The French press existed long before the specialty coffee trend took off. It’s undeniably old-school at its core.
Like its close (but less fancy) cousin, Cowboy Coffee, this brewing method relies entirely on the extraction method coffee geeks know as immersion.
Fortunately, recent years have ushered in a few innovative companies reshaping this space with intriguing designs.
While the classic French press can craft exceptional coffee (given the right technique and recipe), today’s innovative models have raised the bar.
So, which stands out? Here are some of my favorites on the market.
|Timemore U French Press||450 ml||Minimalist, unique filter, compact design.|
|Classic design, borosilicate glass, steel frame.|
|The Espro Press||0.5 l & 1 L||Dual micromesh, stainless steel, retains heat.|
|Secura French Press||1 L||Budget-friendly, 30k+ reviews, retains heat.|
The Best French Press of 2023
1: Timemore U French Press
I’m pretty taken with Timemore’s compact, minimalist French press. It’s a modern version that addresses some common concerns with the traditional cafetiere.
It has a sleek design and you can get it in either a low-key matte black or a crisp white.
(I have the white one, and it looks great in person)
The plunger is different from the traditional mesh screen we usually see on French presses, it doesn’t entirely revolutionize the game like Espro’s double-screen version. However, I will say that it works really well in daily life, and you’re less likely to get silt in your brew with this of plunging mechanism. It uses a combination of silicone to get a snug fit at the sides and a laser cut steel screen instead of the simple mesh screens you see on traditional models.
Mesh screens tend to get wrinkly at the sides over time, resulting in a less snug fit around the edges.
The glass of this coffee press is protected by a plastic sleeve. This addresses a common problem with traditional designs like for example the Bodum Chambord, where the glass is much more exposed to accidents.
Timemore labels it a ‘travel French press,’ but I probably wouldn’t use a device with glass parts on the road. Nonetheless, it will definitely be a safer options compared to most rivals.
I find the plastic design is very clever; it’s easy to push the glass vessel from the plastic casing if you want to give it a good cleaning, but still fitting snugly.
It’s locked in place by a rubber ring at the top, but via a hole in the bottom you can push out the glass.
Its 450 ml capacity is not huge, but definitely enough for two people.See more reviews
2: The Classic: Bodum Chambord
Bodum is renowned for its exquisite coffee and tea glassware. But the Chambord? That’s the archetype—the first image that pops up when someone says “French press.”
Over the years, they’ve enhanced its design. Now it features a safety lid to avoid coffee spills and materials that are dishwasher-safe for effortless cleaning.
The glass part boasts high-quality borosilicate, ensuring your brew remains warm for longer. And the frame? Sleek stainless steel.
The longevity of this design speaks volumes— a blend of craftsmanship and timeless design.
It’s not built for adventures, but for the cozy corners of homes and offices, it’s a great addition.
The main downsides to the Chambord are apparent: The glass is very exposed! And your coffee will not stay warm for long.
But as the French say: tant pis 🤷
Overall, the Chambord is a good-looking classic, similar to a pair of Levi’s 501s or Converse sneakers. While there are better and more modern options out there today, it still gets the job done, while looking great.See more reviews
3: The Espro Press
I’ll always have a soft spot for Bodum— it’s in the Danish DNA. However, when it comes to sheer performance, the Espro Press is a cut above.
Its dual micromesh screen and unique gasket give it a filtration edge. The result? A noticeably cleaner sip. For those who crave a pour over feel, just add a paper filter for a smoother experience.
Its build quality is commendable. Crafted from robust stainless steel, it can handle its fair share of bumps. What’s more, its double-wall design ensures your coffee stays warm, outlasting most glass rivals.
Having savored its brews, I vouch for the Espro as the most innovative French press out there.
Overall, I like my coffee completely silt-free and that also includes when I’m brewing with the French press. I know I might in the minority here. But if you feel the same way, then look no further than the Espro Press. The dual filter really cuts down on unwanted silt, but adding the additional paper filter that it comes with makes it even better.
You can get similar results with my special French press paper filter hack technique, but it requires a bit more practice to get right.
The main downside to the Espro Press is that the price is a bit higher than its rivals. Also, the dual filter mesh is a bit more cumbersome to take apart and clean.
PS: You can also get cheaper glass versions of the Espro that still offer the unique filter plunger.See more reviews
4: Secura French Press
The Secura French Press, boasting over 30,000 positive Amazon reviews, is a budget-friendly gem for those craving a metal press.
It’s tailored for those who love their coffee warm for extended periods. While that’s not my preference, coffee habits vary, and it’s a feature many value.
The filter mechanism mirrors most traditional presses, and it thoughtfully includes two extra mesh screens for when wear and tear hit.
Besides its generous size, disassembling and cleaning it is a breeze. And, while it’s dishwasher-friendly, a hand wash does the trick just fine.
Constructed with 18/10 stainless steel inside and out, it outshines rivals that compromise on quality. Its double-wall build promises excellent heat retention.
Overall, French press coffee is simple at its core, and if you want a no-frills efficient solution that can also double as sturdy thermos, then the Secura French Press is a solid choice.See more reviews
French Press History and Developments:
Despite its name, the French press isn’t innately French. The design, in fact, was patented by an Italian in 1929.
In France, the device is known as a ‘cafetière. ‘ I lived in France for almost a year and rarely saw it used. Most Frenchmen seem to prefer espresso.
However, the renowned ‘Melior’ French press is credited to the French firm Martin SA. But in 1991, the Danish company Bodum acquired the rights to the design and launched it as the “Chambord.”
Today, the design is almost as iconic as the striped French sailor shirt and a beret.
Through the years, French presses shared a standard design: a glass vessel with a mesh-filtered plunger. But the modern era brought fresh interpretations, like the innovative Espro Press.
Choosing the Right French Press
While most French presses may appear similar, they’re not all cut from the same cloth. Here’s a quick guide to finding the perfect one:
- Stick to metal or glass models? If you opt for glass, ensure replacements are readily available. Accidents are inevitable.
- A snug plunger and a finely woven mesh filter are crucial. Bargain models tend to skimp here, using subpar materials.
- Lastly, consider aesthetics. You’ll spend countless mornings with it, so choose a looker.
What’s my experience with the French press?
Being a certified Q Grader I value coffee clarity and flavor separation. It always puzzled me that the cupping method and French press, while on the surface being similar, tasted so different. I love cupping as it’s one of the best ways to get a full impression of the flavors notes without being distracted by small details in brewing technique. But in spite of cupping being so simple, it still tasted superior to me compared with French press.
After spending a lot of time experimenting with the French press and testing different recipes, I finally understood, why French press coffee usually doesn’t taste as good as other full immersion brewing methods. But don’t worry! The good news is that you can actually get amazing coffee from the French press. It just requires that you unlearn some very prevalent dogmas. Check out, my video below if you want to learn the secret to outstanding French press coffee.
Even if you’re a seasoned French presser, I’d encourage you to check out this little video, where I share some key concepts and mistakes that you want to avoid when it comes to brewing technique 👇
Design: Aesthetics or Utility?
Though I appreciate a stylish French press, my foremost question remains: “How functional is it?”
I’d lean towards glass models for a home kitchen. But can it handle a rugged camping trip? Likely not.
Filter: Traditional Mesh or Contemporary?
While the discussion could revolve around mesh filter intricacies, we shouldn’t disregard innovations in filtering. Do you require minimal residue? Ensure the mesh is fine-tuned for clarity.
Yet, modern alternatives are edging in. The Espro Press, for instance, embraces a dual system—a paper filter alongside its mesh—for a pristine, pour-over-esque brew.
Looking for a suitable alternative to the French press? Check out my Review of the Hario Switch