Best Rugged French Presses (2021): Bodum, Stanley, Espro

Sam enjoyed the Stanley, noting its nice pour and easy cleanup. Reyna was taken with the Espro’s coffee, noting “it’s so clear!” comparing it to the others when she first poured it. She also then enjoyed that cup most, realizing that it was closest of the five to the Breville coffee maker she has at home. She struggled with the BruTrek’s slow plunge and the way the rounded bottom created a bit of wobbly uncertainty. She also disliked needing to screw the lid on before she could push the plunger down.

“I don’t want extra effort making coffee at 7 am,” she said, while looking longingly at the four simpler options on the counter. “It’s not a good brewer if it’s hard to brew with it.”

Removing that lid from “The Hulk” drove both Sam and Reyna crazy.

We were using 50 grams of coffee to 850 milliliters of water for the larger brewers, and half of those amounts in the smaller Bodum. We prepped a large grind, poured in 200-degree water, stirred at the one and five minute marks, then pressed down the plungers.

This gave us a surprisingly and uniformly low level of total dissolved solids in the coffee. Sam gave a quick definition of TDS as “the amount of coffee in your coffee” and Reyna measured ours with a refractometer, finding they were all between 0.93 and 1.13, where at Olympia’s coffee shops the crew shoots for 1.3 to 1.45.

We tried each of the coffees about 40 minutes later and, while our preference for transferring just-brewed coffee to a thermos remained unchanged, we learned two things. One was that we didn’t notice much of a difference between the BruTrek—with its unique Bru-Stop flap—and the others. Two, they were all still warm and the coffee decent.

“We’re calibrated to taste bad things,” Reyna said, referring to their training. And considering the coffee samples had sat around for a bit, they weren’t that bad.

Sam and Reyna cleaned the pots and plungers, then Sam walked over to them and nudged the Stanley and the Bodum, the two simplest and easiest to clean, to the right. Reyna, wordlessly nudged the Espro into the group with them, and presto! We had our preferred presses.

It’s really splitting hairs between the Stanley and the Bodum. You can safely decide on looks alone and be confident you’ll end up with a lovely cup of coffee. If you want a cleaner, less sludgy brew, get the Espro. Then make a pot, sit back in your sofa or camping chair, and enjoy your cup.

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