Have you tried a manual coffee brewing method yet? The two most popular manual methods out there are probably pour over coffee and the French press. But which to choose? Pour over coffee vs French press, which do you think is the best?
Pour over coffee vs French press, does the coffee actually taste that different using one over the other? Do they have the same brewing time? Overall, which brewing method is better?
Honestly? Both are pretty great, but one brew method may be better for your coffee-making and drinking preferences than the other. Read on for our comparison of pour over coffee vs French press to determine which is the best method for you.
Pour Over Coffee Vs French Press: Manual Coffee-Making Methods
If you are unfamiliar with these manual coffee-making methods, let’s take a look at how each of them works.
A French press offers a type of immersion brewing that has only 3 main parts: a plunger, a filter, and a cylindrical carafe. After grinding up the coffee, you pour it into the carafe and mix it with hot, but not boiling, water. Water temperature is very important when using any brewing method and should be 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
You then put the lid back on and let it steep for a few minutes before slowly pressing down on the plunger. The plunger helps squeeze every last drop of the coffee from the water-grounds mixture while keeping the coffee beverage separate from the grounds. Once you can plunge no more, you can pour your fresh coffee straight into your cup and enjoy!
Pour Over Coffee
The pour over coffee method also involves only a few parts, namely a filter that sits inside what is often a cone-shaped piece, but it is more of an infusion brewer. In this method, the cone can be placed on top of a carafe or even just your coffee mug if you are making a single serving. The grounds are poured into the top of the cone, and then you take some hot water (but again, not boiling!) and wet the grounds just enough to allow them to bloom for around 30 seconds.
After you have waited the appropriate amount of time, you can then add the rest of the water to the grounds slowly, ideally in a circular motion. The coffee drips through the filter and collects in the mug or carafe underneath. Once all of the coffee has dripped through, it is ready to serve.
Pour Over Coffee vs French Press Faceoff
Now that you have a better idea of what each manual coffee-making method entails, let’s get into some comparisons!
Which is Cheaper?
The best thing about both of these coffee-making methods is that they are both so affordable. You can get a French press or single-serve pour over brewer for as little as $10 or less, and both can go up in price depending on what they are made of and how much brewed coffee you want to be able to make at one time.
While the cost may be comparable upfront, you may end up spending more in the long run if you choose a pour over coffee maker. If you choose to use paper filters you will be buying those regularly, and if you are serious about your pour over, you may consider investing in something like a gooseneck kettle.
This type of kettle has a thin spout that helps ensure a smooth, consistent, and even pour of water over the coffee grounds, which some say can make all the difference in your resulting cup of coffee.
Winner: French press
Which is Quicker?
The brew time is often one of the most important things that people consider when choosing a coffee-making method. If you are typically rushed in the morning to get yourself ready and out the door in time, then every second counts when brewing coffee is part of your morning routine.
Overall, the brew time is pretty comparable when it comes to pour over coffee vs French press at about 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your coffee. If you include the time it takes to heat the water, the total time you are looking at may be closer to 8-10 minutes. While the overall timing is comparable, the difference lies in what you are doing during that time.
With the French press, you are spending most of your time waiting for the coffee grounds to steep in the water – you do not have to do anything while the grounds soak. You can set a timer and continue with your morning routine or other activities while the coffee is steeping.
On the other hand, with the pour over brewing method, you are much more hands-on during the process. You have to be there to soak the grounds, wait to allow them to bloom, and then slowly pour the rest of the water over them to brew the coffee.
You do not have the freedom to just leave the coffee brewing for a few minutes to get something else done like you can with the French press. For this reason, we would say that the French press may be the slightly quicker manual coffee brewing method.
Winner: French press (but barely!)
Which is More Customizable?
One of the nicest things about manual coffee-making methods, in general, is that they allow for a certain level of customization that you just cannot get with your average automatic drip coffee machine. With the French press, for instance, you can control the water temperature, grind size, and steeping time. If you change any of these factors, you can certainly change the taste of your resulting cup of coffee.
It is recommended that you use a coarse coffee grind for French press to help eliminate any kind of gritty texture in your coffee, but if you do not mind that then you can certainly use different grinds and steeping times to make your coffee.
While you can also control the water temperature with the pour over method, you do not have the same freedom with the other variables. The grind size needs to be about medium for best results, and then you do not even get to play with the steeping time because there is none with this type of infusion brewer. You can try pouring the water in different ways or at different speeds, but you may not notice much of a difference in the end.
Some people may contest this and say that the way you pour is everything, but it certainly may not seem like it to the beginner or those who do not care too much about putting in the time and effort to achieve such subtle differences, especially if you are drinking your coffee with cream and sugar anyway.
Winner: French press
Which Tastes Better?
While they may be similar in other areas, the biggest difference in the battle of pour over vs French press lies in the taste of the final cup of coffee.
If you like a thick, rich, strong cup of coffee, then the French press will likely be your preferred manual coffee-making method. Since it does not typically use a paper filter, which can absorb some of the coffee’s natural oils, you get more of a heavy-bodied cup of coffee with bold flavors.
Now, the downside of not using a paper filter means that sometimes you may find some extra grounds in your cup of coffee, as some can get through the holes of the built-in filter in a French press. If that is something that can ruin the taste for you, then you may be better off with the pour over method.
While you can get pour over coffee makers with reusable filters, a lot of them require the use of paper filters. These filters will prevent the grounds from getting into your cup, but they will also absorb some of those rich and heavy coffee oils.
This means you will get a lighter, cleaner-tasting coffee, which will allow you to taste some of the more subtle notes in the flavor profile of your chosen coffee beans. Now, you may not notice these as much if you add a lot of cream and sugar to your cup, as they can mask the flavors, but if you are a black coffee lover you may be able to appreciate the difference.
So, which tastes better? They produce such different tastes in your final cup that you cannot really compare – it depends on your personal preference!
Winner: Tie. French press for thick, rich flavors and pour over for lighter, cleaner flavors.
Which is Easier to Clean?
If you are one of those people who hates to clean, then this may be your biggest deciding factor when it comes to pour over vs French press. The pour over method offers a quick and easy cleanup – just remove the paper filter with the grounds inside and toss it in the trash or compost. Then you just need to wash the unit itself with soap and water, which is also fast since you do not need to worry about getting into any little nooks and crannies to clean it properly. Done!
With the French press, on the other hand, there is a little more work involved when it comes to cleanup time. The bottom of your French press will be full of loose grounds that will need to be scooped and scraped out, and there will likely be grounds stuck in the filter too.
Unfortunately, you cannot just rinse it out and dump everything in the sink because the coarsely ground coffee that is needed for a French press can clog your drain, so if you are not scooping it straight out of the press then you may still need to scoop it out of the bottom of your sink. While this may not seem like the end of the world to some, if you hate to clean then you may be better off without the French press.
Winner: Pour over
Verdict: Pour Over Coffee vs French Press
Looking at the above categories, it seems like the French press coffee maker is our overall winner when it comes to which is cheaper, quicker, and more customizable. The pour over coffee maker only wins the category of which is easier to clean but comes in a very close second for cheaper and quicker.
Since they are so close in a few categories, the most important thing to consider may be taste when it comes down to which brewing method is better. If you like a heavy, rich, strong cup of coffee then go with the French press. Alternatively, if you like a lighter, smoother, cleaner cup of coffee, then you may prefer the pour over method.
So ultimately, it is up to you as the coffee drinker to decide — pour over coffee vs French press! Either way, you will certainly end up with a quality cup of coffee, and that is all we want at the end of the day, isn’t it?
We hope this pour over coffee vs French press comparison helped you choose the next manual coffee maker to use. Pour over coffee vs French press: which side are you on? Share your thoughts in the comment below.