plunge down, you close off the grounds from the brew by turning the lid knob so it can’t oversteep.

Beyond parties, the BonJour would also be a great choice if you’re one of those people (like me) who keeps going back for another cup throughout the morning. Do keep in mind that, although this is billed as an eight-cup press, it makes about 32 ounces (or enough for eight demitasse or four full cups).

Second opinion: “‘I’ve been using a French press to make coffee for a few years now, but the coffee cools down too fast in the glass ones. This is the perfect solution! The coffee stays warm for a couple of hours,” says one Amazon reviewer who gave the gadget five stars.

The Best French Press to Use at the Office

Why this French press: You don’t have to settle for a cup from the single-serve machine in the office pantry or spend a ton on runs to the coffee shop to get your coffee fix. This 10-ounce mug is fitted with a French press filter so that, as long as you have hot water available, you can make a special cup just for yourself to drink at your desk. It comes with a sipping lid so you can carry it with you to meetings without sloshing. And it’s just $10!

Second opinion: “I’ve bought four or five systems and have found that this is the one I use all day at work,” says one Amazon reviewer. “It makes the best coffee, doesn’t let the grounds get in your way, keeps the coffee hot, is unbreakable, and everything else you could hope for.”

The Best French Press for Commuting

Why this French press: Every second counts when you’re trying to get out of the house, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the quality of your morning fix. The Bodum Travel Press is a to-go mug and French press in one. Fill it with ground coffee the night before and you won’t have to fuss much in the a.m. to make the very best cup of coffee that you can — just add boiling water! Then, enjoy your coffee at the bus stop, in the car, or on the subway.

Second opinions: “This coffee press is perfect for home and travel, and it keeps the beverage hot for two or maybe three hours,” says one reviewer. “This is very solidly made,” says another. A third says, “We LOVE these travel presses. They fit easily into most cup holders, keep our coffee and tea warm as long or longer than the usual travel mug, and look sleek!”

The Best French Press for People Who Want Versatility

Why this French press: Are you one of those people who sometimes feels like a French press and sometimes feels like pour-over or a cold brew? With this set, you get everything you need to make coffee by all three methods. You get something that looks just like a normal French press, a cone attachment that holds grounds during the pour-over process, and a pitcher that steeps grounds for cold brew and then automatically drains into the French press pitcher. All the parts are dishwasher-safe and stack neatly together when they’re not in use.

Second opinion: “When I saw this set make its debut at the annual Housewares show this past March, my head nearly exploded,” says our Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman. “I got one almost immediately and I love that I have options for how to use it and that it all nests together for storage. But, most importantly, I love that all the coffee makers do their jobs — well.”