Cafetières have stood the test of time, refusing to give way to coffee machines. Why? Because they brew coffee in just a few minutes, they’re an eco-friendly choice, and they’ll save you money on takeout coffee. Cafetières definitely get our vote as a must-have gadget for caffeine lovers.
Sometimes known as a French press, cafetières offer a good middle ground (pun intended) between instant coffee and coffee machines. They consist of a heatproof jug (or ‘carafe’) with a separate plunger/press. Once you’ve spooned in your ground coffee and added not-quite-boiling water, you leave it for about four minutes before gently pushing the plunger to the bottom.
This separates the grounds from the liquid, leaving you with coffee-infused water and no trace of gritty ground coffee bits. The press itself consists of a piece of mesh sandwiched between two filters, which can be taken apart to clean.
Cafetière vs coffee maker
Cafetières out-score pod machines if you’re making coffee for more than one person, because you don’t have to make everyone a cup individually. A cafetière also puts you in control, allowing you to make your coffee as strong or weak as you like. You don’t need to buy filter paper and your drink will usually work out cheaper per cup than a pod/capsule machine. You can also infuse herbal or other teas in them, if you want to.
The coffee you use will ultimately be the deciding factor in how good your coffee tastes, but a cafetière that looks stylish and is easy to use and clean is an important factor in creating a great cup of Joe. Apart from a couple of exceptions, we tested eight-cup cafetières for this review. Bear in mind that ‘eight-cup’ means eight small coffee cups, which works out at about three mugs. Our best-buys have been separated into three categories: glass cafetières, metal cafetières and stoneware cafetières.
For more inside knowledge, visit our reviews section to find more than 400 practical buyer’s guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in. To brush up further on coffee, we’ve also reviewed espresso machines, pod machines, bean-to-cup coffee machines, coffee grinders and reusable coffee cups. Plus, check out our guide to our best coffee machines review.
Best glass cafetières to buy
ProCook double-walled cafetière – joint best all-round glass cafetière
Pros: good price, insulated, dishwasher-proof, intuitive handle
Cons: slightly heavy when full
This ProCook cafetière is double walled, so the coffee inside stays hot while the exterior remains cool. That goes for the handle, too, which is designed in such a way that it naturally tilts into a pouring position when you’re ready to go.
With a one-litre capacity, this cafetière is ideal for a dinner party and it looks substantial, with a wide lid and jug. The extra layer of wall and its size means it’s a bit heavier than other models – although still pretty easy to lift. The lid is shiny stainless steel and, unusually, the handle is glass, giving the whole thing a minimalist but modern look.
We found the plunger action smooth and it poured well. The netting and filter came apart easily to wash and the whole thing was straightforward to reassemble afterwards. As a bonus, the cafetière can go in the dishwasher, too.
Bodum Chambord French press – joint best all-round glass cafetière
Pros: sleek design, tight-fitting plunger, dishwasher-proof
Cons: a slightly more expensive option
Bodum cafetières come with a slice of history. The founder, Jørgen Bodum, began work on his version of the French press in the 1970s, but it was when Melior-Martin (a company that specialised in dome-shaped cafetieres) joined the team that this classic Chambord model was born.
In both design and operation, it’s super-smooth. The stainless steel plunger fits snugly into the carafe, making for a velvety cup of coffee with plenty of ‘coffee bloom’ on top (those frothy surface bubbles that you get on a decent cup of coffee). Plus, the dome-shaped lid – which reminds us of one of those old-fashioned ring-for-service desk bells – slots in place tightly, too. That means minimal loss of heat, keeping your cup of coffee hot.
For small hands, the D-shaped handle is on the big side – but the cafetière is still easy to use, regardless. A bigger price tag, but it’s probably worth investing in a cafetière this reliable.
Alessi Bark stainless steel coffee maker – best cafetière for ‘coffee bloom’
Pros: makes great frothy coffee, modern design
Cons: an expensive option
The Alessi brand is known for its stylish, top-of-the-range products and this is no exception. It’s a coffee maker that’s designed to be on display – especially for coffee drinkers who prefer modern décor. The carafe is encased in a black stainless steel frame, made to mimic tree bark, and it was created by two Belgian designers.
Made from heat-resistant glass, this snazzy cafetière is noticeably lightweight and enjoyable to use. The moulded handle felt comfortable and natural, and the plunging motion was super-smooth. It also left us with a creamy layer of ‘coffee bloom’ on top of the liquid’s surface – the most bloom, in fact, of all the cafetières we tested. It also doubles-up as an infusion maker for fresh herb teas.
Wilko stainless steel 800ml cafetière – best budget glass cafetière
Pros: great value
Cons: hand wash only, plain design
If you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful, you can’t go wrong with Wilko’s standard cafetière. It mimics a classic design (though doesn’t have the same finesse as the Bodum model) and creates a decent cup of coffee – no complaints there. We were also impressed with the pour (no drips) and the leftover coffee was reasonably warm upon returning for another cup 10 minutes later.
At 800ml, it isn’t the biggest cafetière and you can’t put it in the dishwasher. Plus it’s easy to get smudgy fingerprints all over that stainless steel lid, which can be a pain to clean. Overall, though, at £10 it’s a good deal.
Judge 8-cup coffee glass cafetière – best mid-range cafetière
Pros: dishwasher-proof, understated style
Cons: removing the jug from the sleeve means you have to place it back in the right position, so it lines up with the spout
This Judge cafetière has a one-litre capacity, so it’s ideal if you’re brewing coffee for the whole family. We liked the neat, compact design, with brushed steel at the top and bottom, as well as on the sleeve. It’s average in terms of heaviness. The handle is easy to grip and has a utilitarian look, complete with two screws.
We tested the attractive anthracite colour, but it also comes in copper and silver, so you can choose the one that best suits your kitchen style.
The jug lifts clear of the casing to make for easy washing (in the dishwasher if you have one), although you do need to slot it back in the exact same place. The plunger knob is solid and substantial – it plunges well and pours quickly.
VonShef 8-cup copper French press – best value for money cafetière
Pros: unusual design, tactile handle, good price
Cons: slightly spindly top, hand-wash only
This modestly priced VonHaus cafetière looks more expensive than it is, and a lot of thought has gone into its design. We liked the generous one-litre size and unusual copper colour, with a lid of the same colour. There’s also a really tactile soft-grip handle, which is genuinely enjoyable to hold.
It was one of the few cafetières we tested that had ‘feet’, which sit underneath the bottom of the jug. The feet raise the jug slightly and would help avoid coffee rings on the table.
On the downside, the top felt a little spindly and it’s hand-wash only. But it worked well, with a lovely smooth plunging action. This would make a good gift, because it comes nicely packaged.
Best metal cafetières to buy
Stellar double-walled 8-cup cafetière – best all-round metal cafetière
Pros: seriously satisfying pour, great insulator
Cons: an expensive option
Our ‘best spout’ winner, this Stellar cafetière poured smoothly every time and never dribbled. It has an argon-welded spout, smaller than your average cafetière spout, and it’s this feature that made it a joy to use. It’s also double-walled, so that means plenty of thermal insulation – we came back to it an hour later and the coffee was still warm enough to drink.
The stainless steel filter (replacements available) guarantees a smooth cup of coffee, with no floating grinds. It’s dishwasher-safe and comes with the Stellar Lifetime Guarantee – great for peace of mind. This cafetière, which has a 900ml capacity, seems like the kind of model you could rely on for years to come. It’s also got a straight handle, which makes it that little bit more interesting.
Tom Dixon Brew cafetière – best show-off metal cafetière
Pros: beautiful to look at, great pour, good insulator
Cons: the most expensive cafetière tested, hand-wash only
For £160, you expect a lot. From British designer Tom Dixon (whose work is included in collections at the V&A and New York’s Museum of Modern Art), this cafetière is certainly a thing of beauty – you’d want to keep it on display, instead of tidied away in a cupboard. Luxuriously sheathed in gleaming copper with an ear-shaped thermoplastic handle, slim body, curvy edges, precision spout and over-sized copper plunger, Tom Dixon has created an elegant art-deco piece that works as both kitchen decoration and functional cafetière.
Because it’s deliberately slim and sleek, it only has a 750ml capacity (that’s around six cups) – good enough for two people, though. It also comes in a striking royal-blue box, making it a great gift option for someone you really, really like. A double-wall keeps coffee hot, though not as hot as the Stellar model mentioned above, and it’s hand-wash only.
ProCook satin stainless steel double-walled cafetière – best one-person metal cafetière
Pros: good insulator, compact size makes it easy to store
Cons: can’t provide a big cup of coffee
Are you the only person in your household that drinks coffee? If so, this mini ProCook model – our favourite of the three-cup cafetières tested – could be perfect. Similar in style to the Stellar cafetière mentioned above, with a modern T-bar handle, its double wall keeps coffee warm for at least half an hour.
We loved the brushed satin stainless steel look and found it to be a sturdy piece of kit. It’s also dishwasher-friendly and has a heat-resistant handle. But be warned – it’s so petite that it makes one cup of coffee at best (it won’t fill a regular coffee mug to the top) and you have to tip it 90 degrees in order to get a good pour.
ProCook double-walled stainless steel cafetière – best value for money metal cafetière
Pros: smooth pour, satisfying ‘plunge’ noise
Cons: could keep coffee hotter
For the current sale price, this conical six-cup cafetière from ProCook is excellent value. Even at its usual RRP of £40 we’d still recommend it. It’s an attractive option, with an old-fashioned conical charm, and we liked how rounded the edges, handle and spout were. Unusually, it made a distinctive sound when you pushed the plunger down – a good sound, like a kind of pleasant ‘scrunch’ as the plunger hit the stainless steel interior wall. Perhaps it’s because it’s such a snug fit (there were no floating grounds in our resulting cup of coffee).
It’s happy in the dishwasher, has a mirror-style finish, and a clean, no-dribble pour. It didn’t keep coffee as hot as the Stellar or Tom Dixon model, but as long as you usually drink your second cup of coffee within half an hour, it will still be warm.
Best stoneware cafetières to buy
Denby Studio grey brew cafetière – best-looking stoneware cafetière
Pros: gorgeous design, made in Britain
Cons: expensive, doesn’t retain heat as well as metal cafetières
Handcrafted in England from local Derbyshire clay, this speckled beauty from Denby would make a beautiful vase when it’s not in coffee-making mode. It comes in three different designs so you can match it to your kitchen, and we loved the classic curved handle. For something so elegant, this cafetière is surprisingly sturdy – it’s dishwasher-, microwave- and freezer-safe, making it one of the most versatile cafetières we tested.
In terms of performance, it produced a delicious cup of coffee with plenty of coffee bloom on top. But stoneware just doesn’t compete with metal (and some glass models) when it comes to retaining heat – you’ve got 15 minutes to drink it really. Not a problem if you’re sharing with other people, but you might end up with cold coffee if you’re drinking alone.
Le Creuset stoneware cafetière – best iconic stoneware cafetière
Pros: it will never go out of fashion, available in 15 colours
Cons: doesn’t retain heat as well as metal models
Generously sized at 1 litre, a Le Creuset cafetière is ideal if you’re making coffee for lots of people. Especially if you want to impress them with a classy piece of kitchen kit (Le Creuset has been crafting cookware since 1925), made from brightly coloured enamel and a splash of stainless steel. It’s scratch resistant, too, so no need to be overly cautious with it.
Le Creuset cafetières come with a 10-year warranty (most manufacturers aren’t that generous) and when we tested it, the resulting coffee was piping-hot and smooth-textured. There wasn’t as much ‘coffee bloom’ as other models though, and stoneware doesn’t match up to metal in terms of heat retention. Don’t come back to it in half an hour, expecting more hot coffee. With 15 different colours to choose from, including classic ‘volcanic orange’, it’s great fun choosing a Le Creuset cafetière to compliment your kitchen.
Which cafetière should I buy?
If you like to get a second helping from your cafetière, look for one with insulation so that it keeps your coffee warmer. Some cafetières (though none on our shortlist) have measuring lines, but if yours doesn’t, it’s pretty easy to guess how much is in there if you know its capacity.
The prices vary hugely, so that’s an obvious factor. Some had more of a sturdy feel than others and we also noticed a surprisingly big variation in the handles, with some feeling particularly tactile to hold. All performed well in the actual filtering of coffee.
How we tested cafetières
We tested a representative sample of cafetières and scored them against the following test criteria:
Smooth operation: we looked for plungers with a smooth plunger action, easy-pour spouts that didn’t drip, and handles that were comfortable to hold.
Ease of cleaning: if cleaning your cafetière is time-consuming and fiddly, you’re more likely to reach for the jar of instant. We unscrewed the press of our samples to see how easily they came apart and whether they were straightforward to put back together. We checked the instructions to see if they could go in the dishwasher, too.
Value for money: our samples ranged in price from £6.50 to £160.
Good looks: a cafetière is a bit of a party piece, something to bring out with a flourish at the end of a meal. It will usually sit in the middle of the table, so it needs to look stylish.
More on coffee
This review was last updated in February 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two lead photographs: Charlotte Morgan