French press coffee makers may be simple to operate, but these brewers can whip up coffee that’s amazingly rich and complex. As a matter of fact this style of joe is almost as concentrated as cold-brew or espresso. And if made properly, a French press can produce pots to match what comes out of the best drip coffee makers.
These brewers also come in a myriad of shapes and designs, so choosing one is tricky. Fortunately for you, I’ve personally used and tested a group of top-selling models. And, after grinding pounds of beans and drinking scores of cups of coffee, here’s what I learned on my quest to find the best French press a coffee lover can buy. I update this periodically.
The Bodum Chambord has a classic French press design that hasn’t changed much from when it first hit the scene in the 1950s. Despite that, this model brews great coffee that’s strong, well-balanced and richly flavored. Its steel parts also come in various finishes. I especially like the vibrant red version shown here.
For just $15, the Bodum Brazil delivers hot coffee every bit as good as the company’s more expensive Chambord model. To cut down the price, Bodum uses plastic instead of steel for some of the coffee maker’s parts. Its carafe, however, is borosilicate glass. The coffee I brewed in the Brazil was satisfyingly strong, yet balanced.
The Veken French press is very well-equipped considering its reasonable price. Inside the kit you’ll find various tools you won’t see bundled with other French press models: a fancy wooden mixing spoon, a cleaning wand and a battery-powered milk frother for whipping up cafe-style drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
I also like this French press’ elegant copper finish. It really sets it apart from other models I’ve seen. Most importantly, the Veken brews outstandingly delicious cups of coffee.
The most expensive model in this group, the Frieling French Press doesn’t come cheap. What you get for its steep price is a heavy stainless-steel press construction that’s designed to last. Out of all the French press coffee makers I used, it felt the most durable by far. Its metal body also has insulating dual walls that keep coffee hot for hours.
Coffee I brewed in the Frieling came out well-extracted yet strong. So if money is no barrier, this is the French press for you.
Others we tested
Mueller French Press
Hamilton Beach French Press
Coffee Gator French Press
SterlingPro French Press
OXO Brew Venture French Press Coffee Maker
Bioreports Smart Home and Appliances
Get smart home reviews and ratings, video reviews, buying guides, prices and comparisons from Bioreports.
How we evaluated them
I test French press brewers much like I test standard drip coffee makers. I begin by hand-washing and hand-drying each product. Then I grind enough coffee beans to meet a specific brewing ratio. For a French press that’s 4 ounces of ground coffee to 32 ounces of water.
I then add hot water (203 F, 95 C) to the brewing chamber, stir the grounds and let them sit for 4 minutes. After that I drop the plunger for each press and pour a sample cup. Next I draw a sample of the brewed coffee and measure its percentage of total dissolved solids. I use a pocket reflectometer for this test. From there I can calculate the extraction percentage for each batch of coffee I brew.
Ideally, the extraction percentage of brewed coffee should be in the range of 19% to 22%. While this number alone doesn’t guarantee delicious joe, it’s a strong indicator of it. Ultimately the truth lies in a proper taste test.
More for hot beverage enthusiasts
- Gorgeous tea maker brews matcha while you wait
- Best espresso machine for 2020
- Best travel coffee mugs for 2020
- Great gifts for coffee lovers
Oxo Brew 8-Cup Coffee Maker: Our new Editors’ Choice…