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Friday, January 11, 2008

French Press Coffee Makers

Best you can get: Frieling Stainless Steel French Press
Cost: ~$60

Frieling Stainless Steel French Press

I was never a big coffee drinker, but recently I started to drink coffee for various reasons. My mom drinks coffee daily and she always used the electric coffee dripping machines. Instead of buying another coffee maker like hers, I thought if I'm going to start this, I better know a bit more about making coffee. I did a little research on the web and it turns out French Press is probably the best way to make authentic coffee.

I'm the kind person who don't like to replace things. I consider everything I spend money on as an investment, the longer I can use them the better value they are. Now on to hunting the best French Press. Initially I like the glass ones because I can see what's going on inside and I felt they look more interesting. So out of these glass made ones I picked the most durable one by comparing their reviews and specs. Bonjour MAXIMUS 8 cups was my choice because it was made with metal on all the essential parts (I read Bodum had plastic parts on the press part). I bought 3 of them, 2 were holiday gifts for my mom and sister. I received mine first and was able to test it. A few problems with it:
  1. After four minutes of wait, the water went from hot to medium warm at best.
  2. The press part was too loose, it slides down to the bottom of the pot very easily without me using any pressure. It was challenging to keep it stay on top while the coffee is being made.
  3. Upon close inspection, the welding of the metal parts are not very well crafted. The four legs aren't evenly bent. It's not easy to notice, but it's a pretty glaring one once you notice it.
  4. After reading so many people break these glass pots, I start to think they might have a point even though I don't usually break things, why take a chance?
The only good thing about the Bonjour one is very little coffee residues pass through while pouring it out. The extra mesh filter did help a bit.

So I decided to return this Bonjour one and I essentially lost confidence in Bonjour's quality after finding all these faults. I returned the gifts I bought as well. I was considering getting a Bodum COLUMBIA thermo press, but the press action is actually partially rubber. I just don't like that idea. Finally I found this Frieling press and based on the other people's reviews I ordered this.

After receiving it, I closely inspected the whole thing. It is fairly well made. It is quite heavy, about 3.5 pounds.

The Pros:
  1. Everything is made with metal (stainless steel).
  2. The press action is fairly tight, no way this thing will slide down without you pressing it, it holds in place well.
  3. After four minutes, water is kept much warmer to hot (I make coffee for one, so there aren't a lot of hot water in there to begin with, the time I made two cup, the water was hot after 4 min)
The Con:
  1. There were more coffee residue passing through, I'm still trying to figure it out how, because this press is pretty tight and the mesh filter is quite fine as well. This is not a big complain.
  2. While the craft quality was better than the Bonjour one, and I'm quite certain that this is the best French Press on the market right now, you still can find tiny flaws on the welding of the handle as well as the smoothness of the pot (the polish finish is perfect, but the pot isn't perfectly round on certain regions, you can see it by check out the highlights at glazing angle. Not obvious unless you really look for it.) This is only on the outside, as far as i can tell the inside is quite circular.
One important point I want to make (and many coffee geeks would agree on this), you don't want to keep your coffee in pot much longer than 4 minutes. The main benefit of the double wall is to keep coffee hot during the first four minutes, anyone who complains that this press doesn't keep coffee warm longer than 30 minute or 2 hours or whatever, it doesn't make any sense. Much longer than four minutes the coffee will get too bitter.

So overall I think I'm settled with this for now since I can't find a better French Press than this one even if cost isn't an issue. I bought three of these and I'm fairly certain that my mom and sister will be satisfied with theirs. I made some of the best coffee I've ever drank since I got this. I'd recommend this to anyone looking to get a French Press. I would not settle for the other ones.

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