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French press coffee makers deliver a rich and nuanced cup of coffee by immersion brewing, where coarse coffee grounds steep in hot water before being plunged to halt extraction. The variables of these coffee makers are few—there’s a carafe, lid plunger, and filter—so materials and design make all the difference. You also want to consider where you'll be making coffee, especially if you want to pack one into your camping gear. Most need to be hand-washed soon after brewing to avoid stains, but a couple on our list are safe to stick in the dishwasher (once you rinse out the grinds).
Keep in mind that these aren't just for coffee. They're great for making a small pot of herbal tea or chai. They can also be used for small batches of cocktails, especially when there are spices or herbs involved since the plunging will help the oils infuse your drink.
Learn what brands have the edge and the secret to brewing an unbelievably good cup of French press coffee (or cocktail!). Here are the best French press coffee makers to consider.
Best Overall: Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
What We Like: Classic design, consistent performance, lid designed to prevent spills
What We Don't Like: Frame and lid may require hand washing
Bodum’s Chambord French press gets top ranking for its combination of consistent performance, attractive price, and quality design, which delivers flavorful, robust coffee without a lot of sludge.
The borosilicate glass carafe is heat-resistant and durable, and the lid is designed to prevent spills when you pour. The plunger and frame are made of stainless steel while the handle is polypropylene. The 1-liter French press is a little under a foot tall and makes eight 4-ounce cups. Most parts are dishwasher safe, though the lid and frame should be hand washed unless you buy the chrome or matte chrome finishes.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.3 x 7.7 x 11.8 inches | Sizes Available: 12, 17, 34, and 51 ounces
Best Budget: Veken French Press Coffee Maker
What We Like: Measurement lines help you brew the perfect amount, multi-layered mesh filter keeps out most grit
What We Don’t Like: Glass carafe is fragile
Affordable and available in three sizes—12 ounces, 21 ounces, and 34 ounces—the Veken French Press Coffee Maker is a reliable budget pick.
The 34-ounce version weighs about 2 pounds. The borosilicate glass carafe has measurement lines to help you brew, while two fine mesh filters manage to keep out most grit. There is also a slightly newer version, with a curved design, that costs a few more dollars, though both models are produced with the same materials. The glass carafe is on the delicate side, so you'll need to be careful when using this French press coffee maker.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8.3 x 6.5 x 4.1 inches | Sizes Available: 12, 21, and 34 ounces
Best Stainless Steel: Secura French Press Coffee Maker
What We Like: Dishwasher safe for easy cleanup, triple-layer filter
What We Don’t Like: Can be noisy
Unlike their glass counterparts, stainless steel French presses won't cool off quickly. Secura French Press Coffee Maker, which has a 34-ounce capacity and is built from 18/10 stainless steel with double walls to hold in the heat, brews smooth coffee that stays hot.
The mesh filter has three layers, which you can adjust to your personal preference. Stacked together, the layers reduce the sludge often found in French press coffee. Even though it's made of metal, the 34-ounce Secura stainless steel coffee maker only weighs 2.4 pounds, and the handle stays cool during the brew. The best part is it's all dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. The biggest downside is the noise associated with plunging, as metal scrapes on metal.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.7 x 6.1 x 9.8 inches | Sizes Available: 12, 17, 34, and 50 ounces
Related: The Best Drip Coffee Makers
Best for Camping: Stanley 48-Ounce French Press
What We Like: Durable yet lightweight, lifetime warranty
What We Don’t Like: Sediment passes through the filter
At 1.15 pounds and less than 10 inches tall, this 48-ounce French press is compact and lightweight enough to bring on camping trips, yet strong enough to survive a few days of roughing it.
As your day in nature progresses, the double-walled stainless steel design will keep the coffee hot long after you brew it. If anything does go wrong on the trail (bears need coffee too!), Stanley offers a lifetime warranty. What's more, this French press is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup when you're back on the grid. The biggest drawback is the filter isn't fine enough to keep grit out of the final cup.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 7.1 x 4.9 x 9.5 inches | Sizes Available: 48 ounces
Best Large Capacity: Bodum Brazil French Press
What We Like: Large capacity, heat-resistant glass, BPA-free polypropylene
What We Don’t Like: Plunger can be difficult to operate
Available in three capacities, the Bodum Brazil French press combines the quality of the Bodum brand with large capacity and affordability.
This French press uses BPA-free polypropylene for the base and handle, then stainless steel for the plunger and filter. The carafe is crafted from borosilicate glass, which is naturally heat-resistant and BPA-free. The 1.5-liter version of the Bodum Brazil offers a large-capacity format at an attractive price, some find the design of the base makes plunging tricky. Diehard Bodum fans may prefer the Chambord, which is also available in a 1.5-liter version.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.25 x 4.6 x 9.4 inches | Sizes Available: 12, 34, and 51 ounces
Related: The Best Coffee Grinders
Most Durable: Coffee Gator 34-Ounce French Press Coffee Maker
What We Like: Rustproof, durable, coffee stays hot for 60 minutes
What We Don’t Like: Very noisy when plunging
Coffee Gator's French press is designed for travel, with an included travel canister for coffee, but its durability means you won't want to limit its usage to trips.
The layered stainless steel design keeps coffee hot for up to an hour after brewing, naturally resists rust, and won't break like its glass counterparts. This French press does weighs 2.2 pounds, and comes with a small canister for storing your beans. The biggest drawback is the loud whining noise when you plunge that comes from metal scraping metal.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4 x 4 x 8.5 inches| Sizes Available: 34 ounces
Related: The Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers
Best Splurge: Espro Coffee French Press P7
What We Like: Fine filter prevents any grit in the final cup, double-walled design keeps coffee hot for hours
What We Don’t Like: Pricey
Espro makes some of the best French presses on the market, and the P7 is its flagship model.
One of its best features is the ultra-fine mesh filter that prevents coffee grounds from contaminating the final cup. Crafted from stainless steel with a double-walled design, this 2.2-pound French press will keep the coffee hot for hours after the initial brew. While the P7 is pricey, it's durable and will last for decades, so it's the only French press you'll need.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.3 x 4.8 x 10.5 inches | Sizes Available: 18 and 32 ounces
If you're looking for an iconic glass French Press, the Bodum Chambord (view at Amazon) is a classic option. If you want an option that will keep your coffee hot for longer and won't need to be replaced for years, try the stainless steel Secura French Press Coffee Maker (view at Amazon).
What coffee beans and coffee grind are best?
The best variety of coffee is what you most enjoy drinking, but medium or dark roast beans are generally recommended due to their higher concentration of coffee oils, which give French press coffee its depth.
As for the grind, coarse is best. Stumptown Coffee Roasters recommends grinding beans to a breadcrumb consistency. Too fine and grounds will pass through the filter, giving your coffee a gritty mouthfeel.
How do you use a French press?
For a 4-cup French press coffee maker, measure and grind 4 tablespoons of beans. Put the grounds in the carafe, then fill the carafe halfway with hot water. Let the coffee steep for one minute, then stir the coffee into the water with a wooden spoon and top off the water level in the carafe. Let the coffee steep for 3 more minutes (4 minutes total), then plunge to stop the extraction. Glass carafes cool quickly, so drink ASAP for the best flavor and temperature.
What's the best water temperature?
You can turn the water off just before the boil, or around 205 degrees for optimal flavor. But if you miss those few seconds and the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and wait a minute before pouring it over your grounds. If the beans are freshly ground and you don't allow it to steep for too long, you'll still have a great cup of coffee.
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Lindsey Danis is a former professional cook and a food writer for retail and trade publications.