Ok, be honest here. How many different coffee makers do you have? If you love your coffee, like me, you probably have three or four different coffee machines in your kitchen. And for good reason.
Just the other day, I cracked the carafe on my trusty Bodum French Press. Serious bummer. The Bodem carafe was cracked from top to bottom. It was really annoying, because I was looking forward to my morning French press coffee ritual. That was the first thing I bought after I moved to France and I’ve had that Bodum 4 cup coffee maker for nearly 10 years!
But it got me thinking. Sure, I could have simply bought a replacement glass carafe, but considering the cost, I wanted something new. I got good use out of it, but are there newer, better, smaller French presses on the market, and one that’s better at keeping the ground out of my cup? So started my research.
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What to do when your French press breaks
As a coffee addict, you have to have a back up plan, and I’m no different. I also have an ancient Bialetti 6 cup coffee maker that I only pull out when I have real Italians staying at my place, because they’ll drink no other. But I also find espresso really gives me a kick in the pants – sometimes too much because I like to have a couple cups of coffee. Even if I water it down, the espresso still renders me nervous. Did you know that the Original Bialetti Moka Expresso maker has been around for more than 80 years. I truly expect mine to last that long as well.
If I want to cheat, I’ll pop in a pod into my Nespresso-style coffee machine. I pulled out the Bialetti and the morning was saved. To be honest, I use the Nespresso coffee maker infrequently. It’s great if I have guests stop by or I need a quick cup, but I don’t like the waste the pods generate.
Researching small French press coffee makers
Any rate, I now have the conundrum of which coffee machine to buy. I definitely want a new French Press coffee maker, but I’m not sure if I want to go back to the original large French press Bodem coffee maker or another top rated small French Press coffee maker.
I work from home, which means I consume a lot of coffee. And I really want the best coffee maker for the money. But I also don’t want to make a ton of coffee that gets cold quickly. So I decided to put together the best small French Press coffee maker reviews. Hopefully this will help you decide what coffee machine to buy, especially if you are looking for the best small coffee maker.
Coffee is a Ritual
The ceremony of making coffee, and enjoying it, should be appreciated. It shouldn’t be where you make a huge pot and let it go cold, or worse, let it become bitter because the coffee grounds have been swimming in the pot for HOURS. It defeats the purpose and it’s not great on the stomach. I remember the old days when my parents would make a pot in the old drip Mr. Coffee maker and then let it bake on that plate for hours. Yuck!
I’ve now come to the conclusion that the best coffee comes from small French Coffee Presses. The same concept as the large French press, but they brew enough coffee for 1-3 cups.
Why Buy a Small French Press Coffee Machine?
The small French Press coffee makers are a perfect start in the morning, and equally suited when I have friends pop by for a quick coffee break in the afternoon. With the small press, your coffee is hot, fresh, you use less grounds and the small French press makers take up less space.
Another thing is that I sit for long periods of time at my computer, which is a no-no. Since I love coffee, this forces me to get up and take a break for 15 minutes to prepare another small plunger pot of coffee.
The different types of French Press coffee makers?
Primarily there are three types of small French Press coffee machines: glass, stainless steel and ceramic French press coffee makers.
Glass French Presses:
The glass carafes are standard, but are more fragile to heat and to washing up. Make sure the glass is heat resistant and made of borosilicate glass. The carafes are usually encased in a metal or plastic frame, and/or have bumpers on the bottom or a ‘rest’ you can place them on. You can also keep an eye on the coffee grounds as you are brewing.
Stainless Steel French Presses:
Clearly this is much more durable, and the best small stainless steel coffee machine comes double-walled. This keeps the coffee warm for longer. But at the end of the day if you are using a small French press, you’re only making enough for a couple of cups, which should be consumed rather quickly. I think a Stainless Steel coffee maker is best in larger French Press machines. Any rate, ensure the quality of the stainless steel is 18/8 or 18/10.
Ceramic French Press Coffee Maker:
French stoneware or ceramic French presses offer a durable press. They are long lasting. This style of insulated French press coffee maker is one of the best coffee plungers, and they are a stylish countertop coffee machine.
Components of the Small French Press Coffee Machine
- The Coffee Plunger: This is what you used to press the coffee down into the carafe once you’ve poured in the coffee and hot water. The plunger comes with a screen (two screens are even better) on the bottom that separates the grounds from the coffee. This plunger should be straight and sturdy and the filter should be tight or level, not wobbly or the grounds will escape when you plunge!
- The Coffee Lid: Many French press coffee lids also have a second screen at the pour section of the lid. This will catch coffee grains that bypassed the first screen. At the end of the day, you don’t want ‘mud’ in the bottom of your cup. That happens a lot, so the best coffee to use in your small French press are those with a bigger grain. I’ve listed a few of the best coffee grinders below.
- Carafe sizes: The small French Presses come in 1-3 cup sizes. One cup is typically 8 ounces, so you’ll be looking for one that’s a maximum of 20/24 ounces. That’s a Venti at Starbucks! Remember you’ll have your swollen coffee grounds taking up space, too. The biggest complaint that people have when buying a small French Press online is that the size wasn’t what they anticipated. European sizes of coffee differ. We are not used to drinking a Venti…
The Best Small French Press Coffee Makers to Buy:
Best Classic Small French Press: Bodum Chambord Coffee Maker- 17 oz
Best Brushed insulated small French Press: Frieling Brushed Stainless Small Steel French Press Coffee Maker
Best Polished insulated small French Press: Frieling Polished Stainless Small French Press Coffee Maker
Best single-serving small French Press: Bodum Chambord Coffee Maker- 12 oz
Best Stoneware small French Press: Le Creuset Cafetiere – 12oz Stoneware French Press
Best Travel/Portable French Press: Bodum Stainless-Steel Travel French Press Mug
Check the reviews of each small French press coffee maker below.
French Press Pros and Cons when Buying a Coffee Machine
- French Press coffee machines make fresher coffee: The small French Press coffee makers are quite easy to use, and make a better tasting coffee than a drip coffee maker, in my opinion. It’s made quick, you drink it quick, and the flavors are robust.
- Coffee can get cold in a big French coffee machine: Unlike a drip machine, there is no warming plate under a French Press, which is why you should drink most of it relatively soon after making it. That’s also why I’ve suggested a few Stainless Steel and Ceramic coffee maker options below. However, if you are getting a small French Press, the point is that you are only making up to 3 cups, so you’ll consume them before they get cold.
- You need to warm your French press carafe first, whether glass, stainless steel or ceramic with warm water. That helps the coffee stays hotter for longer. Otherwise, your coffee will get cold quicker. The best coffee maker for maintaining heat will be stoneware coffee presses and stainless double walled french coffee makers.
- Coffee oil: In a drip machine, the paper filter will absorb some of the oils in the beans. In a French press, the oils will remain along with the grounds in the bottom of the coffee pot.
Other French Press Pros and Cons
- Glass carafes being glass have a tendency to break Duh. This is why I’ve included the best stainless steel and ceramic carafes, because they will not break as easily as glass and also keep your coffee warmer for longer. Any glass carafe you buy should be heat-resistant borosilicate glass. The really cheap French press coffee makers may be made of a different type of glass and you won’t have a working coffee maker for long.
- You get to watch your glass coffee press in action. In a glass carafe French Press you can watch the press in action. In stainless steel or French stoneware ceramic pot you cannot. But there’s nothing like watching your coffee plunge down the barrel, which is the appeal of the glass carafes.
- Coffee grounds in your coffee. The mesh can be a con. Get a small French press with a double mesh filter, if possible. I’ve had single mesh and over time they allow grounds to come through. The best coffee for French press makers is a bigger grind and if you get the right grind, you can better control or eliminate the sediment in your cup. It can be a pain but start with the best coffee for your French press and test it out. Otherwise, get one that has a fine mesh strainer at the spout to collect any floating grounds.
- Plastic parts in your coffee maker. Any plastic parts should be BPA-free plastic. BPA stands for bisphenol A, and it’s a nasty epoxy resin used in many plastics, which have health risks. You don’t want these elements seeping onto whatever you eat or drink, and many French Press lids, for example, are plastic, but they are BPA free. If not, don’t buy them.
Small French Press Coffee Maker Reviews
The Chambord Small French Press Coffee Maker is thee original Chambord Bodum French Press coffee maker that’s been around since the 50’s! And unless you are incredibly clumsy, this is a great starter French Press, or one to reduce down to. It’s also great glass tea press. It’s a super coffee plunger and super glass tea press all in one.
The Bodum carafe is made of heat-resistant borosilicate glass and BPA-free interior plastic lid. It rests inside a sturdy metal frame and has a 3-part stainless steel plunger with only 1 filter mesh. You may notice coffee grounds coming through the filter with age.
The handle is Polypropylene and is generally durable. You can put this in the dishwasher, but I suggest you hand wash these coffee presses. I’ve seen a few comments about the handle coming loose, because it’s not attached with screws. I wonder whether the heat of the dishwasher may weaken the plastic handle. Any rate, simply wash your French press by hand.
You’ll get 2 decent cups with the 17 oz Bodum coffee maker. The size is probably the biggest gripe for people who don’t understand sizes. They assume it is bigger and see the words ‘4 cup coffee maker’ and think it will be 4 big cups.
They made some changes recently to the lid of another 17 oz Bodum Chambord coffee maker that isn’t going down well. This Bodum coffee machine has a locking lid. The concept is good to prevent spilling and to keep the coffee warm, but it’s a bit cumbersome when it comes time to clean. It sits quite tightly in the glass carafe and there is a tendency for the glass to break when you are pulling the lid off for cleaning.
Any rate, this is one of the best small coffee machines on the market, but I’d suggest getting the traditional one and not the one with a locking lid. Bodum coffee plungers are a solid brand of coffee maker to buy.
This award-winning, top-rated, durable Frieling French press coffee maker is only 9 inches high, and double-walled for 4 times the warmth capacity of glass French press coffee makers.
This is brushed 18/10 Stainless Steel, and super easy to clean. It has a 2-stage filter system with a pre-filter and super-fine filter so you don’t get mud in your cup. Nice!
The metal wire coil inside presses the plunger firmly against inside wall so fewer grounds get through.
It’s dishwasher safe and I see these often in hotels! It’s tasteful, elegant and you can’t go wrong…. At least that’s what they tell you..
The complaints I’ve heard about this top-rated coffee press is that it doesn’t keep the coffee hot for as long as it should – even with preheating. Also, you end up wasting space at the top because the spout is about an inch below the top rim of the coffee plunger. You have to be careful when pouring coffee as it has a tendency to drip all over, and you need to be careful not to plunge out boiling water when you position the lid. It appears there’s a bit of a clumsy design here, but they have great PR to be such a highly rated stainless steel coffee maker.
This has the exact same attributes as the brushed small Frieling French Press Coffee Maker above, except that it’s in smooth stainless and this one is a larger machine.
This beautiful, mirrored stainless steel coffee press comes in different sizes, but the question is whether you have hard water? In France, we have hard water issues, and the exterior of this can accumulate lots of calcium spots. Best bet for cleaning hard water stains from your appliances is to use white vinegar. It’s also good to clean your coffee maker with vinegar on occasion to completely rid it of odors and stains anyway.
This is 100% stainless steel inside and out. So if you don’t want plastic-anything, the Frieling brand is a name to buy.
Like the other Frieling French Press above, this will have the same gripes regarding spills and usable space in the carafe. One other consideration when buying a French press is availability of spare parts. Many glass carafes can be replaced because they frequently get broken. It’s more difficult to buy simple replacement parts for say a metal handle that has broken off. You’ll end up buying a whole new French press coffee pot. Keep the price in mind as well. It’s one thing to replace a $30 coffee maker than a $100 one.
Again, like the original French press Bodum Chambord coffee maker above, this a small coffee plunger will make a 12 oz cup of coffee. It’s a perfect one cup coffee maker and is actually one of the best selling coffee makers you’ll find.
While the single-portion French press coffee makers are a great idea for the infrequent coffee consumer, the smaller the coffee press, the easier it may break. Everything has to be on a smaller scale and that includes the thickness of the glass carafe as well.
I’d be more inclined to go with the 17oz above. And it appears the next size up for a Bodum Chambord is 34oz. But this is none-the-less a great option for a small coffee press and it is the original French press Bodum.
This Bodum coffee press does not have the locking lid either. It’s the perfect small French Press coffee maker if you want a single portion.
Le Creuset Bakeware started with cast iron and enameled pots back in 1925 in Fresnoy le Grand, France. You might remember or even have a volcano orange Le Creuset ceramic French oven. They are like a Dutch oven and great for roasting in the oven. Those things are heavy, but the Le Creuset brand is well worth the investment. They last a long time.
This adorable small coffee maker is made with the same quality as the rest of Le Creuset, albeit they are not cast iron. This Le Creuset coffee pot is made of thick, quality stoneware that doesn’t crack or scratch easily. Any of the Le Creuset stoneware line maintains even heating and can be put in the oven, microwave and dishwasher.
You can put the Le Creuset carafe in the microwave, but not the coffee plunger because it has metal parts. And I’ve read that the dishwasher isn’t kind to these presses either. Just hand wash it.
They also make a Le Creuset French Press in 27oz which is great for 3 decent cups of coffee. And the best thing is that these enameled-gloss stoneware French presses come in 11 different colors, but many say the white Le Creuset are the most elegant. You can match it to your kitchen. This is a brilliant press coffee maker.
Those who buy the Le Creuset cafetiere often buy a second one because they are so beautiful and make a mean cup of coffee. However there is a gripe about the lid. It appears that some lids don’t fit properly on the ceramic carafe or it’s too loose and feels as though you need to hold the lid on for fear of it falling off. Check to be sure the lid nob is screwed on tightly. There is also no secondary filter at the spout, so if grounds get through to the coffee, some may end up in your cup.
For a sweet little portable French travel press coffee maker, again Bodum is the brand to go to. The Bodum Portable Travel French Press is a perfect way to take your coffee on the road.
There are two designs of the Bodum Travel Mug. One is a Bodum stainless steel portable travel French press. You make your French press the same as the counter-top version, but you can drink directly out of the Bodum travel mug.
The stainless steel Bodum travel French press is vacuum sealed and will keep your beverages warm for hours.
And the other is a plastic Bodum travel French press coffee maker. It is made of BPA-free, double-walled plastic and holds 15oz. The stainless steel travel press actually gets better reviews than the plastic one for keeping your coffee warm. And, it appears over time the plastic travel French press lets liquid seep between the double walls. They both have spill-resistant lids, built in coffee plunger, silicone hand grips, are dishwasher safe and come in several colors.
However, these are two great travel French press travel mugs and very practical if you want a portable French press on the go.
History of the French Press Coffee Maker
Let’s dig in with a bit of history… Ok. Arguments may ensue here, but the first French Press Coffee Maker was patented by the Italians and not the French… ‘Oh, mon Dieu’! Don’t shoot me. I’m just the messenger.
Yep. The Italians love their espresso and have a long history with coffee. And it was originally a Frenchman who used a fine screen on his coffee pot to filter out the grounds. But, it appears he didn’t do anything with that idea.
The first patent on this type of French Press coffee maker was registered in Milan in 1929 by Italian, Attilio Callimani. It was called, ‘La Cafetiere.’
Why are people so enamored with French Press coffee makers?
There are a number of reasons, but mainly because these press coffee makers allow you to control the type of coffee you brew. You pour in the best coffee for your french press and add the right amount of water. Give it a stir, wait a few minutes, press down on the coffee plunger, and you have a perfect cup of coffee. It’s quite like tea that steeps for a certain amount of time. Coffee is equally as delicate.
If you think of the standard American drip coffee maker, the grinds go in the filter and the water trickles down on top until it comes out the other end. Sounds kind of gross, actually. The heavy, strong flavored coffee drips first and then the weaker brew drips out later. You can’t stir the coffee in the paper or metal filter, and the filters absorb a lot of the oils from the coffee beans, which gives it that robust flavor. Also, water temperature is more consistent in a French Press coffee plunger. The coffee steeps all together.
People can get down-right snooty when it comes to how to prepare a perfect cup of coffee in a French Press. Always use the best coffee for French press makers. I’d start with this Illy coffee beans, which are recommended for French Press machines. I remember my dad’s trick when he was making drip coffee. He’d put in 2 Tbsp of coffee grounds for every cup, then add an extra Tablespoon on top, ‘for the pot.’ But Illy Coffee is the brand to go for.
Generally speaking, here’s how much coffee grounds to place in the bottom of your small French press. Also be sure you are using the best coffee for French Press makers. Don’t go with an espresso grind or you’ll be drinking mud. I’ve done that! These sizes are more American measures who typically enjoy a bigger cup of coffee. :
- 1 serving — 1 cup water = 8/12 oz = 2 tablespoons coffee beans
- 2 servings — 2 cups water = 16/17 oz = 4 tablespoons coffee beans
- 3 servings — 3 cups water = 22/24 oz = 6 tablespoons coffee beans
Heat your water until just below the boiling point – around 200F or 94C, and pour the water over the grounds. Give the coffee mixture a good stir and place the lid on the French Press with the plunger up – but don’t press it yet! Wait 4 minutes and then press down on the coffee plunger slowly until it’s all the way down. Then your coffee is ready.
As always, the best coffee for French Press makers is coarse ground, and buy the best quality French press coffee you can find. If you love your coffee like me, you’ll probably want to grind your coffee beans at home to the proper size, and buy a quality coffee grinders as well.
Now… back to my coffee. Enjoy!
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