Best French Press of 2020
The Coffee Gator Insulated press topped the competition in every one of our metrics. It produced a clean cup, with minimal sediment — surprising, considering the notoriously muddy nature of french press coffee. This coffee maker comes standard with a double mesh filter, which fits tightly into the body of the carafe to further minimize sediment without impacting plunging action. Cleaning the Coffee Gator is a breeze, just rinse it out and pop it in the dishwasher. To top it all off, the all-metal construction of this press makes it incredibly durable and suitable for use anywhere from kitchens to campsites.
While the Gator excelled in every one of our functional metrics, its aesthetic features may not be appealing to every palette. With a heavy modern and industrial styling, it is certainly a polarizing design. If you are looking for something with similarly notable performance but more classic styling, we recommend considering the Mueller or Frieling.
The Mueller came in second place, right on the heels of the Coffee Gator and with only one other press ringing in at a lower price. This coffee maker comes standard with a double mesh filter and tight-fitting plunger that make for a pleasingly clean cup. After your enjoyable cup of coffee, simply rinse it off and toss it in the dishwasher. With all over stainless steel construction, the Mueller is durable and built to last.While the Mueller was above average in filtration, it certainly had room for improvement. Furthermore, this press has a strikingly similar and equally polarizing design to the Coffee Gator. If you're looking to enhance your coffee game on a budget, this model is a great option for you.
Ringing in as the least expensive press in our review is the Bodum Brazil. This coffee maker features the same basic, decent performance we have come to expect from Bodum, in a slightly simplified design from their classic Chambord model. This press is dishwasher-safe, easy on the wallet, and can make a decent cup of coffee.
The ultra-basic design of the Brazil leaves it lacking in a few key areas. Most significant of which being filtration. The slightly inaccurate design and construction is a representation of its budget price. Springs overlap instead of meeting flush and the edges of the mesh filter have imperfections that allow grounds to escape. We think this press is a great choice for the less discerning coffee drinker who'd like to save a buck.
With a whopping 48-ounce capacity, the Stanley french press easily stole the show as our favorite press for large groups. Where standard-sized presses could only produce about three mugs full, the Stanley filled four with some to spare. To top it off, this coffee maker's all-metal construction makes it incredibly durable and easy to clean. With a standard lifetime warranty, this is a purchase that will serve you for many years to come.
The Stanley's large size also means that it is a lot to handle when it comes to washing. The lid is a relatively loose fit, making it a bit wobbly when plunging and difficult to scrub by hand when it is constantly spinning. We were also quite surprised when we went to pour a cup and the spout sent coffee out much further than anticipated. The Stanley's filtration quality leaves customers desiring more when compared to models with double filters or a tighter fitting plunger. Despite these shortcomings, we think the Stanley french press is a great choice for people who regularly host breakfast or brunch, or households with three or more coffee drinkers.
Catching eyes wherever you put it is the Le Creuset french press. This gorgeous kitchen staple features the brand's signature styling and comes in many colors to compliment your decor or existing collection. The Le Creuset press is coated in a chip and stain-resistant enamel. If properly cared for, it should last your family for years to come. Despite its luxurious and fragile appearance, this coffee maker is also dishwasher-safe.
We were a bit disappointed to find that the hefty price tag of the Le Creuset press did not correspond with a similar increase in performance. The single filter and heavy lid have a marginal fit with the press body which results in a wobble during plunging. The wobble inhibits proper sediment filtration. When serving, the loose fit encouraged us to secure the top with our thumb. While washing this press, we found ourselves constantly working to keep the lid from rolling off the counter and anxious about it chipping. This press is a great choice for those who already love the Le Creuset brand or are looking to keep their press on display.
The Sterling Pro press came in a close third place to the Mueller in overall score. This coffee maker offers a double filter with raw edges that result in better than average filtration, making it a great option for coffee drinkers who enjoy the thicker mouthfeel of french press coffee but could do with a bit less grit. The all stainless construction makes cleanup for this coffee maker machine washable. Simply rinse and put in the in dishwasher on your way out the door. The plunger comes apart easily, is a breeze to put back together, and the stainless interior makes quick work of hand washing.
The only metrics where the Sterling Pro fell behind were filtration and cleaning, though not much. The raw edges of the Sterling's filters mean that there is a bit more flex when compared to doubled-over models, allowing slightly more sediment to pass through into your cup. In terms of cleaning, this press is by no means difficult, but if you are someone who needs to keep shiny items shiny, you may want to consider another option, such as the Coffee Gator press. We found that trying to clean streaks, water spots, and smudges off the polished exterior of this press was almost a full-time job. All in all, the Sterling Pro makes a darn good cup of coffee and makes a great addition to your morning routine.
The Frieling Stainless Steel french press delivered excellent performance in all metrics of our tests. It feels solid and extremely well made. The Frieling press comes with two mesh filters, one of which is finer and slightly smaller in diameter than the one it sits on top of. In our testing this press produced a cup that was far cleaner then average. The plunger fits tightly into the body of the press, effectively minimizing sediment without impeding movement or making it feel like a strain to press your coffee. After enjoying your coffee, give it a quick rinse and throw in the dishwasher. The stainless steel construction should last numerous cups in the coming years.
While the Frieling made a comparatively clean cup, it didn't fell short to the Coffee Gator in filtration. The ultra-fine second filter has a smaller diameter than the standard filter below it. Thus it does not minimize the number of particles that escape around the sides of the filter. This results in a slightly muddier cup than higher scoring counterparts. Furthermore, the Frieling french press carries a hefty price tag for a product that just slightly misses the mark. We still think this is a great option for anyone looking for a stylish, high performing press who isn't too worried about breaking the bank.
When you pick up the Secura french press, it feels solid and well made. This is a durable, all stainless coffee maker that filters a bit better than a traditional press and can be tossed into the dishwasher when you're done. The Secura comes with a single mesh filter with doubled over edges already installed. The snug fit of the plunger into the body of the press combined with the folded edges of the filter results in notably less sediment venturing into your cup than with a standard single filter. Additionally, this press comes with two spare filters to either add onto the plunger for more filtration or to use as replacements if you tend to be hard on your belongings.
The Secura has a scored well in most metrics but came up short in our filtration tests. The cleanliness of the coffee could be improved by adding in one of the included spare filters. In our testing, we felt the most honest way to test this product was to use it as it came in the box. The only other slight downside of the Secura is that the polished stainless can be a huge pain to keep clean and smudge-free. All in all, this is a great choice for someone looking for a nice press that makes a decent cup of coffee and comes with some spare parts for when they inevitably lose or break something.
The Bodum Chambord is likely the press that most people envision when they think of one. It is the classic staple in generations of kitchens and coffee shops. This product is simple to use, and as long as everything goes to plan, equally easy to clean and care for. Coffee drinkers who love the traditional, heavy body of coffee will find the Chambord to be a dream come true.
When comparing the Chambord to newer press designs, it falls short in a number of areas. First, and we think most importantly, is filtration. This coffee maker puts out a muddy cup, and while many drinkers will expect that from this brew method, we're here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way. Probably the most widespread complaint about this press is that the glass carafe is not attached to its metal frame, and often separates when you don't want it to. For this reason, the manufacturer sells replacement carafes and other parts. Overall, this press is a classic and is well suited to anyone who loves a strong cup of french press coffee.
Why You Should Trust Us
Heading up our french press testing team is Michelle Powell. With over a decade of experience as a professional barista, Michelle brings an extremely well-rounded understanding of coffee and its many iterations. She has competed twice in the Southwest Regional Barista Competition, undergone countless hours of one on one training with the likes of Four Barrel and Blue Bottle Coffee, and managed an artisanal cafe where she ran workshops to teach customers the skills to make better coffee at home. Furthermore, Michelle has tested hundreds of coffee and home products for GearLab and employs a highly analytical, no-nonsense approach when evaluating products.
Before purchasing the most promising french presses to test side-by-side, our team dove deep into exhaustive research to get the pulse of what really matters to consumers. We devised four independent metrics that we then weighted based on their importance. We made pot after pot of coffee, paying special attention to the ease of use, filtration ability, ease of cleaning, and overall durability of each product. Because we were actually using all of these presses, we were able to compare their function and end product side by side and gain a thorough understanding of how they really stack up against each other.
Analysis and Test Results
To get to the heart of what makes a great french press, we scored them based on four weighted metrics: ease of use, filtration, ease of cleaning, and durability.
Ease of Use
To test ease of use, we made countless pots of coffee, using each press multiple times to ensure we gained the best idea of how it stacked up to the competition. Leading the pack in this metric are the Mueller, Secura, and Coffee Gator. All of these models featured a plunger that was a tight enough fit to minimize sediment but still felt smooth and required very little effort to push down. These three presses had very similar pour spouts that made for an accurate and regulated pour without a tendency to spurt during pressing.
Weight and ergonomics also play an important role in how easy and pleasurable a press is to use. While it fell behind the competition because its spout had a propensity to spurt coffee during pressing, we found the handle shape and heavier weight of the Frieling Stainless Steel to fit nicely in our hands and facilitate a clean and elegant pour into our favorite mug.
On the other end of the spectrum, we found the Stanley and Le Creuset to be particularly unruly. Due to its massive stature, the Stanley was a bit cumbersome to yield, and its loose-fitting lid wanted to spin at all the wrong moments. The Le Creuset presented challenges with its loose-fitting lid as well, but more because it is made of heavy enameled ceramic and felt like it would fall out and take the plunger with it while pouring. However, both are small gripes, which were easily remedied by a thumb on the lid.
Filtration is the most heavily considered metric in our test. While french presses are not typically known for producing a clean cup, there are several options now that aim to make things a bit less muddy with additional filters and alterations to the basic filter design. This opens the door for coffee drinkers who prefer a bit less sediment but want the robust flavor and convenience of french press coffee. In our filtration testing (and every other test), we brewed each pot with the same ratios, water temperature, grind size, and coffee beans to eliminate any other variables that might influence how we experience the cup.
Leading the pack for excellent filtration is the Coffee Gator Insulated. The doubled-up filters pair with folded over edges, and a tight fit into the body of the press excelled at keeping sediment out of our brew. We found that the doubled filter edges made a sizeable difference in filtration quality compared to models with a single layer, raw edges. Far less sediment or loose particles made it past the Coffee Gator than similar seeming competitors such as the Sterling Pro, which has a double filter with raw edges.
The Frieling and Mueller presses tied for a close second behind the Coffee Gator. The Frieling coffee maker features an extra fine mesh filter on top of a standard filter. While this seems great in theory, we found that in practice, the smaller diameter of the extra fine filter meant that the standard filter, without doubled edges, was the only defense keeping particles from escaping around the sides. However, all things considered, the Frieling brews a cup that is exponentially cleaner than your typical french press coffee. Similarly, the Mueller press comes with a double filter with folded edges that looks almost exactly like the filtration system of the Coffee Gator. We found that despite their nearly identical appearance, the Mueller let just a bit more sediment through.
Ease of Cleaning
While french presses are certainly not the most cumbersome of coffee equipment to clean, we've found that small differences in how easy they are to care for can equal big differences in how your morning goes. In this metric, the Coffee Gator dominated once again. Its all-metal construction and matte finish made it exceptionally easy to simply rinse, wash by hand, or pop in the dishwasher. To our relief, we never had to deal with pesky water spots which are common on stainless steel models. The lid and filter of the Gator were easy to set on the counter beside the sink without constantly having to stop them from rolling. This made the product very user friendly. All these considerations come together to make cleanup as painless as it could possibly be.
Bringing up the rear of the pack in ease of cleaning is the classic Bodum Chambord. While this press is no problem to clean when things go well, the process can quickly turn disastrous. The glass carafe of this press sits inside of a metal frame and is not attached. Now imagine yourself hurriedly cleaning up before rushing out the door in the morning, going to knock the spent grounds out of your press, and then suddenly this fragile carafe is flying through the air and crashing into a million pieces on your kitchen floor. To top it off, unless you separate the pieces regularly, gunk tends to build up between the metal frame and glass.
Finally, we scored each press on its durability. Is it an item you'd feel comfortable taking on a camping trip or setting on the railing of your upstairs deck, or is it best reserved for a safe place in a cabinet or on the counter? The Coffee Gator, Secura, Mueller, Frieling, Sterling Pro, and Stanley presses all earned top marks in this category due to their all-metal construction. If you knocked any of these models off the counter, odds are they would survive with little to no damage or loss of functionality. The models above are insulated. The insulation provides a buffer between any kind of impact and the integrity of the inner layer.
The remainder of the pack are uninsulated models and found themselves on the other end of the spectrum in terms of durability. The Bodum Chambord coming in last because of its glass carafe's affinity for flying. The Bodum Brazil is also made of glass and thus very fragile. Fortunately, it is attached to its plastic base and much less likely to jump out of your grasp. Lastly, the Le Creuset french press scored slightly better than the Brazil because of its sturdier-than-glass enamel coating. While the coating of the Le Creuset is marketed as durable, we found ourselves constantly worried about chipping it when we washed it. Even though this enamel may very well be more durable than other enamel coatings — and certainly more durable than glass — it could not come close to the all-metal competitors.
We researched dozens of presses, purchased the top models, made countless pots of coffee, and exhaustively analyzed them side by side. Whether you are looking for the best filtration available or simply something to make a decent cup and look beautiful in your kitchen, we hope that our deep dive into the world of french presses has served to help you make a confident decision about which one is right for you.
— Michelle Powell