The carafe holds the coffee and should be thick enough to not break. Glass is the most common material used in French Presses and is in most cases the cheapest option next to plastic French Presses. Choose stainless steel when you travel a lot or when you want a shatterproof coffee press.
Alternative materials are plastic, ceramic or stoneware
Your French Press needs a good filter to separate the grinds from the brewed coffee.
The filter mesh should be as dense as possible and there should be no folding lines. Make sure there are no spaces between the carafe and the filter.
You might think that the more expensive a French Press is, the better the quality of the filter. But unfortunately, this is not the case. So all you can do is either check hundreds of customer reviews for their long-term experience or trust my ratings below of the top rated French Presses!
The plunger is the part of the French Press that pushes down the filter.
Usually, the more expensive coffee presses have a better quality plunger which keeps the rod in place. Lower quality coffee presses may leave too much room so it can happen that you accidentally wiggle the plunger too much. As a result, the filter disc is not aligned to the beaker anymore and coffee grinds can escape.
The consequence: more sludge in your coffee!
Cheap French Presses come with a very simple designed, thin lid. They still work fine but you need both hands to push the plunger. One to hold the lid in place, the other to push.
The better French Press Coffee Makers have a thick, sturdy lid, that does not fall off, even when you turn the French Press upside down.