Now that you have learned some information on the French press and how to use one to make coffee, it is time to review your options for purchasing a French press. Sourcing Nova has found several different styles for you to review and choose from for your specific needs.

Sizes of French press coffee makers

Most coffee makers and carafes measure the coffee serving by cup. A standard cup of coffee is 8 oz. (225 g). French press coffee makers normally start at 16 oz. (450 g.) and go up from there to approximately 50 oz. (1,400 g.) Most people who make coffee at home do not necessarily follow a standard cup rule for their personal consumption. The best size of French press is the one that fits your specific and personal needs.

Sizes of French press coffee makers
Sizes of French press coffee makers

Replacement French press parts

There are parts of a french press coffee maker that do wear out after extended use. The best French presses will have replacement parts that are easy to find and universal – meaning the parts work on any make and model.

● Glass

– Accidents happen in life, and glass is very fragile. Some manufacturers offer French press replacement glass in the case the carafe or beaker breaks.

● Wire mesh screen

– Many French presses come with a replacement screen for the plunger assembly. The screen filters the flavonoids and oils from the grind into the water and can break and tear after repeated use.

Easy to clean

The best French presses available are easy to clean. This means the parts come apart easily, often with a single nut at the bottom of the plunger. If the press is dishwasher safe, it will make this clear on the package and often on some of the different parts.

Material used to make the French press

There are several different materials used to make the French press. The basic materials used are identical to the materials used in other kitchen appliances. The carafe can be made of a variety of different materials, but the plunger assembly of the French press will always be metal and often
stainless steel.

Stainless steel

french press stainless steel
french press stainless steel

– Stainless steel is a common material used to make a French press.  The best presses use the same 18/10 composition as the finer cookware available and used in most homes.  Stainless steel french press coffee makers are normally dishwasher safe as well.

stainless steel french press coffee maker
stainless steel french press coffee maker

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Ceramic

– A recent addition to the French press market, the ceramic French press is gaining traction among French press users.  Ceramics come in a variety of shapes and colors to match personal tastes.  Ceramic is also dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

Glass

– The glass French press is very popular since people can see the action of the plunger pressing the coffee grounds into the water and see their coffee creation spring to life.  The glass is often borosilicate, a glass specifically designed to be temperature tolerant and able to withstand thermal shock – pouring hot liquid into room temperature glass.

Glass French Press
Glass French Press

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Plastic

– This is the worst possible choice for a French press.  Plastic is often not dishwasher safe although it may be unbreakable.  The construction is often as cheap as the price.  Plastic is good if someone wants to learn how to use a French press without spending too much on the appliance.

Plastic French Press
Plastic French Press

Metal

– Most metal French presses are composed of aluminum and are on the cheaper end of the French press price spectrum.  Those who are serious about their coffee and wanting to use a French press should not choose metal.

metal french press
metal french press

Unbreakable

– There are some French press options that are unbreakable – the stainless steel and metal options.  Unbreakable means durable and does not mean indestructible.  This means dents and dings can happen and misshape the carafe or plunger assembly.

double wall french press
double wall french press

French press vs. other coffee maker methods

Coffee is made in two basic ways – automatic and manual.  All coffee machines are one of the two but make coffee in a different way.   In the world of manually made coffee, there are a few different ways to reach the same goal – a great cup of coffee.

The pour over or Chemex vs. the French press

– The French press is a manual way to make coffee, since the plunger must be depressed to infuse the coffee flavonoids and oils into the hot water.

The pour over, more properly known as the Chemex method, uses a carafe shaped like an hourglass with a paper filter on the top.  Hot water is poured onto the paper and grounds using a swirling, circular motion, left to steep a moment and then the remaining water is poured over the filter and grounds to make the coffee.  The pour over method takes time because the coffee does not drip quickly.

Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter
Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter

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Drip coffee vs. French press

– The world of manual and automatic coffee has their adherents, and the argument over French press vs. drip to make coffee is one of the oldest.

Drip coffee uses a filter and water reservoir to pour hot water over the grinds.  The water percolates through the grinds and drips into a carafe sitting on a heating plate.

The decision on French press vs drip comes down to a question of convenience to make coffee.  Automatic drip coffee makers can be set the night before with a timer to begin making coffee at a set time.

Drip Coffee Maker
Drip Coffee Maker

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Aeropress vs. French press

– A relative newcomer in the manual coffee making world is the aeropress, appearing in 2015.  The aeropress uses a piston to push hot water through a paper filter.  Aeropress users like the fact the paper catches sediment and is quick and easy to clean.  The aeropress only makes a single cup of coffee at a time.

The aeropress has its followers in the aeropress vs. French press world, and many adherents of both methods post various  different brews, grinds and more to support their choices.

Travel Coffee Maker
Travel Coffee Maker

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Moka pot vs French press

– The Moka pot is the proper name for the stovetop espresso and Italian coffee maker method.  The carafe resembles an old style percolator that once sat directly on the fire to brew coffee.

The Moka pot uses a three stage system of water > grinds > reservoir to make coffee.  The unit is designed to sit directly on the stove during brewing.

Moka Pot
Moka Pot

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Stainless steel vs. glass French press

– The carafe is the proper name for the coffee pot.  It is what a coffee drinker pours their coffee from and into a mug.  The two basic styles of carafe come down to stainless steel and glass.

In the world of stainless steel vs glass French press, the choice comes down to a question of whether or not seeing the coffee is important.

Many like the glass carafe on a French press because they can see the coffee unfold before their eyes, and others like the stainless steel because it is not fragile like glass.

French press vs cold brew

– A French press can make cold brew coffee, but some prefer to make their cold brew separate.

Making cold brew is a two step process.  First, the grounds and water are mixed in one container and left to sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The next morning, the mixture is poured through a filter into a serving container.

Keurig vs. French press

– The Keurig is a system of loading single plastic cups of coffee into a specially designed machine which then pierces both sides of the cup and brews the coffee.

Siphon coffee vs. French press

– The siphon pulls near boiling water from a lower into an upper reservoir.  The heat source is moved, and the coffee drips back into the lower reservoir.

If you ever wanted to look like a chemist making coffee in your kitchen, the siphon method is certainly your best bet.

siphon coffee maker
siphon coffee maker

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Percolator vs French press

– If you have ever watched a cowboy movie, you have seen the percolator method.  At one time, coffee was less about taste and flavor and more about quantity.

The percolator is one of the original ways to make coffee, and coffee brewed in large amounts for self serve is made in percolator.

Power – Water does not heat itself

French press coffee does have the drawback of needing to heat water in some way – usually with an electric kettle or on a stove.

The electric French press has a reservoir attached to heat the water for you.  It is still necessary to plunge the water down and into the grounds to make the coffee, so the beauty of the French press is not lost because you are using an electric one.

The one big advantage of the electric French press is that it is automatic.  The French press reservoir holds the water at a certain temperature for you.

An electric French press can also mean the press makes coffee on the stove or in the microwave.  Most purists, however, stick with heating the water independently when they want to use a French press to make coffee.

h press grind

The recommendations of grinding your own beans for French press were covered in our previous post on this, but as a recap – grinding your own beans maximizes the flavor and taste of the coffee since there is no time loss between the bean and grind.  This means the best grind for a French press is one you do yourself just as you are heating your water to make your coffee.

Coarse grind for a French press

– Most commercially ground coffee is very fine for a reason – it allows manufacturers to put more coffee into the packaging.  The fine grind is also not good for a French press.

The fine grind of commercially ground coffee means many of the small particulate matter will make its way past the wire mesh screen and into the coffee.  this makes a slurry that is neither attractive or palatable.

The best grind for a French press is a coarse grind because not only will large particulates not pass the mesh screen but will also provide more surface area for the water to extract flavonoids and oils from the grinds.

The best French press – asking the better question

What is the best French press?  This is a difficult question to answer.  A better question to ask is: What is the best French press for me and my specific needs?  Here are a few things to consider as you start your journey to find a French press.

Size

– If you are a daily coffee drinker and enjoy coffee regularly, a French press may  work well for you.  An insulated model would work well for you and your coffee – more on that later on down.  If you have more than one person who drinks coffee, then a large French press is a good idea.  After all, you do not have to make a huge amount each time you are in the mood for coffee.

Time

– Making coffee in a French press means a complicated set up and clean up after.  A French press is not for those in a hurry.

Material

– Stainless steel or glass are your best options for materials.  There are plenty of both available.

Investment

– French presses run a gambit of price, and the adage of “You get what you pay for” is true with a French press.  If you are serious about making coffee, invest in a quality unit for your needs.

Cup

– A standard cup of coffee is 8 oz.  Many French press models are single serve systems and work well for the individual making coffee for themselves.  Other popular models include two, three and up to a 16 cup French press system.

Insulated

– The insulated French press will keep the coffee inside the carafe warm for a longer time .  Insulated French presses cannot be glass, as glass is a poor insulator.  The best one will be either a double wall stainless steel or ceramic.

Brand

– There are plenty of different brands of French presses, but the fundamentals are the same.  It is the additional functions and options that differ.

Price

– The price of French press coffee makers are much like cars – the more designs, additions and functions added to a French press increase the price.  The size of the press also affects the price.

Filter

– A french press with replaceable filters or paper filters should be high on the list of features.  If the filter breaks, the French press is broken and useless.

french press filter
french press filter

Purpose

– Some French presses have the carafe double as a travel mug.  You can make and take your coffee directly from the French press and be on your way.  These work well for those who want French press coffee for camping.

Make Tea

– Some people who like coffee may also want to use the French press coffee maker to make tea, and it is very easy to do with loose leaf teas.  The process to make tea with your press is exactly the same as making coffee.  The results will be the same as well – delicious and sublime.

Reviews

– There are plenty of reviews available on the best French press coffee makers.  Be sure to read several because opinions vary on what constitutes “best.”

Sourcing Nova certainly hopes this piece helps you with your decision if you are in the market for the best French press coffee maker for your specific needs.

If you have come this far with Sourcing Nova’s blog series on the French press, please continue to our next and final blog on the topic.

Meanwhile, we want to hear from you.  What do you think of our piece on deciding on a French press coffee maker?