Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Screening French Coffee Presses: the Research

Unbreakable French Coffee Presses Review Part 2

In screening for an unbreakable French press, we went through many different models. We found many flaws across the range. Poor stainless steel quality, low grade sheet metal, consumable plastic parts, poor filter fit were the most common problems. One model survived our stringent screening better than any other.

These models did not make the grade

The Bodum Presso is a stainless steel 8-cup model, with rubber-wrapped top knob and stay cool handle. It has an insulated stainless double wall to keep coffee warmer longer. It has only gathered a few reviews. The top appears to be of lesser quality than the body, and the filter does not seem to be as well made as the Chambord model: "the double walled stainless pot ... is solid. But the rest of this pot did let me down a bit as far as its perceived durability, especially the screen/strainer", "the top of the Presso is also not as solid as the pot itself." The Bodum Arabica appears to be a similar build with a different look.

The Bodum Chambord Hotel has only gathered one review so far. It is another handsome French Press with a traditional Bodum rubber-wrapped stay-cool handle and knob. The filter, however, is not the full metal filter of the regular Chambord glass model, but one with a plastic rim with appears to be less than optimal: "it doesn't strain without clogging!! You lose 25% of your brew each pour. The pour is slow and the screen is easily clogged. I have set my grinder to the coarsest grind and it still clogs", "[the filter is] a plastic rim with 5 screen inserts- all one piece, does not have the coiled metal rim that the strainer for the glass ones have", "sometimes it is so difficult to push down that coffee explodes out the spout all over the place."

The Bonjour Fiore is an 8-cup model with stainless double walls, also very good looking. It has gathered a small number of reviews, mostly positive but not outstanding.  Reviews gush about the good looks and the high quality fit-and-finish. Users note that the push screens are a tight fit which does not allow coffee grounds back into the brew, a common complaint with many models. The recurring complaint is that the spout will leak unless the coffee is poured very slowly: "the spout is so petite that your beverage must be poured slowly or it will end up on your counter tops", "the two cons are the small pouring spout and the screen/flavor lock mechanism is not as easy to put back together after cleaning", "it leaks when being poured. I have to pour coffee over the sink", "if you don't fit it together exactly right, and if you pour faster than the tiny spout can handle the thing leaks. I kept trying to do it right for more than two weeks and then I trashed it." The complaint is so universal, even in good reviews, that we feel it is an irredeemable problem.

The Bonjour Montano is a truly good-looking French press, which looks very handsome on a counter It is an 8-cup model, with insulated double wall stainless steel. The top knob turns to block the screen from admitting any more water after the brewing is done - a smart detail. Unfortunately, the lid and/or spout seem to be leaking enough that it creates an unacceptable problem for a large percentage of users: " the lid doesn't fit tightly, and it leaks every time I pour. I've given it a week, and I've run out of patience", "top doesn't fit well, spout leaks all over the place no matter what", "better have a good supply of paper towels handy", "it leaks a small amount when you try to pour too fast."

The Coleman Stainless shows a lesser grade of design than most models reviewed, as well as a lesser grade of materials. It seems to use thinner metal, particularly for the top, and uses a handle made of thin metal tubing. Among its small number of reviews, one finds it appropriate for brewing tea, while another finds it impossible to use for coffee due to a leaking filter which lets coffee grounds through.

The Cuisinox Double Walled Coffee Press is all stainless steel, with no plastic or glass. However, it has very few reviews, and gets really panned by a reviewer who has also reviewed and compared the Frieling press: "super thin wall, full of dents and bulges, sounds cheap and tinny, the plunger screen is lame, and to top it all off, (literally) the knob on top was drilled all crooked and wonky- quite obviously, visibly so."

LaCafetiere Unique is another double wall, stainless steel, 8-cup French press. While we don't find the design exceptional in any way, especially when compared to the Thermique model of the same company, or, in general, to the many good looking French presses that we have been looking at, reviewers seem reasonably happy with it. Its few reviews are good, but not outstanding, although one reviewer mentions a problem with the small spout continuously dribbling when coffee is being poured.

Next we rate the best unbreakable French presses... so come back soon!

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