I'm thinking about buying a French press for making coffee. I'm just not sure what is the lifetime of the filter? Can I use it for years or do I have to get a new filter from time to time?
Not all French Presses are created equal; some have the obnoxious habit of getting creases at the edge of the filter, which lead to grounds coming up the sides. Other filters deteriorate more quickly.
My experience is that a fine metal mesh filter tends to last longer than nylon filters, and that I am always going to be unlucky when it comes to the French Press.
Inevitably, things fall apart. Replacing the filter will be needed at some point, though good care can help prevent it from going bad. There are really two ways to look at the investment of the French Press:
You're buying a cheap one with the expectation that it'll last only 6 months to a year.
You spend a little more, and perhaps have to replace a part once in a while.
My suggestion is to buy a mid-priced Bodum press; replacement parts are available and relatively affordable, and their products are decent enough to be used in restaurants around the world. Either way, you're spending less than on a decent drip brewer, and getting a better cup of coffee for your efforts.
How long a French press will last depends on how long you use it, and the quality of the one you buy. I've had mine well over 10 years and see no reason to replace it, but my previous one was cheap junk and lasted less than a year.
Of course treating it right will help it last. Keep it clean, dry the screen after washing so it doesn't rust out, and don't put your full weight on the plunger when pressing down the grounds and you won't have too much trouble.
We had a glass French press for over a year without having to replace the filter screens. But sadly the glass carafe cracked due to accidental drop and hit hard on the floor. So I could say that the lifespan of the filter screen could last the same as the unit. But if you need to replace it, the Bodum replacement filter screens are mostly compatible with other French press.
So we searched for a new French press and found here http://coffeemakerpicks.com/best-french-press and decided to purchase the Sterling pro double wall stainless steel. Even it is more expensive than glass carafes, it makes sense that in the long run we will save money since it's unbreakable. And a thermal pot has better insulation than glass, keeping the water temperature in range when brewing for around 4 minutes.
I want to point out as well that you'll be needing a burr grinder and I recommend the Baratza Virtouso.