Thinking about getting a French press for your galley? Here are the pros and cons and a few models that are less likely to break, along with a few safety tips.

French Press Coffee Maker

With a French press, you pour coarse ground coffee into the bottom of the unit, then fill it with boiling water and let it steep.  After the recommended time, you slowly depress a plunger attached to a mesh filter, which traps the grounds at the bottom of the pot.

Thinking about getting a French press for your galley?  Here are the pros and cons and a few models that are less likely to break, along with a few safety tips.An advantage over some of the other no-electricity methods is that you don’t have to watch it as closely, although it’s still not as “start it and forget it” as a Mr. Coffee.

The biggest gripe is getting grounds in your coffee if you use too fine a grind. Many people also complain that it’s hard to clean, particularly on a boat where water is precious.

A French press doesn’t use electricity but less expensive units all have glass pots.  The more expensive ones have a thermal carafe that will keep coffee warm a few hours and I really prefer these as there’s no danger of broken glass.

In rough seas, this is probably the easiest system to wedge into the sink without it tipping over while the coffee is brewing but you still have to be careful not to spill boiling water on yourself when pouring it into the pot.

I’ve never owned a French press, but I know several people who love them.  One of my best friends, Robin on The Cat’s Meow, uses and recommends the ones listed below.  We stayed on their boat about a couple years ago and used the 17-ounce French press shown above.  Great coffee and easy to use!

Pros:  Some think it makes better coffee, since oils aren’t filtered out, moderate space required, no electricity, can buy a thermal carafe press without glass which keeps coffee hot for one to two hours

Cons:  Some attention required to time how long coffee has steeped; largest presses produce about 50 ounces; less expensive setups have glass pots

Keeping it hot:  Can get a system that makes the coffee right in a thermal carafe (which will stay hot for a couple of hours), or buy a separate Thermos to keep coffee hot up to 12 hours (depending on the Thermos)

Cost:  $15 for a small press made of glass to $100 for a stainless press with thermal carafe that will make 50 ounces (4 mugs)

Good choices for a French press from Amazon.com (several sizes and variations):

NOTE:  Since you have to boil water and then pour it into the press, I strongly recommend two things for safety:  (1) Wedge the press into the sink before you pour boiling water into it — that will protect you if it tips or splashes. (2) Boil the water in a tea kettle to reduce the risk of boiling water sloshing out and also to enable more accurate pouring.

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23 Comments
  • Sailing Chance
    Posted at 09 December 2013 Reply

    I got hooked on the french press living in Brooklyn for so many years. If I had the choice of a coffee maker or a french press I’ll take the french press any day!

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 10 December 2013 Reply

    They are great!!

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    I had the glass one with plastic base and handle that you have pictured. Loved it, another Marshall’s purchase.

  • Paul Wyand
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    I prefer my Aeropress, kind of part french press part espresso maker. Easy to clean up (french press are hard to clean well because they have a wire mesh filter, think you have been there before!) and great strong almost espresso coffee.

  • Kerri Brooks
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    We love our french press.

  • Amy Burlette
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    We have several types of coffee makers on the boat, I’m not sure which one we will end up with, but I use my French press Stainless Thermos at home frequently for small amounts of coffee.

  • Tasha
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    We use the Thermos style French press (I am not sure if this exact one, but very similar) and love it for the following reasons: It’s lid closes well so that coffee does not spill while heeling (lid is not tip-proof though); keeps coffee warm for the night watch/early AM shifts; and we use a bungee to lash the carafe through the handle to keep it in place. Overall, it works very well–and no filters!

  • Cindy Larsen
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    I use a Frieling stainless French press and love it. I used it while serving in Uganda for seven years and have carried it all over the world.

  • Sharon Whitefoot
    Posted at 05 February 2016 Reply

    Sterling Pro is the BEST, I have been using it for over one year! Check it out on Amazon, the reviews are absolutely accurate!

    NOTE from Carolyn: See them here: http://amzn.to/1PYIlz9

  • David Grimm
    Posted at 06 February 2016 Reply

    I did and you took it off.

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 06 February 2016 Reply

    Most of the time when I read some of the older posts from The Boat Galley I start writing a comment in my head and find I already posted it. I guess the good news is that my opinions are stable. *grin*

    Somehow I missed this one.

    I think concerns about glass aboard are overstated IF you put things away, IF storage has adequate cushioning, and IF you are careful. Accordingly glass French presses should not be a problem. That may not work for some people.

    That said I am not a fan for two reasons, both of which Carolyn notes in her article. First is that I don’t like grounds in my coffee and I have yet to find any combination of grind size and press that doesn’t leave sludge in my cup. Second cleaning out a French press does take a lot of water. Maybe I’m fussy but I don’t like calling “close enough” clean.

    Our preference for coffee is an old fashioned percolator (stainless steel). We use percolator filters from Melitta ( http://amzn.to/1STwjwd ). They keep sludge out of the coffee and make clean up fast and easy using little water.

  • Christine Dumaine Springfield
    Posted at 06 February 2016 Reply

    I love my Keurig! I usually only have 1-2 cups of coffee a day but have used it many times to quickly get hot water. If only it didn’t take up so much real estate.

  • Jennifer Pierson
    Posted at 07 February 2016 Reply

    We use a militia cone that sits on top of the mug. You do need to be careful pouring the boiling water, but it is worth the easy clean up. Also, you can see into the mug while pouring in the water, so there is no risk of over pouring.

    • Jennifer Pierson
      Posted at 08 February 2016 Reply

      Alex Miller, I aways measure out the water. I just put what is needed in the mug and then into the pot, works every time!

  • Jason Ellmers
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    We have one of these on the boat,

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Andrew-James-Stainless-Steel-Double-Wall-Cafetiere-Filter-Coffee-Maker-Plunger-/281417588127?var=&hash=item4185cb9d9f:m:mMMUmRKkJYSsGmyJAF4mrtw
    Also, go get yourself one of these 🙂

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/281880083099?limghlpsr=true&hlpv=2&ops=true&viphx=1&hlpht=true&lpid=122&chn=ps&googleloc=1006988&poi=&campaignid=220881786&device=c&adgroupid=13936810266&rlsatarget=pla-156018252786&adtype=pla&crdt=0&ff3=1&ff11=ICEP3.0.0-L&ff12=67&ff13=80&ff14=122&ff19=0

    It means that you can carry beans instead of ground coffee, which last last longer, as the flavour is maintained because the oil doesnt dry out…. Being able to grind your own beans also means that you can grid them a little more course for the French Press. 🙂

  • Mike
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    Check out the REI French press. I bought one years ago for a trip to Yellowstone and it became my primary coffee pot. Keeps coffee warm for over an hour.

  • kriskret
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    https://www.amazon.ca/Handpresso-Wild-Hybrid-Coffee-Machine/dp/B007KG5IYK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462451797&sr=8-1&keywords=portable+espresso+maker ……………………………… …………………………..

    http://www.houzz.com/photos/1556406/Presso-Espresso-Machine-contemporary-espresso-machines …………………………………………………………………………………….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqfdLFboEnw ………… – and many more.

    • PugetSoundCruiser
      Posted at 12 July 2016 Reply

      My niece brought a press onto the boat last summer. It’s very similar to the one in the above link – no glass, double-walled, etc and was purchased on Amazon. Her Irish husband simply can’t survive without his morning coffee! We use the press mostly when we are at a marina, but it doesn’t seem to be difficult to clean.

  • Clay Greene
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    Our French press went off the boat the day after we got our Aeropress. Far superior in every way.

  • Chris Pereira
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    French press coffee may raise LDL cholesterol levels… See NIH study. Everything in moderation, but daily consumption may be too much for some! Using a paper filter seems to be the difference… But do your own research!

  • Lynn
    Posted at 05 May 2016 Reply

    We have used a Planetary Design french press on board for 10 years. It’s insulated, durable and worked perfectly. You can find them on Amazon.

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