Sturdiest French Press Coffee Pot?
Bodum makes a stainless steel model. The big plus is that it is double walled and keeps the coffee hotter longer. Bodum also makes replacement beakers in not only glass but in something like Lexan or Acrylic. I guess if you tried real hard you could break one but it would have to be intentional.
I'll have to remember this for next time! We just replaced our 4th (or 5th) glass french press. The last one we bought online and was supossed to be acrylic, but when we got it is was glass and I didn't feel like returning it. Maybe I should just get the stainless steel one now in anticipation of the current one breaking.
Fiona, what are the circumstances in which your pots are breaking?
If the cause of the breaking is bumps from outside, the Bodum Eileen was specifically designed to combat that kind of accident. (Bodum made the Eileen in response to requests from coffee shops where the waiters and waitresses carry several French presses at a time like beer steins in Bavaria.) If you are breaking while plunging, then, as Candy notes, there are some polycarbonate models and the Thermos Nissan stainless steel models -- but a better strategy would be to grind the coffee less finely, and plunge more slowly, and then you would end the problem with glass cylinder French presses.
I too have the Frieling stainless-steal French Press, purchased about 4 years go -- also, I have the Bodum glass. I prefer the Bodum, although the Frieling does a fine job. I've broken a Bodum or two, but the Frieling is indestructible. Clean-up of the Bodum glass press seems easier than clean-up of the Frieling s-s. The Fieling was pricy, of course, compared to the Bodum. All in all, I prefer the Bodum glass press, although the last time I purchased one was 5 yrs ago... and, perhaps the quality is not what it was. My 2 cents...
Sorry for the delayed response. My preference for the Bodum compared to the Frieling: 1) As mentioned, the clean-up; 2) Coffee is hotter when made in the glass Bodum compared to s/s F. (It's an extra, nuisance-of-a-step to "warm-up" the stainless steel Frieling by pouring heated water into it prior to making the coffee; 3) I personally like the aesthetics of the glass pot; 4) I suspect the press mechanism is superior on the Bodum, although I have no evidence except examining with the naked eye--therefore, stray grounds more of a problem with the s/s F. Would be interested in reading the opinions of others
I've used the 32oz Bodum "shatterproof" french press (http://www.bodumusa.com/shop/line.asp...) in my B&B and have been totally disillusioned with them. Not only do they shatter but they stain, the coffee cools down too fast, the plungers don't stand up to wear and tear. In contrast, my personal 10 yr old Planetary Design french press (http://www.liquidplanet.com/estore/pr...) is stainless inside, insulated, keeps coffee hot for hours, doesn't shatter, the original plunger is still going strong, and is dishwasher safe. The lids have a built in mesh strainer at the spout to capture any stray grounds. I preheat them with hot tap water while waiting for the teakettle to boil. I paid $45/each for 4 of the Bodums originally and then had to buy replacement carafes and plungers for all of them over a 2 yr period. I've since switched to the Planetary Designs at $50/each and based on the hard use my original one gets, expect to not have to buy any replacement parts ever. Plus no worries about lawsuits from a guest getting injured. I originally chose the Bodums because of their classic look and reputation but I should have known better and gone with the Planetary Design pots from the beginning.
I have one as well and I love it dearly. I never noticed a change in temperature and in fact, it seems like the stainless steel pot keeps the coffee hotter for much longer than does the glass. I also like that I can toss it in a bag or in the back of the car without any risk of breakage.
Starbucks has/had a double walled stainless french press which has served me for over 10 years. It holds about 36oz - just enough for the morning rush....
I came with a rubber edged plunger which started to wear out after 5 years or so, I just replaced it with the stainless mesh one that came out of a Bodum which I had. Spin-off, Spin-on - done!
The double-walled is nice since it keeps the brew nicely for an hour or so.
I've been using this french press mug daily for about 10 years at home, traveling and camping: http://www.planetarydesign.us/product...
I'm investing in several of these for our B&B because none of the Bodums hold up for very long: http://www.planetarydesign.us/product...
They range in size from 20 oz-48 oz
how are you washing it? I don't remove the glass from the Bodum holder but wash it while it's still inside the metal. Just remove the plunger. I even put mine in the dishwasher. Been using French press/Cafetieres for 35 years and have only broken 2 inserts and I use them daily sometimes twice a day.
This is another recommendations for a Frieling. The most-respected coffee houses in my city use nothing but them, both because of their quality and their durability. So if durability is your main concern, then you don't have to worry: these things are work-horses. They'll also probably be less-expensive in the long run if you really go through the glass-presses as quickly as you say.
Yes, being stainless-steel means it will absorb a bit more heat than glass, but not as much as you'd think because of the vacuum-insulated walls. And really, it's not a big deal at all to swirl a bit of warm water inside before you brew. It takes about five seconds to do.
Actually, I usually just skip the pre-warming step: since coffee is best brewed a bit off the boiling point (between 195-205 F) I usually just pour the freshly boiled water straight into the Frieling. The walls bring down the temperature close to the desirable temperature range. And yes, I've measured with a thermometer.
I have Bodums as well, and they're just so... fragile-feeling. And believe me, they don't retain heat nearly as well as the Bodum. I once nearly scalded my hand trying while cleaning the inside of the Bodum a full 15-minutes after pouring my coffee.
I bought an insulated french press by Thermos on Amazon.. Several years ago I bought a "camping" french press at gander Mountain - it had an acrylic pot and an insulating sleeve that fit around it to keep the coffee warm. Eventually the plunger became warped and I went to the Thermos. Both do as good a job as the glass presses.
Below is my very long Amazon review of the Frieling French Press:
SIX YEARS WITH A FRIELING, and How to Buy a French Press
"One chews coffee beans while gargling 200 F water for four minutes; pressing with the tongue, coffee is filtered through the teeth: is this the French press you refer to?" -- M. Python
AN INTRODUCTION TO COFFEE AMBROSIA.
It's a quest for flavor. It's all about flavor. You are here searching for the best quality French Press, one that delivers the most flavorful coffee possible. You might be new to French Press and are rightly skeptical about the vulnerability and safety of a glass model. Or, you might be experienced, a Bodum or BonJour refugee exasperated by having to replace your second, or third, or even your seventh broken glass beaker. No cuts? Lucky you. Been there.
Below: First is a look at buying a French Press, followed by a Review of the Frieling French Press, then info on grinders, accessories, buying coffee, and brewing the best French Press.
SHOPPING FOR A FRENCH PRESS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
FIRST, WHAT IS FRENCH PRESS? Call it French Press, Press Pot, Cafetiere, Plunger Pot, Pressed Coffee, Coffee Press, or Cafe a Piston, it is all the same. Invented by an Italian man, popularized in France, "French Press" has emigrated to North America. The apparatus itself is strikingly simple: A handled pot, a lid, and a plunger. A French Press can be made of glass, metal, plastic, or ceramic. The pot is never placed on a stove burner...hot water is poured over ground coffee and steeped a few minutes, the plunger is pressed down, the brewed coffee is then poured into cups.
French Press is a hands-on brewing method that allows the user to control brewing variables, adjusting for personal taste. This is a full-immersion brewing method where the bed of grounds can steep, or soak, for a few minutes prior to pressing to terminate the brewing, thereby remarkably intensifying the brew's flavors and aromas when properly brewed using proper equipment.
Usually, coarsely ground coffee beans are poured into the Press followed by off-the-boil water, allowed to steep about four minutes at the correct temperature, then the piston-like, porous filter plunger is slowly pressed down to filter and separate the grounds from the brewed coffee just prior to serving. A simple ritual indeed. In order to brew French Press you need a French Press. So, for shrewd shopping, French Press design features are discussed below...
SIMPLICITY. No unnecessary parts means less parts to fail or to clean.
ROBUST CONSTRUCTION: Your pot,lid and plunger should be of sturdy, durable construction using rust-free metals such as food-grade stainless steel, high impact, BPA-free plastics, boro-silicate glass, or quality ceramics with food-safe glazes. The most durable, heavy-duty quality is heavy-duty restaurant/hotel commercial grade rather than the far less durable, light-duty consumer grade.
INSULATION: Coffee Science has confirmed that coffee should be brewed at between 195 and 205 degrees F during the ENTIRE brewing cycle to release as much flavor and aroma as possible. The brewing cycle is usually four minutes for French Press. To keep temperatures within this range during the brewing cycle requires an INSULATED French Press. French Press designs that will do so are: thermal double-wall stainless or glass, thick-wall ceramic designs, or inexpensive "thermos" designs.
A heads up: An INSULATED French Press is a dedicated coffee BREWER, and is NOT a coffee storage vessel designed to store coffee after brewing...therefore it should NOT be confused with an INSULATED "thermos," a design dedicated only to STORING hot or cold beverages. So, after brewing, immediately pour ALL coffee into cups or into an insulated thermos. This will immediately terminate brewing to avoid over-extraction, producing a bitter cup.
DISHWASHER SAFE. Ensure that your Press is dishwasher safe, and is easy to clean if hand-washed. Look for hidden corners or crevices. Insist on dishwasher-safe high-heat resistant materials.
EFFECTIVE FILTER. Your plunger's filter screen, the metal mesh, must filter, or separate, coffee grounds from the brewed coffee. The finer the screen the better it does so, BUT, and I mean the BIG BUT...no matter how good your grinder is, or your filter, some very fine particles will always make it through the filter, ending up at the bottom of your cup. It cannot be helped. Why?
Because if the screen is too fine, almost solid, all grounds might be filtered out, but then it might be impossible to push the plunger to the bottom because of the resistance encountered when coffee cannot pass through the filter, yet if the filter screen is too porous then the amount of "fines" coming through the filter screen will markedly increase. The solution?
Aside from optimal filter porosity, a quality burr grinder is key in reducing to a minimum the amount of "fines" coming into your cup. Even still, do not take the last sip...a bit of silt in the cup is a French Press thing...part of its reality, part of its pleasure...the price you pay for excellence in the cup.
COMFORTABLE, SECURE HANDLE. You need a comfortable, secure, insulated handle. Look for a handle with a horizontal grip for the thumb and clearance for the fingers. Your handle should stay cool, especially when pouring. Its grip design should be comfy and encourage a confident, accurate pour.
STABLE POT. Your Press should be stable enough to resist accidental tipping when struck: A Press can have tall proportions IF the weight is substantial. A base smaller that the width at any point is not a good design.
DRIPLESS SPOUT. Your French Press should never drip or dribble when pouring...return it if it does so. Good design prevents that.
SAFE TO USE. Your Press must be safe to use when not fully awake in the morning. As you know, accidents and fumbles can happen, so avoid materials that might shatter, crack, or injure you, as well as needing replacement. Only food-grade 18/5 or the better 18/10 stainless steel should be used. Glass beakers should be high-heat resistant, Pyrex type boro-silicate glass. If plastics are used, ensure that they are food-safe, BPA-free, and are not porous enough to harbor bacteria (or harbor stale coffee tastes and aromas). If ceramics are used, ensure that the glazes are food safe, cadmium and cobalt-free, or FDA approved.
MATCHING YOUR FRENCH PRESS SIZE TO YOUR DESIRED COFFEE SERVING SIZE
BUY THE RIGHT SIZE FOR YOUR DESIRED SERVING SIZE : When brewing fill the press no higher than an inch or more from the brim, or to the V at the bottom of the spout. This reduces capacity, but prevents coffee ejecting from the spout when pressing down. Room MUST be allowed for the half-inch to one-inch thick CO2 caused foamy "bloom" to rise, the water displacement of the plunger and spillage room. Do not forget the volume of the grounds either, and the 2-4 ounces of water retained by the grounds after pouring.
Because of the facts mentioned above, any "to-the-brim" capacity claimed by the maker must be adjusted downward by at least 2-6 fl. oz., in proportion to the size of the press. This goes for ALL brands and models of French Press products. For example, Frieling's stated capacities are often confusing and not clearly defined, so you might need to contact Freiling to ask questions prior to purchase, or read the below. Do so when shopping Bodum, BonJour, Frieling, or any brand of French Press. To eliminate confusion, you need to know the actual, always lesser, YIELD of served coffee in fluid ounces, not the maximum capacity, to the brim, of the French Presses you are comparing. If in doubt, go larger.
A REVIEW OF THE FRIELING FRENCH PRESS
1) FRIELING OWNERS HERE ON AMAZON VOTE IT 4.7 STARS, 94% POSITIVE. You might have noticed that only a few products on Amazon are rated that highly.
2) FRIELING MAKES FIVE SIZES FOR YOUR DESIRED PORTION SIZE. Frieling's stated sizes are at full capacity, but it is prudent to reduce that maximum capacity by about 2-6 fluid ounces, depending upon the size chosen, to allow space for the plunger and the inevitable rising head of bloom-foam when hot water hits the ground coffee. Accordingly, Frieling makes FIVE sizes to suit your capacity needs: 8 fl/oz, 16 fl/oz, 23 fl/oz, 36 fl/oz, and 44 fl/oz.
3) DOUBLE-WALL THERMAL INSULATION. Frieling makes only one model, the Ultimo, in polished or brushed finish. ALL its three main elements are hollow, double-wall insulated: the pot, the handle, AND the lid. So far, it is the only brand or model of French Press, with one exception, to possesses ALL three features--the insulated LID in particular. Such insulation will keep your brewing coffee at 195-205 degrees F during the entire brewing cycle resulting in maximum flavor and aroma, as verified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. FrielingUSA states that such insulation retains heat four times longer than a glass French press.
4) 18/10 STAINLESS, COMMERCIAL-GRADE DURABILITY. Unique to Frieling, this heavy duty French Press is made of food grade, food-safe solid stainless steel, 18/10 (18% chromium, 10% nickel: best quality), heavy gauge stainless steel stock. This quality, special alloy is food-safe and lead-free, meant for commercial use in hotel room-service and hotel dining rooms, for fine-cuisine restaurants, for caterers, and is sold to specialty, high-end hotel/restaurant supply houses (still Frieling's primary business). Such high quality steel NEVER rusts or stains, and I mean NEVER.
Also, it will never shatter or injure you. Survives dishwasher hell, and comes out looking like new. The Frieling was once under the radar. It is now available to the public at better coffee-ware or kitchen-ware stores, and is available here on Amazon, far from its industrial roots. The interior is brushed, and because the stainless walls are solid all the way through, the plunger cannot scratch off any "coating" because there is no coating...so nothing can rust...as so many other reviewers here have confirmed. Neither the high speed metal brushed finish nor the mirror finish will affect its non-rust qualities...it is just a cosmetic thing.
5) ITS FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION. Discipline and restraint, with utility in mind, results in the Frieling's handsome, elegant, and understated lines. Appearance has been given a slight nod. It's all business. Even its high polish is not there to WOW at, but to make it easier to clean. There are no false touches present; only the authentic remains. The entire achievement makes it presentable for casual entertaining, even for more formal occasions. A matching sugar and creamer, with spoon, is available. Its tall, slightly narrow profile has a small footprint, taking up little space on the counter or the table.
Shopper's note: Confusing an insulated Press with an insulated carafe is a very common blunder. ANY brand of thermal insulated French Press is specifically designed as a brewer, NOT as a thermal carafe or thermos, so brewed coffee MUST be poured into cups IMMEDIATELY after the four minute brewing period or the continued steeping will produce, even if over a minute, an over-extracted, bitter, and insipid cup! For leftover coffee, use a pre-heated thermal carafe or thermos, with a screw-on sealed lid, specifically designed to store hot coffee, and to keep it hot, after it is brewed. Actually, it is best not to store coffee. Consume coffee within 10-15 minutes for the best flavor. For more coffee simply brew more coffee for the best flavor.
6) THE POT'S SMALL SPOUT is drip-less due to its lipped design. Not a stray drop on the tablecloth yet after four years of daily use. The spout is small enough to lose minimal heat, and I tested the heat loss by plugging the spout with window pane putty and measured only a one degree F heat loss compared to an open spout when brewing. It therefore needs no mechanism to close the spout. You will discover that the spout is large enough for a quick, steep-stopping pour.
7) THE INSULATED LID is entirely unique. It is, with one exception, the only INSULATED lid for a French Press to be found by any manufacturer. Heat rises, and as far as heat is concerned, the pot functions as a chimney, focusing heat above, and its opening is where most heat is lost. This lid caps the heat with its tight fit and insulation. The lid's underside dome shape helps assist in that, like a domed teakettle. The overall lid design is critical if you care to brew at the proper 195-205 degree F temperature. THIS WAS THE FINAL KICKER IN MY DECISION TO CHOOSE THE FRIELING, along with the other goodies.
8) THE INSULATED HANDLE is crafted of hollow, extruded stainless, all of a piece, to keep it cool, as well as to keep it lightweight so as not to unsteady the pot. The handle's vertical upright is ovoid in cross-section to provide comfort for the gripping fingers. A secure niche for the thumb is provided with its horizontal thumb rest and thumb-block. An often overlooked feature in cup or French Press design, because if the thumb rests on on a horizontal support, especially if that support is provided with a means of blocking the thumb from slipping off, one's grip is then very secure indeed. Take a look at the photo of the handle on this site, you'll see it. The long, vertical provides plenty of clearance for the fingers, and is angled inward toward the bottom to secure the fingers, also to provide good leverage when pouring.
9) THE PLUNGER, when pushed down, results in a dynamic turbulence that agitates the water and grounds to intensify flavors...this is the heart of the Press, and what makes French Press what it is. It also separates the grounds from the coffee, so it is fitted to precise specifications to minimize stray grounds coming through the filter or from between the pot's inner walls and the periphery of the plunger, and thence into the cup. The unit is entirely crafted from 18/10 stainless steel (the best grade)...no plastic parts to retain stale tastes whatsoever. Easy to dissemble for cleaning and spare parts are always available. Remember, with ANY French Press you will have stray grounds, especially if you buy canned coffee because it is always ground too fine for French Press, or if you use anything but a burr grinder. Even so, tiny grounds sneak in...French Pressists never sip that last sip: don't blame the Frieling Press, or a Bodum, or a BonJour.
10) REPLACEMENT PARTS AND EXCHANGES FOR VALID PROBLEMS ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE. My online and telephone experience with Frieling USA has been excellent. They will replace any product or part you feel is defective. Also, down the line, parts such as the filter screen. cross plate, spiral plate of the plunger assembly, or the plunger rod, are available at very reasonable prices.
11) FRIELING KEEPS GOOD COMPANY. Beside Amazon, the finest, most prestigious online coffee gear retailers carry it: cateringplanet, wholelattelove, seattlecoffeegear, clivecoffee, terroircoffee, williams-sonoma, espressozone, shop.illy, chriscoffee, liquidplanet, roaste, crateandbarrel, coffee.become, coffeebydesign, coffeeart, veniacoffee, greentreecoffee, blacksmithcoffee, wayfair, etc.
12) USEFUL FOR MAKING "OPEN POT" COFFEE. You can also use this for "OPEN POT" brewing, the simple, "connoisseur's method," also called "Cowboy Coffee." With this method, you simply dose a pot with coffee, pour in off-boil water, and steep with the lid on, but with the plunger extended just, stir three times during the steep, after the four minute steep pour through a fine filter into your cup. The flavor is similar to French Pressed coffee.
13) USEFUL AS AN INSULATED SERVING PITCHER FOR HOT OR COLD DRINKS. Use the Freiling for serving cold juices, milk, or ice water; use it for serving hot syrup, hot chocolate, hot milk, etc.
14) EASY TO CLEAN. The Freiling is dishwasher safe and that will remove any water spots or fingerprints with ease. The plunger filter assembly does not need to be taken apart to clean. Hand-washing is often used when camping. Coffee oils build up on grinders and coffee makers of any kind...same here. So, periodically, when you see a thin brown film, use a water-vinegar solution and let soak overnight, then scrub well.
1) THE LID CAN SLIP FORWARD A BIT WHEN POURING: The lid is snug for pressing, but while pouring, the lid can slip forward a half inch or so. Solution--the "teapot pour", the way waitstaff use it: with the finger(s) of one hand, lightly press down on the lid, the other hand grips the handle to pour. Or, use the "one-hand pour": grip the handle with your fingers, press down lightly with side of your thumb upon the flat of the lid's back edge, or use the index finger as another reviewer here mentioned, then pour...easy and secure. If you are extremely heat-sensitive just use a potholder to hold to lid. I never need to, and neither do my Frieling French Press using friends, including my daughter.
2) A FEW SMALL PARTICLES OF GRIND CAN CATCH IN THE PLUNGER, in the tiny screen seam. Solution--If that happens, then after brewing and rinsing out your Frieling, fill with hot water, replace lid and plunger. Then, pumping vigorously up and down a few times, the turbulence removes the particles. I seldom have to do that twice or use a small brush. Then place the pot and plunger in the dishwasher.
3) FRIELING'S SIZING IS CONFUSING CUSTOMERS: Capacities of Frieling's presses are often expressed in two capacities: he "serving" capacity and the "maximum capacity" when used as a serving carafe for liquids other than coffee. Very often the "serving capacity" is not accurate, serving less than the amount stated. Moreover, various vendors, Amazon sellers, and other retailers list the same model at different capacities. It is maddening. Not only that, but most customers do not know that the "cups" Frieling and all coffee manufacturers refer to are actually the European "Tasse" cup of 4.22 fluid oz each (1/8 liter, 125ml), NOT the US 8oz measuring cup, so customers often feel misinformed when coffee servings are HALF what they expected. Frieling is innocent of misrepresentation here: it is customer ignorance that is at fault. Regardless, Frieling needs to address this issue ASAP and give us the ACTUAL YIELD per serving, in US fluid ounces, of each size offered.
The Frieling French presses are a commercial, industrial design with commercial-grade stainless, insulated everywhere, including the lid, easier to clean than with plastic parts that also retain flavors. Holds the brew temperature at the correct SCAA recommended 195-205 degrees, the most important brewing feature of all. Dishwasher hardy and clean-up is easy. Handsome and presentable for entertaining. Durable to the maximum. Excellent, all stainless plunger, few stray particles, produces minimal silt. Highly recommended. 4.8 Amazon stars.
FRIELING'S DOUBLE-WALL STAINLESS STEEL INSULATED COMPETITION
FRIELING ULTIMO FRENCH PRESS 8c (Vacuum-Insulated, 18/10 SS), $74, 4.7 stars: ALL-STAINLESS plunger, INSULATED ALL-stainless lid, DRIP-LESS spout, THUMB-SECURE handle, stable.
BODUM ARABICA 8c, $68, 3.5 stars: plastic plunger &lid parts, uninsulated lid, spout dribbles, stable shape.
BODUM COLUMBIA 4c, $60, 4.7 stars: plastic plunger & lid parts, thin uninsulated lid, VERY stable, good handle.
BODUM COLUMBIA 8c, $71, 4.4 stars: plastic plunger & lid parts, uninsulated lid, UNSTABLE bowling-pin shape.
BODUM PRESSO 8c, $58, 4.4 STARS: plastic plunger & lid parts, uninsulated lid, HIGHLY STABLE with flared base.
BONJOUR FIORE 8c, $30, 3.5 stars: NO plastic parts, uninsulated lid, spout dribbles, MIXED REVIEWS, stable.
BONJOUR TRIOMPHE 8c, $68, 4.2 stars: plastic in lid assembly, uninsulated lid, ADJUSTABLE FILTER, stable.
CUISINOX PRESS 8c, $55, 3.4 stars: NO plastic parts, uninsulated lid, Frieling COPY, MIXED REVIEWS, stable.
ESPRO PRESS, 30oz, $99, NEW, plastic filter, "clean-cup" DOUBLE FILTER, uninsulated lid, stable, good handle.
LA CAFETIERE THERMIQUE 8c, $35, 4.2 stars: NO plastics, INSULATED LID, drips, MIXED REVIEWS, stable.
Most of the above brands and models, Bodum and BonJour in particular, I respect for their overall quality, if not for the plastic parts. They, and Frieling, all make similar coffee, but with varying degrees of insulation efficiency and thus very noticeable flavor-intensity outcomes. Being consumer-grade products, they are not expected to be as durable as commercial-grade equivalents, such as Frieling, due to their intended work environment. Consequently, their comparison with the Frieling is a bit unfair...like comparing apples to oranges. Always buy commercial products whenever possible...the tough guys.
By the way, if you remain loyal to glass-beakered Presses, the double-glass wall, insulated version of the iconic Bodum Chambord 8c ($80) is available (being that glass holds in heat better than metal, I can recommend it), but a replacement beaker is $50, $130 total Amazon. If insulation is not important to you, the glass beakered, single walled, Bodum Eileen ($67 Amazon for the 8c), with its "full metal perforated jacket" of stainless, is widely used in French restaurants and bistros as a commercial Press; it is fairly durable for a single wall Press due to the metal sheath, but its single wall will NOT keep the brew at the right temperature.
A REBUTTAL OF THE MOST COMMON CRITICAL REVIEWS, AND SOME OVER THE TOP ONES
THE COMMON ONES
1) "Some grounds and silt bypass the filter and are in my cup." Answer: some will always pass through, it is a French Press thing, common to all brands and models...French Pressists never take that last sip. But there are three ways to dramatically reduce that, 1) the fault, almost invariably, USING A WHIRLY-BLADE GRINDER, or the LACK OF A CONICAL BURR GRINDER that allows you to grind EVENLY and COARSELY, no more dust-and-boulders; or b) not grinding COARSELY enough with any grinder; or c) buying CANNED OR PACKAGED PRE-GROUND coffee ground FINE for drip coffee so that fine grounds can bypass the French Press's filter. Grind medium-course for French Press, not" fine. If you have no good grinder then have your coffee source grind it coarsely for you.
2) "My coffee does not stay hot very long after I pour it." Answer: ANY brand of French Press is designed to BREW coffee, and NOT TO STORE IT. Period. Stainless Steel, or glass, double-walled Presses are designed to keep the brewing coffee at the correct temperature (195-205 degrees) DURING THE BREW CYCLE and are NOT MEANT TO STORE COFFEE AFTER THE BREW CYCLE IS COMPLETED. If the steep goes much past 4 minutes you get nasty coffee--over-extracted and bitter. I am convinced that the confusion comes from mistaking what it looks like: an insulated pot "looks" like a thermos, or insulated carafe. Well, it's not. It's a brewer.
Timing is critical when making any coffee. Espresso Baristas use a timer to cut short their pull at 25-30 seconds per shot, with French Press (and drip) set your timer to 3.5 to 4.5 minutes per extraction (4 minutes is the sweet spot).
3)"I get this metallic taste (or bitter taste, or stale taste, take your pick)." Stainless steel, especially food-grade 18/10 stainless used in the Frieling, is famed for imparting ZERO taste to food or beverages. It's what it's known for. The off-tastes come from other sources such as, a) coffeol oil and collagen residues adhering to the Press wall, or in your grinder, or both...keep them clean, or 2) certain coffees give off unusual flavor notes also, or c) your water might be less than ideal, or d) your dish-wash detergent is not thoroughly rinsed off. It's NOT the metal itself.
THE OVER-THE-TOP ONES
"The handle breaks off," or "has a sloppy weld." Or, "Cannot clean the thing at all." Or, "I get gray powder on my paper towel when I wipe it out." Answer: These are over the top, spoiler, deal-killing statements and are intended to be so, for various malicious reasons, I remain convinced, and so utterly lacking in truth that they are laughable. The laser-weld on the handle is so secure that the restaurant supply managers I personally know say they have never experienced any handle failures or sloppy welds, none, ever. Dirty Stainless is not 18/10 stainless's fault, so if really neglected use food-service's favorite: Barkeeper's Friend, use it gently, rinse. Lastly..."It shows fingerprints all the time, and spots"...uh, well, wipe them off, how hard is that? Or sell it on e-bay and buy the new matte brushed-finish Frieling. Gray powder on the inside? Not possible with 18/10 Stainless...has to be bad water or bad dish-washing detergent, come on, think of a better pot shot.
Frieling's positive 4 & 5 star reviews are 94% of the total here. That is highly unusual on Amazon. So don't worry, the $75 is only about $10 more than the lesser Bodums you might be shopping. It is money well spent, lasting for many, many years. I cherish my Frieling, and so will you.
THE COFFEE HOUSE FRENCH PRESS BREW METHOD: The Hows and Whys
* USE CLEAN, COLD WATER. Brewing with a French Press is simple and easy. You have to know how to do it and WHY you are doing it to extract the most flavor possible. Essentially, your water flavor must be good so you begin by using cold, filtered water. You fill your kettle with TWICE the water needed: half to pre-warm your Press and the other half for brewing.
* USE THE RIGHT DOSE OF COFFEE BEANS. Dose coffee beans at 55-65g of coffee beans per liter of water, or 70 grams if you "break and clean" (rather than stirring the bloom, you break the bloom foam cake and spoon out the surface grounds to reduce the fines, in which case you sacrifice some brewing grounds, so you need to over-dose a bit). Use a kitchen scale to measure.
* BEGIN GRINDING THE BEANS JUST BEFORE THE WATER BOILS. Once the bean husk is cracked open favor immediately escapes, so wait until the last minute to grind, just as the water begins to boil. I can recommend Baratza grinders, by the way.
* BREW AT THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE. As the water almost boils, start your grinder, pre-warm your Press with half the off-boil water, empty the Press and fill with the grounds weighed on a scale. Then pour in the other half of the water, using a scale to measure, at about 205-208 degrees F so as the temperature drops during the brew you are NEVER brewing lower than 195 degrees F. NEVER begin at 195 degrees F or flavor really suffers as the temp at brew's end can even drop to 185 degrees F...not good!
* BREW FOR THE CORRECT TIME. A four-minute brew cycle is highly recommended. Anything less gives you a raw, under-extracted cup, anything more gives you an over-cooked, over-extracted, bitter cup. At Brew's end, ALWAYS pour out coffee into cups to terminate the brewing. NEVER store coffee in any coffee brewer as it will continue to brew! Even with drip brewing coffee is stored in a carafe...do that same here. A coffee brewer of any kind is NOT a coffee storage carafe. That is a job for a thermally insulated carafe. The insulation in a French Press is there to keep the brew at the correct temperature DURING the brew cycle.
BREWING IT: An Up-close Look at Brewing French Press Coffee
1. FILL KETTLE with at least TWICE the water needed to brew. Use only fresh, never-boiled, COLD, FILTERED water, not the nasty tasting, mildly rusty hot water sitting inside your hot water heater. Now begin heating your water at high heat.
2. WEIGH YOUR BEANS. While the water heats, place your grinder's grounds-collecting bin on your scales, then tare to zero. After weighing, pour the beans into the grinder's hopper, then place the grounds bin in the grinder to catch the grounds when you grind.
3. GRIND YOUR BEANS. Set your grinder to a mid coarse setting, as coarse as coarsely ground pepper, and experiment to get the dosage just right for your taste...I like the finer side of coarse. When your water almost boils, at about 210-211 degrees F, turn off the heat and start your grinder and let the water temp drop a bit in the meantime.
4. WEIGH WATER AS YOU POUR, THEN STEEP. While the grinder is grinding, pour hot water into your Press to warm it. When the grinding is completed, pour the warming water from the Press into your cup(s) to pre-warm them, discard remaining water from the Press.
Then pour your coffee grounds to the Press and place your Press on your scales, tare the Press to zero. To monitor heat place a thermometer in your Press. Now pour in the kettle's remaining 205-208 degree F water into the Press as shown on your scale (I use 870-900g in my 1 liter Press). Place the lid on the Press with plunger extended upward to begin the brewing cycle. Set your timer to 4 minutes.
5. STIR, SINK, OR SCOOP OFF THE BLOOM. After after one minute, either gently stir, or sink the bloom with a spoon, or remove (break) the cake "crust" with a soup spoon (or two) to gently scoop to remove (clean) the bloom off the top to reduce the amount of fines in the brew. Be sure no grounds remain above the plunger or in the spout as those grounds will end up in your cup.
6. REPLACE THE LID AND FINISH BREWING. With the lid on, continue to brew until the timer beeps, then press the plunger down VERY SLOWLY to the bottom (to reduce agitation of any fines present). Pour out the warming water from your cup(s), THEN pour in the hot coffee from the Press to replace it. Serve and enjoy. This is the ambrosia people are talking about...properly made French Press.
Note: Hoping to cover all the bases, and to eliminate any confusion, I have gone into great detail here so you know not only HOW to properly make French Press, but also WHY you make it that way. Making French Press is actually a very simple ritual once you do it a few times, much, much simpler than it appears in the above.
NOTE: The French Press pictured above is the highly regarded double-walled insulated Frieling Ultimo French Press made of 100% 18/10 stainless steel with a stainless steel lid and parts..no plastic parts in the lid or filter plunger. The Frieling is a fine hotel and restaurant grade product available in five sizes. Available in mirror polished or brushed matte finishes. See my Frieling French Press review on The Good Stuff, thegoodstuffreviews.blogspot.com
I hope this was helpful to you. If you have questions please use the Comment section below and I will be glad to help.
MY BLOGS: thegoodstuffreviews.blogspot.com AND thegoodstuffaudioreviews.blogspot.com