Coffee prepared with a french press (or piston coffee maker) has very peculiar characteristics and is different from other preparations. Thanks to this method of extraction, which practically “dissolves” the raw material in water, the beans release almost all their oils, and the resulting drink is a coffee with a lot of aroma and taste. And all with more density and richer in nuances than espressos or coffees prepared with any other method.
And the best thing about the french press method is that it is effortless to prepare: no excellent knowledge or experience is required, and the plunger coffee machines, as they do not incorporate any technology or electricity, are very cheap.
In this list, we present the 12 best-selling piston coffee machines on the market and at the same time with the best price so that you can be convinced that enjoying an intense coffee is a pleasure within everyone’s reach. All of the plunger coffee makers featured below are taken from Amazon’s June 2015 sales listings, and the cost (at the time of publishing) is less than £30.
NOTE: Please note that in some models, there may be a price difference depending on the size of the coffee maker, as the same French press is usually marketed in different sizes to choose from (3 cups, 6 cups, 8 cups…). So that you can compare without confusion, we have indicated on each coffee maker the size to which the price corresponds.
The 12 best and cheapest french press coffee makers
We begin with a review of the Aerobie piston coffee machine. It is essentially a French press but uses a patented system called Aeropress, which works with slight air pressure.
The result is a slightly softer coffee than that made with a conventional piston coffee maker, and it also takes a few seconds less to complete the preparation. It can brew up to 4 cups of coffee and weighs less than 500 grams.
This Ibili piston coffee maker has a capacity of 800 ml (for 6-8 espressos) and is made of glass and stainless steel. It is not badly priced and offers a design of modernist and spectacular lines (stainless steel and chrome finishes help, no doubt). The complete vocabulary of this coffee maker is Ibili 621808.
Bodum is the most popular brand in the piston coffee machine sector. Within a wide range of options and for all tastes, two Bodum models are the ones that take the top spot in the sales lists: Kenya, which we will present later, and the one we are dealing with: Bodum Brazil.
It is a french press coffee maker with a very robust and attractive design, with a colonial air and where the metal component stands out. Besides, it is sold in different colours, some of them very classic like the example in the picture, but others much more casual like orange or bright yellow. The container is made of borosilicate glass, and the price indicated is for the 8-cup version. In a smaller size (3 cups, for example), the Bodum Brazil has a low price.
La Cafetière Optima
The Cafetiére Monaco has a slightly more sophisticated appearance than previous piston coffee machines. The glass of the container makes a very light contrast to the beautiful, elegant colour of the exterior. The frame is also finished in other vintage colours, and the glass of the carafe is, of course, heat-resistant.
This piston coffee maker is made of stainless steel and glass. The external appearance of the Axentia is very light, and the capacity generous: one litre (more or less equivalent to 8 cups). It is not a well-known brand, but all opinions and analyses of the Axentia piston coffee maker agree that its quality and value for money are on a par with any other French press with a more significant reputation. And it works perfectly when preparing both coffee and tea.
Quid’s piston coffee machines, and in particular this Quid Ceylon, are different from the traditional lines that prevail in this sector. These are coffee machines with unconventional, risky designs and very striking colours.
Here we show you the model in fuchsia, but you can also find them in blue, for example. And it is also economical: in its version for 6 cups, this Quid Ceylon has one of the most attractive prices of all. The reason: the manufacture, in heat-resistant hardened plastic, and not in stainless steel as it is usual in this type of coffee machine. In short, a different option.
With a sober, colonial design, this Bodum Kenya is one of the best known and best-selling plunger coffee machines in the entire Bodum range. The exterior is made of steel, very robust and always in a dark colour, and the container is made of borosilicate glass. It is also dishwasher safe.
Both in appearance and performance, and price, Kenya is a french press coffee maker very similar to the previously mentioned Bodum Brazil. It weighs less than half a kilo, and in its 8-cup version, the Bodum Kenya has an incredible price for the high quality of this coffee maker.
Bialetti is a very prestigious firm in the manufacture of mainly Italian coffee machines (or fashions). However, it also presents exciting options in the sector of the french press coffee makers, for example, this Bialetti 3130 or some other model that we will present later.
The Bialetti 3130, also known as Bialetti Preziosa, is made of borosilicate glass and 18/10 stainless steel, with an aggressive, modern design and an ergonomic handle in black that is noticeably more comfortable than those of other coffee machines. It weighs around 600 grams.
The price of this Bialetti Preziosa is also slightly above the average of the piston coffee machine we evaluated in this analysis, especially in its 1-litre capacity version. It is also available in the size of 3 cups (350 ml) and 12 cups (1500 ml). In short, an alternative for those who want to be on the safe side.
As with the Quid Ceylon, the Quid Fiona is the economical choice for lovers of piston coffee machines. The Fiona has in common with the previous one its small size (it is only available in 3 or 6-cup versions), its striking colours, and its very low price, which does not exceed 12 pounds.
The differences lie in the design, which in the case of the Fiona has somewhat more conventional lines with the undisputed prominence of glass and stainless steel. The knob and handle (the elements that add colour) are made of polypropylene. It can be washed in the dishwasher and is also perfectly suitable for preparing infusions.
Kitchen Craft Le’Xpress
We continue with another french press coffee maker that does not belong to any of the leading brands in the sector but which deserves to be in our selection on its own merits (i.e. sales figures and product quality).
We are referring to the Kitchen Craft Le’Xpress, with its traditional design and materials but which stands out from the rest due to its enormous size: it has a capacity for no less than 1500 ml, in other words, one and a half litres of coffee. It is the equivalent of 12 cups of espresso—the ideal choice for those who need to prepare coffee for several people.
Rainbow is a French press coffee maker from Randwyck that has a very slim, elegant design with a striking coloured enamel (several shades are available) that clearly differentiates it from other similar models. It is priced at around £20 for the 1000ml (8-cup) version. On the downside, we have to point out a small disadvantage: due to its enamel, the Rainbow piston coffee machine is not dishwasher safe.
We end our round-up of the best cheap plunger coffee machines with the 20003270 model from Bialetti, also known as the Bialetti Trendy. This coffee maker has the same ergonomic handle as the 3130 we reviewed earlier and is particularly striking for its eye-catching grille design covering the pot.
It is the kind of detail where you can feel the hand of a big firm like Bialetti, as is the case with the borosilicate glass of the container: a very thick element which, simply by touching it, tells you that you are looking at a quality product. The Trendy is priced at around £28 for the 1000 ml (8 cups) version. It is dishwasher safe and comes with an exclusive 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
What do you think of this review? Are you a regular user of one of these piston coffee machines? Do you have any other model at home that you think should appear on this list?