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The best French press coffee makers for 2020 – CNET

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

Brian Bennett/CNET

For some, French press coffee is the ultimate style. When done well, it’s rich, strong and darkly delicious. It also rivals cold brew‘s concentration, yet packs the full flavors of hot brewed joe. But choosing a French press for home duty can be tricky. While these coffee makers represent one of the simplest ways to brew coffee, they come in a myriad of styles, shapes and materials.

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 pots’ worth of coffee, here’s what I learned on my quest to find the best French press you can buy.

Brian Bennett/CNET

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 coffee that’s strong, well-balanced and richly flavored. Its steel parts also come in various finishes. I especially like the vibrant red version show here.

Brian Bennett/CNET

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 to construct 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/CNET

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 French press models I’ve seen. Most importantly, the Veken brews outstandingly delicious cups of French press coffee.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The most expensive model in this group, the Frieling French Press doesn’t come cheap. What you get for its steep price is heavy stainless-steel 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.

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 comes to 4 ounces ground coffee to 32 ounces of water.

We test French press coffee makers like we test standard drip machines.

Brian Bennett/CNET

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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