This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
The Bodum Brazil French Press was the first coffee maker I ever bought. There was little thought behind it. No research done. I was a college student new to coffee and looking for the cheapest brewing device I could find, preferably one that fit on a counter crowded with the wreckage of seven other dormmates. I had no clue that I would use the Bodum Brazil for the next five years. It became a trusty little companion that not only made a strong batch of joe every day, but also sparked my interest in the world of specialty coffee. In this review I’ll go through what I love about the Bodum Brazil, what to expect if you’re interested in buying it, and brewing tips.
It’s simple, affordable, and surprisingly durable given a price tag that hovers around $25 to $30.
Bodum Brazil French Press
Multiple sizes and colors available
Great for beginners
Unprotected glass carafe
Insulation could be better
Why the Bodum Brazil?
I had nothing to compare the Bodum Brazil to when I started using it. All I knew was, hey, this makes pretty good coffee. But maybe I was missing out on far better coffee makers, pricier French presses of which I had never heard. Well, after several years of testing coffee makers for The Spruce Eats, my appreciation for the Bodum Brazil has only grown.
There are better coffee makers out there, even better French presses, but dollar for dollar, the Brazil is outstanding. I have used French presses more expensive than the Brazil that had worse filters, couldn’t keep coffee hot for as long, or made irritating scraping noises when the filter was plunged. Meanwhile, the Brazil lacks high-end frills but gets the job done.
It’s simple, affordable, and surprisingly durable given a price tag that hovers around $25 to $30. The only instance when durability was an issue over five years of use was once, while cleaning the Brazil, I hit the carafe against the side of my sink, cracked the glass, and had to order a new one. As important as it is to note that the glass cracked, I think it’s equally important to point out that I ordered a replacement. Rather than trying a new French press or purchasing one that I had become familiar with since writing about coffee products, I stuck with the Bodum Brazil.
Quality Without the Cost
One great thing about French presses is that cost doesn’t necessarily equate to the quality of the coffee. This opinion may not be universal within the coffee community, but I think the gap between a budget French press and an expensive French press is much closer than, say, a budget espresso maker and an expensive espresso maker. In the crudest terms, a French press is simply a vessel for coffee grounds to soak in water for a few minutes—vastly more simple than the specifications that drip coffee makers and espresso machines need to make good coffee.
The main aspect that changes coffee quality for a French press is its filter. Does the filter touch all sides of the carafe? Is the mesh fine enough to keep out grounds and grit? While the Bodum Brazil doesn’t have the absolute best filter on the market (for that I’d suggest a French press with a double filter or double screen, such as the Espro P7), I can happily report that it plunges firmly and is above average at limiting coffee sediment.
Our Lab also tested more than 20 French presses, and the Bodum Brazil ranked in the middle for temperature insulation. Not stellar, but it was the cheapest French press out of all 20, so I’d say those results aren’t too shabby. On top of that, pouring is smooth and mess-free, and cleaning the press is easier than many alternatives since the Brazil can safely go in the dishwasher (although, I usually wash mine by hand).
The Brazil is one of the top items I would recommend to someone developing an interest in coffee and looking to try something different than drip.
The Start of Craft Coffee
I was eager to write a review of the Bodum Brazil because I think it’s a terrific, low-commitment way for people to get more into coffee. “Fancy” coffee doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. It can start with something as simple as this French press. The Brazil is one of the top items I would recommend to someone developing an interest in coffee and looking to try something different than drip.
How to Use the Bodum Brazil
General brewing instructions for the Brazil are the same as any other French press. The steps below are just a template, however, and you should always feel free to experiment with your coffee, tinkering with the details—the amount of coffee, grind size, steep time, etc., until you find the best results for your taste buds.
- Measure your coffee beans, preferably with a scale. A good starting ratio is 1 gram of coffee for every 15 grams of water. If you’re filling the 34-ounce Bodum Brazil all the way, that’s about 60 grams of coffee. Bodum actually recommends using a little less coffee than that, closer to a 1:18 ratio.
- Grind the coffee beans to a coarse grind or, at least, medium-coarse grind, and then scoop it into the French press. A coarser grind should prevent over-extraction and bitter coffee.
- Bloom the coffee grounds by lightly saturating them with water that’s around 200 degrees. Wait 30 seconds and fill the French press with water up to your desired amount.
- Let the coffee steep for four minutes, then plunge, letting the grounds settle for a few seconds before pouring fresh French press coffee.
Capacity: 34 ounces (also sold in 12 and 51 ounces) | Weight: 1 pound | Dimensions: 4.2 x 5.5 x 9 inches | Materials: Stainless steel, plastic, and borosilicate glass | Color Options: Black, red, white | Dishwasher Safe: Yes | Warranty: One-year limited warranty
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Derek Rose is the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight.