Wondering if you have to boil your water for brewing a French press separately? Why not do it in the press to make the process a bit more efficient?
Most French presses are not suitable to put on a stove/heat source to boil water or milk. Plastic parts can melt while metal parts can deform. Boiling water in a separate vessel is the best way to heat water. A single walled steel French press is the best option to be put on a stove and works well.
What to look for if you want to put a French press on the stove and the best French presses to do so can be found below.
- 1 Can You Put a French Press on a stove?
- 2 French press on stove brewing process
- 3 What’s the best way to heat water for a French press?
- 4 What’s the best way to heat milk for a French press?
- 5 Best French presses that can be placed on a stove
- 6 Favorite French Press Brewing Tools
Can You Put a French Press on a stove?
To be more precise; Can you put a French press on a stove to heat water without problems?
In general, most French presses are not suitable to be put on the stove to heat water in. There are a few exceptions we’ll hit on later. What are the problems of putting a French press on the stove? There are a few;
The biggest problem is that the French presses are simply not designed to be used as cookware. The used materials are made to deal with boiling water but nothing hotter than that. Exposing a french press to excessive heat can cause plastic parts to melt, metal parts to discolor/deform, glass to crack and if using a gas burner, you can get dark soot stains.
It’s not that difficult to boil your water in another vessel and then pour it into the French press. You don’t really want to use boiling water to pour on your coffee grounds anyways. In most cases, 94 degrees Celsius is a good temperature for brewing a French press.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of stove you put it on either although there are some differences;
- Induction won’t work on anything else than a stainless steel French press.
- Infrared or other radiant electric stoves will work for glass and stainless steel.
- Gas stoves will work to heat anything but also heat other parts of the press the most and can leave sooty black stains.
The carafe is the most important part that’s going to go on the stove. It’s the part that holds the water which is what we want to boil. So the material of the carafe is very important.
Different French press materials on a stove
Not all French presses are the same. While they all roughly do the same and have the same mechanism to filter the grounds from the coffee, there are many different materials a French press can be made from.
Let’s go over the different materials and their suitability to be put on a stove/heat source. Here we’re only talking about the material of the carafe. Not the lid, handle, filter, etc.
- Plastic: I’d avoid plastic French presses altogether. Putting it on a stove is just silly. It’ll obviously end badly.
- ‘Normal’ glass: Glass is a much better option than plastic of course but if it’s normal glass, it’s still a bad idea to put it on a stove. Glass is not very resistant to heat shock and can crack/shatter pretty easily with large heat differences.
- Borosilicate glass: Borosilicate glass is probably going to be OK on a stove for a while but it’s still likely to crack over time. Some cookware is made from this type of glass, however, they are specifically designed for this purpose. French presses are generally not designed to be used as cookware. Anecdotally, even laboratory beakers made from this material can occasionally crack with repeated exposure to heat. If you do use a borosilicate French press on the stove, use a medium heat, only have it on the stove with water inside and try to heat it as evenly as possible. Also prevent large, sudden heat differences so don’t run it under cold water after boiling for example.
- Double walled stainless steel: Stainless steel is not likely to crack. A lot of cookware (and things like car/motorcycle exhausts) are made from stainless steel. So it can obviously handle large heat differences without issue. The problem is that most stainless steel French presses have a double walled construction. This is to insulate the liquid inside and keep it hot. That also means that heat trying to get in from outside is being insulated. Trying to heat up water in an insulated vessel is going to take quite a while. Not to mention that you don’t know what’s going on between the two layers. There is supposed to be a vacuum between the two layers of stainless steel which is not a problem. However, if there is anything like moisture in between, this can create pressure that damages the press.
- Single walled steel: A few French presses are made from single walled stainless steel. This type is often made for camping just because of the reason that you can put it on a stove. This way you can save space and weight for your camping trip. So if you’re looking for a press that can go on the stove, single walled steel is the best option. Stainless is common in this category but titanium also exists.
Single walled stainless steel French presses are the best option to put on a stove or other heat source. It’s the only material that won’t be damaged and also allows the water to be heated properly.
Handle and lid material
Of course the carafe isn’t the only thing that makes up a French press. There’s also the handle and the lid/filter assembly. Sometimes there is a shroud around the carafe as well.
The handle is usually made from the same material as the carafe but sometimes it’s something different. If it’s the same material as the carafe, the same problems apply. The handles that are a different material are often mate from some kind of heat resistant composite. However, these are made to be heat resistant for boiling water.
When you put the press on the stove, especially a gas burner, the handle will get much hotter than boiling water and could melt.
The lid often has some plastic and/or rubber in it. The lid should be left off the press while its on the stove otherwise it could melt. In some cases the rest of the filter assembly also has plastic parts which could melt.
A French press is a simple piece of equipment. To set theirs apart, manufacturers will try to make their design a bit special. That is often done by a shroud made from metal or plastic that goes around the carafe.
Obviously, if any part of this shroud/design is made from plastic, it can melt. If it’s made from metal, it’s more heat resistant although the heat can still discolor the metal or burn off any paint.
If you can take the shroud off before putting it on the stove, do it.
French press on stove brewing process
Decided you’re going to boil your water in a French press anyways? Here’s how you can make the best of it;
- Check the material of the carafe. Only borosilicate glass and single walled stainless steel are suitable. Single walled stainless steel is the best, borosilicate glass can still crack in some cases
- Take off anything that can be taken off the carafe. The lid/filter should not be in the press during boiling. Any shrouds that can be taken off should be taken off. If there is any plastic part that can’t be removed, don’t put it on the stove.
- Fill the press with water before putting it on the stove. Never let it go dry on the heat.
- Only boil water, don’t add coffee grounds at this stage
- Use medium heat and try to heat the press as evenly as possible
- Have an oven mitt or similar ready to take it off the heat after the water boils
- Wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute for the water to cool down slightly
- Add coffee grounds. Make sure all the grounds get wet. Some stirring might be necessary to accomplish this.
- Wait 4 minutes
- Put on the lid and push the plunger down
So the main difference compared to brewing a ‘normal’ French press is that you put in the grounds after the water.
What’s the best way to heat water for a French press?
Presumably, you want to put the French press on the stove to heat the water for your coffee. As you can see above, in most cases that’s not a great idea. But what is the best way to heat the water for a French Press?
Unlike a pour over brewer like a V60 or similar, you don’t need a fancy gooseneck kettle for a French press. Anything that can pour the water into the carafe without spilling will do. The easiest way to heat water and have something that pours easily is a normal kettle. Usually electric but if you only have a stove available, an old school one will do perfectly fine as well. Even a small pot can work well although those make it a bit more difficult to pour well.
What about camping?
When you go camping and like to pack light, you probably don’t have a kettle in your bag. However, anything you do have to heat water in will do fine. Usually a small pot or metal cup is available to heat water on your gas stove. The process isn’t really any different than at home.
If you really want one thing that can be used to heat water and as a French press, there are some French presses available that are specifically made to be used on a stove/heat. You can find them below.
What’s the best way to heat milk for a French press?
What about heating milk in your French press. A French press doubles pretty well as a milk foamer so you can make things like cappuccino and latte.
While you don’t want to heat up the milk much (about 65 degrees Celsius is good to make foam), it’s easy to overheat your milk if you don’t have a thermometer. Aside from all the other problems you can have with putting a French press on a stovetop, burning milk is a massive pain, especially in a French press. The carafes are often quite narrow, especially on the smaller sizes. That means if you’ve got bigger hands, it can be very difficult to clean the bottom properly. And if you burn milk, you get some residue that can be quite difficult to remove.
For that reason alone I’d recommend heating your milk in something else that’s easier to clean. You’ll never burn your milk? Ok, you’ll still have most of the drawbacks as above.
Again if you go camping and you buy the appropriate French press, burning milk is still going to be a problem. So when you’re buying a French press/kettle for camping and making milk foam, make sure the opening is big enough to get your hand into so you can clean the bottom. However, for camping I can understand you want to pack light and only want one item that does everything and don’t want three different objects.
Best French presses that can be placed on a stove
As mentioned above, there are a few French presses that are made to be placed on a Stove/heat source. Most of these are marketed as suitable for camping because that’s where they make the most sense.
Let’s take a look at the best options;
#1 Stanley Adventure
The best option for a French press that can be put on any heat source is this Stanley Adventure. It’s basically a nice looking stainless steel camping mug with a folding handle. This mug can hold 32 ounces of liquid but a little bit less if you’re using it to brew coffee.
Because the walls of the cup are straight, you can push in the included filter just like a normal French press. The filter assembly looks a bit different than on a normal French press but it works very well. The different construction is there because the lid is actually separate from the filter unlike most other types.
The filter is a single layer version but quite fine so it’ll keep a lot of the sediment out of your cup. Also, the filter housing fits very tightly in the cup so it only slides down smoothly when the cup is hot. That’s because the metal cup expands while the plastic does not. It shows that this camping French press is very well thought out.
Another benefit of the filter system without the typical rod in the middle is that you can store something inside the cup when it’s empty (but with filter and lid in place). People find you can store a canister of coffee or even gas for your burner inside.
On top of all that, it’s actually really affordable and backed by the regular Stanley lifetime warranty. There are two other options below but you really can’t go wrong with this Stanley coffee pot. Many people actually like it so much they don’t only use it for camping but also for home use!
#2 Bestargot Titanium French press
If you need the lightest French press, this titanium version can save you some weight since it only weighs 220 grams. It’s a more traditional French press in the way that the filter consists of three layers and is pushed down by a rod in the middle.
The filter assembly can be completely disassembled for more flexible storage. It can brew up to 500 ml/17 oz. of coffee in one go but for other purposes can hold 750 ml/26 oz.
One cool feature of this pot is that it has a handle for hanging so you can easily hang it above a fire. Because it’s made from titanium it’s a bit more expensive than a stainless steel version but it’s not extremely expensive and the difference might be worth it to you.
#3 Moka pot
Ok, this is a bit of a cheeky option but it works well. A moka pot is made to be put on a stove. Moka pots are sturdy and brew a strong, dark coffee that’s almost going towards espresso. It’s a different taste but one you might prefer.
Moka pots can be placed on a gas stove, electric stoves (not induction), a grill or coals. They’re not suitable to be put over a campfire though.
A moka pot has a metal filter just like a French press so you don’t need to bring any paper filters with you if you go camping.
Favorite French Press Brewing Tools
Here are some things that help you brew better coffee:
- French press: This beautiful stainless steel Meuller French press (Amazon) is high quality yet affordable and the double filtration system means less sediment in your cup.
- Grinder: Fresh beans have to be ground. A hand grinder like the Hario Slim (Amazon) is affordable yet effective hand grinder that will improve your cold brew.
- Scale: The amount of grounds you use makes a big impact on what your cold brew tastes like. A simple set of scales will makes your brews more consistent. I’ve been using this one (Amazon) for over a year with great success. Not the most aesthetic but effective.