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French Press Vs Drip Coffee Makers: Head to head comparison

The question of french press vs drip coffee is an age-old one. But the difference is very stark, and the devil is in the details. So let’s get started with this comparison!

Coffee is always coffee, and I’ll never disparage one for the other, but you’ll go away from this post with a clear preference in mind.

French Press vs Drip Coffee Makers: a quick overview

What is a French Press

french press vs drip coffee

A French press, or ‘coffee plunger’ is a popular item in kitchen cabinets and hotel rooms.

Its humble but sleek little design has made it different from other coffee makers and quickly become favorite choice of many coffee drinkers since it was first patented by an Italian designer(ironic, right?) in 1929.

So is it exactly Italian or French? It was first developed by Italians and then widely used among French most. However, that is not that big of a concern unless you’re a coffee historian.

What we should focus most is that what it can do to give us nice-tasting coffee in the end.

The French press has a simple design. It is a cylindrical container usually made of glass, but occasionally stainless steel or plastic.

To work it, simply add into it the desired amount of ground coffee, and then some hot (just shy of boiling) water.

Give it a very gentle stir, put the lid on the top and wait for four minutes to let it brew.

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Press the plunger-filter down, at the slowest rate, and finally, as the grounds are compressed to the bottom, the nice brewed coffee is available on top for you to enjoy.

What is Drip Coffee

Drip coffee makers are hugely popular and can be found in homes, offices, and even on the set of cop-shows. They use gravity to brew coffee. Water flows down through a funnel and a paper filter containing coffee grounds.

Interestingly, drip coffee is of two types: pour over coffee, where you manually pour water, and drip coffee, which is made in a machine.

Drip coffee makers are completely automated. What you need to do is to add the ground coffee beans into the filter, and then turn it on. Then the machine will do the rest, including extracting the tastiness and getting a nice cup of coffee ready for you whenever you want.

Related

French Press Vs Drip and Pour Over: Differences

The Coffee

The actual coffee in the end is the most important thing to think about before deciding what brewer to invest in, right?

French press coffee tends to be quite bold and strong. This is because the coffee grounds are immersed in water for 4 minutes and all the water can interact with all the coffee at once.

Additionally, since the french press only has a wire mesh filter, not all of the grounds are filtered out of the coffee, even though you use a coarse grind.

The resulting coffee is a little bit muddy. This is not an altogether bad thing, but some people may not enjoy the slight grit that french press produces.

Drip and pour over coffee on the other hand tend to be much brighter and sweeter. There is no prolonged immersion, and water has limited interaction with the coffee grounds before percolating down.

Drip and pour over coffee result in a much, much cleaner cup because the paper filter prevents nearly any sediments from getting through at all.

Versatility

French presses are rather delicate unless you use stainless steel or plastic models. Glass french presses are not that easy to travel with, either.

However, there are travel french presses available which double as travel mugs and the coffee maker itself.

In these situations, though, the coffee grounds always remain in contact with the water so unless you drink up very quickly you’ll end up with a very over-extracted brew.

Drip coffee makers are pretty much stuck in whatever location they’re in. There are pour over systems like the Hario V60 which you can really easily pack into a bag, but for all drip systems, you’ll need separate coffee filters.

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Learn how to make pour over with this Hario V60 recipe

As far as cleaning up, the two machines require more or less the same amount of time. Just a simple rinse and swish for French press and a fast filter change and rinse for Drip machine pot.

This is just a quick clean, of course, and you should periodically deep clean your french press and descale your drip machine.

Brewing Time

If you’re not a morning person until you’ve had your coffee, brewing time may be a really important factor for you.

French press needs 4 minutes to complete a brew and give you an ideal cup. This does not include the time required for heating water. So all in all you’re looking at around 7-8 minutes from start to finish.

The drip machine takes a bit longer, typically taking 5 to 10 minutes to complete the process. During the periods of 5 to 10 minutes, the machine warms up and brews the coffee.

Here’s the really cool part though. Many drip coffee makers are programmable, which means you can set them to brew at a specific time. So if you usually get up at 7 am, you can simply set it to brew at 6.50 am and you’ll have a cup of coffee ready and waiting for you when you get up!

Ease Of Use

Brewing coffee is as much an art as it is a science. So between french press and drip coffee, which is easier to brew?

Since drip coffee is actually both drip and pour over, let’s rank the three methods in order of brewing difficulty.

Remember, no matter the brew, you’ll have to make sure you get the coffee grind correct! For french press, use a coarse grind. For drip, use a medium grind.

Drip coffee: easiest

Drip coffee is the easiest to brew since the machine pretty much does everything for you. You just need to properly measure out your coffee, grind it to the correct consistency, and put the grounds in the filter.

The machine will use the right amount of water and the correct temperature, depending on how much coffee you’re making, and it will control the speed of the drip.

French press: medium

French press does not require any brewing technique per se but you need to keep careful watch over the water temperature and the time.

You need to use water that’s around 95 degrees C or 200 degrees F. To get that temperature, you can either use a temperature controlled kettle, or leave water off a boil for about 30 seconds to a minute.

Next, you need to pour out the correct amount of water, and keep careful watch over brewing time. The ideal time to steep french press coffee is 4 minutes.

There are a few things that can go wrong here: you can use too much or too little water, and end up with an overly strong or overly weak brew, or you can steep for too little or too much time and end up in a similar situation.

Finally, you plunge gently and pour the coffee out.

Pour over: hardest

Pour over coffee is some of the best tasting coffee, period, and it is highly dependent on the barista.

In addition to the factors you need to control for a good french press brew(temperature and water amount), the resulting cup is highly dependent on your pouring technique.

Pouring too fast or too slow can affect the final brew. Additionally, blooming the coffee is much more critical in pour over. You need to add the right amount of water just to get the bloom going without overflowing from the filter, and then the right amount of water to finish the brew.

A pro tip is to use a scale when brewing, since 1 gram of water is 1 milliliter.

Capacity

How many cups of coffee do you want to be ready every morning? Luckily, both French press and Drip machine offer various coffee sizes for you to select.

A standard French press can serve you between one to around ten cups a brew. And a typical Drip starts at a few cups and give the maximum sizes of ten cups at once.

So if it is not a very large crowd for you to serve at once, both of these coffee makers can work fine for you. Just consider the number of people you are about to serve and choose a proper cup-size.

But note that unlike drip machines, French presses do not include a heat plate for you to keep your coffee warm for a long time.

So if you are not about to drink coffee immediately, do not make a brew or it will be a waste. Fortunately, the issue doesn’t end like this; you can still keep your French press coffee hot longer by using a thermos.

It’s not really perfect but it is a choice if you are a busy person who love French press coffee.

French press and Drip coffee maker machine, who is the winner? The answers maybe varied among different users. Each of them has its own pros and cons. The question that which brewer is the winner depends on your own coffee drinking habit and preference as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is french press better than drip?

French press produces a much bolder, more flavorful, and intense cup of coffee. If that’s your thing, yes, french press is better. But that does not mean the brighter drip coffee is bad. It’s a matter of what you prefer!

Is french press coffee stronger?

In terms of taste, definitely. French press is bolder and packs a lot more coffee flavor than drip coffee.

Does french press have more caffeine?

Not really. If you use the same kind and amount of coffee beans to brew one cup of french press and one cup of drip coffee, the caffeine levels will be nearly the same. The beans are a more important factor than the brewing method in this case.

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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