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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Best French press coffee makers for 2020: Bodum, Frieling, Oxo and more

French press coffee makers are simple to use. With few moving parts and no electric heaters, pumps, or screens, they’re far from complicated. Despite that, french press brewers create coffee that’s rich and brimming with complex flavors. In fact this style of joe rivals the concentration of cold-brew. Yet when made well, french press can taste as balanced as a pot of quality drip coffee.

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These brewers also come in a myriad of shapes and designs so choosing one is tricky. Fortunately for you, I’ve personally used and tested a group of top-selling models. And, after grinding pounds of beans and drinking scores of cups of coffee, here’s what I learned on my quest to find the best French press a coffee lover can buy.

Brian Bennett

The Bodum Chambord has a classic French press design that hasn’t changed much from when it first hit the scene in the 1950s. Despite that, this model brews great coffee that’s strong, well-balanced and richly flavored. Its steel parts also come in various finishes. I especially like the vibrant red version shown here.

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Brian Bennett

For just $20, the Bodum Brazil delivers hot coffee every bit as good as the company’s more expensive Chambord model. To cut down the price, Bodum uses plastic instead of steel for some of the coffee maker’s parts. Its carafe, however, is borosilicate glass. The coffee I brewed in the Brazil was satisfyingly strong, yet balanced.

Brian Bennett

The Veken French press is very well-equipped considering its reasonable price. Inside the kit you’ll find various tools you won’t see bundled with other French press models: a fancy wooden mixing spoon, a cleaning wand and a battery-powered milk frother for whipping up cafe-style drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

I also like this French press’ elegant copper finish. It really sets it apart from other models I’ve seen. Most importantly, the Veken brews outstandingly delicious cups of coffee.

Brian Bennett

The most expensive model in this group, the Frieling French Press doesn’t come cheap. What you get for its steep price is a heavy stainless-steel press construction that’s designed to last. Out of all the French press coffee makers I used, it felt the most durable by far. Its metal body also has insulating dual walls that keep coffee hot for hours.

Coffee I brewed in the Frieling came out well-extracted yet strong. So if money is no barrier, this is the French press for you.

We put a bunch of French press coffee makers to the test to find out which is best.


Brian Bennett

Others we tested

Mueller French Press

Hamilton Beach French Press

Coffee Gator French Press

Kona Press

SterlingPro French Press

OXO Brew Venture French Press Coffee Maker

How we evaluated them

I test French press brewers much like I test standard drip coffee makers. I begin by hand-washing and hand-drying each product. Then I grind enough coffee beans to meet a specific brewing ratio. For a French press that’s 4 ounces of ground coffee to 32 ounces of water.

We test French press coffee makers the same way we test standard drip machines.


Brian Bennett

I then add hot water (203 F, 95 C) to the brewing chamber, stir the grounds and let them sit for 4 minutes. After that I drop the plunger for each press and pour a sample cup. Next I draw a sample of the brewed coffee and measure its percentage of total dissolved solids. I use a pocket reflectometer for this test. From there I can calculate the extraction percentage for each batch of coffee I brew.

Ideally, the extraction percentage of brewed coffee should be in the range of 19% to 22%. While this number alone doesn’t guarantee delicious joe, it’s a strong indicator of it. Ultimately the truth lies in a proper taste test.

Coffee extraction percentage

Bodum Chambord French Press

Bodum Brazil French Press

Hamilton Beach French Press

Coffee Gator French Press

OXO Brew Venture French Press Coffee Maker

Note:

The ideal range is between 19% and 22%.

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