The French Press was first patented in 1929 by an Italian man named Attilo Calimani. Since then, it remains the number one go-to device when it comes to making coffee at home. Although we have seen a series of great coffee makers, such as Aeropress, automatic drip machines and espresso machines, the Press-Pot is still the most preferred coffee maker for majority of coffee lovers all over the world.
This is partly due to the type of drink the French Press produces- a robust full-bodied drink, rich in oils and natural flavors with a distinct thick texture and sweet taste. Another reason is that it is super easy to use, requiring less than 7 minutes to whip up a cup or two of your favorite beverage.
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How a French Press Works
This device has a simple design consisting of only a carafe and a plunger assembly. The plunger assembly is made up of a filter screen at the bottom, a rod at the middle and a handle at the top. The method of brewing with the French Press is very simple. Once the coffee grounds have steeped in hot water, the plunger is pushed downwards to the bottom of the carafe. In the process, the brewed coffee is filtered through the metallic screen.
The process is fast, easy and only takes a few seconds. Since it does not include paper filters, the resulting drink includes all the natural oils and aromas, making it very thick and flavorful.
The steep brew utilized by the French Press is unique since the coffee grounds are in contact with hot water throughout the brewing process, which allows for maximum extraction.
Brewing Coffee with a French Press
Brewing with a French Press does not require much, aside from pushing the plunger downwards. The tricky part is getting the right variables for the perfect cup.
Therefore, you will have to experiment with different sizes of coffee grounds, steeping time, and water temperature to get the right variables for your desired cup of coffee. The first step is having the right coffee grounds. You can use pre-ground coffee, or you can grind coffee beans yourself.
Once you get the right size of coffee grounds, the next step is to heat water to around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The French Press does not have a heating element. You will have to heat water using a kettle over a hotplate.
Measure the right amount of coarse grounds into the carafe preferably one or two tablespoons per cup of water and then pour half the heated water into the coffee grounds and attach the lid. Let the grounds extract for a minute, remove the lid and then pour the rest of the water into the carafe.
Install the lid again and let the coffee steep for at least three minutes or longer if you want a stronger beverage. Kindly note that each time you install the lid, the plunger should be drawn up.
The next step is to push the plunger downwards slowly until the filter screen reaches the bottom. The process should take at most 30 seconds. You can then serve the brewed coffee in a cup and store the rest in a thermal flask.
French Press Brewing Tips
Always use coarse coffee grounds when brewing with a French Press. Since the grounds will be in contact with the hot water throughout, coarse grounds are preferred to reduce the speed of the extraction process. Using fine grounds will lead to poor muddy coffee due to fast extraction process.
Also, it is advisable to grind your coffee right before the brewing process to take advantage of all nutrients and aromas. Regardless of the brewing method used, freshly ground coffee produces superior beverages to pre-ground coffee. This is because pre-ground coffee usually lacks all the needed nutrients and aromas to make the perfect beverage.
Also, preheat the French press before brewing to prevent the hot water from losing heat quickly to a cold surface. You can do this by simply swirling warm water inside the carafe for a minute and pouring it out. Then, once you are through with the brewing, always transfer the brewed coffee to another carafe to prevent it from growing bitter due to over-extraction. Another important tip you should take note of is the coffee to water ratio.
One tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of water is a good balance. However, you can try out different ratios until you get the right one. Also, always keep the French Press clean to prevent old stale grounds from interfering with the quality of your beverage.
The 5 Best French Press Coffee Makers
The first patented French Press design included two basic components: a carafe and a plunger system. Modern French Presses still maintain this original design. However, some modern devices include added features that ensure they operate more effectively. Here are the five best French Press coffee makers.
Bodum 1548-01US Brazil French Press Coffee and Tea Maker
Nothing much can be said about this appliance, apart from the fact that it is super easy to use. It maintains the same basic French Press design of a carafe and a plunger assembly. The carafe is constructed from premium borosilicate glass, which is ultra-light, durable and heat-resistant. The carafe is also transparent, which allows you to catch all the action as it is taking place. The body, lid and handle are constructed from BPA free plastic, while the filter and the plunger are made of stainless steel.
The highlight of this French Press is the 3-part stainless steel filter system that consists of a spiral plate, a filter mesh and a cross plate. The spiral plate and the cross plate hold the filter mesh in position to ensure that no ground residues find their way to the coffee after brewing is complete.
The mesh filter ensures that all the natural oils and aromas are retained for a rich flavored cup. It takes about 4 minutes to complete one brewing session and the appliance does not support paper filters or plastic capsules.
With 34 ounce capacity, the Bodum can squeeze out around 8 cups of delicious coffee. All the components of the Bodum 1548-01US are dishwasher safe.
Veken French Press Coffee Maker
One unique feature of the Veken French Press is its design, which features a detachable carafe on a stainless steel frame. The frame contains a screw at the handle that can be adjusted to ensure a firm grip on the carafe.
The carafe is also constructed from borosilicate glass, which is ultra-light and durable and its heat resistant properties prevent burns.
The fact that the carafe is detachable makes it very easy to clean. Also, there is an easy to read scale line on the carafe to help you with the right measurements for the perfect coffee beverage.
This appliance features a 4-part filtration system with two stainless steel filters that prevent ground residues from penetrating to the final brew. It is a versatile device that can be used to prepare tea, hot chocolate and even froth milk for some delicious lattes and cappuccinos.
It has a maximum capacity of 34 ounces, which is more than enough to meet your family needs. All the parts are detachable, including the plunger assembly allowing for stress-free cleaning. All parts are dishwasher safe and the metallic components are also made of stainless steel, so you need not worry about them growing rust.
Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
This French Press is fully constructed from stainless steel both in the interior and exterior, which makes it very durable. Unfortunately, you will not catch all the action during the brewing process, but it is designed to ensure the operation goes as smooth as possible.
A great feature of this coffee maker is that it has double wall insulation on the carafe, which keeps the coffee hot longer than single wall carafes. It features a stainless steel 3-layered filter construction that only filters the smallest grounds for the perfect full-bodied drink.
The convenient design of the filter structure also allows you to use more than one filter screen at a time to get rid of all the unnecessary residues from the drink. Therefore, as a sign of goodwill, the company chose to include a bonus filter in the packaging to help you attain your coffee goals. This coffee maker has a maximum capacity of 34 ounces and is also dishwasher safe.
The stainless steel finish on this coffee press is appealing to the eye and can complement any type of décor in the kitchen. If you prefer another color, then it also comes in an aesthetic matte black finish that is also nicely constructed.
Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
The Chambord features the original design of the first French Press designed by the company in the 1950s. It has a strong resemblance to the Veken French Press mentioned earlier, which includes a detachable glass carafe on a stainless steel frame.
Unlike the Veken however which only comes in two finishes: copper and silver, the Chambord has many finishes including chrome, gold, stainless steel, cork, copper and matte chrome.
Another notable difference between the two is the patented dome-shaped safety lid that helps keep all the contents from spilling out. It is because of this reason that this coffee maker is highly recommended for beginners.
It comes in four sizes, 12 ounces, 17 ounces, 34 ounces and 51 ounces. However, as a beginner we would advise you to start with the 12 ounces until you get the hang of it, before you can move to the bigger devices.
As is characteristic with all Bodum French Press machines, the Chambord features a 3-layered filtration system consisting of a spiral plate, a filter screen and a cross plate. The filter system is fully made of stainless steel, which means it is rust proof and is easily disassembled for stress-free cleaning.
The carafe is constructed from borosilicate glass and is also detachable for easy cleaning. It should be noted that only stainless steel, chrome and matte chrome finishes are dishwasher safe, the other finishes are not. However, the carafe, the filter and the plunger are safe for the dishwasher for all types of Chambord coffee makers.
Café Du Chateau French Press Coffee Maker
One thing that stands out about this coffee maker is its elegant and innovative design. It features a shiny and alluring stand that is constructed from 304-grade stainless steel. The stand has an open top that allows easy installation and removable of the carafe and is also open on one side to allow you to catch all the action.
The plunger is also made of the 304 grade stainless, rust-proof and includes a 4-level filtration system comprising two screen filters, a lid strainer that traps grounds and a spring-loaded base which seals the edges during the plunging.
The borosilicate glass carafe is designed to withstand boiling water and is also resistant to heat, which prevents burns. It has a 34-ounce capacity and can be used to prepare tea, espresso, and cold brews, aside from hot coffee. The icing on the cake is that the company also offers a lifetime replacement guarantee.
You will get a free replacement when your device or any of its accessories gets damaged. The stylish design of the Café Du Chateau will work perfectly for you if you prefer adding a bit of sophistication and luxury to your kitchen décor.
Buying Guide for French Press Coffee Makers
French Press coffee makers come in so many designs and sizes that as a beginner, it may be difficult to pinpoint the right device for you.
While all French Presses generally feature few components and work the same way, there are several factors you need to put into consideration to get a device that will work satisfactorily to meet your coffee brewing needs. So, what factors should you consider when shopping for a French Press?
French Press coffee makers are constructed from different materials, including chrome, gold, copper, stainless steel and matte black. The type of finish you chose will depend on your taste. Stainless steel is usually the most preferred because it is stylish and easily blends in with any type of décor.
We would caution you not know to invest in a French Press with a plastic body, as they are generally not very durable, have less capacity and also produce less than stellar drinks. Unless you are purchasing it for occasional trips and outdoor activities, plastic French Presses are not the best choice for day-to-day coffee brewing.
Another factor to consider is the capacity of the French Press, which depends entirely on your coffee drinking needs. If you live by yourself and only need one or two cups of coffee a day, then you may opt for a lower capacity unit.
On the flipside, if you have a large family or you fancy drinking coffee throughout the day, then you may purchase a large capacity unit. A 34-ounce capacity is usually desired since it can produce up to 8 cups per serving.
Most of French Press carafes are made of glass. However, other models come with stainless steel, plastic or even ceramic or stoneware carafes. Most people prefer glass carafes because they allow them to catch all the brewing action and they are also easy to clean. Unfortunately, glass carafes are very fragile and will require the utmost care.
If you are going for a glass carafe, make sure it is constructed from borosilicate glass. This type of glass is impervious to thermal shock, which means that it cannot explode when exposed to boiling water. It is also heat resistant, which protects you against burns when handling it.
Ceramic or stoneware carafes are very rare, and as a result, they are very expensive. However, they are very beautiful and feature a multitude of colors. They are also impervious to extreme temperatures and are usually specially coated to prevent stains and odors. However, they are breakable and have to be protected from falls.
Stainless steel carafes are the most durable, as they are rust proof and cannot break even when they fall to the floor. They are also generally easier to clean, as they do not stain and the polished ones have aesthetic properties and may add to the décor of the kitchen.
Also, some feature a double-wall insulation, which allows them to keep coffee hot for hours. The only drawback of these types of carafes is that they are opaque, which prevents you from catching the action.
Plastic carafes are not as expensive as the other types of carafes. If you opt for a plastic carafe, ensure that it is BPA free to avoid health risks. Also, ensure it is constructed from Styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) plastic material.
SAN-based plastics are very durable and do not warp or leach harmful chemicals even in extreme temperatures. It is also worth noting that plastic French Presses produce inferior beverages compared to stainless steel and glass French Presses. You will compromise on the quality of your beverage if you opt for this choice.
Plunger and Filter System
The quality of the beverage relies on the effectiveness of the plunger and filter system. The first thing to look out for is a plunger made of stainless steel for the obvious reasons of sturdiness, durability and proof from rust.
Also, look at the construction of the filter system. A good filter system should include three primary components, a screen filter, a cross plate and a spiral plate. The screen filter traps grounds, while the cross plate and spiral plate hold the screen filter in place. The most effective French Presses feature more than one screen filter.
Others come with one filter, but allow you to add one or more screen filters at your discretion. Another important consideration is the edge of the filter system, as it is the part that takes the most beating.
This is very important because ground residuals may easily slip through the cracked or damaged edges, destroying the taste of the coffee. Plastic and rubber edges can easily break from the friction with carafe wall and they also warp after a period of washing. You might consider choosing a filter system with a metallic or stainless steel edges.
Double-walled coffee makers have better insulation than single-walled devices and are therefore able to keep coffee hot for a longer period. However, the idea of having a French Press with heat-proofing properties may seem enticing, but we would advise you not to spend extra money on such a device.
This is because choosing to leave the brewed coffee in the French Press will lead to over-extraction and eventually bitter coffee. One requirement of brewing coffee with a French Press is to transfer the final brew to a separate flask to prevent it from getting bitter.
The French Press is a very simple device that requires very little when it comes to maintenance. You are only required to wash the carafe and plunger system.
Some models are dishwasher safe, which takes away the need to wash them manually. Ensure the components are dishwasher safe before inserting them into the machine to avoid serious damages, especially if it includes various metallic components. Also, keep in mind that you will have to disassemble the whole device before cleaning it.
Therefore, ensure it is easy to assemble/disassemble, especially the filter system to give it a thorough and deep clean. Also, ensure that the French Press is cleaned after every brew. If stale grounds and residues are stuck on the filter system, then the taste of the coffee will be greatly affected.
If you do not yet own a French Press, then you do not know what you’re missing out on. This device offers the easiest and fastest way of brewing coffee. It produces a full-bodied drink rich in natural oils and flavors that will make your mornings worthwhile. They are also super cheap and you won’t break the bank owning one.