Updated: July 19, 2021 by Owen Richardson
When it comes to making a cup of coffee by hand, French presses are the tool of choice for most aficionados! Despite the popularity of some newer pour-over designs, these classic plunger systems are still tried-and-true brewers for folks who like bold flavor, rich texture, and European-style brews!
Not all French presses are created equal, though! In this guide, we’ll help you sort through the many offerings on the market today to find the absolute best brewers. We’ve included in-depth reviews of our favorite French presses, as well as a quick buying guide.
Best French Press Coffee Maker Reviews
Bodum’s Brazil French press is an ideal entry model for folks who are new to manual coffee making, or for passionate coffee lovers on a tight budget. It’s simple and extremely inexpensive, but it’s well-made and has all the features of a great French press.
The Brazil is super affordable–even at the largest sizes!
You can actually get it in two sizes: 34oz. or 51oz. We’re primarily recommending the 34oz. model, which makes about 8 “coffee” cups, or 4-5 normal American cups’ worth. but if you’re buying for a household or family, you may find the 51oz. version more practical.
Whichever size you choose, the Brazil is very well-made for the price! Bodum manufactures all their models in Portugal, including this one. It’s built around a heat-resistant, borosilicate glass carafe. That’s the same material you’ll get on the best French presses. The plunger is a 3-part stainless steel assembly, with a permanent mesh filter. The Bodum’s base, handle, and lid are high-density plastic.
The fact that this is made in Portugal is a lot more important than you might think at first glance. Most other options at this price are cheap Chinese imports. They have very poor construction, usually with harmful chemicals in the plastic and glass components that are anything but safe.
All the Bodum’s plastic components are BPA-free, and meet the EU’s strict food-grade standards. The glass components are heat tested, and very safe to use.
All the components are dishwasher-safe, so cleaning couldn’t be easier.
The plunger has a layered construction. On the bottom is a spiral plate with a coil around the sides-it keeps the filter mesh firmly in place, and helps account for slight differences in glass manufacturing. In between is the mesh filter, to keep the grounds at the bottom of the beaker. On top is a simple cross plate which holds the mesh onto the spiral plate.
The components all unscrew easily, so you can clean them separately to be sure you get all the grounds out.
The patented safety lid twists between pouring and sealing positions. You leave it in the sealed position while your coffee brews, and then twist it back to pour with control. The carafe has a good lip on it to make pouring easier, too!
It comes with helpful instructions. Once you’ve got the coffee ground and the water up to temp, brewing takes less than 5 minutes.
It’ll make as good a cup of coffee as anything more expensive. While you can get larger, more sophisticated-looking models, this one is as good as any premium model in terms of the mechanics.
It comes in several different colors.
It has plastic components. While they’re completely food-safe and tested to European standards, some people want to avoid plastic altogether. If that’s your view, go for the stainless steel Bellemain. Any glass model you buy will at least have a plastic lid, if nothing else. In any case, we don’t think there’s any good reason to be wary of the plastic on the Bodum.
The Brazil’s biggest weakness is its looks. It’s simple and fairly elegant, but it certainly doesn’t look as great as a Bodum Chambord, or other non-plastic press. The print on the glass could also be off-putting to some people who prefer simple measurement lines.
Like any glass model, it’s fairly delicate. If you want something a bit more rugged, the Bodum Chambord has slightly thicker glass. Or, you could go the stainless steel route with the Bellemain.
As with most French presses, there isn’t much of a warranty. There’s 1 year of coverage on everything but the glass. Of course, the glass is usually what goes first on one of these, so it’s not super useful.
It won’t keep coffee warm for very long. You probably want to drink your French press brews relatively quickly, though, since it will eventually take on quite a strong bitter taste. Still, if keeping things warm is important to you, get the Bellemain or the deluxe Grunwerg below.
This all-metal Bellemain is our recommendation to anyone who doesn’t want to deal with glass. Glass is always delicate, and this one is pretty much indestructible! It’s made entirely from stainless steel. The Bellemain has excellent plunger filters, and it’s just as easy to clean as our glass picks.
If you’ve been frustrated by how delicate glass presses are, this will be your new best friend!
It makes about the same amount of coffee as the Brazil (35oz./8 “coffee” cups/4-5 American cups). This is a good French press for 2-4 people, or more if you prefer smaller portions.
There’s no glass or plastic to be found on this one! It’s made entirely from 18/10 mirror-polished stainless steel. It’s very sturdy, and you don’t have to worry about anything cracking if you accidentally bump or drop it. People who hate plastic in coffee makers will also love the fact that there’s not a single ounce in the Bellemain!
It looks great! The mirror-polished exterior works with most decor, and since it’s stainless, it’ll keep looking that good for years.
It’s superb at keeping heat inside! The Bellemain is made with double-walled stainless steel. The air pocket in between the layers does an excellent job insulating coffee for as long as 2 hours.
It has a multi-piece plunger, much like the Brazil. The Bellemain’s has two different layers of mesh permanent filters, though. Unless you’re using incredibly fine grounds, you won’t find any residual grains in your cup. It has a similar spring coil around the edge to maintain a nice seal, as well.
Like the Brazil, the Bellemain is completely dishwasher-safe. You can also twist apart the plunger/mesh filter assembly if you need to get out anything tricky.
Stainless steel construction makes this much hardier than any glass piece! You can feel the difference as soon as you pick up the Bellemain. Weighing in at 2 pounds, it’s vastly hardier than a glass model.
The Bellemain is also covered by a 2-year warranty. It comes with a spare filter screen, too. We don’t think you’ll be wearing out the first ones in any hurry, but spares never hurt.
In terms of coffee, it does just as well as the Brazil! Of course, French presses are all about the grounds, water temperature, and timing. Still, the insulated walls keep simmering water hot all through the time you brew, which is a nice advantage.
Some hardcore coffee snobs think that stainless steel adds a strange tang to coffee. We haven’t found that to be the case, though. All French presses have some stainless steel in the plungers, anyway. If you’re on the anti-stainless side of the debate, it’s best to avoid these brewers altogether, and go for a pour-over coffee maker.
It’s made in China. While we don’t have any complaints about the construction quality, it’s disappointing given that the Bodum is made in Europe for a fraction of the price.
There’s no good way to see how much water/coffee is on the inside. There aren’t measurement markings, either.
Depending on current prices, it can be as much as 2 to 3 times the cost of the Bodum Brazil.
There aren’t any different size options to choose from.
Bodum’s Chambord is our ultimate recommendation for a French press. This is the company’s original design, and it’s what most people imagine when they hear the words “French press.” It looks fantastic, it’s very user-friendly, and it comes in lots of different sizes. There’s a perfect Chambord for any household size, whether you’re a solo coffee drinker or brewing for a family. All the options are made entirely in Portugal.
We don’t think there’s a better French press on the market!
Like the Brazil, the Chambord is made in Portugal. The build quality is as good as it gets with French presses! It has a similar heat-resistant, borosilicate glass beaker. The Chambord’s seems slightly thicker to us, though there aren’t actual measurements listed for comparison.
Instead of the Brazil’s plastic base, the Chambord is supported by a classy, chrome-plated brass frame. It looks far better, and simply feels better to handle.
It still seals very well at the top, thanks to the BPA-free plastic inside the lid. The Chambord’s lid has the same twisting feature, so you can pour from the vessel without removing the lid.
This one has the same heat-resistant handle as the Brazil.
It also shares the same 3-piece plunger component. The Chambord has a spiral plate to maintain a good fit against the edges of the chamber, a permanent mesh filter sandwiched in the middle, and a cross plate on top to hold it all together. Just like the Brazil, you can take the whole assembly apart with one screw to do some deep-cleaning.
The whole thing is dishwasher-safe.
Bottom line: this thing makes sublime coffee. It’s the American Culinary Institute’s all-time winner, and there’s nothing we’d change about the classic design. You get full flavor extraction, next to no grounds in your cup, and a rich, robust brew. This will give you results as nice as the best beans you buy. With proper technique you can even make strong rich espresso-like coffee with it.
Some people don’t love the small plunger knob. We think it’s just a matter of getting used to it. Anything larger would look pretty strange.
The Bodum is still relatively inexpensive, but it does cost more than our other recommendations.
As with the Brazil, the Chambord is relatively delicate. It has slightly thicker glass, but you still have to be very careful.
If you’re stridently against having any plastic, you won’t love this one. We have no problem with the BPA-free lid component, especially given that it only touches the coffee for a millisecond as you pour. Still, if that bothers you, a good premium stainless alternative is the Grunwerg below.
For the Long Haul: Grunwerg Cafe Ole Double Wall Insulated Stainless Steel Cafetiere
We’re really pleased with the stainless steel Breville we’ve included in our main picks. It’s surprisingly well-made for how affordable it is. It’s user-friendly.
Still, we have a serious soft spot for the good old Grunwerg’s. These are presses that are made completely in Britain. While they’re overkill and overly pricey for the average coffee drinker, they’re completely worth it if you drink lots of coffee on a daily basis.
Every single component on the Grunweg is stainless steel. It’s all buffed to an impeccable finish. The vessel is double-walled for extra insulation, and so is the lid. So, your coffee stays at brewing temps pretty much up to the moment you pour it. Seriously–it’ll stay hot for several hours if you need it to!
this model is a 1.5L capacity, which comes out to around 12 cups of coffee (or 6 American cups)> You can get them in 3-cup or 4-cup configurations too. Just be prepared to spend about twice as much as you would on the Breville. These will probably last twice as long, though!
Be sure to check that you’re getting a Grunwerg from an authorized dealer, because there are a lot of Chinese-made knock-off’s out there.
|Bodum Brazil French Press||$||* 34 oz.|
* 51 oz.
|Bellemain French Press||$||35 oz.|
|Bodum Chambord French Press||$||*12 oz.|
|Recycled Coffee Press||$||n/a|
|Grunwerg Cafe Ole||$||51 oz.|
How to Pick the Best French Press Coffee Maker
Choose Between Glass or Stainless Steel
French presses all follow a fairly standard design: there’s a cylindrical vessel, inside of which goes a plunger assembly. It’s all capped with a lid to seal in the heat and keep the plunger moving in a straight line.
The biggest differences between models is the type of materials used. The carafes or flasks in these coffee makers are typically made from either glass or stainless steel. There are plastic options out there too, but we don’t recommend any.
We generally prefer glass French presses. They look better in most decor, and you can see what’s going on inside. There’s also a healthy debate about whether stainless steel brewing vessels affect the taste of coffee. Glass vessels are reliably neutral.
On the other hand, glass is obviously very breakable. French presses with glass vessels do break fairly often, and you have to be quite careful when you use them and clean them. If you don’t want to deal with delicate glass, stainless steel is a good alternative. We don’t think most people will notice any substantial taste difference.
Glass models tend to have some small amounts of plastic, either around the lid or on the base. None of the models we recommend have plastic parts which touch your coffee for any amount of time. They’re also entirely BPA-free. Still, if you’re concerned about having any plastic at all near your brews, you may want to go the stainless steel route.
Decide which type of French press is more your style, and be assured that both are perfectly suitable for making excellent coffee!
Decide on Your Budget
French presses can go for anywhere between $10 and $100. We don’t think anyone should be paying more than $75 for a manual coffee maker, though. You’ll pay more for a larger press, so decide what you actually need in terms of quantity as you think about your budget.
Decent small models start as low as ~$15. The more you pay for a given size brewer, the more glass and metal parts you can expect to see.
However, in terms of functionality and taste results, there’s no substantial difference between an inexpensive press and a more expensive one–as long as you’re buying from a good manufacturer. The price difference is mainly for improved looks. On the whole, stainless steel French options are more expensive than glass models. Bear that in mind as you decide which type to buy!
Buy from Reputable Makers
French presses are a very common design, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that there are countless generic, knock-off models of the signature glass or stainless models. It’s important to avoid them, since they’re often unsafe to use.
When you use one of these brewers, it’s essential to be able to trust that the glass you’re pouring hot water into won’t shatter and cause burns or worse injuries. Heat-resistant, borosilicate glass is the material of choice. It’s best to buy it from European makers who have stringent quality control and testing standards.
Similarly, you want to have confidence that the glass, plastic, and metal components in your new French press all meet appropriate food safety standards. Generic offerings from China often have plastic parts with all sorts of toxic chemicals (including BPA’s). They’ll leach into your coffee, throwing off the flavor and making your brews pretty unhealthy. Likewise, generic glass from anonymous Chinese factories isn’t always tested to be completely free of lead.
That’s why we recommend buying European-made French presses whenever possible.
Which French Press Would You Pick?
Which of our French presses should you actually buy?
The Bodum Brazil is the obvious choice for coffee drinkers on a tighter budget. You can get one of these for practically nothing, and it’s not functionally different than the more expensive Chambord. It’s made in Portugal with high-quality materials, and makes excellent coffee. Just don’t expect a premium look and feel from it.
The Bellemain is our suggestion to those coffee drinkers who are infuriated by breakable glass vessels. It’s close to indestructible, and it’s also a very good coffee press. We especially like the dual mesh filters. They do an excellent job keeping grounds out of your cup. You may or may not find that the stainless steel vessel affects your taste results, though. This one’s also as expensive as the Chambord, for a smaller size brewer.
The Bodum Chambord is our top pick for passionate coffee lovers. It looks superb, and it works even better. The materials are as good as they get in French presses. The many size options are particularly convenient for suiting your specific needs and wants. Be aware that even the best glass vessels are fragile, though. This one’s also a fair bit more expensive than the Brazil, and the difference is only aesthetic.
We hope you’ve found our guide to the best French presses informative and insightful! The simplest way to find out more about any of our recommendations, including current prices, is to click on the links in our reviews.
Need a good grinder to go with your new French press? Having second thoughts about whether a French press is really what you want? We’ve got all your needs covered with our range of comprehensive guides! Check out our favorite manual and electric grinders, as well as coffee makers and much more!