French press is a popular brewing method for home baristas. Fellow, which has produced a range of high-quality coffee equipment since it launched on Kickstarter in 2013, has launched its own French press, the Clara.
Admittedly, it’s significantly more expensive than a typical French press, but how else does it differ? And are those differences worthy of the more expensive price tag?
This review will answer those questions and look at its pros and cons to give you the information you need to determine whether the Fellow Clara French press is the right choice for you.
- Aesthetically pleasing - it will look beautiful in any modern kitchen
- Double-walled insulation to retain heat
- Brews a clean, bright cup of coffee
- Solid build
- It comes with an agitation stick for ensuring even extraction
- Not dishwasher safe or as easy to remove grounds as some French press brewers
- Slightly small capacity
Fellow Clara French Press Review
Design And Build Quality
The first thing you’ll notice about the Fellow Clara is its gorgeous aesthetic. The matte black finish looks elegant and classy. Meanwhile, there are two models, and the difference between them is all in the build, with beautiful walnut accents adorning the pricier of the two.
The materials used in the build are high-quality, too. It has a stainless steel body and filter, a BPA-free plastic handle and lid, and a non-stick PTFE-coated interior.
Overall, this is a sleek, sophisticated machine that looks and feels like a premium-quality product, which we’d expect from Fellow, which has established a reputation for producing high-quality products.
One potential design issue is the capacity, which is smaller than a typical machine, at just 24oz. This might come as a surprise as the machine is similar to a standard 32oz French press, but that’s because of the double-walling, which we’ll detail later.
As for the quality of the coffee, because many French presses have a certain sandiness or sludginess due to the particles finding their way into your cup, the brewing method can leave coffee with a heavier mouthfeel. Many people love the full-bodied brew.
The Fellow Clara makes a noticeably lighter-feeling beverage. This leads to coffee with brighter flavors and an overall cleaner cup. It’s still not as clean as a pour-over, and there are still elements of a typical French press brew, with a fuller body and heavier feel. However, the Fellow Clara produces light, clean coffee with complex flavors compared to other French presses. You’ll also likely detect bright notes and subtle details in a light roast coffee.
While the coffee by the Fellow Clara is undoubtedly superior to other French presses, how does it achieve it? Let’s go into more detail.
One of the Fellow Clara French press’s standout elements is its double-walled insulation, so it can keep a consistent temperature for a better-tasting cup of coffee.
Most French presses have a glass carafe, but they don’t retain heat that well, making this a significant advantage of the Clara, particularly because you typically need to allow around four minutes of brewing time for the French press.
If you add water to the Fellow Clara at a temperature of 205F and leave it to brew for four minutes, it can keep the coffee hot during the brewing process. You can expect the coffee in the cup to be around 180F.
However, with other glass ones, you can expect a steeper drop – to around 160F, which shows the advantage of that double-wall insulation.
In any case, to avoid over-extraction, we suggest pouring all of the coffee out of the French press once brewing is complete. Nevertheless, if you leave it in, that heat retention is an added bonus. If not, you can consider a coffee thermos to keep your coffee warm.
Enhanced Ultra Fine Mesh Filter
The enhanced filtration mesh is finer than a standard French press, so less sediment gets through, even though it doesn’t eradicate it.
That’s because no matter how fine the filter is, some tiny particles will always find their way into your beverage, hence French press’s reputation for somewhat heavier coffee with some sediment. However, Fellow Clara can deliver relatively clean and complex flavors.
One of the best things about the Fellow Clara is its appeal for beginners and simplicity of use, thanks in part to a couple of thoughtful design elements. Let’s examine those.
All-Directional Pour Lid
The screen has holes all the way around, which saves having to rotate the plunger to align with the spout to ensure correct pouring. In other words, you can pour from any angle hassle-free.
Another nice touch on the Clara is the ratio-aid lines on the interior wall. So, if you don’t have a scale or the inclination to weigh out your coffee, there is a marking towards the base of the interior indicating your coffee level, and then a marking for the water.
While it’s always best to use precise measurements where you can, this means that for beginners or those without much other equipment, the Fellow Clara remains accessible.
How To Make The Best French Press Coffee With The Fellow Clara
- Weigh out your beans and grind them to a medium-coarse size. Alternatively, add coffee grounds to the interior coffee line towards the foot of the Clara.
- Add half a pot of hot water and stir it gently for about 30 seconds with the agitation stick to ensure an even extraction.
- Add the remaining hot water until it reaches the fill line.
- Cover it with the lid and allow it to steep for four minutes.
- Press down the plunger and pour out your beverage. Try to leave the last five percent of the liquid in the French press to avoid too much sediment reaching your cup.
Ease Of Cleaning
Cleaning the Fellow Clara coffee maker is one of its most significant drawbacks. Because of its double-walled insulation and wooden handle, only the mesh filter is dishwasher-safe. So you’ll need to hand wash the device, which is still straightforward enough.
However, before that, you’ll need to remove the sludge accumulated at the bottom of the carafe. The non-stick coating helps to a degree because it makes rinsing away the coffee oils easier. However, removing the grounds is a little more difficult.
This is in contrast to a competitor like the OXO, which has a scoop with a handle that allows you to lift the settled grounds out of the machine and remove them as one puck.
With the Clara, you’ll need to shake the debris out or scoop it out with a spoon or the provided agitation stick before washing it, which is more hassle.
Value For Money
The Fellow Clara is a costly French press coffee maker. Nevertheless, it has some seriously thoughtful details, like the enhanced mesh filtration, all-directional lid, the double-walled vacuum-insulated chamber to keep the coffee hotter for longer, and the interior water and coffee measuring lines.
It is also a premium product that looks and feels great. Perhaps most importantly, it produces cleaner, brighter coffee than a standard French press.
Still, do those features make it worth the extra money compared to other devices? Not really. If you like the sleek and sophisticated design, it’s probably worth it, but if the aesthetic is not that important for you, we suggest opting for a less expensive French press. Yes, the Fellow Clara produces full-bodied coffee that’s above average, but it’s not three times as delicious as coffee made by other French presses.
The Fellow Clara French press has some incredible features that make it beautiful to look at and excellent at producing relatively clean, bright coffee with nuanced notes. However, the price is somewhat prohibitive, costing around three times what you’d expect to pay for a standard French press.
If budget isn’t an issue, and you want a user-friendly French press that makes nice coffee and looks stylish, the Fellow Clara is as good an option as you’ll find.
However, considering the quality of the coffee isn’t that much better than coffee brewed by far cheaper French presses, we recommend opting for a less pricey alternative if you’re either limited to how much you can spend or entirely new to French press brewing.