After nine 5-hour days of testing, fifteen presses, and an obscene amount of coffee beans we’ve found the best way to get your coffee fix. For our money, the Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker is the best around. A French press is undoubtedly the superior option, but making sure you have the best French Press coffee maker isn’t always easy.
The Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker is a double-walled stainless steel French press that’s easy to use and clean, holds heat for an extended period of time, and uses a stainless steel filter in order to keep the taste of your coffee just right. It was also great at keeping loose grounds from entering the coffee itself and outperformed all of the competition at all points in our testing.View On Amazon
Table of Contents
How We Selected the Products
Coffee is vital to keeping our projects going and after digging into the matter we decided that an electric drip coffee maker simply wasn’t the way to keep our writers and reviewers fueled.
After some research we came to the conclusion that two things were necessary for great coffee: a French press and a burr grinder. Fortunately, we still had the latter when it came time to do the testing.
Contacting professionals at work didn’t lead us to any real conclusions. Instead, we turned to forums centered on those who really love their coffee to see what people were using in the real world.
We ended up testing fifteen different presses over the course of a week. Like most seemingly simple devices it’s the little things that make a big difference.
We did find out one thing: the taste difference between presses is minimal as long as they’re properly cleaned.
We settled on our top five by a narrow margin in the end. There are little factors that can make a press easier to use and clean that were our big emphasis once we realized that all of them performed well on our baseline metrics.
How We Tested the Products
Selecting the products was the hard part. Testing them out was the fun part.
We used a local coffee shop’s beans and the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder that was our favorite manual burr grinder. The reason for using this particular model was simple: most burr grinders are designed for extremely fine particles and perform best in that range. Manual grinders have a bad reputation for leaving coffee a bit coarse… which is exactly what’s needed for a French press.
In any case, to control for the variability of using a manual grinder we just ground up entire bags at once and mixed it all together for a more homogenous end product.
In all cases we ran the following tests with the ground beans.
Unlike an electric drip coffee maker, French presses don’t have a heating element. Instead, they need to hold in heat until you’re done with the coffee you’ve just made.
As a general rule, we found that double-walled glass holds in heat the best. Some of those we tried that did well were also stainless steel, but we’ll go over the reason for our favorite being glass in a moment.
We didn’t test the heat retention of the presses with smaller capacities. The liquid would cool down more quickly anyways and if you’re only making one or two cups at a time what you’re putting your coffee in is more important for keeping it warm.
We tested each twice since we noticed a problem early on in our methodology: smaller amounts of coffee will cool more quickly. Revising testing methods on the fly is kind of our thing, so we removed any press which held 16oz or less of coffee and tested the remainder with exactly 16oz as a control group.
This test ended up being mostly worthless in the end but it was something we needed to account for.
The truth is that as long as there’s a high-quality filter in place and you keep it clean there are no real issues with taste. Plastic is potentially able to interact with the taste of your coffee, and some swear up and down it does.
We did end up controlling for this through blind taste-testing and found that it’s untrue, at least with a new press. The potential long term ramifications are certainly there, however, so we did our best to minimize plastic parts in the presses that ended up in the finals.
Ease of Cleaning
We were meticulous about cleaning the presses in between uses. Oil build-up is more important than filter construction when it comes to keeping the bitterness out of your coffee.
It turns out that French presses are generally a pain to clean which is the only real mark against using them.
All of our top picks were relatively easy to clean, some of those which didn’t make the list were a complete nightmare and eliminated after the second round of testing.
All of our presses let some coffee grounds into the water. Lacking a lab we had to come up with a way of getting a rough idea of just how much.
Our final test ended up being simple: we poured the last eight ounces of coffee in each product through a paper coffee filter, allowed the whole thing to dry, and then weighed the grounds with a milligram scale.
In truth all of our finalists had a minimal amount of grounds that made their way into the water column. We’re talking fractions of a gram from the dirtiest part of the coffee.
Two products were removed during this phase, however, as their cheap plastic filters allowed considerably more than the average through. It wasn’t a perfect test, especially considering there’s always some variability when using a manual grinder, but it did give us a rough idea of how well they kept the grounds in place.
While not a complete replication of long term use on our final day of testing we put the eight remaining French presses to the test by spending the entire day simply filling and refilling them.
Three of them showed some signs of wear during the test and were eliminated.
Don’t worry, we didn’t plan on drinking all of the coffee we produced during the test or just pouring it out. Instead, one of our reviewers wanted to try boiling down the resulting coffee into a concentrate.
For the record: we don’t recommend concentrating coffee in that manner, it tastes absolutely horrible and was really only usable to add an extra caffeine kick to a good cup of coffee at the expense of taste. There’s a reason that cold press concentrates are the go-to method in the professional world of coffee.
None of those that made our final round saw any real wear after the testing was over. Each of the finalists ended up being used roughly thirty times over the course of testing, which would equate to about a month of moderate use for the average coffee drinkers.
Not everything we tested was about the presses. We also experimented with water temperatures and different grinds to see what would happen once we’d picked our finalists. We acquired about a half dozen protocols to try from baristas and coffee enthusiasts before settling on our personal favorite.
The Final Results
Picking finalists was a bit difficult. We let go of a lot of French presses that are perfectly serviceable but had minor usability issues like being hard to clean.
The only one which broke during the testing was a generic, non-branded press that claimed to be made out of borosilicate glass and clearly wasn’t as it shattered during an abrupt temperature shift when a reviewer cleaned it before letting it cool.
Any French press is a better than no French press.
Our final thoughts on the finalists can be summed up easily:
- The Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker was easy to clean, held heat the longest, and generally performed the best out of all of the presses that we tested. It’s definitely a cut above the rest when it comes to the average person’s needs.
- While slightly harder to use, the increased capacity of the Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker made it our office pick, perfect for situations where you want to serve lots of people delicious coffee.
- The portability of the AeroPress put it on top of the list of finalists, making it the perfect on-the-go companion for those who travel frequently and need a good cup of brew.
- Our list would have been remiss without the Ritual French Coffee Press. It functions extremely well and the styling adds just the right amount of flair to the coffee ritual at the cost of some heat retention.
- Our favorite of the cheap models was the Zeroomade French Press. It mostly lost points due to construction materials rather than actual functions. In the long run it’s likely to have less longevity than our other favorites but it still gives you a great cup of coffee.
The Top 5 French Presses
|Secura||34oz||Stainless Steel||Check Price|
|Bodum||51oz||Borosilicate, stainless steel, plastic||Check Price|
|AeroPress||8oz||BPA-free plastic||Check Price|
|Ritual||36oz||Stainless steel/copper, borosilicate, bamboo||Check Price|
|Zeroomade||12oz||Borosilicate, stainless steel, plastic||Check Price|
1. Best Overall French Press
Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
The Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker came out ahead of the competition by a large margin. Considering the price at the time we’re writing this review and… well, it’s hard to recommend a better press for the average person.
The stainless steel construction lends it a modern look, although the visuals are somewhat lacking compared to many other models of press. Out of the models we tested, however, it performed the best when it came to heat retention.
Our favorite part? It’s simple to clean. Out of all of the models we tested this one came out ahead when it came to putting in the manual labor required to get the filters clean and get the sediment out of the bottom of the cup.
It’s pretty much unbreakable as well. We think the price is quite reasonable for what you’re getting as well, although it’s one of the more expensive models we tried. With full stainless steel construction… well, it should last practically forever even with daily use.
If you’re looking for a French press which goes above and beyond you’ll fall in love with this one from Secura. The stainless steel construction, amazing heat retention, and ease of use make it our top pick of those currently on the market.
- Solid stainless steel construction
- Stainless steel filters included
- Extremely durable
- Easy to clean
- Relatively neutral aesthetic
- Expensive in comparison to the rest of our list
2. Best High Capacity French Press
Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker
With a whopping 51oz capacity, the Bodum was undoubtedly the office favorite. It has a few small flaws but if you need a big pot of great coffee you’re in luck.
One thing of note for picky folks: while we preferred the Secura across the board in the same size there was one big factor that made this our winner for large French presses. That was the fact that it had significantly less particulate matter during our tests than any of the others.
The construction of the press is fantastic. Borosilicate glass is resistant to thermal shock and the stainless steel frame gives it a nice aesthetic. The plastic handle is a nice touch as well, allowing the handle to remain roughly room temperature no matter how hot the coffee is.
This one held heat well and generally ran through our tests without any issues. The main problem that we had was when it came time to clean. It’s certainly not hard to clean but we found that it wasn’t quite as easy as our top pick.
Expense also factors in. While, ounce for ounce, it’s not much more expensive than most of the others on our list it will cost more initially. It’s also single walled and large, so it will begin to cool much more quickly than the others as the coffee level goes down.
All that said, if you’re looking for an excellent, party-sized French press then you’ll be in good hands with this one from Bodum.
- Large capacity
- Heat-resistant handle
- Great looking frame
- Very little particulate matter in coffee
- A bit hard to clean
- Higher upfront cost
3. Most Portable French Press
This was the most niche of our favorites. The first thing we want to get out of the way: it’s made of plastic. While it’s BPA-free we did notice some changes in the taste during our testing though it still beats out a drip coffee maker by a long shot.
It’s also pretty expensive, considering that it has a relatively minimal 8oz capacity. For what it’s made for, however, it’s absolutely perfect. That would be the person on the go frequently, where plastic is actually an advantage since it reduces the weight of the press.
The whole thing comes with a little tote bag to make packing it away simple. It’s tiny, easy to use, and was actually surprisingly easy to clean despite all of the strange angles when compared to your run-of-the-mill press.
We also didn’t like the filter it came with much, but luckily the person who recommended the press to us also pointed us to a stainless steel filter which is produced specifically for the design. Order one when you pick this up, we weren’t too fond of the included paper filters.
If you’re a traveler there’s no need to go without great coffee. The AeroPress will make it happen no matter where your next destination is but it’s not our first choice for a frequently used French press for the home.
- Extremely portable
- Makes great coffee
- Comes with a tote
- Durable due to plastic construction
- Tiny capacity
- Very expensive for capacity
4. Most Aesthetic French Press
Ritual French Coffee Press
Once in a while we open a package and we just really hope that the product performs well enough for us to recommend. This was one of those cases, the Ritual French Coffee Press was undoubtedly the most stylish of the models we brought in for testing.
In some cases, we had great looking presses that didn’t make our list. Not the case here, available in both a copper and stainless steel frame with an attractive bamboo handle the Ritual French Coffee Press made its way through our tests with excellent results.
It’s not the Secura in the end, but comparing it to the best French press we’ve ever seen isn’t exactly fair. It’s a great press and even the branding adds to the overall look of the press. We did have one complaint during testing: the lid seemed prone to warping if temperatures weren’t carefully controlled but the latest model includes a silicon layer over the bamboo to keep this from happening.
Is it perfect? Probably not. In testing it performed quite well but the glass seemed a bit thinner than some of the others and it may not hold up as long as a stainless steel press in the end.
On the other hand, for those who want something that not only looks fantastic but also produces great coffee, Ritual has made an excellent product for… well, your morning coffee ritual.
- Looks great with wood accents
- High-quality materials
- Good heat retention
- Lifetime guarantee
- Glass seems a touch thin
- Pre-2019 models have trouble with warping lids
5. Best Budget French Press
Zeroomade French Press
Performing better than many higher priced presses during our testing, the Zeroomade French Press is an outstanding piece of work for the relatively low price. It’s also an attractive option, coming with a ton of different outside patterns in the metal to allow for some customization.
There’s a lot to be said for this one, so let’s start with the bad stuff: across the board this particular press performed in a mediocre fashion in comparison to the rest on our list. The good news is that means it’s still a great press for daily use.
The heat retention wasn’t great, but it also didn’t hold enough to end up in our control test. It’s not a huge concern for a French press in this size but it can be a bummer if you forget it on the counter.
Other than that, the pricing and different options for the exterior put it head and shoulders above any other press at this price point.
If you’re looking for a budget French press then get a close look at this one from Zeroomade. It performed well across the board and really only looks bad in comparison to our other finalists.
- Many options available
- Big handle
- Easy to clean
- Glass feels a bit thin
- Heat retention could be better
Why Use a French Press?
A French press’ design just makes better coffee. The usual way of making coffee, mainly electric drip coffee makers, just doesn’t compare.
It’s not just a gourmand thing either. Paper filters remove some of the essential aromatic compounds that make up the taste of coffee. They also filter more than a French press’ filter, removing micro-particles which are also required for a great tasting cup of coffee.
Are they less convenient?
Absolutely. The office coffee pot isn’t going anywhere anytime soon in favor of a French press simply because they’re less convenient to use.
The taste difference is enormous, however, and French press coffee is also stronger due to the brewing method.
French presses simply make better coffee than any electric drip machine is capable of.
They’re also much easier on the environment. Most have similar stainless steel filters which will last as long as the press itself. That means no paper or plastic pods to fill up landfills.
They’ve also got a ton of uses we’ll get into in a moment, some of which aren’t even coffee related!
A Word About Materials
The primary materials used for the container of a French press are either borosilicate glass(ie: Pyrex) or stainless steel. Some of the cheaper presses use BPA-free plastic or standard glass, neither of which is a desirable way of doing things.
Glass is subject to thermal shock, which can leave it shattered with a quick change in temperatures. Plastic, meanwhile, is kind of sketchy to expose to prolonged heat repeatedly at the best of times but can also change the flavor of the coffee.
There is one trend we noticed: some modern French presses use copper parts.
The trend of using copper in cookware is already a concern for those who know about heavy metal poisoning. It’s fallen largely out of favor for most uses and the copper pots and pans you often see being sold are almost invariably coated with a layer that supposedly prevents copper from leaching into the food.
While copper is benign in its pure form, copper toxicity is no laughing matter. When using copper cookware it’s already recommended you avoid cooking acidic foods… and coffee is quite acidic.
Simply put: we avoided anything with copper parts on the interior and recommend you do the same. There’s no real advantage offered other than following the trend and the downsides of untreated copper being exposed to your daily hot, acidic drink can be enormous.
If you prefer the look of copper, you can check out the Ritual French Coffee Press which is available with an attractive copper design on the exterior. Look over any others carefully, even minimal direct contact with copper should be avoided.
Making the Most of Your French Press
Using a French press isn’t the most intuitive process to those used to electric coffee makers. It remains a simple process in the end, after a couple of times using one you’ll feel like an old pro.
After much grueling preparation our team of coffee enthusiasts settled on the following.
Don’t use standard ground coffee in a French press. You’ll end up with a cup of mud that’s absolutely brimming with particulate matter. No one really wants to pick grounds out of their teeth and wait five minutes between sips for the debris to settle.
We also tried an espresso grid just to see what happens. We don’t recommend it.
Instead, we found that the roughest setting on our manual grinder produced the most flavorful and strongest coffee of the lot. A step down was still doable but most people preferred the rougher grind.
Use the best coffee available to you for the best results, we also found that when filled to capacity the manufacturer’s recommendations were pretty much spot on.
Grinding beans right before making the coffee is the best way to do it. Many of the compounds in coffee readily oxidize, which gives a sharper, acidic taste if the oils are exposed to the air for too long. We found a significant drop in quality after leaving a batch out overnight.
It’s not a race, but you should grind before each use rather than bulk grinding and storing your coffee.
Using Your French Press Properly
To use your press do the following:
- Boil water in a pot or kettle
- Add ground coffee to your French press
- Once water is boiling, allow the temperature to drop to 195°F
- Fill the French press halfway with water
- Allow a minute to pass
- Stir the coffee and water mixture vigorously
- Add the remainder of the water
- Allow the mixture to steep for three minutes
- Push the press downwards gently
- Pour and serve
We used the Thermopro TP20, our favorite meat thermometer to measure the temperatures for convenience. When we removed the thermometer from the equation we found that at a normal indoor temperature(ie: 68°F to 74°F) bringing the water to a boil and allowing to cool for roughly two and a half minutes produced pretty much the same result as keeping actual measurements.
Too high of a temperature created a bitter, acidic mixture and too low meat we may as well have just made a cold brew since it took too long.
Other Uses for a French Press
We weren’t all that surprised to find out that French presses get used for a lot more than just producing an exceptional cup of coffee.
The most obvious use is cold brewed coffee. You simply fill the press like normal with room temperature water and allow it to steep for 12-48 hours. Press and pour whe the coffee is dark enough.
You can also use your press in order to froth milk for use in cappucinos. Just put the milk in there and pump away until the milk has frothed to your liking.
Non-coffee uses we found online were also pretty cool:
- French presses are great for loose leaf tea
- Making mixed drinks if you don’t have the proper pitcher
- Infusing cooking oils by placing the herbs at the bottom and pouring oil over them
- Juicing small fruits like berries
These were just some of the uses we found when doing our research. Many people also use them as backup pitchers for creamer, to hold herbs, and generally anything else you’d use a good quality container for.
They’re a great thing to have around the kitchen, even if you’re not a big coffee fan.
Better Coffee, Better You
If you’re running on coffee and getting tired of overpriced cafes, horrible gas station coffee, and want something better than you’ll get with an electric drip coffee maker… having the best French press in your corner can make all of the difference.
French presses don’t produce a slight difference. They make all the difference in the world and if you’re already buying good coffee you’re doing yourself a disservice by not having one on your counter.
The choice is easy for the true coffee-driven gourmand, and the Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker is our favorite. Pick up the right French Press and never have to put down bad brew again.