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Best French press for 2021

We tested a group popular French press coffee makers from well-regarded companies to the test to see which is best.

French press coffee doesn't pull any punches in terms of flavor when it comes to brewing coffee, yielding a result that's nearly as concentrated as espresso or cold brew. And if used properly, a French press can produce delicious coffee that's equivalent to what you'll drink from the best drip coffee maker. French press brewers are simple appliances, but picking one to replace your coffee pot can be a challenge.

These brewers come in all kinds of designs and shapes , so choosing the right one is tricky. Do you want a stainless steel plunger? Or a certain type of French press carafe? What if you're making iced coffee? Luckily for you coffee drinkers, I've personally used and tested a group of the top-selling best French press 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. I update this list periodically.

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 French press coffee maker model brews great coffee that's strong, well-balanced and richly flavored. It has a three-part stainless steel filter, glass carafe, and its steel parts also come in various finishes. I especially like the vibrant red version shown here.

Brian Bennett/CNET

For just $20, the Bodum Brazil delivers hot coffee every bit as good as that made with 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/CNET

The Veken French press is very well equipped considering its reasonable price. Inside the French press coffee maker kit you'll find various tools you won't see bundled with other coffee 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 the elegant copper finish on this French press. It really sets it apart from other models I've seen. Most importantly, the Veken brews outstandingly delicious cups of coffee.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The most expensive model in this group, the Frieling stainless steel 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, this stainless steel French press felt the most durable by far. The stainless steel carafe also has an insulated double wall that keeps 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/CNET

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 French press brewing, 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/CNET

I then add hot water (203 degrees F, 95 degrees C), or nearly boiling water, to the brewing chamber, stir the grounds and let them sit for 4 minutes. After that I drop the coffee 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%. Though 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
21%
Bodum Brazil French Press
19%
Mueller French Press
27%
Hamilton Beach French Press
23%
Coffee Gator French Press
19%
Veken French Press
20%
Frieling French Press
19%
Kona Press
17%
SterlingPro French Press
18%
OXO Brew Venture French Press Coffee Maker
21%

Note:

The ideal range is between 19% and 22%.

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