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The Absolute Best French Press Coffee Makers You Can Buy Right Now

published Oct 8, 2021
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Drizzly Sunday mornings with a crossword puzzle, classic jazz, and a cozy sweater: When I think about French press coffee, this is the setting I imagine. Because, in my mind, a French press — both the act of making and drinking it — is something worth savoring and lingering over.

Of course, a French press is also great for busy weekday mornings. It’s the perfect solution for multitaskers who want rich, flavorful coffee — but don’t want to stand over a pour-over brewer. It’s also ideal for those who seek a relatively hands-off way to make a smaller batch of brew.

What’s the best French press to buy? I wanted to find out! So I spent the past few weeks making a whole lot of coffee with the most popular models available. I focused mostly on 24- to 32-ounce models, as that’s large enough to make coffee for a couple of people. I took notes to see how easy they were to use, clean, and, of course, how well they brewed. Here’s what I found. 

Credit: Ever Meister
Some of the French press coffee makers I tested.

The Best French Press Coffee Makers

The Tests

  • Brew a batch of coffee following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Brew a batch of coffee following a 1:16 ratio of grams of coffee to water and the following method: Adding all the water to the (slightly finer than “coarse”) coffee grounds at once, being sure to saturate the coffee, stirring 5 times, and then steeping for 4 minutes before plunging slowly.
  • Brew a batch of coffee using the same 1:16 ratio and this method developed by former World Barista Champion James Hoffman.
  • Brew a batch of coffee and evaluate the temperature and taste of the coffee after 5, 10, and 20 minutes. 
  • After each test, clean the brewer and its components by hand.
  • To test durability, drop each brewer in the sink from about half a foot high and inspect each brewer for cracks, chips, and other signs of damage.

Note: I used the same coffee and water temperature (205°F) for each test and model. I ground the coffee identically with the same grinder and setting, but weighed and ground each batch individually to preserve freshness. 

Why You Should Trust Us

For the past 21 years, I have been a journalist and a specialty-coffee professional, focusing on making great coffee more accessible to everyone. I was the director of education for the green-coffee importing company Cafe Imports and am the author of New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History, and the host of the podcast In Good Taste. I have also written a cold brew coffee maker review for Kitchn.

Credit: Ever Meister
Glass French presses offer a nice window into the brewing process.

What to Consider When Buying a French Press Coffee Maker

Is There a Best Way to Brew?

Truly, there are many ways to successfully brew with a French press. There’s the traditional set-it-and-forget-it technique of pouring all of the hot brewing water on top of the grounds and letting it sit still for 4 minutes. You can pour a little bit of water in to saturate the grounds and let them “bloom,” then add the rest of the hot water and finish brewing. And a few of the models even call for stirring the grounds (one has its own wooden stir stick for this purpose), aiming to aid in flavor extraction.

So, for all of the models, I brewed coffee using three different methods — to see if technique would vastly change the results I got. First, I followed each model’s manufacturer’s instructions. Next, I brewed a batch following a ratio of 1:16 grams of ground coffee to water. And, lastly, I followed my preferred technique, popularized by former World Barista Champion and YouTube coffee star James Hoffmann, using that same 1:16 ratio. There were noticeable differences, but, no matter the technique, the best French presses stood out from the pack in each test.

Credit: Ever Meister
Some brewers (like this one) have weaker filters that let coffee grounds bypass through to the final brew, resulting in a gritty cup.

Does It Pour a Silty or Clean Final Cup?

One of the biggest points of consideration — and divisive even amongst French press aficionados — is whether or not there should be coffee silt (or “sludge”) in the final cup. This is the result of very fine coffee powder bypassing the filter. Many French press-ers love silt because it gives the brew a heavier body and mouthfeel, while others prefer the clean taste of a more heavily-filtered coffee. (Note: There’s a difference between silt and letting grounds through, which indicates a weak filter.) Some of the French presses I tried boasted specific filters or designs claiming to reduce silt, to varying degrees of success. To measure silt during my tests, I poured the coffee through a paper filter to see how much would have made it into the final cup. Generally, metal mesh filters let more silt through than polyester mesh filters (more on that below), however silt also had to do with brew method. 

Hoffmann’s method — which has a couple of extra steps and makes the brew time a touch longer — worked best for eliminating silt, as well as producing the best-tasting, most full-flavored brew. While I personally like silt, I highly recommend trying out this French press method.

Credit: Ever Meister
A glass French press and a stainless steel French press (and me in the latter's reflection!).

What’s the French Press Made Of? 

The material of both the brewer and the filter disc determine a lot: how easy it is to use, how well it keeps coffee hot, how effective it filters, and how easy it is to clean. The brewers themselves are typically either stainless steel, glass, plastic, or ceramic (or some combination). Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

  • Stainless steel: A durable and heat-retaining material, stainless steel can also be quite heavy, and these French presses are typically more expensive than glass or plastic models. While they’re certainly beautiful, you can’t gauge how much coffee is left in the pot. However, they won’t shatter, chip, or crack, which can easily happen with glass or ceramic.
  • Glass: French presses with glass carafes are classic and abundant, and they allow more of a window into the brewing process. Depending on the thickness of the glass, they can retain heat quite well, although they won’t keep coffee as hot for as long as stainless steel. And while glass is easy to clean, it can break when mishandled (although most good manufacturers sell replacement carafes at a reasonable price). 
  • Plastic: More durable and less expensive than glass, plastic has become a common material for French press carafes. It looks similar to glass, but can become cloudy or discolored (from coffee oils and water scale) unless cleaned thoroughly. Thicker plastic retains heat better than thinner plastic, but will still lose heat faster than glass or stainless steel models.
  • Ceramic: This material isn’t as commonly used, but there are ceramic French presses out there. They do a good job at retaining heat, but are too easily breakable and heavy, making them tougher to pour from.

The filters are most commonly made from stainless steel or polyester mesh. Let’s take a look.

  • Metal mesh filters: These are often comprised of three pieces: A stainless steel or plastic base, a mesh screen, and a stainless steel coil that circles the outer edge. The coil is meant to create a tight seal, preventing grounds from scooting back up into the coffee after plunging. Filters with multiple pieces like this require disassembling for thorough cleaning. Some metal mesh filters do not have a spring component. These are easier to clean, but might not be removable from the plunger stem, which becomes an issue if you need to replace the filter (if it weakens and becomes less effective). 
  • Polyester mesh filters: Finely woven polyester can create a better barrier against coffee grounds than metal. However, the close-knit, polyester weave may create more tension that can make it harder press the French press plunger down. These filters don’t typically have multiple parts that need to be disassembled before cleaning, but they’re likely to become discolored by residual coffee oils over time. 
Credit: Ever Meister
An example of a narrow, pointed spout.

How Is the French Press Designed?

How easy each French press is to use also depends a lot on its design. For starters, while many brewers say they have a 34-ounce capacity, they overflow above 32 ounces (especially when using fresh or darker-roasted coffee that “blooms” a lot while brewing), creating a mess of grounds and hot water. The best brewers, of course, don’t overflow, even at their maximum capacity. 

The shape of the brewer and handle also matters. Taller brewers are harder to clean (as it takes more effort to scrape the grounds from the bottom of the base), while wider ones cause coffee to cool more quickly. And while some models have handles that stick out too far, making them harder to store, others have handles that are too stout and hard to comfortably hold.  

And, finally, let’s address the design of the spout and lid. A round, broad spout will have a quicker and higher flow rate (and be harder to control, especially with a full pot) than a narrower, pointed spout. Relatedly, some brewer lids need to be in a specific position before pouring, while others advertise “all around” pour-ability. The former creates a dribble-y mess unless placed correctly, which can be frustrating. The lid should also have a secure fit. If it doesn’t, you’ll find yourself holding the lid as you pour, which can be problematic.

Credit: Ever Meister
My favorite model.

How Easy It Is to Clean? 

Smaller, lighter brewers are easier to empty over a trash can or compost bin, while heavier or taller pots often require you to use a spatula or spoon to retrieve the grounds. And while many French press models are listed as dishwasher-safe or have dishwasher-safe components, this is moot if you drink coffee but don’t run the dishwasher every day. But my favorite model has an innovative “GroundsLifter” feature, which sits at the base of the brewer collecting the grounds and allowing you to easily lift it and dispose of the grounds after brewing.

Another cleanup factor to consider is the filter: The most basic filter might just need to be rinsed and gently scrubbed with a nonabrasive sponge, while filters with all those pieces may need to be unscrewed for cleaning and reassembled before the next use. (As someone who routinely puts French press filters back together in the wrong order, a word to the wise: Take note of how they’re assembled before you disassemble.) Again, both types of filters have their pros and cons outside of cleanup, which I outlined above. 

What We Look for in a French Press Coffee Maker

I judged all of the French press coffee makers on the following criteria, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst and 5 being the best): 

  • Performance: How well did it brew and filter coffee? 
  • Insulation: How well did it keep coffee hot?  
  • Ease of use: How easy was it to use, lift, and pour from? 
  • Cleanup: How easy was it to clean? 

Best Overall: OXO BREW 8 Cup French Press with GroundsLifter

If I had to use one word to describe this French press, it would have to be l’amour: Its nod to the classic design is upgraded with sturdy (but not overly heavy) borosilicate glass, a stainless steel sleeve, and a comfortable, molded plastic handle. The lid is snug for easy, secure pouring, and the thick walls of the carafe keep coffee fairly hot — and it makes a fantastic brew (it does let some silt through, but not much). And while this brewer has a multi-piece filter that’s more tedious to clean, it comes with a revolutionary feature: The GroundsLifter, an added piece that sits between the bottom of the brewer and the plunger filter, so once you’re done you can easily pull up the bed of spent coffee grounds and chuck them away in one fell swoop. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Specifications

  • Materials: Borosilicate glass, stainless steel, plastic
  • Filter: Metal base, metal mesh, metal spring
  • Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Listed capacity: 34 ounces
  • Actual capacity: 34 ounces
  • Care instructions: Hand wash recommended

Rating Criteria

  • Performance: 4.5
  • Insulation: 4
  • Ease of use: 5
  • Cleanup: 4.5

Who it’s best for: Honestly, this versatile brewer is perfect both French press aficionados and those just looking for an affordable and stylish brewer. If you’ve tried a French press in the past, but hated cleaning it, this French press is also for you. 
Good to know: You can brew without the GroundsLift, should you want to for whatever reason. 


Best Classic Model: Bodum Chambord French Press

When you imagine “French press,” this model from Bodum is likely what comes to mind, with its domed top, stately metal legs, and beautiful glass carafe. The Danish company has long been a café favorite brand for press-pot service, both for the reliability and elegance of their brewers and the fact that they are inexpensive and widely available (which means replacement carafes are easy to come by, should anything unfortunate happen). While Bodum produces a wide variety of French press coffee makers — including the elegant Columbia model, which I also tested — the Chambord is one of its most iconic designs, is well priced, and produces a wonderful cup of coffee (with a little bit of silt at the end). While the top has a tendency to shift when pouring and its glass body means you have to be more gentle when cleaning it, it’s also lightweight and easy to pick up and hold and just does its job well.

Specifications

  • Materials: Borosilicate glass, stainless steel, plastic
  • Filter: Metal base, metal mesh, metal spring
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Listed capacity: 34 ounces
  • Actual capacity: 32 ounces
  • Care instructions: All but the lid and frame are dishwasher safe 

Rating Criteria

  • Performance: 4.5
  • Insulation: 3
  • Ease of Use: 5
  • Cleanup: 3

Who it’s best for: Anyone who wants a classic, timeless-looking French press.
Good to know: This French press is available in seven finishes, including copper and chrome.  It’s worth noting that, like many manufacturers of French press brewers, Bodum utilizes “European cup sizes,” where 1 cup is equivalent to 4 ounces (half the size of an American “cup” measurement). This is one of the reasons I always recommend brewing in ratios that rely on more specific units of measure, such as grams.


Best Splurge: Fellow Clara French Press

This sleek, ergonomic French press is practically made for coffee geeks, but it’s not only for them: The quality of its coffee makes it a true standout.  Unlike some of the other brewers with traditional metal filters, this model has a more tightly woven metal mesh filter that effectively keeps out all coffee silt. The resulting brew has a lighter body and is more reminiscent of filter-brewed coffee than a French press. It comes with a walnut “agitation stick” designed to aid extraction and the manufacturer’s instructions for use are incredibly clear and precise, offering measurements in grams.

The Clara retains heat beautifully, only dropping 15 degrees in 20 minutes and, despite being made from stainless steel, is nearly the same weight as some glass brewers. This combined with its sizable handle makes it a treat to pour from. It also has a beautiful matte black outer coating and nonstick interior, which makes cleaning a cinch. It does have a smaller capacity, and is, of course, more expensive. And while it has markings on the inside of the brew pot designed to make brewing easier by offering a built-in ratio guide, they are very hard to see. That said, if you’re looking to invest in or upgrade your French press, you won’t regret this one.

Specifications

  • Materials: Stainless steel body, BPA-free plastic lid and handle, PTFE-coated interior, wooden stir stick
  • Filter: Metal mesh
  • Weight: 2.02 pounds
  • Listed capacity: 24 ounces
  • Actual capacity: 24 ounces
  • Care instructions: Filter is dishwasher safe; everything else is hand wash only

Rating Criteria

  • Performance: 5
  • Insulation: 4.5 
  • Ease of Use: 4.5
  • Cleanup: 5 

Who it’s best for: Anyone who is looking to invest in an innovative French press.
Good to know: You can opt for a matte black handle or one with walnut accents. 


Best Insulated: Coffee Gator French Press Coffee Maker

A common complaint about French press coffee is that traditional glass carafes allow for heat to leak out, resulting in a brew that becomes tepid too quickly. The Coffee Gator is optimized for outdoor use with its vacuum layered, tough stainless steel body. It’s practically unbreakable — a bonus both at the campsite and in the kitchen — and is surprisingly light and easy to pour from, considering its rugged durability. While it might not be the daintiest model and its actual capacity is a full four ounces less than its stated maximum (30 versus 34 ounces), it does manage to keep coffee remarkably hot. After 20 minutes, I poured myself a cup that I could have sworn had been just-brewed. Note: I do not suggest following the manufacturer’s directions. Instead, try the Hoffman method.

Specifications

  • Materials: 304 stainless steel
  • Filter: Metal and metal mesh
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Listed capacity: 34 ounces
  • Actual capacity: 30 ounces
  • Care instructions: All parts are dishwasher safe

Rating Criteria

  • Performance: 3
  • Insulation: 5
  • Ease of Use: 3
  • Cleanup: 5

Who it’s best for: Anyone who is looking for a rugged French press to take on camping trips. Or anyone who needs an insulated carafe to keep coffee hotter for longer periods of time.
Good to know: This French press comes in a few unique colors, including pink and orange. 


Best Small Batch: Ikea Upphetta French Press Coffee Maker

French press for one? Easy as pie with this cute and inexpensive little model from IKEA. Maybe you’re the only one in the house who drinks coffee or perhaps you want a little in-case-of-emergency brewer at your desk at work — well, then this French press is for you. Its simple, classic design makes it easy to use and its tiny stature is a cinch to clean. It loses heat quickly (so drink fast!) and its brew is fairly sediment-heavy, but at just $10, it’s a more-than-worthwhile buy.  

Specifications

  • Materials: Glass, polypropylene
  • Filter: Metal mesh
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Listed capacity: 13.5 ounces
  • Actual capacity: 13 ounces
  • Care Instructions: All parts are dishwasher safe

Rating Criteria

  • Performance: 3
  • Insulation: 2
  • Ease of Use: 5
  • Cleanup: 5

Who it’s best for: Anyone who’s making coffee just for themselves.
Good to know: IKEA also sells a 34-ounce version of this French press. 

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We will do our homework, going wildly in depth with our testing. But we condense the info into easy, breezy summaries so that you can see what we picked and why, then move on with your life. Because we know you’re busy!

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