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Fair warning to the people using electric drip and K-cup machines – you may never look back after this.
Same goes for the daily coffee-shop patrons shelling out $3 or more for a temporary cup with a misspelled name on it. Not only will a personal French press craft a smooth brew right in your own kitchen, you’ll also save money, reduce waste, conserve energy (both electric and physical), all while phasing out the need for K-cups and filters too. Not to mention the noticeable change in taste difference: a bag of quality-roasted beans, ground fresh to a coarse texture and pressed just right, can quickly make your machine-made coffee taste like a whole different drink altogether.
The basic function of a French press is simply steeping coffee grounds and hot water together in a beaker for an extended time, as opposed to drip brewing, where the water flows through the coffee grounds. The press then uses pressure to force the grounds to the bottom of the beaker, capturing the concentrated flavors, and producing your cup. The resulting coffee can be pure, dark, and rich, with more enhanced and noticeable tasting notes.
As the name suggests, the French press saw its first use in France in the early half of the 20th century, but was patented into an early incarnation of its modern-day form by an Italian designer in 1929. While it’s seen several modifications since then, the basic principle is still the same, and we’ve picked out three to get you started brewing the beverage that Ben Franklin said, “excites cheerfulness without intoxication” and “is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.”
1. POWERLIX French Press Coffee Maker
Despite the slightly unappetizing name, the PowerLix Press visually is a timeless design, and perfect for a first-time coffee drinker looking to experiment with different grinding and brewing results. Built with dishwasher-safe and durable materials, such as stainless rust-proof steel and silicone, and borosilicate glass that can withstand boiling water, the PowerLix’s carafe can hold up to 34 ounces at a time.
A lock is included to let you pour your drink without worry of everything falling out and spilling, and it easily disassembles for cleaning. Take it anywhere – if you’ve got hot water and ground beans, it’s ideal for an office kitchen, dorm room, or even camping.
The PowerLix barely takes up any counter space, and as a nice bonus for your coffee-free teetotaling guests, you can also brew loose-leaf tea in it as well.
PROS: Classic design; see-through glass construction lets you see when your coffee is ready.
CONS: Since there’s no paper filter or tight seal around the plunger, you’ll need to manually remove some grounds after each use, which can be a mild nuisance.
2. Frieling French Press Coffee Maker
One of the biggest gripes about most French presses is that once the coffee is ready, it needs to be consumed fairly quickly, since the glass container isn’t designed to keep it hot. That’s a huge advantage of the Frieling. Its carafe doubles as an insulated serving pitcher, retaining your coffee’s heat, and flavor, up to four times longer.
With a 36-ounce capacity, this double-walled stainless steel press is easy to pour thanks to it’s full-length handle and no-drip spout, and can also be used for tea as well. Its two-stage filter system utilizes a pre-filter along with a super-fine mesh filter, and a metal wire inside the coil plunger that slides flush against the wall, leaving zero sediment in your cup. After you’re sufficiently caffeinated, the Frieling comes apart easily for cleaning, and is dishwasher-safe.
PROS: Coffee drinkers who are fed up with glass presses cracking, breaking, and not retaining heat will find a welcome change with this model.
CONS: Some users who purchased the model with black finishing report that it starts to peel off after daily usage over time.
3. Womice Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
Made of 18/10 food-grade stainless steel that claims to be 33% thicker and 20% heavier than the competition, this tank of a press is ideal for situations where it might get knocked around. Small spaces, RVs, cubicles, etc. The Womice is BPA-free, contains zero glass, and can take a beating – more so than traditional presses, anyway. With a double-layer vacuum structure, it’ll also keep your coffee warmer for longer than a glass carafe too, up to three hours.
The cool-touch handle means no more scalding your hands when you pour, and the 100-mesh filter screen keeps bitter grinds out of your cup. The unit also comes with extra screening parts as well for you to experiment with, along with a cleaning brush and scoop spoon. All are removable, easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
PROS: Solidly built, well-insulated, easy to clean, and a sleek design.
CONS: Some coffee aficionados say that just because you can leave it in the carafe once it’s brewed, doesn’t mean you should. While the stainless steel unit may keep it hot, leaving the coffee in the press while it’s still soaking with the grinds is what leads to a more bitter flavor.