We researched the highest-rated French Presses on the market and put together 11 diverse contenders to determine which produced the best brews. Our coffee aficionados used the four most important consumer metrics to make a final determination — filtration, ease of use, insulation, and quality of construction. We got buzzed on caffeine scrutinizing these presses side by side, morning after morning, cup after cup, all to make your selection as carefree as a Sunday morning cup of your favorite bean. We even held a public taste test to ensure a wide consensus. So kick back with a cuppa and enjoy the journey through the best selection of French presses.
The Secura Stainless Steel looks like your standard stainless steel press. Placing it side by side with some of the other models we tested, it's hard to tell the difference. Yet this press proved itself across a number of our challenges. For one, it scored among the highest in our taste and filtration tests. It also has one of the most insulated carafes and kept our coffee warm the longest. And the 34-ounce press, which was our test model, comes in a number of colors to match your kitchen palette and taste.
One element that we don't like about the Secura is the lower quality material apparent in the construction. At one point, the lid fell off the counter, and the filter basket bent askew. That said, it was easy to bend back, and the stainless steel is durable enough to take some abuse. This press also lacks a certain style and flair exhibited by some of the other contenders, but if simplicity is your décor, then this press will be a good addition to your collection. We recommend the Secura for anyone looking for a simple, affordable option that will brew a clean and delicious cup of coffee time after time. As a bonus, it's available in multiple sizes so you can brew for just yourself or the whole cabin.
We were pleasantly surprised by this behemoth of brewing. The Stanley Classic Stay Hot looks like a treasure you'd find in your (grand)parent's old camper that's been sitting in the lot since the 70s. The classic look has been draped over a press that's big enough to brew a morning cup for the entire camp. The simple yet effective single mesh filter design produced a clean cup with complex flavor no matter which bean we brewed. In fact, it was one of the top three selections in our public taste test. True to its name, the Stanley will keep your coffee warm for hours as you focus on the tasks at hand; it also beat out all other contenders in the insulation test.
Depending on how much coffee you drink or how many coffee drinkers are sitting around the morning table, this may not be the press for you. Brewing at a ratio of 1.5g/oz (beans/water), which some would call a lighter ratio, it still takes about 2.5 ounces (75 grams) of beans to brew a full pot. If you don't finish the pot (which makes 6 cups), that can add up to some serious waste, especially if, like us, you're using more expensive locally roasted beans. The Stay Hot is also about double the price of some of the cheaper options for a large press. That said, you get what you pay for, and with this press, you're paying for a clean and complex brew that will stay warm for hours and fill multiple cups and a classic design that hearkens back to childhood family camping trips.
The Poliviar Double Wall is the fanciest-looking competitor in our lineup. The insulated carafe is available in multiple colors to match your preference, and the teak wood handles will make it stand out and have your friends asking where you got such an elegant-looking piece. Just don't tell them that it didn't cost you very much! Or do, because spreading the love of a good deal makes the world go round. This press also did well throughout our more serious tests. It kept our coffee warm longer than average, has decent filtration, is easy to use, and is made of quality materials.
The wooden accents on the Poliviar take hand washing to maintain, which is a drawback depending on how much you enjoy that task. You'll also want to take care not to drop the press, as that could cause the wooden handle to snap. During our taste test, more sour (acids) and less sweet (carbohydrates) came through in the cup, but this was relatively subtle and may have something to do with the double mesh filters that come standard with this press. To be fair, you could remove one of the filters to experiment with the flavor profile. These things aside, if you're looking for a stylish piece to accent your kitchen that will brew a good cup of coffee, this is a contender.
The Fellow Clara is a sleek and chic-looking press. The matte black powder-coated finish and rounded edges are in vogue, and for an extra wad of dough, you can even get it with some very stylish walnut accents. The one-piece filter design and interior finish make it easy to rinse off and set on the drying rack. The lid clicks into place in a way that's so satisfying and is designed to allow coffee through no matter how it's aligned. This press definitely stood out in more ways than one, like brewing a noticeably sweet cup of coffee. This likely has to do with the unique filter design, which allowed more "sludge" to settle in our cup but apparently also let more sweet carbohydrates through.
This press will set you back a Benjamin or more. There's also the fact that the one-piece filter design is housed in plastic, which is not preferable when talking about steeping hot beverages over time. Additionally, we found an issue with the "plunge ."The filter is ringed in silicone, which feels like it enhances the seal, but it also causes resistance when pressing. You'll need to go slow — if you try to force anything, you might spray coffee on yourself or the counter. All that being said, and despite the learning curve, we grew to like this press. If you're in the market for a well-constructed, style accented press with a unique filtration design that produces a sweeter-than-average cup o' Joe, this is one to note.
Material: Glass, plastic, stainless steel | Insulated?: No
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
REASONS TO AVOID
Less complex flavored brew
The Espro P3 has some impressive features for a simple glass press. First off, the glass carafe is housed in durable plastic with a beefy handle. A plastic latch is set into the glass, which keeps the carafe from sliding out when you pour. The durable plastic lid firmly holds a metal rod that connects to Espro's patented double micro mesh filter basket system. This press is super easy to use and presses so smoothly that it'll send shivers of satisfaction down your spine. This is due largely to the silicone gasket around the filter baskets that squeegees the glass clean all the way down. Due to the filter design, this press produced one of the cleanest cups of coffee out of all the competition.
The supreme filtration of the P3 can also be a detriment if you prefer more oils or body in your cup. It's true that this press won't leave sludge behind, but it also removes some of the carbohydrates and acids that enhance flavor profiles, as well as about 8 ounces of liquid that gets trapped below the filters (you can get it out if you pump the filter back and forth as you pour). What's more, since the carafe isn't insulated, you'll have to drink quickly or have some means to warm your cup if you like it hot. But if your mission is enhanced filtration and you don't mind draining your carafe more quickly, then this is a press to seriously consider.
Why You Should Trust Us
Before we even started brewing, we researched the most popular presses on the market. After scrutinizing the different styles, we selected a slew of contenders ranging in sizes and materials. After that came the fun part. We're serious about our coffee so we started with some locally roasted beans that we hand-ground in a ceramic burr grinder. A burr grinder ensures an even grind, releasing more of the flavor potential of the bean without too many fine grounds that could gunk up the cup. We used 1.5 grams of beans per ounce of water, which produces a flavorful brew that isn't too thick. We brought spring water to 212°F in an electric kettle and combined it with our ground beans in the bottom of the carafe. In order to "bloom" the coffee — which releases carbon dioxide and opens up the plant cells in preparation to release their flavors into the hot water — we covered the grounds with boiling water and allowed them to sit for 30-60 seconds. After that, we filled the carafe the rest of the way with hot water and gently stirred it to ensure the grounds were saturated before capping. After 4 minutes of total brew time, it was time to press and taste.
To determine the winners, we judged each French press based on the following four testing metrics:
Filtration (40% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Use (30% weighting)
Insulation (15% weighting)
Quality of Construction(15% weighting)
Because we are serious about our coffee here at GearLab, we employ testers with experience making the best brews. Professional baristas conducted and set the foundation for this review. This most recent round was completed by Jon Oleson, an herbalist who is professionally trained in extracting all types of plant compounds using a variety of methods. Jon actually prefers the pour-over method to extract his daily brew but wouldn't pass up the opportunity to use his organoleptic superpowers to distinguish the subtleties of each of our prospect presses.
Analysis and Test Results
We analyzed all the factors that may affect the enjoyment of this most precious of brew. This included (but was not limited to): any factor that may complicate the brewing process before you're fully awake, the taste and feel of the brew, how long each press kept our coffee warm, how easy they were to clean, and the craftsmanship to ensure that your press will show up day after day for your morning ritual.
Most of the French presses in our lineup hover around the same price and are made from similar materials. There are some exceptions, however, and more expensive presses exhibit unique designs, patented filtration systems, or are built to withstand more wear and tear. The Poliviar, Mueller Double Insulated, Espro P3, and Secura are all about the same price. It might have been hard to tell the difference if not for some of our differentiating tests. The Secura is pretty basic but delivered excellent results in all our tests, making it a high-value choice.
The Frieling Double Wall is on the opposite end of the spectrum with a shockingly high price tag, but once you pick it up, you can feel the heft and durability. It's easy to see the quality of materials and construction, and we know folks that have used this press for decades without a single component breaking or weakening. So, this may be worth the price if you're looking for a press to pass down to your children's children's children.
When testing for this metric, we primarily wanted to know which presses could keep grounds out of our final cup. However, since what and how much makes it through the filter can affect flavor, this also factored into our assessment. We downed a lot of cups to discern the difference between each of these presses. Some let more acidity through; some allowed more sweetness and earthiness to prevail. The winners were designed to allow some of both for a balanced and complex flavor profile.
In our filter sediment test, the Secura stood out as the clear winner leaving almost no sediment behind. Among the insulated metal presses, the Coffee Gator Insulated and the Poliviar Double Wall also stood out for their superior filtration. The Espro P3, with its patented filter baskets, produced an extremely clean cup (almost too clean — if you like a little body in your French press from some oils, the Espro likely won't be to your liking. If, on the other hand, you tend to prefer an extremely clean pour-over like a Chemex, the Espro might be your perfect press). The big ol' Stanley Stay Hot was also a notable mention here, leaving surprisingly little sediment behind despite requiring more coffee to fill the giant carafe.
There was some correlation between a clean cup and a clean taste — our taste test winners were the Secura, Coffee Gator, and Stanley Stay Hot. The Espro P3 has amazing filtration, but, as mentioned above, it was perhaps too good, blocking some of the compounds that create complexity of flavor in a cup of French press coffee.
Surprisingly there was no direct correlation between filtration and the amount of micro mesh filter discs. Two of our winners, the Secura and Stanley, had only one filter disc; the Coffee Gator and Poliviar utilize two. Many of the other presses with multiple discs still let a lot of gunk through. This is where build quality can come into play, which we'll get into below.
Ease of Use
Many of us rely on coffee to get our neurons firing first thing in the morning. So anything that complicates the brew process is not a welcomed feature. For the most part, all the presses in our lineup were easy enough to use — the real difference is in the smoothness of the actual pressing. There's also the ease of clean-up to consider. Is disassembly required? Do you have to be careful when washing delicate parts or can you just throw it all in the dishwasher? All these questions and more were considered before we concluded which were the standouts in this category.
Brewing a French press is easy enough. Ground coffee plus water plus time, and then you push the plunger. While it's not rocket science, there are some added features that we found to be helpful to this process. For example, the SterlingPro Double Wall, Mueller, and Coffee Gator have graduated marks on the inside that allow you to accurately brew a partial carafe without measuring. We found this helpful if we just wanted a quick cup without brewing a full press while retaining accurate ratios.
The next differentiating feature is lid and plunger assembly. Although most lids, at least amongst the insulated metal presses, are nearly indistinguishable, there is a difference in how they fit into the carafe and how smoothly they press. The 24-ounce Frieling proved that there is such a thing as too tight — our lid scraped loudly and wobbled as we pressed, though this may ease up with time. With most metal presses, there is some scraping, which may be grating to some folks. If you want a very quiet and smooth press, you'll want to look at something with a silicone gasket around the filter like the Espro P3 or Fellow Clara. Glass presses also provide a smooth plunge without any metal-on-metal grating.
Achieving a clean cup is the final part of this equation. Many factors played into this, including whether or not the filter assembly had to be taken apart to clean. The one-piece filter system and finished inner surface of the Fellow Clara proved to be the easiest to rinse off and stick on the rack. Most of the presses were easy enough to rinse and place in the dishwasher, although, at times, the double filters needed to be taken apart to clear out stuck grounds. The Secura and the Stanley have single filter discs, which are quick and easy to rinse. The Espro P3 has a more complex filter system, but it clicks apart easily, making it a breeze to rinse and reassemble. The only press that is not dishwasher safe is the Poliviar with its fancy wooden handles and the Fellow Clara, except for the mesh filter.
Some people like to kick back with a cup and enjoy an easy morning, and some may down a quick cup before heading out of the hive like a busy bee with a field full of flowers to pollinate. Whatever the case, it's nice when you come back to your press for another cup, and the liquid is still warm (or even hot!) We used a thermometer to measure the surface temperature of our brew after 4 minutes, and then we cracked the lid at 30-minute intervals to measure the change. The top scorers in this category kept the pot reasonably warm for several hours.
Since we started our brewing process with 212°F boiling water each time, the surface temperature after 4 minutes was within a few degrees on all the presses. The ones that stood out at this stage were the smaller Frieling and the large Stanley — these were a few degrees cooler or warmer, respectively, than the mid-sized presses. This can be attributed to size and volume, with a smaller volume cooling more rapidly than a larger one.
From there, the field was an open spread. The most insulated metal presses, like the Fellow Clara, Secura, and the Stanley Stay Hot, kept our brew warm for the longest. The less insulated metal presses such as the SterlingPro, Coffee Gator, Mueller, and Poliviar were fairly neck and neck through the course of time.
Unsurprisingly, the carafes that cooled the fastest were the non-insulated glass presses — the Bodum ChambordCafé du Chateau, and Espro P3. They all cooled at about the same rate, which was much quicker than their insulated rivals. You have to drink your brew more quickly with these presses or have a plan for warming it up if you like your mug hot.
Quality of Construction
What your press is made of can be just as important as how well it's put together. In this category, we judged the type and quality of materials used in the construction and how well the press is built and functions. While many of the presses at first glance look to be made exactly the same, our job was to distinguish the subtle differences. Here's what we found.
First off, there were some heavy-duty presses. The mighty Frieling Double Wall press is hefty for its size. The well-machined and fitted parts feel bomber, like this press could actually survive a blast. The Stanley Stay Hot likewise has some heft, despite being made from lighter aluminum. The whole thing fits together snugly, and the hard plastic handle is screwed on tight. The Fellow Clara is unique in being both more insulated and of a more stout design than the standard metal press. Even though it incorporates plastic pieces in the filter and plunger, they are strong, well-machined, and well-constructed. We wouldn't worry about breaking any one of these if we dropped them, but they could dent your floor.
The rest of the insulated metal presses we tested were more or less the same — any of them would be hard to break. There was some nuance in the type and thickness of metal, affecting the filter assembly's ability to be bent out of shape if dropped or smashed. A few of the cheaper presses are flimsier — the Mueller and Secura stand out in this way. On others, such as the Coffee Gator and Poliviar, the stem and filter basket feel stronger and more rigid. The Poliviar received a high score in this category not only because of its solid construction but also for its elegance. The incorporation of teak wood handles lends a sense of style and quality to this artistic take on the French press.
The glass presses scored the lowest for durability, which is no surprise. If you've ever owned a glass press, then eventually, at some point, you learn why they sell replacement carafes. Despite the inherent fragility of these presses, there were some differences that we noticed. The Café de Chateau is constructed with thicker glass and is partially protected by a metal sheath — it feels more durable than the other glass contenders. The Espro P3 seemed to have the thinnest glass, but it's partially protected by hard plastic, including around the base and the lid. All of the glass presses come with plastic lids, which are generally less durable than metal. The Bodum Chambord and the Café du Chateau have metal as part of the lid construction, but it's cheap, and the lids, in general, feel more flimsy than others. The lid on the Espro is made entirely of plastic, but it's thick and hard and can take some abuse before breaking.
We put these French presses through the wringer, filtering dozens and dozens of cups of coffee throughout the process. After each brew, we took them apart and washed them before reassembling. We analyzed and scrutinized materials and construction, testing filtration and analyzing taste. We'll admit that we were surprised by some of the results, but the proof is in the brew. We're confident that you won't be disappointed by any press in this review, whatever your style or budgetary needs may be.
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