Kitchen Tips

Bodum French Press Review and Ultimate How-To Guide

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This article includes a complete review and test report for the “classic” Bodum French press, including a how-to guide with instructions. If you’re looking for more general information about French presses, check out this article.

Quick Overview: Bodum French Press Review

First of all, I like Bodum because they have cool advertisements!

Bodum French presses have been my faithful companions for more than 10 years now. I simply can’t imagine what my kitchen (or my daily routine) would look like without them. Even though I often enthusiastically talk about pour-over coffee and other coffee preparation methods, the French press is still my favorite way to make coffee.

Bodum makes many different kinds of French presses. We will talk about them later, and I will explain their differences. However, my favorite is still the Bodum Chambord French press. It’s understated, yet elegant, and it’s simply stylish. It is absolutely worth it to pay a bit more and get this model, instead of trying to save a few bucks by getting a model with more plastic parts.

Additionally, it’s important to get the correct sized French press for your needs. The classic Bodum comes in 0.35 liters (12 ounces), 0.5 liters (17 ounces), 1 liter (34 ounces) and 1.5 liters (50 ounces). Later in this article I will also tell you how much ground coffee you should use for each of these sizes.

I generally advise against getting insulated French presses, and I will also talk more about that later.

You can buy my favorite Bodum French press here on Amazon. There are lots of different colors and sizes to choose from in just the Chambord model line. However, if they don’t look right for you, you can also explore the other Bodum French press models here and learn more about some of them later in this article.

Bodum French Press Sizes

SizeAmount of ground coffeeTimeGrind CoarsenessWater Temperature 0.35 Liters (12 ounces)20 grams (1.5 Tablespoons)3-4 MinutesCoarse95 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) 0.5 Liters (17 ounces)28 grams (2 Tablespoons)3-4 MinutesCoarse95 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) 1 Liter (34 ounces)55 grams (4 Tablespoons)3-4 MinutesCoarse95 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit) 1.5 Liters (50 ounces)80 grams (5.5 Tablespoons)3-4 MinutesCoarse95 degrees Celsius (200 degrees Fahrenheit)

The above table lists the amount of ground coffee that I recommend using for each model. The other parameters – water temperature and brewing time – are the same for all models. You are also more than welcome to adjust the amount of coffee you use based on your personal preferences or the kind of coffee. Still, it’s important to always use a coarse grind. Otherwise, the coffee will become over-extracted, which will make it taste bitter or acidic. The most common mistake that people make with French presses is to use a grind that is too fine.

Bodum French Press All Sizes

Bodum French Press, 0.35 Liters (12 Ounces)

This is the smallest French press that Bodum offers. It makes just one mug of coffee. Keep in mind that part of the listed volume will be taken up by the ground coffee, so the amount of liquid coffee that you get out will be a bit less than 0.35 liters (12 ounces). That’s more of an issue with the smaller models because you start out with less volume, anyhow.

If you are looking for a versatile combination, it might be a good idea to get this model and a 1 liter press.

Bodum French Press, 0.5 Liters (17 Ounces)

This is obviously half the size of the 1-liter (34-ounce) French press.

Remember that the amount of coffee after pressing will be less than 0.5 liters. This can be anywhere between two to four cups, depending on the cup size and how you drink your coffee. In my case, it is much closer to two cups.

If that amount of coffee sounds good to you, then it’s definitely better to get this press, as opposed to buying the 1-liter model and only filling it up halfway. I explain more about why filling a coffee press only halfway is a bad idea in my general article about French presses.

One advantage of this model is its low center of gravity, which makes it difficult to accidentally knock over.

Bodum French Press, 1 Liter (34 Ounces)

This is the “standard” size. You will find a 1-liter French press in many kitchens, although in many cases they will look a bit sad and neglected from infrequent use. However, when you do actually use a French press, everyone is always surprised at how good the coffee tastes. This press supposedly yields 12 cups of coffee. If you ask me, that’s a pretty optimistic number (or maybe my coffee cups are just too large). I usually get about three to four large mugs of coffee from a press this size.

Bodum French Press, 1.5 Liters (50 Ounces)

This is the largest French press that I use. I break it out when I’m going to be making coffee for three or more people, which actually happens quite often. This particular size of French press is relatively expensive, so I try to be extra careful with it. Still, mine accidentally got knocked over once and fell onto the floor. I was lucky because the frame just got a little bent. In terms of the number of cups of coffee it can make, it depends on the cups or mugs you are using. Some people might say it’s good for 12 cups, but I would say it’s more like six to eight.

How to Use the Bodum French Press

For these instructions, we will use the 1-liter Bodum French press as an example. If you use a different size, just refer to the table above to determine how much ground coffee you should use. If you want good results, it’s important to get the proportions correct.

  • Add the coarsely-ground coffee into the press (for 1 liter, use 55 grams – about 4 tablespoons)
  • Pour 95-degree-Celsius (200-degree-Fahrenheit) water into the press; fill only halfway, then stir.
  • Pour in the remaining water.
  • Let the coffee steep for three to four minutes.

That’s the basic guide, but there are a few places where you can make adjustments. The main change you can make is to use more or less ground coffee, but it should still always be coarse. You can also adjust the steeping time. Additionally, 55 grams (4 tablespoons) of ground coffee is often too strong for many people – at least at first – so you may want to dial that down a bit.

The mechanics and use of the press are both quite simple, but you can find more detailed instructions here. If you would prefer a visual guide, check out this summary in my YouTube video. (The video is only available in German, but you can still see how the process works and check out different presses even if you don’t understand a word.)

Replacement Parts from Bodum

Unfortunately, nothing lasts for ever, and you may have to replace a broken part on your French press. The main thing you definitely want to avoid is accidentally dropping it or knocking it over. You can wash your press in a dishwasher, but even there it might accidentally bump against a plate, then crack or break. However, have no worries because you can get replacement parts!

If you have to replace any part, it will likely be the glass beaker. You can find all the available sizes of glass beakers here on Amazon.

You can also find reasonably priced replacement filter screens or plungers in case you somehow break – or, more likely, lose – either of those parts.

The Best Coffee to Use with a French Press

Of course, it’s important to find the right kind of coffee for your French press. It doesn’t matter what brand of French press you have. There are two main things you want to be sure of:

  • The coffee should be as fresh as possible.
  • You should grind the coffee yourself, right before using it.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find truly fresh coffees in most supermarkets, but you can often find good stuff online. It’s best to go with a small roaster because they tend to pay more attention to detail and quality. Good roasters also focus a lot more on sustainability, as well as fair and direct trade.

If a coffee is described as “very fruity,” it might tend to over-extract in a coffee press, which can make it taste acidic. However, it’s best to just try it out it for yourself.

Bodum French Press

You should simply try many different kinds of coffee to find what you like best. I will be excited to hear what you find.

The Taste of French Press Coffee

Why does French press coffee taste so good?

One reason is that the ground coffee has direct contact to water for a relatively long time. This gives you a strong, full-bodied coffee with just a touch of grittiness. That’s a huge contrast to the thin, weak coffee that you often get from a conventional drip coffee maker.

In other words, you are getting coffee with good, strong flavor.

Bodum French Press Arne Coffee Ready

You are also getting that delicious coffee without having to pay an arm and a leg for it. You just need the French press itself, along with a water kettle and, if at all possible, a coffee grinder.

If at first you find French press coffee too strong for your tastes, try scooping out the coffee grounds when they are done steeping, but before you push down on the press. That should give you milder coffee. If you still believe that you don’t like French press coffee, then I have two questions for you:

  • Did you use good, fresh coffee?
  • Was the coffee coarse and freshly ground?

If you answered “no” to either, then I suggest trying it with good, fresh coffee that is ground freshly and coarsely. If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then I also would say that you don’t like French press coffee.

Can I Use a Bodum French Press to Make Tea?

Let’s put it this way: Yes, you can make tea with a French press. However, coffee and tea are two very intense, very different products, and both leave different traces and residues behind.

Therefore, I would recommend against using a French press to make tea, at least not if you have used it or plan on using it later on to make coffee. I believe that every home should have a French press and a teapot. However, I also believe that they are two completely separate things.

How to Clean a French Press

Cleaning is an important point that is unfortunately often neglected. It’s easy to clean the glass pitcher and the frame, and most people do clean those parts. When it comes to the press itself, though, many people often just give it a quick rinse under the tap and then forget about it.

Bodum French Press Parts

Here you can see my seven-year-old Bodum French press. I have taken it apart so that you can see all the parts. When cleaning your press, you should also take yours apart like this. All of the parts can go into the dishwasher. Personally, I wash the frame by hand to avoid any rust that could possibly come from the rivets or soldering points. However, I will admit that this is actually a very rare, fairly insignificant problem.

I have also spread out the three parts of the filter screen assembly. The fine screen is in the middle, and that’s often a problem point. Little bits of ground coffee or debris can easily get caught between this screen and the two other parts of the filter. It can quickly get nasty. Therefore, avoid all those issues by simply taking the filter apart and putting the parts in the dishwasher. It’s also simple to put it back together again.

What Else Does Bodum Make?

Bodum is most well known for their wide variety of French presses, but that’s not the only thing they make. Here’s a quick look at some of their other products.

Different French Presses from Bodum

They really do make countless kinds of coffee presses, with lots of little tweaks and changes to make them different and unique. Personally, I prefer the ones with as little plastic as possible. However, when it comes to functionality and use, the materials don’t really matter much. Also, the press assemblies are always made from the same materials. Let’s look at a few examples of different Bodum French press models.

Bodum French Press

One eye-catching model is the Bodum Eileen coffee press. It’s a bit more expensive than a standard one, and I’m honestly not a huge fan of the design. It’s one of Bodum’s more expensive presses.

The Bodum Brazil French press is one of the cheaper models. That’s because it is made with quite a bit of plastic, which I don’t like too much.

The Bodum Bistro Nouveau is a more streamlined French press, but it also has a plastic lid. This is the 0.5-liter model.

As I’ve already mentioned a few times in this article, the Bodum Chambord French press is my favorite model and the one that I recommend. I think it’s simply the nicest-looking press on the market. It’s very durable, and you can get it in all kinds of sizes and colors. However, the sides of the glass beaker are a bit thin, but that’s the case with all glass French presses.

You can buy this French press on Amazon. Based on my own experience, it’s the best one and it has plenty of stainless steel.

I’m still waiting for them to make a French press made completely out of copper (except for the glass beaker). Until they do, I will give my alternate recommendation to the AeroPress. It’s not exactly the same as a French press, but it’s another one of my favorites. You can even drop it without breaking it.

French Presses with Insulated Carafes

I have to say, I think French presses with insulated carafes are a bad idea.

People often ask me what I think about Bodum’s double-walled, insulated French presses, such as the Bodum Columbia French press or the Bodum Arabica. If you use them as portable thermoses or something like that, then they make absolutely no sense. That’s because when you make coffee in a French press, you need to pour it out of the press right after it finishes steeping. If you leave it in the pitcher, the coffee grounds at the bottom will continue to release more flavors. Over time, the coffee will become bitter and acidic.

These presses would only make sense if you had a separate insulated pitcher or thermos that you could pour the coffee into. However, using the French press itself as a kind of thermos is not a good idea. I’m on the record as being against warming plates or other devices that keep coffee warm for an unnaturally long time, but this is an especially bad case.

If you’re drawn to a metal French press because it is more durable than a glass one, then it might be worth considering. It could even be a way to take your French press on your next camping trip. Just remember that the press isn’t meant to be used as a thermos, and you will want to pour the coffee out and serve it as soon as it’s finished steeping.

Please don’t buy these French presses if you are looking for a thermos!

Bodum Siphon-Type Vacuum Coffee Maker

Bodum has recently even released a siphon-type vacuum coffee maker called Pebo. It’s completely different from a French press. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to try it out yet, so I can’t comment on it. I’ve put it on my list of gadgets to test, though.

However, before I get to that one, there are a few more French presses from other brands that I want to test first.

Summary: Bodum French Press Review

I simply have to give all five stars to this press, as long as we’re talking about the models with as little plastic as possible. They are wonderfully timeless and durable. They’re not indestructible, though. I’ve had to throw out a few presses because they broke, but never because they got worn out.

Still, I’ve come across plenty of French presses that have been used continuously for over eight years, and they still look good.

Bodum French Press Arne

I have different Bodum French presses in every size available, and I use them all. I don’t necessarily use each one as often as every other, but when they’re not in use, they make a great-looking decoration on my kitchen shelves. They also fit in anywhere, from an old farmhouse to a modern apartment. If you’re looking for a great gift idea, might I recommend a French press and a manual coffee grinder?

Regardless of what brand you choose, French presses are simply a dream to use. They give you wonderfully strong, flavorful coffee. You won’t get black coffee this good from a super-automatic espresso machine. Plus, that’s another great thing about French presses – they are unbelievably affordable in comparison to many other coffee gadgets out there.

If you feel like trying out different kinds of coffee, French presses can also be your friend. Just use two different presses to try two different kinds of coffees. That’s what I’ve been doing since 2008 for my coffee reviews.

Soon I will testing a few more French presses from other brands, like Bialetti or Le Creuset. Stay tuned to find out what I think about them.

In the meantime, you can still buy my current favorite French press here on Amazon.

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