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If you’ve never had French press coffee, it’s smooth, rich, and indulgent. Very … French. Pair it with a fluffy croissant or some crêpes Suzette, and you’ll be in paradis. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have it every day. You absolutely should! But maybe you could be making it a little better. In fact, we’re sure you could.
No other coffee-brewing method works quite the same way as a French press, making it a favorite among coffee connoisseurs, us included. While it does take a bit more patience than using a drip coffee maker, you can master the process in no time. Just make sure you start with a good French press coffee maker.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for French Press Coffee
Quick Summary: The Best French Press Coffee
|Plum Labs Disposable French Press Brewing Bags - 50 pack||Check on Amazon →|
|Bellemain Stainless Steel Mesh Strainers with Non-Slip Handles||Check on Amazon →|
|Bodum Chambord French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|Le Creuset Stoneware French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|SterlingPro Double Wall French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|KONA Stainless Steel French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|Kitchen Supreme French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|Ritual Bamboo French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|SterlingPro Double Wall European Style French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|Coffee Gator French Press||Check on Amazon →|
|Bodum Travel French Press||Check on Amazon →|
What is a French Press?
If you’re only recently hearing about this brewing method, you might think the French press (also called a cafetière in England) is a new way to make coffee. While its origins are a bit unclear, it’s been around in various iterations for more than 100 years.
The current design, however, was patented in 1929 by Attilo Calimani, who, surprisingly, was Italian—not French. The modern design itself is quite simple, consisting of a carafe (sometimes called a beaker) and a plunger assembly.
French Press Carafe
Typically made from a special type of glass, you’ll also find French press carafes made from stoneware, stainless steel, or plastic.
- Borosilicate Glass: This special material contains silica and boron trioxide to make it exceptionally resistant to thermal shock. That means pouring hot water into a borosilicate carafe won’t cause the glass to explode. It’s the same thing most glass bakeware is composed of. Unfortunately, if you drop your glass French press on your tile floor, the composition of the glass probably won’t help you.
- Stoneware or Ceramic: This less common style of French press carafe tends to be a bit pricey, but beautiful. Frequently available in a rainbow of enamel colors, stoneware and ceramic French press carafes are also internally coated to resist stains and odors. Most stoneware carafes are dishwasher safe. They’re sturdy and resistant to extreme temperatures, but also breakable.
- Stainless Steel: If you want a French press that won’t break easily, choose one with a stainless steel carafe. Typically, they’re double-walled and vacuum sealed, like heavy-duty travel mugs, so they keep your coffee hot for hours. Stainless steel French presses are available in brushed or polished finishes. You’ll find some color options among the brushed finish style, while polished ones have a mirror finish, almost like fine silver. Durability will vary by model, but you can rest assured that stainless steel won’t shatter on your kitchen floor.
- Plastic: When you purchase a French press of reputable origin, its plastic carafe will be made from styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) and be free of bisphenol-A (BPA). SAN is an especially durable type of plastic, which will withstand high temperatures without warping or leaching chemicals. BPA has possible negative health impacts, and may find its way into food and drinks when plastics containing it are exposed to heat, such as boiling water. Since you’ll be using hot water to brew your French press coffee, be sure to look for a BPA-free carafe made from SAN.
French Press Plunger Assembly
The simple mechanism inside your press is what really brings your French press coffee to life.
- Plunger: The way you brew the most delicious cup of coffee you’ll ever taste is the same way you get a stubborn sink to drain—with a plunger. This is one time when you’ll want to plunge gently, though. A handle is attached to the plunger rod on top of the lid, and the rod extends down through your French press and attaches to the disc and filter at the bottom. You’ll use it for brewing and cleaning.
- Filter Screen: The bottom end of the plunger consists of a filter and disc, which are held firmly against the glass by a surrounding spring. Some models use as many as four stainless steel mesh filters to ensure coffee grounds stay in the bottom of your French press as you plunge. If your grind is too fine or your filters aren’t fine enough, you’ll end up with a gritty brew. Metal filters have also been blamed for allowing cholesterol-increasing oils to stay in your coffee. If this is a concern, you can purchase paper filters or bags for your French press, which trap the oils blamed for increasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
How to Make French Press Coffee
Before pressing the grounds to extract every drop of delicious oil, you’ll let the coffee steep in hot water to bring out its full flavor. It’s easy to brew coffee in a French press, but it takes a little bit of practice to brew the perfect cup.
If you’re new to this method, you’ll want to learn how to grind coffee beans first. Freshly ground beans make the best coffee, regardless of the brewing method you’re using.
- Add coarsely ground coffee, preferably freshly roasted and ground, to your carafe. Use one tablespoon per serving.
- Boil the water in a kettle, then allow it to cool to 205°F. You’ll need one cup per tablespoon of grounds.
- Pour about half the water into your French press, and allow the coffee to bloom for one minute.
- Add the remaining hot water, then let it sit for at least three minutes to allow the coffee to steep. If you want a strong brew, you can let it steep a little longer.
- Press the plunger gently, using just the weight of your hand, as far as it will go.
- Serve immediately for the best flavor.
Cold Brew in a French Press
Not a fan of hot coffee? Enduring a hot summer but still want to enjoy your daily coffee? Give cold brew a try.
- Add one tablespoon of coarse coffee grounds per serving to the carafe.
- Add one cup of room temperature water per serving, and stir.
- Put the lid and plunger back on without pressing the plunger down.
- Place the French press in your fridge overnight.
- Use your hand weight to depress the plunger and voilà! The next morning, you’ve got cold brew, French press coffee.
Tips to Brew the Best French Press Coffee
In addition to taking the time to let your coffee bloom and steep properly, you can do a few other things to ensure consistently delicious French press coffee.
- Rinse your French press carafe with hot water to warm it before brewing your coffee.
- Don’t leave your coffee in the French press once brewing is complete. Pour it into a carafe so it can’t continue brewing and grow bitter.
- Always use coarse grinds for French press coffee. It allows you to get optimum flavor without grit in your cup.
- Use one cup of water to one tablespoon of coffee grounds per serving. Balance is the key to delicious French Press coffee. Use too much or even too little water, and your coffee just won’t taste right.
- Keep your French press clean, so you won’t have old grounds stuck in the bottom next time you brew.
Nine Best French Press Coffee Makers
You know enough historical tidbits to impress your fellow coffee
snobs connoisseurs, plus some pro tips to brew the best French press coffee on the block. Now put it all together and get yourself a good-looking, high-quality French press coffee maker.
Bodum Chambord French Press
This is our top choice for a full 51 ounces of coffee. It’s a classic glass French press with a stainless steel frame and heat-safe, BPA-free plastic handle. The glass is borosilicate to prevent breakage from heat exposure. It will keep your coffee hot, while remaining safe to touch.
Its three-piece mesh filter is perfect for extracting every ounce of flavor, while allowing little to no coffee grounds through. This press is well designed and easy to use and clean, making it the perfect French press for daily, regular use.
Le Creuset Stoneware French Press
From the well-known French company that’s created enameled cast iron cookware in bold colors since 1925, this French press will fit right in among your Le Creuset pieces. If you’re not a collector, the stoneware press is still a beautiful piece for your kitchen. Its exterior enamel is resistant to odors, stains, chipping, and cracking.
The glossy enamel comes in sixteen Le Creuset colors, including Caribbean, Cerise, Marseille, and Soleil. This stoneware alternative to the standard glass French press has a stainless steel plunger and mesh press, plus it’s dishwasher safe.
SterlingPro Double Wall French Press
Brew just enough coffee in the morning for two—34 ounces to be exact—in this modern, stainless steel French press. It features double wall construction for durability and insulation, plus a dual filter screen, which SterlingPro guarantees will keep grounds out of your coffee.
It’s easy to disassemble and fully dishwasher safe. The stainless finish is so shiny it looks like Christmas, and it won’t ever rust.
KONA Stainless Steel French Press
The insulated, protective frame of this press gives it a bit of artistic character. It’s available in black or red, and gives a little extra protection to the borosilicate glass. The frame is made from rust-proof material.
It’s also dishwasher safe, and since the press and frame are connected, you can pop the whole thing in your top rack. The KONA French press brews 34 ounces, which is perfect for you to share.
Kitchen Supreme French Press
This German-made coffee maker consists of a shock-resistant glass carafe with a stainless steel frame. It comes with some helpful accessories to get you started—a long, stainless steel spoon, coffee scoop, and a recipe book. It brews eight cups of coffee, and the screen boasts four filters to keep out even the finest grounds.
Ritual Bamboo French Press
You’ll find little variation in style and design among the many glass French presses on the market. If they make great coffee, you don’t necessarily need them to look especially ornate. However, if you want a press that produces delicious coffee and has a distinctly stylish look, this bamboo French press is perfect for you.
It features a metal frame in stainless steel or copper with a bamboo handle that stays cool, and non-slip feet to prevent accidents. The glass is thermal borosilicate that keeps your coffee hot while resisting breakage.
SterlingPro Double Wall European Style French Press
The gleaming mirror finish and curvy design of this stainless steel French press give it a unique aesthetic that looks beautiful on your counter. It holds 34 ounces of coffee, which is perfect for a couple, or if you’re single, more for you!
Its double-walled stainless steel construction keeps coffee hot for hours, while keeping the exterior cool to the touch. It’s also fully dishwasher safe. It has the same SterlingPro dual screen filter as their standard press, also guaranteed.
Coffee Gator French Press
Vacuum-layered, double-walled stainless steel sides make this French press practically bulletproof. While it won’t actually replace a good Kevlar helmet, the military-grade metal does mean it can handle a lot more abuse than its glass competitors. You’re not limited only to shiny stainless steel, either. You can choose from matte grey, orange, or pink finishes also.
The carafe hold 34 ounces of coffee, and will keep it hot for hours. It comes with a matching steel canister, which holds enough coffee for two more cups, just in case you want a little afternoon jolt at work.
Bodum Travel French Press
All you’ll need to brew an excellent cup anywhere is coffee grounds, hot water, and this travel mug with integrated press. You use it just like a regular French press coffee maker, except after pressing the grounds all the way down, you drink the coffee straight from the cup.
It’s made from stainless steel to keep your java hot for hours, plus it has a silicone sleeve that stays cool to the touch, and comes in some fun colors. It makes 15 ounces of coffee, and is the same size as a typical travel mug, so you really can take it with you anywhere.
Despite the time it takes to heat up water in a separate vessel, then allow your coffee to properly bloom and steep, you’ll find that ten minutes making yourself a cup of French press coffee is really time well spent.
French press coffee makers come in so many beautiful materials and designs, it’ll be difficult to choose just one. But when you finally do choose, after a few practice runs, you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious cup of French press coffee every time you brew.
How to Clean Your French Press
We mean it—dirty coffee makers brew disgusting coffee. No matter which type you have, be sure you know how to clean your coffee maker.
Coffee made in a French press won’t be tainted with mildew or limescale, like it can be in a drip machine that isn’t cleaned often enough. But it’ll still taste much better coming from a squeaky clean carafe.
Most French presses are easy to disassemble for cleaning. The secret to quickly and easily cleaning your French press is having a mesh strainer on hand.
- Remove the plunger from your French press.
- Fill it about halfway with warm water. Swish the water around to loosen any coffee grounds stuck at the bottom.
- Hold your mesh strainer over the kitchen sink, and pour the contents of your French press into it. Now you can dump your strainer full of coffee grounds into your garbage. Even better, put the used coffee grounds into your compost.
- Add a little warm water and bit of dish soap, then put the plunger back in.
- Pump it a few times to remove oil or coffee stains.
- Use a bottle brush with baking soda to scrub away any stubborn residue.
- Rinse well, then dry with a soft cloth.
If you’re short on time, most French press coffee makers are dishwasher safe. You may be risking breakage or glass etching if you rely on a dishwasher for cleaning your French press all the time, but it can be convenient for the occasional deep clean.
Now, we’ve mentioned that you need to use a coarse grind for your French Press. But you may be wondering “Does that really matter?” or “Can’t I just go with whatever grind my favorite pre-ground offers?”.
Yes, grind does really matter when brewing with a French press, and no, your run of the mill pre-ground probably isn’t going to cut it. Here’s why:
What Happens if It Is Too Fine
You need a coarse grind for a French press for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it helps the filter do its job better. Fine grounds will likely get through the plunger’s filter and into your cup. Not only will this make your coffee grittier, it will also probably lead to a bitter, over-extracted flavor.
Additionally, too-fine grounds will make it rather difficult to press down the plunger. You’ll risk either breaking the tool or improperly extracting the grounds with too much pressure.
However, for higher-quality French Presses, you do have a bit of wiggle room. They tend to have finer screens and can handle more finely ground coffee. Nonetheless, we wouldn’t recommend venturing passed a medium or medium-coarse grind.
As always, we encourage experimentation and finding the method that works best with your personal tastes. But, we can pretty confidently say that most people probably prefer a clean cup and an unbroken brewer.
All our talk about coarseness is probably lost on you if you have no clue what these sizes actually mean. And you won’t be able to judge what kind of coarseness levels your grinder is. offering if you don’t have a point of reference, so here’s a quick guide to help you figure it out.
- Extra Coarse: Rock Salt (very chunky)
- Coarse: Sea Salt (visibly chunky)
- Medium-Coarse: coarse or rough sand (less chunky)
- Medium: Kosher salt/ regular sand
- Medium-Fine: Between Kosher and table salt (small granules)
- Fine: Slightly finer than table salt (difficult to feel granules)
- Extra Fine/Turkish: Flour or powdered Sugar (silt-like)
For French Press, coarse to medium-coarse grinds are the best options; however, some people do go as far as extra coarse and medium grinds. It’s all up to you!
Why You Need to Grind Your Own Beans
As we said, experimentation is definitely encouraged so that you can find what works for you. One thing that will definitely prevent you from doing that is buying pre-ground, grocery store beans. With these, your options on appropriately coarse grinds are often slim, and you won’t be able to tweak your grind size if what comes in the bag isn’t ideal.
Though it can be intimidating at first, buying a grinder is truly the key to stepping into the world of Third Wave coffee. You won’t be able to appreciate even the most expensive, fanciest beans if they aren’t freshly roasted and ground. So, just like you should be checking those roast dates, you should also be buying whole bean and grinding at home.
This is especially important for a manual brewing tool like a French Press, that requires a specific gri and size and invites the influence of personal preference and flair.
Is French Press Coffee Bad For You?
Navigating the world of health science can be a little overwhelming. If you’re researching French Press coffee you may have seen some ominous headlines referring to “LDL” or “bad cholesterol” while others are listing the health benefits of the brewing method. So what’s really going on?
About Types of Cholesterol
Firstly, let’s talk about LDL (low-density lipoproteins). The current belief among health experts is that there are good and bad types of cholesterol, and LDL is classified as the latter because having too much of it can lead to cholesterol buildup in your arteries.
The Tea on the Coffee Studies
What’s that have to do with French Press coffee? Well, because the French press does not use paper filters, it leaves a substance called Cafestol, which studies have shown can increase LDL levels. However, this article only suggests that this is an issue if you are drinking five to eight cups a day. That’s way above average consumption in the US (about 3 cups).
Additionally, the study (linked above) that initially suggested this result was found when consuming Swedish and Turkish coffee which are boiled coffee methods that leave coffee grounds in your cup with little to no filtration.
If you are drinking 5+ cups of French Press coffee a day, yes, it can definitely be an issue. But drinking five or more cups of ANY coffee would be an issue because you’d be bordering on a caffeine overdose (seriously, we’ll explain in a second).
So if you are drinking a reasonable amount of French Press coffee, it shouldn’t negatively impact your health. That said, if you are already having issue with high cholesterol level, all you need to do is put a paper filter, like these , in your plunger with the regular permanent filter when you brew.
Nonetheless, if you ARE having issue with high-LDL level, your French Press coffee probably isn’t the main cause of them. Things like grains and sugars, high fructose corn syrup, unbalanced diets, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, and stress can also cause those levels to rise.
What about the caffeine?
As many of you likely already know, caffeine is a stimulant. That means it is possible to OD on it, and the magic number for that is 600mg. But how much coffee does that equate to?
For the full low-down on the caffeine content in coffee, mosey on down to this article. But for those of you just looking for the quick answer, a typical drip brewed coffee is widely varied (between 80-200mg). But French press coffee tends to fall around the 100mg range per cup. (Though this also varies greatly based on how much coffee you’re using and what kind it is).
So, if you’re drinking more than 5 cups of a particularly strong brew, not only are you risking increased LDL levels, but you’re also probably overdosing on caffeine. That means insomnia, diarrhea, headaches, and irritability or, in more severe cases irregular heartbeat, vomiting, trouble breathing, etc.
Thus, there CAN be too much of a good thing. Please stay aware and drink responsibly.
Are there health benefits?
Don’t let all of this scare you away from a good cup of Joe. Consuming a reasonable amount of coffee can actually have some health benefits. Here are just a few:
- Coffee helps raise your metabolism and encourage weight loss.
- Drinking one cup of coffee per day has been shown to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 7%.
- Drinking several cups a day has proven to decrease the risk of experiencing depression.
- It can improve alertness and brain function.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much coffee should you use for a French Press?
The recommendations you’re going to get on this front are hugely varied. Some will say 1:16 of coffee to water while other’s will suggest 1:6 as the best ratio. Honestly, this really comes down to personal preference. However, there are some general guidelines on how to balance your ratio with grind size and brew time.
If you are using a smaller grind size, your coffee is going to be stronger. So you don’t need as much coffee in relation to water in order to accomplish a nice strength.
On the other hand, if you are going with a particularly coarse grind, the flavors will extract more quickly but usually won’t get as strong. In that case, you can use more grounds and less water to get a stronger brew.
We say go with what tastes good to you. Our above ratios fall on the lower coffee to water ratio with a coarse grind. That’s a good place to start for most people, but if you want it stronger, play around with steep time and that ratio.
How long should you steep French Press coffee?
Speaking of steeping, this is another factor that’s has plenty of room for personal preference. We wouldn’t suggest going for any less than 3 minutes, but for your typical coarse grind 6 to 8 minutes is a much better target time.
If you go too short of a time, your coffee is going to taste weak and flat, no matter how much you up that grounds to coffee ratio. On the other hand, if it’s immersed for too long it’s going to be over-extracted and bitter.
The latter issue can occur if you make too much coffee and leave the brew in the French press with grounds at the bottom. The plunger keeps the grounds from getting in your cup but does not actually stop extraction. So your best best is to use the amount of water appropriate for how many cups you’re making at once.
Why is my French Press coffee gritty?
There are a number of factors that could be causing this issue. The most common one is using a grind that is too fine. As we discussed earlier, using too fine of a grind in a French press allows the grinds to get past the filter and into your cup.
Another factor that can cause this issue is the quality of your kit. Obviously the French Press you use is important as it’s the thing actually doing the filtering. However, your grinder is actually just as important.
Using a low-quality grinder can lead to an inconsistent grind, and even on a coarse grind setting, you may be getting fines or “coffee dust.” Higher quality burr grinders don’t generally have this issue because their grind is more precise. Though even with these you should make sure to periodically clean the burrs to keep things clean.
Additionally, investing in a quality grinder will give you more wiggle room on your grind size for experimentation, a you can go to a medium-coarse or just plain medium grind (for higher quality fresh presses) without getting fines that’ll ruin your coffee.
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