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As a true coffee lover, one of my favorite things to do is unwind at a coffee shop — some of my favorites include Blue Bottle and Black Brick in New York City, Menagerie in Philadelphia and Kona Purveyors in Honolulu. Of course, my semi-weekly visits all came to a halt with the onset of Covid-19. To fill the void, I’ve been making my own coffee at home. Sometimes I opt to use my Nespresso coffee maker — a go-to when I’m in the mood for a hot latte or am otherwise feeling indulgent. While it and other single-serve coffee makers, including my Keurig (currently in storage in New York City and awaiting my return), are definitely convenient, there’s a much more satisfying and somehow personally rewarding experience I get when I break out my French press. And although I ventured into using French press coffee makers by first borrowing what was around in the kitchen, I’ve definitely come to prefer its simple-yet-substantial process and taste.
SKIP AHEAD Best French Press Coffee Makers
How to use a French press
If you’re new to French press coffee makers, you may be wondering about some basics:
- How do you use a French press? French presses use a manual brewing method, meaning the process can be more or less complex depending on how you like your coffee. If you’re like me, all this takes is adding coffee grounds and boiling water to the French press container, which is sometimes referred to as the carafe or beaker, letting it steep, then pressing down on the plunger to extract the grounds and stop the brewing.
- How long does it take? Making French press coffee requires four minutes to steep the brew. However, the time devoted to the total process is up to you. For example, it may take longer if you want to grind your own beans or let the water sit for a more precise temperature.
- What’s the proper French press coffee ratio? You’ll want to use about two tablespoons of coffee grounds for every eight ounces of water.
Otherwise, it can be fairly simple and can be broken down into five simple steps:
- Boil water.
- Add coffee grounds to the carafe.
- Pour boiling water into the carafe and place the lid on with the plunger pulled up.
- Let the brew steep for four minutes.
- Press down on the plunger slowly — and pour into your cup.
While I’m still at the pre-ground coffee beans stage of my French press journey, many people prefer using a coffee grinder on whole beans for a fresher taste. Likewise, some argue that water temperature can make a big difference in your coffee.
According to TODAY, the ideal temperature should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just below the true boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The general rule of thumb is to wait for the water to come to a boil and then let it sit for a minute or two. There are ample types of French press coffee makers out there, the majority differentiated by their material: Stainless steel and glass carafes are popular options.
Williams Sonoma’s stainless steel French press is the one I reach for every day. Its double-wall insulation allows me to enjoy multiple cups of hot coffee during the morning. It also includes a stainless-steel filter and looks great on a kitchen countertop, which saves me from having to store it. When I roll out of bed in the morning, the first thing I do is brush my teeth and boil a pot of water. Once I’m finished brushing, I find that the water is usually hot enough to pour into the carafe. After four minutes — during which I wash my face, apply my skin care routine and get dressed for the day — my coffee is brewed and ready for me to pour it into one of the many mugs in my collection (a favorite includes my one from New York City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”).
Best French press coffee makers
This Bodum French press features a simple and classic design. It features a glass carafe, plastic handle and stainless steel plunger. After use, you can take it apart and drop the beaker, filter and plunger in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. It comes in four sizes, including 12-ounce, 17-ounce, 34-ounce and 51-ounce. Plus, you can find it in half-a-dozen colors, including Black, Copper, Matte Chrome and White. Over 15,000 reviewers left it with a 4.6-star average rating on Amazon.
This stylish and functional option from Le Creuset is made of the brand’s well-known stoneware.The French press features a glossy enamel glaze for a shinier finish. It also sports a stainless steel plunger and is dishwasher-safe. Plus, it comes in a dozen colors, including Cerise, Flame, Carribean, Deep Teal and more, as well as a Marble edition. If you like matching kitchenware, pair it with a set of Le Creuset’s mugs. This French press has earned an average 4.6-star rating from over 260 reviews on Amazon.
Unlike other French presses, this model from Espro sports two microfilters to further prevent coffee grounds from seeping through. If you’re someone who likes to drink multiple cups in the morning, the French press features double-wall insulation to keep your coffee hot hours after brew. Additionally it comes in a 18-ounce version and you can find it in four colorways, including Matte Black, Matte White, Brushed Stainless Steel and Polished Stainless Steel. If you prefer tea instead of coffee, Espro also offers a tea filter which you can get separately. It has garnered an average 4.6-star rating on Amazon by more than 550 reviewers.
This Secura option is preferred by Shopping editor Gideon Grudo. “Alongside solid filtration and easy cleaning (it all comes apart very quickly), my favorite feature is its durability,” Grudo explained. “I’ve broken one too many glass-walled French presses to trust myself with anything but stainless steel.” The French press also includes double-wall insulation. It comes in four sizes, including 12-ounce, 17-ounce, 34-ounce and 50-ounce. Plus, it’s available in nine colors, including Black, Blue, Coffee and more. More than 22,100 reviewers left this French press with a 4.8-star average rating on Amazon.
French Presses need coffee
When it comes to choosing the right coffee for French press brewing, it really depends on your preference and how much time you want to commit to making a cup of joe. Some people prefer grinding whole beans as pre-ground coffee is more likely to seep through a filter and leave behind sediment.
Jessica Easto, author of “Craft Coffee: A Manual” previously told Shopping that she recommends a very coarse grind for French press as opposed to a medium to medium-fine grind, which is good for drip maker. Likewise, if you plan on using your French press to make cold brew, experts told our friends at TODAY you’ll want to use coarse coffee grounds. I'm the cream-and-no-sugar type, so I particularly enjoy coffee with hints of vanilla or hazelnut, especially since it gives the bitterness just a little bit of a sweetness. There are also decaffeinated options to choose from if you like enjoying a cup of coffee after dinner. To help narrow things down, here are some brands and retailers that offer a variety of French press coffee grounds: