With so many high-tech automatic coffee makers on the market, it comes as something of a surprise that the two most popular ways of making coffee are manual ones: namely, the French press and pour over methods. It turns out that coffee drinkers just like to keep things simple. However, if you’re still on your quest for the perfect cup of coffee, you may be wondering how these two methods compare. All considered, when it comes to French press vs pour over, which produces a tastier cup of coffee?
For most, the contest of French press vs pour over may come down to the taste of the coffee each method produce. Coffee preferences range from strong and grainy to smooth and light, along with all types of tastes and sensations in between. Then, there are also those who insist that the most important thing by far that determines the taste of a cup of coffee is the quality of the beans used. That argument is certainly valid, but we still have important choices to make regarding method (French press vs pour over, or perhaps some other brewing style) and the equipment we purchase.
The French Press Method: An Overview
First, let’s take a look at the French press, which is sometimes called a cafetiere. The French press was created, despite its name, by an Italian designer/inventor in the 1920s, and today it the most popular manual method of making coffee in Europe and the US. A French press is usually distinguished by an elegant, simple but ingenious design.
The French press consists of a glass carafe with straight sides, fitted with a plunger. The plunger has a filter made of stainless steel, which looks like a mesh screen, attached to the bottom. The filter is sized to fit the inside of the carafe precisely. At the top of the plunger is a tight-fitting lid that helps preserve the flavor of the coffee while it is brewing or being served.
The carafe of a French press unit can also be made of stainless steel, or even plastic. It has a “beak” or spout at the top edge for pouring the brewed coffee. French presses come in many different sizes, and they can be used to make anywhere from two to eight cups of coffee at a time. Of course, if you have a larger size, you can still use it make just a cup or two by reducing the amount of coffee and water used.
Using a French press is simplicity itself. You begin by grinding your favorite coffee beans, preferably a large-grain variety. Then you put the freshly ground coffee at the bottom of the carafe and add boiling water over it. The coffee is left to steep for five to ten minutes, depending on how strong you like it. Once it has finished brewing, you push down the plunger so that the filter moves down to the bottom, containing the coffee grounds underneath.
The coffee is left on top, and it can be easily be poured through the spout. With a French press, you can control the taste of the coffee in a number of ways, starting with the texture of the ground coffee beans. The larger the size of the grind, the richer the taste. Varying the amount of time you let the coffee grounds steep can also give your drink a stronger or lighter flavor.
Do You Like It Strong? Maybe Even a Little Grainy?
For people who like their coffee strong and don’t mind a few grounds escaping into their drinks, the French press is a good choice. As it steeps, the coffee picks up the taste of oils from the coffee beans. This gives coffee from a French press a notably rich taste. Because you can control the length of time that the coffee is steeped, you also control the taste of the brew.
A strong cup of coffee is a good way to start the day. If you’re working late on a conference presentation or studying for an exam, for example, a carafe full of rich coffee is one of your best friends. However, the filter in a French press does sometimes let some grounds pass through, so your coffee may have a slightly grainy taste or texture in exchange for all that flavor.
Another small strike against this method in our French press vs pour over match-up is that cleaning this style of coffee maker can be a challenge. The grounds tend to collect in the tiny spaces on the filter, and it can be difficult to get rid of all of them with routine washing alone.
Pour-Over Coffee Makers: An Overview
Like the French press method, this is one of the simplest and quickest ways of making excellent-tasting coffee. Pour-over coffee makers can be made of plastic, glass or porcelain, and they are used along with a filter. You can use paper or reusable filters. Reusable filters are the more environmentally friendly choice.
Pour-over makers come in a variety of designs and shapes, but all consist primarily of a cone-shaped funnel with an opening at the bottom. The coffee beans should be ground medium to fine and placed in a filter which fits in the funnel. The pour-over unit is placed on the cup in which the coffee will be served. Hot water is poured into the filter and passes through the coffee grounds and into the cup.
It’s important to pour the water in a circular motion onto the coffee grounds so that they all get covered and moistened The design of your pour-over unit may enable you to control the speed at which the water passes through the coffee grounds. A larger opening at the bottom means that the water will pass through the coffee grounds faster, making a lighter cup of coffee. Smaller holes, or several instead of just one, will produce a richer taste since the water will move more slowly through the coffee grounds.
This style of coffee maker is also known as a coffee “dripper” because the coffee drips into the cup underneath. If you’re making more than one cup of coffee, you can place a glass carafe under the pour over instead of a mug. With pour overs, it’s important to make sure that the amount of water you pour into the filter can fit in the cup underneath. Beginners often make the mistake of adding too much water, causing a minor flood on the kitchen table or counter.
Do You Prefer Your Coffee Smooth and Light?
Whatever design and shape of pour-over coffee maker you use, you should be able to brew a smooth and light cup of coffee in a matter of minutes. Since all the grounds are contained in the filter, they don’t make their way into your drink. For many people, that’s an important consideration in making the choice of French press vs pour over.
Another plus with a pour-over unit is that clean up is easy compared to the French press. The grounds can just be thrown away (or saved to feed plants that love acidic soil), and most pour overs are dishwasher safe.
French Press vs Pour Over: All Considered, Which Is Better?
Before we begin any direct contrast of French press vs pour-over methods of making coffee, let’s consider the ways in which they are similar. French presses and pour-over units are both portable and lightweight, and both are typically quick and easy to set up. They can make a cup of coffee in just a few minutes. Whatever the size of the equipment, you can adjust the amounts of coffee beans and water to match the number of cups you want to make.
Both types of manual coffee makers are inexpensive and easily available. In brief, both are quick and convenient ways of making a delicious cup of coffee. Still, when it comes to taste, as well as the amount of time involved and the overall convenience associated with each, there are some important differences in French press vs pour over.
If you’re trying to decide between a French press vs pour over method, the taste of the coffee produced may well be the determining factor. With a French press, you’ll get a rich, strong, full-bodied cup of coffee. For those who like their coffee strong, this makes up for the slightly grainy experience that can occur when a few grounds find their way into the cup.
The taste of the coffee depends, to a great extent, on the amount of time the water is on contact with the ground coffee beans. With the pour-over method, the water just passes through the grounds, giving you a lighter flavor. This makes the pour over method a better choice for flavored coffees. Also, because the grounds are all contained in the filter, there’s no gritty taste or texture.
The pour over is one of the quickest ways of getting a cup of coffee other than going to a drive-through. As soon as the water passes through the coffee grounds in the filter and into the cup underneath, your drink is ready. With a French press, you have to wait anywhere from five to ten minutes to let the coffee brew to the desired strength. Depending on exact circumstances, though, both methods are often quicker than using an automatic coffee maker.
When it comes to comparing the convenience of French press vs pour over, there are certainly some differences. With a French press, you don’t need any extra equipment. All you need is freshly ground coffee and hot water. With pour overs, you need filters. That requires making sure you never run out of paper filters or that your reusable filter is always clean and handy.
With a French press, you have outstanding control over the taste of your brew. You can change the taste by varying the size of the ground beans, the proportions of coffee to water, and the amount of time you let the coffee brew. This means that you can get exactly the kind of coffee you want each time you use a French press.
With pour-over units, you have less control over the taste and texture of the coffee. The design of a specific pour-over coffee maker can help you control the speed at which the water passes through your beans, but it’s not something you can control precisely each time you make a fresh cup.
Cleanup is super-easy with pour-over makers and somewhat more challenging for a French press. The French press comes with its own filter that must be cleaned of coffee grounds each time it’s used. There are plenty of little crevices in the filter where the grounds can hide, so it can be difficult to make sure you’ve gotten all of them. What makes it even more difficult is that you may have to get rid of the grounds before you start washing the filter to avoid a mess or other problems in your sink.
In order to clean a French press properly, you have to disassemble it and clean the filter thoroughly. For many, that extra step is just fine in exchange for the perfect cup of coffee, suited to their tastes.
Isn’t It All in the Beans?
And what of the purists who insist that what makes a great cup of coffee is not the method you use, or even how long you brew your coffee. What matters is the quality of the beans that you start with because that’s where the taste and flavor come from, they may argue. Clearly, though, the size and consistency of the grind also matter, which is why it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality, reliable coffee grinder.
One thing is clear after all research is concluded: There is more than one way of making a great cup of coffee. In fact, you may prefer different tastes at different times of the day. So while a strong, rich brew from the French press may be the best way to start your day, a light, hazelnut flavored cup made with the pour-over method may be just right for an afternoon drink. Different people in the household may have different tastes, too, which is why you often see several types of coffee makers in family kitchens.
The two most popular methods of making coffee are the French press and pour-over methods. Both are quick and convenient as well as easy to set up and use once you’ve mastered the required brewing techniques. If you’re trying to choose between French press vs pour over for your next purchase, there are quite a few factors you should take into consideration. These include taste, speed, convenience, and ease of clean up.
On the other hand, true coffee lovers may just choose to bypass the French press vs pour over debate altogether and opt for both, since they’re both inexpensive and easy to find in stores and online. That way, you can always achieve different coffee tastes for different times of day and various occasions.