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21 Feb 2022

Stainless steel vs glass cafetieres: we've found which won't leak grounds into your coffee

Our tests also found which is the best cafetiere for keeping your coffee hot, durability, cleaning and ease of use
A glass and metal cafetiere and French press

When shopping for a cafetiere or French press, you'll see that they usually come in either glass or stainless steel. As well as looking markedly different on your kitchen counter, our testing revealed that each type has different pros and cons when it comes to making the best cup of cafetiere coffee.

We tested bestselling glass and stainless steel cafetieres and discovered which is the best for filtering out those annoying gritty coffee grounds, keeping your brew hot, being easy to use and clean, and for durability.

Pressing cafetiere coffee

Which is the best for filtration?

No one wants pesky particles of coffee grounds floating around on the top of their brew.

To see which cafetieres are best for keeping coffee grounds at the bottom of the press, we poured the contents of each cafetiere we tested through a separate filter screen and inspected how much had slipped through into our drinks.

We discovered good and bad glass and stainless steel cafetieres during this test, but the glass ones came top overall. We even found some glass cafetieres that didn't let a single bit of ground coffee through the press.

By contrast, all the stainless steel cafetieres we tested let through at least a sprinkle. Some were much better than others, though, and if you've got your heart set on stainless steel and don't mind a slight bit of sediment in your drink, we found some that get the thumbs up for filtration.

See our best cafetieres and French presses to discover our Best Buy and Great Value picks, including two that cost less than a tenner.

Woman pouring coffee

Which is the easiest to use?

Brewing a cup of fresh coffee should be a pleasure, so it's essential to avoid cafetieres that pour messily or have wobbly lids.

We prepared several coffees with each cafetiere we tested and judged them on how easy they were to prepare, press and pour from.

There were winners and losers among the glass and steel cafetieres we tested, but ultimately we found that stainless steel models require more downward force to press than glass ones, and are more likely to pour messily.

The lids did latch on tightly when pouring from our steel cafetieres, though. Some of the lightweight glass ones, especially those with plastic lids, had wobbly lids that threatened to fall off when we were pouring our coffees.

We'd recommend holding on to your receipt when buying your cafetiere and carefully looking out for any major annoyances when you first use it.

Ensure perfectly uniform coffee grounds for your cafetiere with our recommended coffee grinders.

Steaming hot coffee in a cafetiere

Which will keep your coffee hotter for longer?

If you need more than one coffee to get you going in the morning, it's handy to have a cafetiere that stops your coffee cooling down too quickly.

Having your second cup ready to go along with your first means you won't have to boil the kettle more than once, preventing several trips to the kitchen and saving on energy bills if you're working from home.

Our tests found that, overall, stainless steel cafetieres are best for keeping coffee hotter for longer.

We tracked how quickly coffee cooled down over an hour of testing and found that glass cafetieres cool at around twice the rate of stainless steel ones.

So if you aren't keen on pouring all your coffee out of your cafetiere in one go, stainless steel models are best for ensuring your second cup is steaming just like your first.

Don't wait around too long for your second cup, though: the longer your ground coffee sits in hot water in your cafetiere, the more bitter it will taste.

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Which is the most durable?

Cleaning up a floor splattered with hot liquid and soggy ground coffee is just what you don't need before your caffeine hit has kicked in.

However, it can be much messier, more costly and possibly unsafe if your cafetiere smashes when it hits the floor if you accidentally knock it over.

To ensure your cafetiere survives falls and dishwasher cycles, stainless steel is the way to go.

Glass cafetieres, although treated to cope with high temperatures, are far more likely to smash if you drop them.

We tested durability, leakage and more to find the best Aeropress and other portable coffee makers.

Clean cafetiere by a sink

Which is the easiest to wash?

There isn't much difference between stainless steel and glass cafetieres when it comes to how easy they are to clean.

Those with presses that were easy to disassemble all fared well in our cleaning tests. The troublesome cafetieres when it came to handwashing were the ones that made it difficult to clean coffee grounds from between each part of the press.

Half of the glass cafetieres we tested are handwash-only, compared with one in five stainless steel models. So if you'd rather avoid manual cleaning, you're probably best off with stainless steel. At the very least, do check the cleaning instructions before you buy.

Which cafetiere should you buy?

  • Choose a glass cafetiere if you... can't stand coffee with a few grounds floating around in it and want a cafetiere that's easy to press and pour from. Glass cafetieres fared consistently better than stainless steel models in our filtration tests and were often easier to use.
  • Choose a stainless steel cafetieres if you... need to keep your coffee hot, want to clean your cafetiere in a dishwasher and are accident prone.

Prefer to press a button for your coffee? Compare our coffee machine reviews.