Like to make your own coffee in the morning? A cafetière, or French press, is much more affordable than a coffee machine and creates freshly brewed coffee in minutes. Discover our top five buys.
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They've stood the test of time, refusing to give way to coffee machines. They produce your favourite coffee in just a few minutes, are an eco-friendly choice and will save you money on takeout coffee – cafetières 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 with a separate plunger/ press. Once you’ve spooned in your coffee and added not-quite-boiling water, you leave it for about four minutes before pushing the plunger to the bottom.
This separates the grounds from the liquid, leaving you to pour out the coffee-infused water without getting any gritty bits of ground coffee in your cup. The press itself consists of a piece of mesh sandwiched between two filters, which can be taken apart to clean.
So why bother? Well, you'll get a better-tasting drink than you would with instant as you can use ground coffee. Cafetières can out-score pod machines if you’re making coffee for a few people as 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 cuppa.
We tested eight-cup glass cafetières to find the best. Bear in mind that eight-cup means eight small coffee cups, which works out at about three mugs.
ProCook Double Walled Cafetière
Best all rounder
Pros: Good price, insulated, dishwasher proof
Cons: Slightly heavy when full
This ProCook cafetière is double walled, which gives it the dual bonus of keeping the coffee inside hot while the exterior is cooler to the touch.
With a one litre capacity, it’s 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 some of the others, although it is still pretty easy to lift. The lid is shiny stainless steel and, unusually, there’s a glass handle, 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.
Best for style
Pros: Eye-catching design, dishwasher-proof jug
Cons: The price tag
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 – you really wouldn’t want to hide this one away in your bottom cupboard.
This cafetière has a T-bar shaped plunger top rather than a doorknob-shaped one and this makes it particularly easy to use when plunging, as well as adding to its sleek good looks. The solid, robust handle is unusual too – it’s only joined to the jug in one place, rather than the standard two.
The coffee plunged easily and poured beautifully smoothly. It’s slightly heavier than some of the others we tried, due to the design and the fact there is no plastic to be seen. Most cafetières have plastic underneath the lid, but this is all metal. This makes the lid heavier than the others, but the advantage is that it feels substantial when pushing down. The metal outer also helped with insulation, keeping the coffee hot.
The detailed instructions (there’s even a brief history of coffee makers) provide a helpful diagram for how to put the filter section back together again after you’ve taken it apart for cleaning.
There are also details of how to get hold of spare parts – at this price, you wouldn’t want to replace the whole thing if, for example, you just need a new mesh filter. Pleasingly, the jug can go in the dishwasher, though nervous owners may prefer to wash it carefully by hand.
Wilko Iridescent Cafetière 800ml
Best budget buy
Pros: Great value and good looks
Cons: Hand wash only, slightly flimsier than others tested
If you’re looking for something cheap, cheerful, fun and funky to make your coffee, you can’t go far wrong with Wilko’s iridescent cafetière. The whole thing has a sort of tie-dye effect and would be a good talking point if you brought it out at the end of a dinner party. The chunky handle, complete with screws adds to the modern, snazzy look of the product. Our teenagers instantly picked it out as the best of the lot, especially when they found out the price.
We found a slight wobble when operating the plunger, which we felt was down to the jug being lighter and thinner than some of the others. The top itself was very light as well - you may or may not feel this is an advantage. We found it poured relatively slowly, but the control of the pour was good and steady.
At 800ml, it isn’t the biggest and you can’t put it in the dishwasher. However it was easy to dismantle and reassemble the plunger and overall it’s great value for money. It comes with detailed instructions to get the best use out of it too.
VonShef 8 Cup Copper French Press
Best value for money
Pros: Unusual design, good price
Cons: Slightly spindly top
This modestly priced VonShef 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 the attractive and unusual copper-coloured design with a lid of the same colour. There's a soft grip handle which is comfy to hold.
This was one of the few we tested that had “feet”, a nice bonus of the copper design which goes underneath the bottom of the jug. The feet raise the jug slightly and would help avoid any coffee rings on the table.
On the downside, the top felt a little spindly and it’s also handwash only. But it worked well, with a lovely smooth plunging action. This would make a good gift as it comes nicely packaged.
Judge 8 cup Coffee Glass Cafetière
Pros: Dishwasher-proof, understated style
Cons: Removing the jug from the sleeve means you have to place it back in the right position, lining it up with the spout.
This cafetière has a one litre capacity, so it’s ideal if you’re brewing coffee for a crowd. We liked the neat, compact design, with brushed steel at the top and bottom, as well as in the sleeve. It is 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 which best suits your kitchen style.
The jug lifts clear of the casing to make for easy washing (in the dishwasher if you have one), It comes with its own measuring spoon as well, to stop you having to hunt around for one in the kitchen drawer. The plunger knob is solid and substantial and it plunges well and pours quickly.
Which cafetière should I buy?
If you like to get a second helping from your cafetière, look for one with insulation as it will keep 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 price varies hugely so that is an obvious factor. However, some had more of a sturdy feel than others. We also noticed a surprisingly big variation in the handles, with some feeling uncomfortable to hold. All performed well in the actual filtering of coffee.
What we looked for in cafetières
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 washing your cafetière up afterwards 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 £125. But were they worth it?
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.
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This review was last updated in April 2019. 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: Getty Images