There’s something refreshingly simple about brewing a cup or two of coffee in a French-press or pour-over coffee maker. Both styles can produce excellent coffee in a matter of minutes, because you need to heat only the amount of water you’ll use. That shorter brew time also means that coffee tends to be hotter than from a large, drip coffee maker, which often takes more than 10 minutes to make a pot.

If you’re not a frequent coffee drinker, keeping a French-press or pour-over coffee maker stashed in the cupboard is the perfect way to make the occasional cup without dedicating a large section of countertop to an appliance you’ll seldom use.

Though virtually all of the French presses and pour-over coffee makers that Consumer Reports tested make a good cup of coffee, they varied in their ease of use, with the best of the bunch keeping hands safely away from hot surfaces and proving easy to clean. Top-performing French presses varied in the quality of their permanent mesh filters, which is the only line of defense against grounds that can otherwise end up in your cup. Below, a selection of top manual coffee makers from our most recent tests.

French-Press Coffee Makers

Frieling Insulated Brushed Stainless Steel, $124.99
With a price that would seem steep on even the best electric brewer, the Frieling topped our test of French-press models in large part because of its insulated, stainless steel design. That helped it keep coffee hot and hands cool, and its double-layer mesh strainer had the smallest openings of any model reviewed, helping it keep grounds from slipping through into brewed coffee. But unlike glass models, you can’t see how much coffee is left in the carafe.

Bodum 8-Cup Chambord, $49.99
It looks like glass, but the Chambord is actually outfitted with what Bodum describes as a shatter-resistant, BPA-free SAN plastic carafe. Indeed, the carafe did resist shattering when we dropped it—a clear advantage over glass options—though it still fractured at the point where it hit the floor.

Bonjour 8-Cup Monet, $39.99
This classically designed press has a standard glass carafe wrapped in stainless steel. Clear sides let you see exactly how much is left to pour but don’t do much to keep coffee hot—or protect hands. The wide handle allows you to easily grip and pour without getting too close to the hot sides.

Bodum Brazil 8-Cup, $17.99
It’s tough to beat the price on this simple press, which has a plastic lid, base, and handle surrounding the glass carafe. It was as easy to use as models costing twice as much, but the small handle keeps hands close to the hot glass sides, so you’ll need to use a little caution when pouring.

Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Melitta 2- to 6-Cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer, $12.99
For simple, straightforward brewing, the Melitta is a solid choice. A plastic cone sits atop the glass carafe and features a large finger ring, eliminating the need to get hands too close to hot surfaces. The carafe has a wide neck and is easily cleaned by hand, and the unit relies on disposable filters that do a good job capturing grounds.

Bodum Pour Over 11571-01 with Permanent Filter, $29.99
The narrow neck on the Bodum lends itself to the handsome, hourglass-inspired design. Unfortunately, that same narrow neck makes this model difficult to clean. A rubber sleeve wraps the carafe to protect fingers while pouring, but it’s not large enough to protect an entire hand. The neck has a permanent filter, which eliminates the need for disposable paper filters, though some fine grounds can sneak through.

Want a conventional coffee maker? See our full coffee maker ratings and recommendations of drip, pod, and specialty machines.