Buying a French Press – Picking the Right One

Every so often someone will ask me to help them pick a French Press. Of all the coffee equipment decisions to make, selecting a french press (aka press pot) is the easiest. A French Press is a container where coffee will steep with hot water, plus a plunger to push the grounds down to the bottom. That is pretty much it.

For about a decade I brewed with the French Press almost exclusively. I had two different French Press brewers at home. One was a larger French Press that I used when guests came over. I also had a smaller one that was my day to day workhorse. I also kept a cheap French Press at my desk for when I brewed coffee at the office. Despite their differences, they were pretty much the same.

french press
Bodum Chambord Coffee Press

So how does one decide which French Press to buy? Here are the 3 steps you can follow in selecting the perfect french press for you.

  1. Glass or Plastic? – Are you going to travel or go camping with your french press? If so, locate a plastic french press. I have traveled with glass ones and they do break. Otherwise, get a glass one. Plastic can negatively affect the taste of your coffee.
  2. Picking a Size – The larger the french press, the more it typically will cost. If you make coffee for a lot of people, then getting a larger size is the way to go. However, you always have the option of making multiple pots with the french press. As for the single serving size ones, I’d rather get a medium sized french press and just fill it part way.
  3. Aesthetics (“Will it look good on my counter?”) – Now that you’ve picked a size and settled the glass vs plastic debate, the last step is finding something you like to look at. Everyone will have varying taste, so this is up to you. It will not impact the flavor of the coffee.

See how easy that was? Unlike espresso machines, a french press is an inexpensive brewing method, so even if you end up not liking the one you purchase, you can always buy another one.

Bodum Brazil 8-Cup (34-Ounce) Coffee Press

Bodum Brazil 8-Cup (34-Ounce) Coffee Press


Press Pot Tutorial – Once you’ve bought your French Press, this tutorial will get you brewing.

Troubleshooting French Press Coffee – In the event your coffee isn’t wonderful, follow this troubleshooting guide.

Michael Allen Smith

Michael Allen Smith fell in love with coffee while attending college. Shortly after graduating college, he found himself in the Tampa Bay area far away from the good coffee he had at The Ohio State University. That is when he starting home roasting coffee. Less than a year later in April 1999, he launched the coffee website has been going strong ever since with hundreds of articles and tutorials submitted by over one hundred contributors.

In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to three hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland,Vancouver and San Francisco and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 800 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.

Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.

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