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French presses have been a trusted source of delicious coffee for over a century. Though patented in 1929 by, ironically, an Italian manufacturer, the idea can be traced back to the early 1800s France. How has the item remained so popular for so long? Above all, the answer is taste. French presses utilize a technique known as immersion brewing, in which coffee grounds are steeped in hot water for several minutes. The resulting flavor is richer and more intricate than what many other coffee makers can accomplish. And the benefits don’t end there. French presses are affordable, compact, and stylish. They are a worthwhile investment for all coffee lovers, from experts to novices and even to those who already own a home brewing device.
From glass to stainless steel, here are the best French presses you can buy.
Best Overall: Frieling Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press
Great heat retention
Superior coffee flavor
Finish is prone to spots and smudges
Heavier than other models
This highly polished stainless steel French press makes a pretty presentation, while the full-length handle makes it easy to lift and pour. It has a two-stage filter, including a pre-filter that strains out the larger grains of coffee, and a second fine mesh filter to remove sediment.
The item is made from 18/10 stainless steel with double-wall construction that retains heat roughly four times longer than glass French presses, so it can even be used as a serving carafe at your kitchen table for other beverages. We tested the Frieling French press ourselves and found that it truly does keep your coffee hot longer than glass models will. Our product reviewer also noted that the stainless steel is "durable and won’t shatter like glass beakers." The only downside is that you can't see through the carafe to know how much coffee is left.
The product disassembles easily and is dishwasher safe, and you don’t need to disassemble the plunger before washing. Our product reviewer added that it took "no more than a minute to take [the press] apart," and that it was "a breeze to put back together."
"With a price two or three times higher than many other French presses—around $100—this model might seem costly for a coffee maker. That said, the quality of the design, engineering, and resulting sediment-free java give this device an edge over its competitors." — Tracey Minkin, Product Tester
Best Durable: IdylcHomes KONA French Press Coffee Maker
Protective outer shell
Modern, lightweight design
Some grounds slip through filter
Only two size options
If you live in a busy household, a glass coffee maker might sound like a bad idea. Thankfully, the Kona French Press Coffee Maker has an insulated outer sleeve to prevent chips, dings, or shattering. After testing the item, our reviewer wrote that the combination of the glass body and the plastic sleeve puts the press on "the lighter side." This allows it be both "portable and durable," but keep an eye out because it's also "easier to tip over."
The item is an all-time favorite online with thousands of positive reviews. Customers love that it's well-designed, easy to clean, and offers a delicious punch of caffeine—not to mention its budget price. Available in a 12 or 34-ounce option this pick is also dishwasher safe, which makes it even better for busy families.
"While there are cheaper French press coffee makers on the market, this model from KONA offers high-quality elements at a very reasonable price. This makes it a great entry-level product for first-time French press users or a lovely gift for newlyweds or even college students." — Tracey Minkin, Product Tester
Best Design: Bodum CHAMBORD French Press Coffee Maker
Broad range of sizes and finishes
Plunger can be wobbly
Some grounds in mug
Frame around carafe slips slightly
Bodum has been manufacturing press coffee makers for decades, and they have a wide range of products, including many versions of the French press. This one has a heat-resistant borosilicate glass carafe with a plastic handle and base, so it’s easy to use and easy to keep clean. It's also available in a number of sizes, starting at 12 ounces and going all the way up to 51 ounces.
The plunger is made from stainless steel with a mesh filter that helps extract the aromatic oils while leaving the grounds behind. The design is both elegant and modern, fitting any kitchen décor.
Our reviewer said the item is a great value-for-money buy and an excellent starter choice for those new to French presses. The plunger can feel "a little wobbly" at times, however, which might lead to some stray coffee grounds in your mug—an issue that higher-end French presses typically avoid.
French presses can be used to make cold brew coffee. Simply fill the carafe with coarsely ground coffee beans and cold water, place in the fridge, and let steep anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
Best Budget: Bodum BRAZIL Coffee Maker
Multiple sizes and colors available
Unprotected glass carafe
Durability issues with plunger
A budget French press can still make an excellent cup of coffee, like this lower-cost model. The carafe is made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass, and the handle and base are plastic. The plunger is made from stainless steel and has a mesh filter that keeps the flavor in and grounds out. All parts are dishwasher safe.
This large press makes 34 ounces of coffee, so it’s enough for a whole family. Of course, since it takes so little time, you can even refill and make a second batch if you’re brewing for a party.
Members of our team who use Bodum's BRAZIL French press say it produces noticeably richer and tastier coffee than most drip or pod-based machines; plus it comes at that unbeatable price, not much higher than a single bag of coffee beans.
"This French press has lasted years as my daily coffee maker, and it's nearly the same price as a bag of coffee beans. The process requires more effort than a drip brewer, but that's a small sacrifice considering how much more I prefer the coffee it makes." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best High-End: Espro Coffee French Press P7
Excellent heat retention
Less sediment in bottom of cup
Difficult to clean
Espro is a brand worth knowing for all customers interested in buying a French press, not just those looking for high-end options. The company manufactures several French presses in a range of prices, as well as a couple travel presses, but the P7 is its flagship product. Its double-walled stainless steel design offers long-lasting heat retention, and the basket is made from an extremely fine mesh that eliminates the all-too-common grit found at the bottom of your coffee. Top quality comes at top dollar, of course, as this is one of the pricier French presses you'll see. But it will last for years to come and make delicious coffee day in and day out. The item is available in two sizes (18 and 32 ounces) and four finishes, including Espro's unique Matte Black and Matte White options.
Best Stoneware: Le Creuset Stoneware French Press
Retains heat well
On the pricier end
Plunger can be hard to push
Concerns about chipping
Stoneware has a nice heft and maintains temperature, so it’s ideal for keeping your coffee warm. It’s also safe for use in the freezer, microwave, oven, and dishwasher, so the carafe can be used for much more than coffee.
This stoneware press from Le Creuset is available in a large variety of colors to match your existing Le Creuset cookware or to add a pop of color to your kitchen and table, and the enamel exterior resists scratches and stains. The position of the handle makes it easy to pour one-handed, with a thumb on the lid to keep it safe.
The mesh press assembly is made from stainless steel and removes easily and disassembles for cleaning.
Best Stainless Steel: Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
One-hour heat retention
Can't see coffee level
Scratching sound when pressing plunger
Heat retention is a common shortcoming of French presses, especially glass ones. With no hot plate to keep your coffee warm, that second cup gets sent to the microwave all too often. But this insulated, double-walled French press from Secura will maintain your coffee's temperature for at least one hour, and many customers write that it works even longer that.
The item has a more modern design than many other French presses, with a long handle and its non-transparent stainless steel body. It's available in an array of eye-catching colors, as well as three different sizes. Customers give the product sparkling reviews, with the vast majority awarding it five stars. Some key areas of praise include its ease of use, durability, and of course its top-grade heat retention.
Best for Travel: Bodum Stainless Steel Travel Tea and Coffee Press
Durable stainless steel
Available in multiple colors
Difficult to add creamers and sweeteners
Not spill proof
Rubber grip text detracts from aesthetic
If you want to take your French press coffee on the go, this 15-ounce press is just right for you. The press itself is incorporated into a travel mug that has double-walled vacuum-sealed stainless steel construction that keeps the coffee warm while you go. Bring coffee grounds with you—a French roast, as the name suggests, is always a great pairing—and you can have freshly pressed coffee wherever there is hot water. The item also lets you whip up a cozy cup of tea anywhere, anytime.
The lid is spill-resistant, but because of the plunger, it’s not completely leakproof. It’s designed to take your coffee to sip on the go but shouldn’t be tossed into your bag or briefcase. The nonslip grip, lid, and plunger top are made from silicone, available in red, black, white, or green. The mug is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
The Frieling Stainless Steel French Press blows away the competition thanks to its durability, heat retention, and the delicious coffee that it brews. It's the best pick, setting money aside. But one of the great things about French presses is the number of affordable high-quality options you can find, like the KONA French Press. At less than half the price, it's a simple and reliable alternative that will last for years.
What to Look for When Buying a French Press
By Derek Rose
The material is a great place to start narrowing down your options. French presses can be made from glass, stainless steel, or stoneware. Each one has its own pros and cons and will bring a unique aesthetic to your kitchen. Glass is by far the most common material, as well as the most affordable, but it’s the easiest to break and leads to poor heat retention. Stoneware and stainless steel, on the other hand, are pricier but make up for it with better durability and heat retention. Fortunately, the flavor is not affected by the material that you choose. The coffee will be delicious no matter what.
While this key consideration is directly tied to a French press’s material, it is worth mentioning on its own. Coffee drinkers who have gotten used to drip machines with two-hour hot plates may, at first, be disappointed when switching to a French press. All non-electric coffee makers, not just French presses, naturally struggle to keep coffee hot for as long as electric brewing devices can. If you only make a cup or two and drink it quickly, this isn’t an issue. But if keeping coffee hot for a long time is important to you, consider buying a thermal or insulated French press.
French presses only make a few cups of coffee at once, with capacities ranging anywhere from 12 to 51 ounces. If you intend to use a French press for an entire household, go with a larger option, roughly 8 cups and up. Just know that size and price are linked together: Larger French presses are more expensive, and smaller French presses are cheaper. One last detail to keep in mind is that the coffee world is a little misleading with its measurements. Many customers assume that each “cup” equals 8 ounces; however, coffee brands consider a cup to be 4 to 6 ounces. For example, the popular 8-Cup Bodum CHAMBORD French Press has a capacity of just 34 ounces, not the 64 ounces you would expect using standard measurements.
Ease of Cleaning
Making the coffee is only half of the process. When you’re done, you need to remove the plunger, discard the used coffee grounds, and clean the carafe for the next use. Dishwasher-safe components will speed up the process, although some people prefer to wash their press by hand right after so that it’s ready to go whenever they need it. It’s not difficult or time-consuming to clean a French press by hand, but some may grow tired of having to clean it after every single batch of coffee.
French presses with a glass carafe are an extremely fragile type of coffee maker, quicker to chip or break than most. In fact, brand instructions typically advise against using metal spoons when stirring so as not to damage the glass. Take a look at an item’s warranty beforehand to see what damages may or may not be covered.
Types of French Presses
The instinctive image when picturing a French press usually involves a gleaming glass carafe. Not only are these the most popular kind of French press, but they are also the most affordable. Other advantages of going with glass include its light weight and that you can see the amount of coffee left inside. Many glass French presses are dishwasher safe too, which makes the cleaning process quicker. However, they can break more easily, so avoid stirring them with a metal spoon when preparing your coffee.
Stainless steel is the second most popular type of French press. They are more expensive than glass ones (some even pass the $100 mark) but come with several advantages, especially heat retention and durability. Most are dishwasher safe, too; just check the manufacturer instructions ahead of time. As far as designs go, you can choose between the classic silver steel or find a variety of bold colors. The last thing to keep in mind is that stainless steel presses can be heavy when lifting and pouring, so if you prefer a lightweight option, go with glass.
Yes, there is such a thing as a truly portable French press. These wondrous little devices look like travel mugs but, inside, have a filter and plunger to make delicious coffee on the go. They are typically constructed from stainless steel, so you can toss them in a bag or suitcase when camping or traveling. Designed for personal use, expect portable French presses to have a smaller capacity than household ones. The best part, though? They are just as affordable as standard French presses.
Bodum is the number one brand to know if you’re interested in buying a French press. Founded in 1944, the company manufactures all sorts of coffee-related products, from grinders to milk frothers, but it is best known for its line of budget-friendly French presses. Many start as low as $10. Few other brands offer the sheer variety that Bodum does. The company makes several different kinds of French presses, from ones constructed of glass and stainless steel to travel presses. The sleek CHAMBORD is its most popular option, but the BRAZIL, EILEEN, and COLUMBIA are all worth consideration, too.
Founded in 1988, Frieling is a well-known American manufacturer of high-end kitchenware. The brand’s most popular French press—simply called the Frieling French Press—is constructed from heavy-duty stainless steel and comes in a number of sizes. Others include the all-glass Aroma French Press and the uniquely designed Perfetto French Press.
This French brand has long been heralded for its colorful cast-iron cookware. For almost 100 years, Le Creuset has manufactured everything from skillets to Dutch ovens to—of course—French presses. It does not have a wide selection to offer, but its best-known French press stands out compared to others on the market. The Le Creuset Stoneware French Press is a high-end option made from sturdy enamel and available in 10 different colors.
It can be daunting to brew your first pot of French press coffee, so here are quick, simple instructions to ensure tasty results every time. First, start with coarsely ground coffee. Too fine a grind and you’ll end up with coffee silt in the bottom of your cup. Second, scoop in roughly 1 tablespoon of grounds for every 3 to 4 ounces of water you intend to use. Third, once the water is heated to 195 to 205 degrees, slowly and evenly pour it over the coffee grounds, then stir. Finally, let the coffee steep for at least four minutes; many experts recommend waiting even longer for the beans to further extract. That’s it! Plunge it, pour it, and enjoy.
Once you’re finished drinking the coffee, however, you might also have some questions about properly cleaning the device. Unfortunately, French presses need to be cleaned after every use. Check to see if yours is dishwasher safe beforehand, as this will speed up the process. If not, start by dumping the wet coffee grounds into a strainer and then trash or compost them. After that, disassemble the plunger into its individual parts—the mesh, the spring, and the cross plate—and rinse each one. Place the parts on a towel to dry and finish by cleaning the carafe with a soapy sponge.
One accessory specifically useful for French press owners is a gooseneck kettle. With their elegant and sloped spouts, gooseneck kettles provide better precision when pouring. This, in turn, helps thoroughly cover the coffee grounds in a French press, leading to a tastier cup of joe. Gooseneck kettles can be designed for stovetop use (typically made from stainless steel) or they can be electric. The latter is certainly more expensive but has added convenience and can include unique features like specific temperature control.
Another accessory worth looking into is a coffee grinder. This is recommended for any kind of coffee maker, of course—not just French presses. Coffee beans release the most flavor just minutes after being ground, when all the aromas have been freshly cracked open. You can choose from manual coffee grinders, which are more affordable, or electric ones. Bodum, Breville, and KitchenAid all manufacture dependable grinders.
What grind size should I use?
French press coffee is best made by using coarsely ground beans. If the grounds are too fine, the coffee may end up bitter and over-extracted, not to mention that small grinds can slip through the filter and ruin the entire pot. Coarse-ground beans, on the other hand, will lead to a balanced and sediment-free brew. Finding coarsely ground beans or grinding on your own at home may be somewhat of an annoyance, but it's worth it in the end for delicious coffee.
Is French press coffee more caffeinated?
It's logical to assume that French press coffee is more caffeinated than standard drip coffee. After all, it certainly tastes stronger when brewed properly. But in actuality French press coffee is less caffeinated than both drip and pour-over coffee. This is primarily because the grounds used are larger than that of other brewing methods and, as a result, don't extract as quickly. The exact caffeine content depends on the number of scoops used, but you can expect French press coffee to provide strong flavor without excessive jitters.
Can a French press be used to make other drinks?
Absolutely! Even though French presses are primarily designed for brewing hot coffee there are many other ways to use the device. Cold brew is perhaps the most popular alternative drink to make with a French press, but users can also whip up tea, juices, and fruit-infused water. French presses can even froth milk for lattes and cappuccinos.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in product reviews and recipes. Her work has appeared on Serious Eats, Fine Cooking, and her own recipe blog, Cookistry.com. She's also the author of Make Ahead Bread, a cookbook meant to simplify the bread-baking process.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He uses the Bodum BRAZIL French Press as his daily coffee maker, often pairing the item with a freshly ground bag of Devoción’s Toro Blend coffee beans.