by Neptune Coffee  | 

Quitting the Drip? A Side by Side Look at Drip Coffee and the French Press

Man v. machine. An age-old showdown in books, movies, and yes, even the coffee world.

Maybe you’ve been an avid machine fan for a while now. You can’t start your morning without first pushing “start” on your drip coffee maker.

But with manual brewing methods receiving more attention, maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to cross into the machine-free world.

Coffee making machines save time and energy. But they lack precision and finesse. So is it worth it to switch?

Today we’ll help you solve the dilemma of man v. machine by providing the pros and cons of each different method.

Comparison: French Press or Drip?

Ease of Use

French Press

As a manual brewing method, the French press needs a little more attention than drip coffee. But it’s not a tricky process and is a great first step to learning how to make coffee by hand. Here’s how to do it:

Drip

This brewing method involves 3 basic steps:

And it gets even simpler than this: you can even set everything up the night before so all you have to do is push a button in the morning to get your coffee.

Winner

Drip coffee puts the ease in easy. If you follow these steps, you’ll have some liquid caffeine to drink in about 5-8 minutes and be on your way to a better morning.

But if you’re up for a manual method, the French press is perhaps the simplest one. Honorable mention to French press.

Brew Time

French Press

French press coffee is usually ready in 3-4 minutes after you start brewing. You’ll need to heat your water and grind your beans, but after that, you can leave the press until it’s time to plunge.

Drip

Between 5 and 8 minutes depending on which machine you have. The good news is you don’t have to heat your water or do anything else after you start brewing. But it’s still best to use freshly ground coffee beans so add some time for that.

Winner

French press. Both methods set up easily, but the French press needs a shorter brewing time and doesn’t require babysitting either. Even though it’s manual, it actually takes less time to brew.

Ease of Cleanup

French Press

The worst part of cleaning a French press is making sure you remove all the leftover grounds. Since they make bitter coffee the next time you brew, it’s good to be thorough. But other than that, simply clean the base with hot, soapy water and you’re done.

Drip

Discard the coffee grounds with the filter and then clean the carafe. Pretty simple cleanup. You’ll probably want to clean the whole machine once every month or two, but even that process is simple.

Winner

Drip coffee squeaks out a win here because you don’t have to mess with any leftover grounds, but both methods are pretty straightforward.

Capacity

French Press

The average French press serves 8 cups (4-5oz/cup). But you can find presses as small as 3 cups and as large as 12 so the French press can meet most sizing needs.

Drip

A big advantage of drip coffee makers is their size. They range anywhere from 8-12 cups on average, although you can find smaller sizes too.

Removing the grounds immediately after brewing lets your coffee stay warm for a long time without becoming bitter. So if you want multiple cups throughout the day or want to share with friends, drip coffee makes it easy.

Winner

Drip coffee takes the lead for brewing a lot, at one time, that stays good. The French press can’t keep your coffee warm for long, so you’ll need to brew a new batch every time you want more.

Additional Equipment

French Press

The French press doesn’t require much to work well. You’ll need a kettle for pouring water and a scale and timer for a more precise brew, although you can still successfully make good coffee without those last two.

Drip

An automatic coffee maker is a one-stop shop. You only need to supply filters and coffee, making it a pretty simple method for brewing.

Winner

Both methods keep things easy for you, so it’s a toss-up on the winner. You need a kettle for the French press but you need filters for the drip. Otherwise, they’re both happily self-contained brewing methods.

Cost

French Press

French presses come in a wide price range, and since there aren’t many special features, you’ll get good coffee regardless of which you pick. If you don’t already own a kettle, you’ll need to purchase one of those too.

Drip

Your initial investment can range anywhere from $30-$200 for a quality drip coffee maker. And then you’ll need to keep a supply of filters on hand after that.

The higher end of the price range gives you sleeker designs, more settings (delayed start, brew strength controls, stuff like that), and even options like a permanent filter. But starting with the lower end of the price range still provides a solid brewing option.

Winner

Even your least expensive French press gets the job done, so we give it the win over drip. And since you won’t need to keep buying filters, it’s probably less expensive over time. Even better if you already own a kettle.

Taste

French Press

A French press allows you to customize your flavor a little more than a drip machine. The grounds get filtered at the end, giving you rich, bold flavors.

The biggest complaint in the flavor department is those leftover grounds that make their way into your cup. So make sure you leave the last sip and avoid the grit.

Drip

Flavor control is one thing you give up with a drip coffee maker. Since you are less involved in the process, you can’t specify your brew with drip as much as you can with other methods.

That being said, drip coffee is usually light and mellow. If that’s the flavor you like, then you may not mind giving up some of the control for ease of use.

Winner

We can’t tell you how to drink your coffee, but most people prefer the taste of French press coffee. It’s usually stronger and more, well, coffee flavored! But this winner all depends on how you like your coffee.

And the Winner Is . . . 

Your taste buds and time preferences! Drip coffee makers may get a bad rap from your local barista, but they can still be your best friend.

Especially if you love simple brewing steps, easy cleanup, and coffee that serves a purpose.

But if you’re ready to see what all the fuss is about with manual brewing, give the French press a try.

It’s probably the most basic manual brewing method, giving you elite coffee tastes that are still easy on your time and money.

You may find that you enjoy the robust and satisfying French press brew just enough to make it the newest part of your routine. Or maybe it’s a treat for your slower weekday mornings.