If you’re a coffee lover, then you’re probably already familiar with the pure and delicious beverage that comes from brewing with a French press.
But if you’re looking for a richer cup of joe than your current automatic drip coffee brewer makes, a press pot might just be the answer you’re looking for.
With no paper filters to trap those flavorful, aromatic oils, a press produces coffee that’s full-bodied in taste with a delightful, heady bouquet.
Easy to use, a coffee press also gives you more control over how your java is brewed, as you can adjust the amount of grounds and steeping time to suit your personal preferences.
And there’s absolutely no waste with a coffee press, so it’s the best option for the environment as well. Only the grounds remain, which you can add to your compost for a happier garden – something those horrendously wasteful, single-pod units can’t claim!
In this guide we’re going to:
- Examine our #1 recommended product – the Espro Press.
- Take a look at the various features that you need to keep in mind before making your purchase.
And then we’ll discuss five more candidates including offerings from:
Bottom Line Up Front: We Love the Espro Press
From Espro, we have this sleek and handsome stainless steel press. Similar to a precision French press, the Espro stands alone in design with a unique dual filtering system to block grinds and sediment, while allowing the full expression of freshly brewed flavor and aroma.
The main difference from traditional French presses is that the Espro filters plunge below the grounds for a two stage filtering process, similar to a vacuum brewer.
The nested micro-filters are patent pending and work in unison to strain even the finest grit, providing 9 to 12 times greater filtering than standard presses. BPA, BPS and phthalate free, the filters are also easy to clean, providing top-notch performance from start to finish.
With a double lip seal, even the tiniest of grains are prevented from wiggling past the filters, and the buffer zone between the filters ensures no over-extraction from the grounds after brewing. You get a clear, clean cup of coffee every time.
There’s no need to transfer your coffee to a separate carafe after pressing – the aromatic brew will stay clean and hot for at least an hour within the double walls of the vacuum-style insulated stainless steel, longer in the larger unit.
And if you’re a tea lover, the Espro works equally well on loose leaf tea, delivering delicate flavor and exquisite, aromatic brews.
Mike Quinn, Foodal’s Chief Content Officer and former owner of Cupandbrew.com (an online coffee equipment retailer), stated:
[otw_shortcode_quote border_style=”bordered” background_pattern=”otw-pattern-1″ color_class=”otw-black-text”]The Espro is the ONLY coffee press that I use. Besides having the the double filtration, the filters themselves actually seal against the sidewall – almost every other model has a thin, cheaper filter made out of thin stamped metal that flexes – allowing the grinds to pass through.[/otw_shortcode_quote]
You can wash the Espro in the top rack of your dishwasher, or easily clean by hand with a bottle brush.
Mike went on to say:
[otw_shortcode_quote border_style=”bordered” background_pattern=”otw-pattern-1″ color_class=”otw-black-text”]I have both a medium and the large model and typically use the large – even when I’m by myself. Of course I’m a coffeeholic so take that for what it’s worth. If your going to be serving company, you definitely want the bigger size. If if it just yourself and or one or two more folks, then go with the medium. Especially if you are sipper rather than a gulper; if the brew sits in there too long, it could lead to over extraction. I personally find the small size way too tiny for my needs.[/otw_shortcode_quote]
Designed and distributed from Canada, it comes with a well-written instruction manual to help you brew the best cup of coffee possible. And it has a no-nonsense 1-year warranty.
What others are saying:
The following notes are a compilation of the most frequent comments from verified purchasers at Amazon.
Fans of the Espro love the dual filtering system. It produces a clear, aromatic, and flavorful cup of coffee that’s free of grit and sludge. And you can leave the grounds in the press without any over-extraction or bitterness – no need to transfer to a separate decanter to maintain the taste.
The vacuum-style construction keeps beverages hot for much longer than other French presses, even those with double walls, and the exterior wall stays cool to the touch. Expect to have a hot cup of coffee ready for at least an hour, provided you preheat the carafe first.
Another highlight is the ease of cleaning. Accessing the filters is simple and straightforward, and the high-quality stainless buffs up bright and shiny after washing.
This press is expertly designed of top quality materials. Chic, heavy, and sturdy, it also makes a very attractive addition to your kitchen decor.
The silicone seals make for a very tight press, with no screeching of metal on metal as the plunger is employed.
There’s not a lot of complaints, but one is that after pressing, the plunger leaves a small amount of coffee on the bottom of the pot, below the filtering unit.
The other complaint is that the lid does not seal completely where the spout is located, allowing some heat to escape.
The Espro takes the French press to another level, as the dual micro-filters retain all of the full-bodied flavor and aroma of your favorite coffee or tea, while keeping grounds and bitterness out.
At the higher end of the price range, it’s worth the extra cost for the superb coffee it delivers, and the design that makes cleanup simple and easy.
What to Look For
An important point to consider when looking for any coffee maker is capacity. You’ll often see a machine advertised as yielding an amount such as “8 cups,” but when you’ve poured your brew, you only get a mugful and a bit more to sip later.
That’s because the standard measurement for a cup of coffee is 4 ounces. Back when coffee was served in dainty cups with saucers, this was the amount that was served. As such, it became the norm for manufacturers.
And while this measurement may still be appropriate for a wake-the-dead jolt of espresso or Turkish coffee, my favorite mug holds 10 ounces to the brim – and that’s what most of us expect when we’re talking about a “cup” of coffee.
To make your selection, look for an overall capacity like 1 liter or 34 ounces as opposed to how may “cups” it will serve, as this will give a better representation of how much you’ll actually get from a pot.
Traditional glass carafes have a lovely appearance that lets you watch the progress of your brew, but thin ones can be fragile and break easily.
Look for ones that have a more robust caliber and that are constructed of borosilicate glass, to help temper thermal shock.
To help protect the glass even further, many will come with a hard plastic or metal frame for the carafe to sit in. You’ll want to ensure they’re well fitted and have a sturdy base to prevent tipping.
Stainless steel is a more contemporary material that eliminates the breakage problem, but they are, of course, opaque and inhibit the visual aspect. Beware of presses constructed of flimsy stainless, or those that don’t contain an appropriate amount of nickel for adequate stain resistance.
Look for a model that is double walled stainless and forms its own thermal carafe.
The numbers in a stainless steel formula represent the respective percentage of chromium and nickel used. For example, 18/8 means it contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. The 18/8 and 18/10 formulas are of a high grade that’s suitable for cookware.
Manufacturers that use a quality grade of stainless are proud to display this information, so look for a stamp on the bottom indicating either the ratio (18/8, 18/10), or the 300 grade used for pots and pans (300, 304, et cetera).
3. Double wall construction
Though this option is not available with glass carafes, double wall construction helps to improve heat retention, so your second and third cup are just as enjoyable as the first.
The effectiveness of the double walls will rely on the quality of the materials used, so ensure the stainless steel, or other material such as stainless steel-lined copper or borosilicate glass, is of high quality.
4. Plunger system
The plunger usually consists of a rod, a large-caliber screen, a fine mesh screen, a spring or gasket around the edges, and a lid. Some will have these components in a basket unit, while others will simply stack along the rod. And some systems will also have two or even three fine mesh screens, for more effective filtering.
Regardless of the design, the components should be solidly constructed, and easy to assemble and disassemble for cleaning purposes.
Look for a sturdy handle that will allow a secure purchase, as depressing the plunger requires a firm, slow hand, and you’ll need to hold the carafe steady while doing so.
The type of ground and steeping times are important for the best results, so look for units that have clear instructions for you to follow.
You can also read about how they work and explore more of the basics in Kate Ackerman’s French Press 101. And to find out how to brew the perfect cuppa, along with some delicious recipes, check out Mike Quinn’s Coffee 101.
Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that you are using a decent burr-based coffee grinder. For this type of brewing (as compared to say Espresso), the grinder doesn’t have to be top of line, but you don’t want a cheap blade style grinder either (and here’s why).
Here are some more reviews of the some the top picks currently on the market:
From Bodum, one of the original designers of the French press coffee maker, we have their iconic Chambord model, which was originally designed in the 1950s.
With a classic glass carafe and steel frame, its elegant profile still reflects the Bodum credo that good design doesn’t have to be expensive.
The walls of the carafe are made of durable and heat-resistant borosilicate glass, while the frame and lid are constructed of steel with several layers of chrome plating, for a shiny but tough surface.
The handle and knob on top of the lid are both made of black polypropylene with a matte finish that gives a comfortable grip, and adds to the timeless quality of the design.
The three-piece plunger is made of strong stainless steel, as is the very fine mesh filter, which helps to extract the perfect amount of flavor and oils, releasing full flavor from the coffee.
After inserting the plunger, the lid is turned to close and capture the full aroma of your brew, preventing heat loss as well.
Simplicity itself, the design has changed little since the ’50s – the only refinement being in the method of chrome plating, to ensure environmentally correct manufacturing standards are adhered to.
The Chambord measures approximately 10 x 4 x 7”, and weighs about 1 pound.
All components are dishwasher safe, and the Chambord is made in Portugal.
What others are saying:
The following comments are compiled from the remarks of verified purchasers at Amazon.
The Chambord has a lot of fans who appreciated the fine-flavored coffee it makes, the ease of use and clean up, and its handsome profile on the kitchen counter.
The carafe, plunger, and lid are all well made to high standards of quality control, and these components make the press very easy to use.
And unlike other models, it’s very easy to clean either by hand or in the dishwasher as there are no double layers, nooks, or crannies that trap sediment.
It also has a classic bistro design that makes it popular with many coffee drinkers.
And another nice feature is that replacement parts are easy to obtain.
However, glass being glass, the carafe is prone to breakage. There are several complaints of the unit arriving broken, or that the fragile glass breaks easily in the home.
There are also a few complaints about the carafe not fitting well into the frame, or that it sits a little askew.
The Bodum Chambord has the panache of a thoughtfully designed appliance that has stood the test of time. Winner of the prestigious American Culinary Institute’s award for best French press coffeemaker back in 2004, it’s still as relevant today as when it was first introduced to the market some 60 years ago.
And with a reasonable price tag, it will continue to enjoy a well-earned spot among the leaders in its field. If you don’t mind dealing with the possibility of the glass carafe breaking and needing to be replaced, then it should prove to be a satisfying source for a rich cup of java.
From SterlingPro, we have this mirror finish, stainless steel French coffee press available in a 1-liter or a 1.5 liter size.
Constructed of food grade 18/10 stainless steel for both the interior and exterior walls, it’s dishwasher safe and it won’t break like glass carafes might. The double wall construction also means your coffee or tea will stay hot much longer than they would in glass, while the outside stays cool to the touch.
With two screens, your coffee comes out clean, clear, and free of grit. The first screen pushes up tightly against the interior wall, and the second screen catches any fine particles that might get past the primary screen.
The mirror finish provides an attractive, contemporary appearance that looks good in any kitchen.
This model makes one liter of coffee, and weighs a bit under two pounds. Made in China.
What others are saying:
The following remarks are taken from the most frequent comments from verified purchasers at Amazon.
Many happy customers like the double filter system, reporting that very few grounds get through the screens and into your cup.
The double wall construction means your beverage will stay hot longer than with a glass press, and the exterior wall stays very cool – even with piping hot liquid inside. And, since it’s constructed of sturdy stainless steel, it won’t break like glass carafes do.
This press is easy to assemble, and cleanup is easy as well.
However, there are a number of complaints about cheap quality, particularly with the stainless steel and construction. Several have reported rust appearing after a short period of use, as well as clumsy welds and rough finishing.
The other major negative issues are regarding the screens being difficult to remove for cleaning, which results in a bitter taste. And if the coffee is left in the pot after brewing, it becomes bitter as well.
The plunger is metal on metal and makes a nerve-jarring screeching noise when depressed, and there have also been some reports of fine metal filings in the coffee as a result of this friction.
Others complain that the thermal properties are lackluster, with the liquid cooling quickly.
Also, the knob on the top of the pot frequently comes loose and needs to constantly be re-tightened.
While the SterlingPro has many good ideas in its design, e.g. the stainless steel construction and double walls, it seems to need considerable refinement to be a top contender for true coffee aficionados.
Despite its high rating on Amazon, the poor quality of the materials, construction, and design flaws don’t warrant the mid-range price tag – there are products for a similar price that will deliver far better value.
Manufactured by Idyllic Homes, the Kona French press is a classic coffee maker with a unique, modern design that’s enjoyed by both tea and coffee lovers who love a little flair with their morning cuppa.
The carafe is made of extra thick borosilicate glass which protects it from thermal shock, and is encased in a decorative, flowing, heat resistant wrap. The sleeve provides extra protection from accidental chipping and cracking and gives a solid, secure base for the carafe to sit on, while adding an attractive, contemporary appearance.
The sturdy handle makes pouring easy, and along with the wrap and lid, is made of high density polyethylene plastic that is BPS and BPA free.
The easy to use plunger and three-piece filter system fit together with ease and are constructed of sturdy 18/10 stainless steel that fits snugly inside the carafe, keeping grounds out of your cup.
It also has a handy measuring line at 16 ounces, for when you want to make a smaller pot of coffee.
The Kona press is dishwasher safe, making the detachable filter screen infuser system easy to clean.
It weighs approximately 1 pound and is made in China.
What others are saying:
The following remarks are a compilation of the most frequently commented on notes from verified purchasers at Amazon.
The Kona French press gets good reviews for its simplicity of use and attractive design, as well as producing a tasty cup of ground-free coffee.
The quality of the components and construction is another favorite feature, with many kudos for its strong, sturdy build.
Happy customers also report that the carafe and filter system are easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher, and equally easy to reassemble.
For a single filter press, the Kona gets top marks for producing a clean cup of coffee without any grit or grounds in your cup.
On the complaints side, most are in relation to the glass carafe breaking easily or developing cracks after a short time.
And the other main complaint is about the mesh screen, which seems to fray fairly quickly, leaving sharp edges and allowing grounds to pass through when pouring.
With its innovative design, easy to use plunger, and comfortable handle, the Kona French press is a favorite for many coffee lovers.
With a reasonable price tag and funky appearance, it’s easy to see why the Kona French press has a loyal following – it makes a good cup of coffee and is easy to use. And despite the carafe being glass, it seems to enjoy a longer lifespan than many of the same material, thanks to the protective plastic sleeve.
All in all, a good choice for the asking price.
Kuissential Stainless Steel
The Kuissential French press is a handsome coffee maker featuring durable, double wall stainless steel construction with a mirror finish exterior, and a brushed interior finish.
Much more durable than presses with a glass carafe, the high quality stainless steel has two walls for superior thermal capability, and is designed to hold your java at the optimal brewing temperature range of 195-205°F.
The three-piece filter and plunger system is constructed of stainless steel, and is easy to assemble. Providing a snug fit when depressed, it effectively captures the grounds and sediment so they don’t escape into your cup.
With a sleek, contemporary design, the Kuissential is an attractive piece of decor for your countertop. It provides sound value and quality, and brews a delicious cup of full-bodied, clear coffee.
Hand wash or clean in the dishwasher on the top shelf.
The Kuissential weighs a little under 2 pounds, and is made in China. It has a well-written user’s guide, plus a hassle-free warranty.
What others are saying:
The following comments are a compilation of the most common notes from verified purchasers at Amazon.
Repeatedly, the Kuissential gets top marks for quality construction, materials, and durability, as well as brewing a clear cup of coffee.
Over and over, satisfied customers remark on the nice weight and sturdy feel of this press and compliment the use of sound materials with a high level of quality control.
Virtually unbreakable, the Kuissential can withstand banging about in the sink or being dropped on tiles and still performs as it should.
The double wall construction does a good job of keeping beverages hot right through to serving the second and even third cup of joe.
Its functional design proves to be efficient and effective, with an easy to use plunger system that makes a nice cup of sediment-free coffee.
Cleanup is easy as well, and the mirror finish returns to a lovely shine with a quick wipe from a soft, dry cloth.
And customer service seems to come through as well, with a painless exchange process.
A relative newcomer to the marketplace, Kuissential is looking to claim a high-ranking spot, by providing good quality products at a reasonable price.
This one-liter French press has a thoroughly thought out design that’s constructed of high-quality materials, and brews up a tasty cup of coffee with a minimum of grit and sediment.
An attractive but no-frills java maker, it performs its function admirably and provides great value for the price. A sound choice for reliable performance.
GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press
For the campers out there, you know how important it is to have a good cup of joe when you wake up in the great outdoors – and you want it fast!
The GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press lives up to its name – personal and portable, the nesting design makes the two-piece mug and press a lightweight and compact option, when saving space and weight is important. The insulated press will quickly brew two mugs of fresh coffee or tea to get you out of the tent and back on the trail.
The carafe is constructed of copolyester, a shatter-resistant, food grade plastic that’s free of BPA, BPS, and estrogenic (EA) and androgenic (AA) activity.
It incorporates a patented, three-piece filter and silicone-ringed plunger that eliminates “blow-by,” for full-bodied coffee without any mud or grit.
Both the carafe and mug are encased in an insulated cozy with a high R-value foam, which is covered in tough and durable ballistic cloth – and the cozies are easily removed for cleaning when needed.
It also has a collapsible tarpaulin handle for even greater space saving.
The included nesting mug holds 17 ounces and is made of polypropylene with a sip-it lid, and it includes the same insulating EVA cozy as the press.
The Java Press measures approximately 4.5 x 4.25 x 6”, and weighs 10.8 ounces. With a limited warranty, it is made in China.
What others are saying:
The following comments are compiled from the most common remarks from verified purchasers at Amazon.
There’s a lot of happy campers who are impressed with the GSI Personal Java Press for its durability on the trail, compact nesting design for travel, and ability to produce a good tasting cup of coffee.
The Java Press is sturdy and durable, and will take a beating without breaking, performing admirably under difficult conditions.
The entire kit packs up well into a lightweight and compact size that’s ideal for either backpacking or car camping.
The filter system fits well in the carafe, and does a nice job of brewing sediment-free coffee. And it cleans up easily when you have an adequate water supply.
No real complaints to speak of, though there are a few quibbles. One is that the lid of the press can be difficult to remove, but one reviewer suggested starting at the spout to make this task easier.
The other is that it doesn’t keep the coffee hot for very long, 30 minutes or so max. But all of those who reported the coffee not staying hot for long also felt that it performed well under the circumstances, such as cold weather, winter camping.
The GSI isn’t going to win any awards for aesthetics, but the design seems to be just right for the somewhat harsh treatment a coffee maker receives while camping.
Tough, durable, and rugged, it also delivers a good-tasting cup of coffee, and the nesting assembly makes it very efficient when packing space is limited.
A decent price and champion performer for those who need their caffeine when enjoying Mother Nature.
There are literally hundreds of French presses on the market, many of which are constructed to cash in on a trend and turn a quick buck – not to fulfill your desire for a superb cup of coffee.
So do your due diligence when shopping. If you’re looking online, read all the reviews as many are “star-stuffed” in exchange for free products, to achieve a high ranking.
Whatever your choice, ensure that your press is well constructed of high-quality materials and that the vendor has a good return policy.
Although the we (the Foodal staff) agree that the Espro Press is absolutely the top of the line, it’s not inexpensive and any of the six models we’ve covered in this review should give you a good starting point in your quest for the ultimate cup of coffee!
For more java know-how, gear, ideas, and recommendations, just type in “coffee” in the search box at the top of the page or click here – we’ve got oodles of info for you on this tasty subject. You won’t be disappointed!
Photos Credits: Shutterstock, Espro, Bodum, SterlinPro, Konda, Kuissential, and GSI Outdoors.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.