The French press is a simple and forgiving coffee process. There are just two main components that make up a French press, or cafetière: the mesh plunger and carafe. After steeping in hot water for a desired amount of time, coffee grounds are manually pushed to the bottom of a carafe, creating an aromatic and robust cup of coffee. These simple factors are why it is essential to purchasing a high-quality French press that fits your needs and budget.
A handful of questions should come to mind when considering a French press; Thermal stainless steel, ceramic or glass body? Single, double or triple mesh sieve? Minimalistic or traditional design? Cleanability?
"The French Press is a brewing method at its best when it is most simple," explains Michael Phillips, Director of Coffee Culture at Blue Bottle and the first US barista to win the World Barista Championship. "I personally am a big fan of glass bodies, bonus points if they are a double walled glass that helps keep the temperature high. The stainless steel models are nice, but if you clean them with an abrasive surface, they will start to accumulate off-flavors more quickly."
So where should you start? "The first step is that you are looking for one of an appropriate volume for how much coffee you plan to make," says Phillips. "They have small one cup versions all the way up to massive 32 oz models; I like a nice 16 oz to make coffee for two to four. Aside from that, cleaning can be frustrating if the screen and plunger assembly do not break down easily, so checking for that is good. If it is not clean, the oils will accumulate and contribute some pretty funky notes to that special cup you were making."
After testing our fair share of French presses, here are our favorites.
The FORLIFE Café Style Glass is top-tier and moderately priced French press for its simple glass design and reliable, grit-free brew. From the removable silicon foot cover that prevents slippage to the heat-resistant borosilicate glass, while testing we found each element had an intentional design. It’s worth noting that the plunger provides consistent traction and stays in place while pouring.
The Frieling is a go-to cafetière for those looking for a heavy-duty French press that’s commonplace in hotels and restaurants. Its double-wall stainless steel maintains heat four-times longer than glass alternatives—though we suggest making enough to consume right away to prevent over steeping. Frieling’s patented dual filtration system makes for a nearly particle-free brew.
The Chantal Ceramic French Press is a beautiful accompaniment to any spring social gathering. Its classic French style is available in a range of colors, from striking aqua to glossy pink, and features a unique thumb handle and secure lid for easy pouring. Its iconic design makes it an ideal kitchen accessory for those who love to entertain guests.
The ESPRO Coffee French Press P7 is a top-of-the-line French press that features a double-walled stainless steel body and a patented double micro-filter, which stops the brewing process after the plunger is pressed to create a consistent brew. While testing, we could tell that every aspect of the brewing process was thought out to create a smooth grit-free brew.
If you’re looking to add to your Le Creuset collection, the brand’s stoneware French press makes for a beautiful addition to any kitchen. When testing we found that the lid wasn’t as secure as other presses in our roundup, but it still brewed a mean cup of Joe. Not to mention the stoneware’s glazed interior resists coffee stains, making cleaning a breeze. Although it has a steep price tag for its 12 fluid ounce carrying capacity, the 10-year warranty and 16 color varieties might make it worth the splurge.
For those who cherish the bean-to-brew process, the Peugeot Paris Press is your machine. Unlike other cafetières on the market, the Peugeot doubles as a coffee mill and French press. Use the mill to manually grind roasted coffee beans into the carafe before swapping with a secure plunger for a fresh four-cup brew. The hand-mill takes longer to grind beans than traditional automatic burr-grinders, which is why we suggest saving it for a day you have more time on your hands.
OXO, a household name in kitchen appliances, is simplifying the French press cleaning process with its innovative silicone and stainless steel Grounds Lifter. Before making coffee, place the Grounds Lifter at the bottom of the carafe. After brewing, lift the ladle out the carafe and dispose of the soggy grounds. The tempered borosilicate glass is capable of detaching from its thermal stainless steel housing for easy cleaning. It’s a win-win for easy washing.
What may look like an ordinary coffee jug is a revolutionary French press design. The patent-pending Brü-Stop plates stop the brewing process by creating a barrier between the brewed coffee and wet grounds after the mesh sieve is pressed down. While testing, our coffee stayed consistent from the first to last cup and remained hot for hours within the double-wall insulated stainless steel. From the kitchen to the campsite, we highly recommend Planetary Design for a consistent cup of coffee.
YIELD embodies modern minimalism at its finest. Its amber glass French press includes all the staples for brewing a great cup of coffee—a fine mesh steel filter and glass pitcher and lid. The company values beautiful, sustainable and ethical production to create timeless pieces. The copper pull handle and amber class make this cafetière a statement piece for any household.
The Verdict: Best French Presses
FORLIFE’s Café Style Glass Press is our top pick for a moderately-priced, well-rounded French press. It’s a tried-and-true cafetière with a simplistic design featuring a sturdy plunger that creates a consistent robust brew. If you’re willing to splurge, we recommend the ESPRO P7 for its patented double micro-filter that makes for an ultra-smooth, grit-free brew.