In a world of tired people, coffee really is a savior in the early hours of the morning – It’s purpose being to brighten your day and aid you through your first few hours of zombie like fatigue. What’s not to love? It tastes rich and velvety, it smells like comfort and it feels as though you’ve had an extra few hours of sleep. What would we ever do without our trusty cup of coffee?
It’s not an unknown fact that coffee tastes and feels so much better when it’s been brewed properly (as opposed to buying coffee granules and burning them with boiling water). When it comes to brewing your coffee, using a French press is arguably one of the best and most widely used ways.
What Is a Travel French Press and Why Should I Care?
Typically, an ordinary French Press is a tall glass with a handle on it and little legs to keep it upright. It comes with a lid (that goes on the top) – in the middle of the lid is a metal rod attached to a sheet of metal or mesh that is surrounded by something that looks like a small slinky (this is what is used to press your coffee). A travel French Press is pretty similar to this except for the fact that it is much more mobile (even though it has no legs) and practical.
If that is confusing for you – don’t worry. We’ve included plenty of images for you so that you don’t spend your time reading this article thinking of human legs attached to a glass body (an easy mistake to make but, this isn’t an article about modern art).
Kathleen Kelso from homegrounds.co recommends that a french press requires coarsely ground coffee, hot water, and approximately 4 minutes of steep time. Everyone from experts to coffee novices love the french press for its simple elegance and how easy it is to adjust your brew to your exact preferences. French presses are capable of far more than just one classic coffee type. You can use a french press to make:
- Cold brew coffee
- Double brew your coffee for an extra-strong caffeine punch.
- Milk froth
What To Consider When Buying A French Press
Price – Travel French Presses can range from anywhere between $5 – $40 dollars. It’s important to ensure that you are getting something that works but also fits in your price range.
Material – The material of your travel French Press is definitely important to consider. You need to ensure that the material is going to be durable and dishwasher friendly. On the other hand, you might be so busy that your coffee goes cold and you need to heat it up, if this is the case a thicker, microwave friendly material will be perfect for you.
Spill and Leak Proof – Most products will of course be leak proof. However, some of them may just be leak proof when stood upright whereas the pricier ones will be able to go in your bag (upside down) and never leak. A product like this would be good if you don’t want to be holding it all of the time.
Lid Type – The type of lid will be important when picking your French Press. Perhaps you want one that comes with multiple lids so that sometimes you can have an ordinary coffee without the press. As well as this, some of the pressers will be more durable and reliable thus making the coffee taste better. You need to consider whether you prefer drinking through metal or plastic.
Capacity – The size of your French Press is one of the most important things. You don’t want to end up getting one that’s too small because then you won’t be having the coffee that you want every day. It’s better to go bigger rather than smaller so that you can change the amount of coffee you have on a daily basis rather than being restricted.
Insulation – Again, this is one of the top things to take into account when purchasing your French Press. Some will keep your coffee warm for a couple of hours and some will keep your coffee warm all day – It is up to you which is more practical for your day to day life.
Outer Grip – In our opinion, a good outer grip is important for a variety of reasons; It can prevent your hands from getting too warm and also prevents you from dropping your coffee and burning yourself/damaging your French Press.
How to French Press Coffee
We’ve reached out to experts in the coffee industry, and an amazing guide came back from Brian Abernathy, founder of grumpygoat.com. Here are the steps you should take to get the most out of your French Press!
- Use a Coarse Grind
With a French press, grinds are immersed in water for a full four minutes. When compared to other brewing methods, there is more contact between the grounds and the water. Since the brew time is longer, using a coarse grind with a French press is a must.
- Weigh Your Water and Coffee
The best way to measure your water and coffee is to weigh it with a scale. Since coffee differs in density, a simple volume measurement will not be as accurate as taking the exact weight. For the best brew, the coffee to water ratio should be somewhere in the 1:16 range.
- Wet the Grinds First
Before you fill up your French press, make sure you first wet the grinds and let them stand between 30 and 60 seconds to give the coffee enough time to bloom.
Kathleen Kelso from homegrounds.co explains what bloom is in the coffee making:
During this stage, excess carbon dioxide left in the beans after roasting is escaping, which will improve your flavor extraction process and your resulting cup of coffee
- Wait a Minute and Stir
When you first use a French press you’ll notice that many of the grounds will rise to the top, thus not being immersed in the water. If you notice this happening, wait for a minute and then stir for a few seconds. This is all it takes to direct the grounds into the water once again.
- Brew for 4 Minutes (Not Shorter, Not Longer)
It will take some getting used to, but it’s important to brew for exactly four minutes (give or take a few seconds). The time starts when your water hits the coffee and ends when your timer hits the four-minute mark.
- Plunge, Pour, and Enjoy
After four minutes, press down the plunger, pour yourself a cup, and enjoy.
Below is a great video for you to visualize this process. You’ll be an expert in no time, especially if you have daily coffees!
The Best French Presses
Of course, buying a travel French Press comes with many perks and benefits. It takes hardly any time out of your day to make a good cup of coffee, there is less washing up to do and you can drink it on the go.
However, each travel French Press is unique in itself which means that there are multiple things for you to consider to ensure that it is suited to your life and works for you in the lowest maintenance way as possible.
Most Expensive Vs Cheapest French Press
Upon researching into travel French Presses, I thought that it would be fun to do an experiment and see the difference between the cheapest French Press on Amazon and the most expensive one.
I have compared the two travel French Presses into this table to make it easier for you to compare the differences. However, I go into more detail below.
ZYLISS Travel French Press
Espro 5116C-18WT Ultralight Coffee Press
|Price||Under $10||Under $50|
|Spill and Leak Proof||Only if upright||Yes|
|Capacity||Holds 12 oz||Holds 12 oz.|
The Best French Presses
ZYLISS Travel French Press
The Zyliss was the first French Press that I ordered – I felt that if I started with the most expensive I would be a bit more biased (and we love open mindedness here).
My Zyliss arrived on a Monday morning which I was so excited about. I’ve always been like a little kid at Christmas whenever I get anything through the post and what makes any adult happier than coffee?
My first thoughts of the Zyliss were that I loved the design. The many hours that I’d spent trawling the internet, I hadn’t come across many that have an actual handle. If you are like me and like to wrap your hands through the handle and around the mug (the cosy way to drink coffee) then you may prefer this design as opposed to using a French Press with grip on it. I also love the sleekness of the design and that it is plain black.
How Does the Coffee Taste?
I was so excited about having that first sip of coffee – I’d bought my favourite coffee beans the day before and ground them up freshly. For the first couple of sips – It was lovely. However, when I was about half way through the cup I started to notice that there were gritty parts of coffee that had made their way through the press (I think this is something that you can expect for the price of the press but, it still makes the experience not very nice – Especially first thing in the morning.)
I don’t think this product is bad for the price you pay, if I had of spent $10 dollars more then I would be disappointed but, you really do get what you pay for. If you’re strapped for cash this French Press will definitely make your life easier and it will be an investment until you can afford something a bit better. The amount of coffee that it holds is enough for the average person, you just need to keep in mind that the slit you drink out of can never close and so there is a chance of spillage (don’t put it in your bag after you’ve nearly finished with it, I made this mistake and had my bag smelling of coffee for a week – Not the end of the world). I would avoid putting this in the dishwasher – It’s definitely better to wash by hand.
Rating – 2.5/5
Espro 5116C-18WT Ultralight Coffee Press
After using the Zyliss for a week (to properly experiment and relish in my dedication), I was over the moon when my Espro French Press arrived. The differences between the two products are vast and I felt like I’d have a great week of experimenting and trying this press out (I wasn’t disappointed).
My first thoughts were – The design – I completely loved it, I loved the tallness of it and how it actually felt like a coffee that you take outside. However, I was a little confused about how it actually pressed the coffee but, I discovered the press upon screwing off the top lid (ensuring that I would have a week of no spillages and the coffee aroma would fade out of my bag as opposed to multiplying).
How Does the Coffee Taste?
I was expecting the coffee to taste a lot better in comparison to the Zyliss and my expections were not let down. The Espro’s press is actually made using a tight mesh material which meant that I had absolutely no grains or grit swirling through my mouth and stuck between my teeth – After a week of having this with the Zyliss, I was no longer drinking through gritted teeth. I also love the fact that when you press the coffee down there is enough of a barrier to stop it from continually brewing and getting stronger (a problem that I found with the Zyliss). I felt like I had a lot more control over my coffee with the Espro and definitely preferred the carefully curated taste of it.
I love this product – I definitely agree that it is on the pricier side and would say that if it was $5 dollars cheaper it would be a price that is much more in alignment with the product. However, it is definitely not a product that feels cheap or not worth the money. I was able to make my coffee in the morning and still be drinking it at lunch time (as a warm cup of coffee). One of my favourite things about this product is the extra screw on lid, it meant that I could just throw it in my bag and not have to worry about it spilling whilst on the commute to work. It’s great to not have to hold it whilst walking around and being able to have my hands free.
I would definitely recommend this product if it is within your price range – I have been using it for a few weeks now and have had no problems with it. However, I would still push the Zyliss onto those who don’t want to spend over $40 dollars on a French Press. I’m sure if you are a DIY wiz you could craft the press to make sure that there is no grit or grains coming through.
ESPRO RAITING – 4/5