What To Look For When Buying A French Press (Helpful Guides)

Last Updated on August 23, 2023 by Barry Gray

Not all French Press coffee makers are of the same quality, but even the cheaper ones are doable in a tight pinch! Even then, they can be impressive.

During my early coffee experimentation phase, I found myself disposing of many after only a few weeks of use.

As they say, you often get what you pay for!

When purchasing a French Press, focus on the quality of the materials used. The filter should be strong enough to push through the coffee and filter the coffee grains. The French Press should be sturdy while the price point is something else to take into consideration.

In short, you have a few key points to think about before you splash the cash on a French Press. But don’t worry, I will help you through it all.

things to look out for with a french press

Spend More To Get a Decent Coffee Press 

If you are serious about owning a decent French Press, spend more to have one that will last for decades. 

Another name for French Press is Coffee Press.  But for me, the French Press can be a gamechanger when it comes to your coffee.

You don’t have to own one, but if you are serious about a decent cup of coffee and don’t want to outlay too much, the French Press is a perfect gadget to get you to your goal. 

More Flavor, More Options

how to get more flavor with your french press

The French Press has given me many new coffee experiences I have loved.

This simple yet powerful brewing method allows for a delectable cup of coffee and expands your range of flavors and choices without too much outlay. We are talking about both iced coffee and hot coffee. 

Decades Ago, They Were Quite Fancy!

Decades ago, serving coffee with pottery mugs, rustic style, and a French Press at the better coffee shops became fashionable, and I remember being in awe of the whole ritual.

I was hooked on the entire idea and was determined to get hold of one myself as soon as possible. 

I admit that I have so many coffee machines and gadgets it’s becoming a joke at home. 

I’ve decoratively stored the gadgets and coffee machines to avoid the cluttered look. Luckily, the French Press stores well and only takes up a little room. That alone is a huge bonus for it.

It’s Up To You, But Here Are Some Good Reasons To Own a French Press

reasons for owning a french press

You may be beginning your coffee journey and wondering where to start. I highly recommend a French Press for various reasons. 

  • They are relatively inexpensive. 
  • Easy to clean. 
  • They are versatile; you can undoubtedly experience coffee in a whole new way.
  • They look good when you serve coffee.

For me, anything that has the potential to deliver a decent coffee is a coffee maker I want to get my hands on. However, let me take you through more about the flavor a French Press can extract to further stress the need for you to think about owning one.

Getting Serious About Flavor

You can get that just-ground coffee flavor from so many preground coffees these days, and with the aid of the French Press, it can make this happen for you without the debris that comes from ground coffee.

I also have a coffee grinder, so I often use this and use the grounds in the coffee press. It is mind-blowingly good. 

If you want to purchase one, here are some considerations:

Single Or Double Walled? 

If you are a slow drinker and like to savor your coffee, then a double-walled coffee press would be better for your needs.  

The double wall offers insulation and will keep the coffee warm for longer. I can find several good reasons to go with the double-walled coffee press. 

I go camping occasionally, and the weather can get pretty chilly where I live. Having a double-walled French Press can help things along.

 I also like taking my Moka pot with me, so I have choices.

I also like sitting out on the patio in late autumn, so serving coffee and biscuits on the deck for a short break during garden clearing ready for winter, the double-walled insulation works out a treat.

 If this type of thing is irrelevant to you, then the single-walled coffee press will do fine for your needs. 

The Materials

how to use a french press

Before we discuss the material, here are the different parts of your French Press coffee maker:

  • Carafe: The carafe is the main container holding coffee and water. It is often made of glass or stainless steel. The carafe is an essential part of the French press because it is where the coffee is brewed, and it should be a material that is heat-resistant and easy to clean.
  • Plunger: The plunger is a cylindrical rod with a mesh filter at the bottom. It is used to separate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. The plunger is also vital because it allows you to control the flow of coffee. When you press down on the plunger, the coffee grounds are trapped in the filter, releasing the brewed coffee.
  • Lid: The lid covers the carafe and prevents the coffee from evaporating. It typically has a small hole in it to allow air to escape. The top is important because it helps to keep the coffee hot and prevent it from becoming bitter.
  • Filter: The filter is a mesh screen attached to the plunger. It traps the coffee grounds and prevents them from entering the brewed coffee. The filter is important because it ensures the coffee is smooth and grounds-free. Not all French press coffee makers have this feature.

But that’s not all. Instead, here are some additional parts that some French presses may have:

  • Base: The base is the bottom part of the French press that holds the carafe and plunger. It is typically made of plastic or metal.
  • Handle: The handle is used to grip the French press and pour the coffee. It should be made of a material that is heat-resistant and comfortable to hold.
  • Stainless steel mesh filter: This type of filter is more durable and can remove more fine coffee grounds than a metal filter. However, it can be more challenging to clean.
  • Paper filter: This paper filter is less durable and can’t remove as fine coffee grounds as a stainless steel filter. However, it is easier to clean.

I’m not getting too scientific here, but the better the materials your coffee press is constructed from will decide how long you will have it. 

If sustainability is important to you, you will want a product that lasts instead of replacing it too often.

Check the parts are sturdy when you take them apart. Also, check if there are BPA-free plastic parts, for example. Stainless steel is a sturdy, longer, lasting material. Glass and copper are also hardy, so these are materials to look out for.

There Are So Many To Choose From

You have yet to live if you haven’t checked out some of the newer, fancier French presses! They even have copper finishes that look classy and expensive, which will undoubtedly last for years. 

I love the fact you can pretty much select a French Press that coincides with the design of your kitchen. Of course, style does not always equate to quality coffee, so you need to focus more on that area rather than anything else.

What Size French Press Do You Need? 

Your average-sized French Press will serve around 3-4 cups of coffee, depending on the size of your mug once poured. You can get larger ones for entertaining and for larger families. 

There are miniature ones for one-cup singletons, but who only drinks one cup? If a guest arrives, then you will be in a muddle. I’d go for the larger one, but this is your choice. 

Here is a general rule of thumb regarding the sizes of French Presses. 

  • 3 cups = 350 ml 
  • 4 cups = 500 ml 
  • 6 cups = 750 ml 
  • 8 cups = 1 liter 
  • 12 cups = 1.5 liters 

These simple measurements are also essential to help you measure how much coffee you will use per pot made. 

Pointers On Coffee and Water Ratios 

The commonly recommended ratio of coffee to water for a French press is 1:15, or 1 gram for every 15 grams. So, using a scale can prove useful.

This ratio will give you a robust and flavorful cup of coffee. You can adjust this ratio to your liking. If you like it weaker, use a 1:17 ratio. If you prefer a more robust coffee, use a 1:12 ratio.

These are just guidelines; you will go to your best combinations like anything. 

Here are some other factors that can affect the coffee-to-water ratio:

  • The type of coffee beans you use: Darker roasts will extract more flavor than lighter roasts, so you may need to use a slightly lower coffee-to-water ratio.
  • The grind size: A coarse grind will produce a less bitter cup of coffee than a fine grind.
  • The freshness of the coffee beans: Fresher, newly ground beans will produce a more flavorful cup of coffee.

Experiment with different ratios and grind sizes; this is what makes coffee fun, experimenting. 

Invaluable Tips For Making Better French Press Coffee 

But I want to ensure you get the best possible coffee from your French Press, so here are some tips that I think will make a huge difference.

  • Using filtered water or regular water can affect the taste of the coffee. Some swear by using purified water only, which can reduce limescale if it is a problem in your area.
  • Heat the water to between 195 and 200F; this is the ideal temperature for extracting the flavor of the coffee beans.
  • Add the coffee grounds to the water and stir gently.
  • Let the coffee steep for around 4 minutes for the coffee to extract its flavor fully. Some recipes will vary.
  • Do not stir the coffee after it steeps; this can disturb the grounds and make it cloudy. You can easily remove the foam or filaments with a teaspoon. 
  • Slowly press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.
  • Instead of purchasing a milk frother, you can place your warm milk into the coffee press and pound the filter back and forth, creating a creamier frothier milk. 
  • Always warm the coffee press before use. 

Do yourself a favor and look around for some French Press coffee recipes. You will be surprised at how versatile they are. You can enjoy cold coffee, chocolate coffee, and even hot chocolate in your French Press, but I will leave that for another time!