Welcome back! Today, it’s a battle of the brews. It’s the French press versus the AeroPress, and we’re going to see how they stack up against each other.
Which one will win? Spoiler alert: The winner will actually be the one that best fits your needs, but we’ll uncover the keys to helping you find that.
We’ll cover a brief introductory of both products in case you’re unfamiliar with them, and we’ll delve into the pros and cons of each. Also, you’ll learn some ways that they suit different needs better.
So, let’s get started.
Introduction To the French Press
A French press includes a carafe, a mesh-like metal filter that’s connected to a plunger and a lid. There’s also a brace or handle so you don’t burn yourself or your counter.
Some French presses have multiple filter layers. The coffee grounds and hot water both go into the pot, and you let the mixture sit for about three to five minutes.
When the water and beans have worked their magic and created their glorious result, you press down on the plunger. This filters out the grounds and leaves you with a delicious cup of brew if you do it correctly.
French press coffee should have a heavy mouthfeel, vibrant aromas and a robust flavor.
However, if you get the grind size wrong, brew it too long or use a low-quality press, your coffee can come out horrible. Oh, and there may be gritty grounds too.
Introduction To the AeroPress
This device looks like a handheld piston and cylinder. It’s similar to the French press in its functions, but it’s smaller.
The AeroPress uses a single paper filter. You dump in your grounds, pour in the water, let it brew and push down the plunger. AeroPress coffee only has to brew for between one and three minutes.
If you want to be fancy, you can use what AeroPress enthusiasts call the “inverted” method. You still pour in your water and beans and let them brew, but you do it with the device turned upside down and then flip it upright.
The science behind that is avoiding premature coffee dripping and having better control over the press when you use a longer brew time.
If you brew your coffee right with an AeroPress, it has a clean and crisp taste with distinct notes from your bean type. The paper filter helps catch oil and keep it out of your cup.
Of course, as it is with any brewing method, your coffee can taste like garbage soup if you get the grind level or brewing time wrong for your taste preferences. Also, cheap and poor-quality coffee is a contributing offender.
How much coffee do you need in the morning? If you’re a superhero and can survive on a small cup or an average-sized one, the AeroPress is perfect for that. It brews about 6 to 8 ounces.
If one cup is only enough for you to start processing the fact that you’re alive after you wake up, the French press may be better. It tends to brew a stronger flavor since you don’t have a paper filter to keep out the oil from the beans.
Also, the French press brews about 28 ounces to 35 ounces of coffee and sits longer. This makes it a good choice if you have several coffee drinkers or need multiple cups to function.
If it’s a Monday morning, you may just want to hoard it all for yourself. Who could blame you?
Of course, if you prefer to keep the oil out of your coffee, you may just want to load up an AeroPress again since it only takes a couple minutes to brew.
Unless you skipped the last sections, you know that an AeroPress takes between one and three minutes to brew, and a French press takes between three and five minutes.
The time estimates depend on your taste. Some people quickly give up on a French press because they don’t brew long enough or brew too long. There are other troubleshooting problems, such as coffee quality even how clean the device is.
If you’re looking for something fast, the AeroPress is probably better. This is true as long as you don’t need multiple cups and are vehemently against any coffee bean oil in your coffee.
When you’re not in a hurry, need to brew a larger volume of coffee or want a stronger taste, a French press is better.
If you like to buy pre-ground coffee in a bag, you’ll probably want to choose the AeroPress. Instead, you can buy a grinder if your heart is set on a French press. A French press requires a coarser grind for best results.
Plan on a level 6 for grind size for a French press, and plan on a level 3 for an AeroPress. So, yes, you can get away with using pre-ground coffee in an AeroPress. However, fresh-ground coffee is always, always, always better!
You can find grinders pretty cheap online, and they do the trick. Just pick one with a clear lid so you can see what’s going on with the grind size.
What’s even better, if you want to invest in it, is buying an automatic grinder with level controls.
Cleaning, Maintenance and Longevity
As you figure in the time of your coffee-brewing routine, be sure to factor in cleaning. Some French presses take a little longer to clean out than an AeroPress.
You’ll also want to soak your AeroPress in vinegar or soap and water at least once weekly. A French press certainly isn’t exempt from soap either. Put a little soapy water in the pot after each use, plunge the filters and rinse it out. You can use vinegar or soak it longer if you see oily residue.
That nasty residue on either device makes your coffee taste stale or bitter. Since some French presses have multiple filters that are more delicate, they can take longer to clean. The AeroPress doesn’t have such nonsense.
You’ll have to buy replacement filters for your French press if they crack or tear. You’ll also have to buy paper disposable filters for your AeroPress. How often French press filters last depends on the quality of them and how careful you are with them.
The choice is up to you. Do you want to buy replacement filters for a quick, single-cup coffee brewer, or do you want to occasionally buy metal filters for a larger-capacity coffee brewer that takes a little longer?
How long the actual device lasts depends on what it’s exposed to, any damage and the material it’s made from. In the next section, you’ll get a better idea of what to expect for longevity.
Style and Material Choices
If you’re looking for something that looks elegant, modern or attractive, a stylish French press wins. There is plenty of versatility in design choices, with plenty of cool and attractive products on the market.
There are glass carafes with sleek stainless steel handles, there are ceramic carafes with rustic wood handles and plenty of other combinations. There are even all-stainless-steel units that keep your coffee hotter.
Let’s face facts now. The AeroPress won’t be winning any beauty contests. It has a simple light or dark plastic design, often with number markings on the side.
The design makes it perfect for transporting if you’re not trying to take it with you to impress anyone with its aesthetics. However, you can certainly impress them by making a great cup of coffee in under five minutes!
But, when you want a quick cup of coffee, you probably aren’t too concerned about savoring the aesthetic features of the device.
Anything that makes coffee is beautiful in its own way, right?
Here’s where it’s easy to run into snags. You can find a cheap French press for less than an AeroPress. Is it better quality though? Possibly not.
The French Press and AeroPress tie for price, with quality units running about $30. Again, even though you can find a quality French press for this price or a little lower, you can also find low-quality ones that cost more.
If you’re already leaning toward getting a French press, just make sure to read reviews before you buy. Even a $50 French press that’s poorly designed can produce results that make a midnight cup of coffee at a gas station seem luxurious.
Bottom line? As long as you pick a quality unit with good reviews from a reputable manufacturer, the price points between items aren’t that different. However, you may spend a little more if you want a high-quality French press with a triple filter instead of a single filter.
The AeroPress wins this category with flying colors. It fits in the palm of your hand, and the depressible lever makes it compact. Since it’s a lightweight device, you don’t have to worry about adding too much weight to your luggage if you travel a lot.
French presses, unless they’re made completely from metal, are more prone to cracking and breaking. You can certainly transport them easily, but they take up more room and can take longer to dry with their mesh-like filters and other components.
A French press is a little heavier than an AeroPress as well. The durability and portability of an AeroPress make it great for campers, hikers and anyone else who needs something that’s 100% practical.
Pros and Cons of the French Press
If all that information seems a little confusing, we’ll break it all down here quickly in a list of pros and cons.
- You can multitask while it brews.
- It makes a strong and flavorful brew.
- It’s simple to use and produces consistent results.
- It makes plenty of coffee.
- There’s minimal prep work.
- If you prefer a light mouthfeel, the French press disappoints you with a heavier one.
- The taste of coffee from a French press can be too muddled for some people.
- Since there’s no paper filter, you have an oilier result.
- It takes longer than the AeroPress to brew and clean.
- Breakable presses are not as durable or transportable as the AeroPress.
Pros and Cons of the AeroPress
Now, the AeroPress is up to bat. Let’s quickly review its pros and cons.
- It produces a flavorful and clean result.
- It filters out the oil since it has a paper filter.
- The device is portable, durable and easy to use.
- Cleanup is a breeze.
- You can make coffee in under five minutes.
- This device is messier to use than a French press, even though cleanup is quicker.
- You’re limited to one cup of coffee, so it’ll take longer to make coffee for several people.
- If you’re mostly concerned about appearance, the AeroPress won’t impress.
- The plunger can be physically challenging to use for some people.
- If you don’t do it right, this isn’t a very forgiving method.
There you have it. Now you have a better idea of which brewing device is for you.
As always, be sure to use good water, high-quality and fresh-ground beans that suit your taste preferences, the right amount of coffee, the ideal brewing time and a clean device for best results. Happy coffee drinking!