The French press, or cafetière, is a coffee brewing device invented at the end of the 19th century. Once regarded as an object of opulence, now cafetières are commonplace in most homes.

Jonathan Wadham, Rombouts’ Coffee Expert explains: "Cafetières are a great way to make consistently delicious coffee, easily and without lots of expensive equipment. Start with whole beans and grind fresh where possible, otherwise use a quality pre-ground coffee. I would always recommend using a simple recipe to make your coffee, mine is 60g of coffee for every 1 litre of water. Fill your cafetière with boiling water to pre-heat it. Once it’s well heated, empty the water and boil the kettle with fresh, ideally filtered, water. Once boiled, leave for around 30 seconds so as not to scorch the coffee.  

Weigh out the coffee then place in to your cafetière. Add boiled water, making sure you soak all the dry coffee. Place the plunger lid back on the cafetière – but DO NOT PLUNGE! Wait four minutes. Lift the lid and with a spoon gently stir the coffee so the grounds sink to the bottom. Then using the spoon remove as much of the floating grounds and foam at the top of the coffee, place the plunger back on the cafetière, plunge gently and serve.

If your coffee tastes too burnt or bitter, try grinding the beans slightly coarser or using a little less coffee. If it tastes too weak or thin, grind slightly finer or increase the amount of coffee. And don’t forget the used coffee grounds are great in the compost heap or in the garden to help keep slugs at bay!"

Cafetière designs have evolved over the years and become varied in construction and style. We’ve put some of the best cafetières to the test. Each was tested over a week, during which time multiple cups of coffee were made with it. The cafetières were compared by aesthetics, how easily and effectively they made coffee, and their cost.

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Coffee Studio French Press: £48, Royal Doulton

This dipped-grey glazed porcelain cafetière is the biggest tested, with a capacity of 1560ml it made 4-5 decent-sized mugs of coffee. Thus making it perfect for group get-togethers rather than lone coffee-drinking. It’s dishwasher and microwave safe (although it was too tall to fit in our tester’s microwave!).  Being made of porcelain meant it kept coffee warm for longer than the glass cafetières and it poured and filtered nicely.

The lid was nice and heavy and fitted securely onto the top, making plunging easier. It also comes in a quirky folded carton bag which makes it a good gift option.

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Stellar 3 Cup Matt Double Wall Insulated Cafetiere: £36.75, Harts of Stur

This "unbreakable" stainless-steel design makes it perfect for people desiring a hard-wearing and durable cafeteria. Our tester thought it was definitely a plus-point, especially if you’ve got young children running around who are likely to knock things over. It’s compact, neat and dishwasher safe. You can get spares for the filter too so this cafetière really can last forever.

The double insulated wall meant that it kept coffee warm for a couple of hours and wasn’t too heavy to lift even when full.  Don’t be confused by the fact it’s described as "3-cup" though, this translates as 325ml, which is actually the size of an average mug.

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Portland 8-cup Cafetière: £19, Marks & Spencer

The glass and metal combination creates a contemporary minimalist look which will go with any kitchen. Available in three different coloured lids, the copper one that we tested was more matte in appearance than the Jasper Conran cafetière of a similar design. This cafetière has an added splash guard which is handy for when you’re plunging it, and meant there weren’t any splashes when carrying it. It comes with a coffee scoop too, and is lightweight and effective – filtering coffee well.

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La Cafe Monaco Cream 8 Cup Cafetière: £17, Dunelm

This vintage cream framed cafetière provides a modern twist on traditional stainless-steel designs. The built-in strainer attached to the lid meant that there were never any stray grains escaping into our tester’s mug. It feels stable and not likely to topple, and being an 8-cup cafetière means that it holds 1000ml of water so is perfect for coffee mornings or group gatherings.

It comes with a scoop and is extremely cost-effective. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s not dishwasher safe, it was easy to rinse out with water after use.

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J by Jasper Conran Glass Copper Top French Press Cafetière: £20, Debenhams

Sleek, minimal and stylish. The shiny copper-top gives this cafetière a cutting-edge vibe. It’s incredibly lightweight and easy to clean, although the glass doesn’t keep the coffee warm for as long as some of the other cafetières tested. It poured nicely and filtered the coffee well so there were no unwanted stray grains seeping through.

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Cafetière Coffee Press 3 Cup: £13.99, Lakeland

A more traditional looking cafetière, this sits well on four stainless steel feet. The handle is easy to hold and although it can’t be used on top of an oven it is dishwasher safe and made from toughened glass. Our tester found the lid fitted nicely so there was no mess when plunging. No-frills, traditional in design. Don’t be confused by the ‘3-cup’ description, this makes one mug so it’s perfect for a quick morning coffee for one.

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Stoneware Cafetière With Metal Press: £55, Le Creuset

Made from stoneware, this gorgeous marine-coloured cafetière combines the trusted Le Creuset quality with the practicalities of modern life – it’s oven and dishwasher safe and doesn’t have any fiddly crevices so it’s really easy to clean. Available in a whole range of colours, it comes with a 10-year warranty which gives peace of mind if you’re concerned about the cost. It feels stable and sturdy to use and makes about two and a half mugs.

When full it’s quite heavy to lift but it pours nicely and filters the coffee well. It also keeps the coffee warm for longer than glass alternatives.

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Whittard Copper 8-cup Cafetière: £30, Whittard

This is a brand which has been dealing in coffee since 1886, when Walter Whittard opened his first shop. The shiny copper finish gives this cafetière a contemporary twist, whilst the shape and engraved logo reminds us of the trusted Whittard quality. It comes with a coffee scoop and has a capacity of 1000ml, making it an ideal option for a coffee-morning or relaxing long breakfast.

The handle is easy to grip and it feels steady on its feet. The lid fits securely and stays on well and it provides a very smooth plunge and smooth, grain-free coffee.

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La Cafetière Pisa French Press Coffee Marker: £20, Wayfair

This quirky red design makes the cafetière fun and eye-catching, and it’s also available in more traditional chrome or gunmetal grey. We tested the 350ml size (which makes one cup), but it’s also available in 1litre size too. Light, stable and bright, it’s a delight to use.

The soft-touch black handle allows easy grip, and black base makes it sturdy on even the shiniest of surfaces. It comes with a handy coffee scoop too.

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The Verdict: Best cafetières

For a large French Press look no further than the Royal Doulton which is ideal for group get-togethers or lazy mornings. Stylish and with the capacity to make four or five mugs of coffee, the stoneware construction keeps the coffee warmer for longer than glass alternatives. The lid fits well and it’s not too heavy to lift when full.

A brilliant smaller cafetière is the Stellar 3-cup insulated Cafetière from Harts of Stur. Sleek and durable, it’s a perfect coffee-for-one go-to. The fact it feels like it will last for years makes the price tag extremely justifiable. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective all-rounder, the Marks & Spencer Portland 8-cup Cafetière is contemporary, lightweight and easy to clean.

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