Cafetieres, or French Press coffee makers, are full immersion brewers. They’re a simple and easy way to brew tasty coffee. So much so, that cafetieres are probably the best type of coffee maker when brewing for large numbers.
Cafetieres produce a hearty coffee, full of body and capable of standing up to the addition of condiments, such as milk, cream, sugar or even alcohol! As the filters on cafetieres are relatively porous, they do leave some sediment at the bottom of the cup.
Cafetiere is short for ‘cafetiere a piston’. They are also commonly called: french press, coffee press, press pot and coffee plunger.
The beaker of a cafetiere is usually made out of one of three materials: glass, plastic or stainless steel. All three materials have their advantages and disadvantages:Glass isn’t a very good insulator of heat, so will loose several degrees during brewing. It’s also very fragile. However, glass is inert so won’t react at all with the coffee and alter its flavour.
Plastic is a better heat insulator than glass and is also cheaper. While it’s less fragile, it tends to be less durable than glass; although it should still last many years.
Stainless Steel is the most durable and least fragile of all these materials. Also, as many stainless steel cafetieres have a dual wall (i.e. two layers of steel separated by a cavity) they offer the best heat retention. However, they do tend to impart a metallic taste on coffee if it’s left in the cafetiere for too long (not that we recommend leaving coffee in a cafetiere after brewing has finished – it should be decanted into another vessel to prevent any further extraction).
Filters on cafetieres are typically made from stainless steel gauze, although some are fitted with plastic ones. There is however, no significant difference in the level of filtration between the two materials.
The capacity of cafetieres is normally measured in small demitasse cups, which equate to approximately 120ml or 4fl oz. So a 3 cup cafetiere will make 360ml/12fl oz of coffee, which is enough coffee to fill two average sized cups or one mug. Our table below is a rough guide to help you choose which size of cafetiere to pick:
|Size Of Cafetiere||Approx. Capacity||No. of full standard cups (180ml/6ml)||No. of full mugs (300ml/10oz)|
If you’re still not sure what size to select, it’s better to choose one too large than too small, as you don’t have to use the cafetiere at full capacity.
Once you’ve picked out the cafetiere that suits your needs best, we recommend using French press-compatible coffee for the best experience.
Dan is a former competition barista and has been honing his knowledge of coffee for over two decades.
He has worked in coffee farms in Peru, as well as roasters in Australia. He now trains new baristas and hosts cupping experiences in Austin.