French Press vs Pour Over - The Bottom Line on These Brew Methods
You love coffee. But your coffee maker sits on the counter, collecting dust. You haven’t poured from anything with a plastic lid for a long time. Single cups of pre-ground coffee lay untouched on a stand in your kitchen.
No, this isn’t the apocalypse. You just know that the best coffee doesn’t come from a machine.
It’s coffee you make by hand. But you may be wondering which manual method is best.
This article gives you the full rundown on the two most popular manual brewing methods: the French press and the pour over. We’ll help you decide which is the best brewing method for you.
Comparison: French Press or Pour Over?
Ease of Use
The French press delivers dependable results once you settle on your preferred grind and brewing time. Simply heat your water to about 205F and pour it over your grounds.
It’s best to let the coffee bloom, but then you leave it to brew for 3-4 minutes, press the plunger down gently (being careful not to squeeze the grounds), and enjoy.
The process isn’t difficult, but it definitely involves some skill. You’ll start with freshly ground beans and heated water (205F), just like the French press.
But you’ll need to follow these steps as precisely as possible for the best brew:
Rinse the filter with the heated water
Wet the grounds evenly
Allow the coffee to bloom (roughly 45 seconds)
Begin pouring the rest of your water evenly in a spiral pattern (for about 2 minutes 45 seconds)
Remove the filter, swirl the coffee, and enjoy
French press all the way. Learning the pour over process can be fun, but the French press motto is “easy does it.”
You’ll need about 4 minutes for the perfect French press brew. This doesn’t include the time it takes to heat up your water or grind your beans, so add a couple more minutes to the total process.
Total brewing time is roughly 3 minutes and 30 seconds. But you’ll also need time to heat your water, rinse and place your filter, and grind your beans.
One key difference is that you’ll be pouring water throughout this process. So if you go the pour over route, give yourself dedicated coffee time.
The French press takes the prize for time because it’s less involved. You don’t have to stand around pouring water, so your overall time required for a French press is shorter.
Ease of Cleanup
French press cleanup requires a little more effort than a pour over. You’ll need to clean the base with hot, soapy water. And you’ll also have to carefully remove all the grounds from the plunger and base.
This can take some time, but it’s a very important step. Left behind grounds can make for bitter coffee the next time you brew.
Remove the filter. Swirl the base with hot, soapy water. Done. Cleaning up after pour over coffee is simple and easy, a huge plus for those rushed mornings.
An easy victory for pour overs here. Pour over brewing may take a little longer in the beginning, but the easy clean up makes up for that time later.
A French press yields anything from 3-12 cups. Keep in mind that a cup is usually measured at 4-5 oz, typically a lot smaller than most mugs. But they can serve one or two people as easily as a group.
The type of pour over device you use gives you anything from a single cup to 13, although the average is 8 cups (40 oz). A few pour over methods sit directly on whatever cup you want to drink, making for a perfect single use.
A slight advantage goes to the pour over method since you can brew the exact amount you want for the size of your mug or enough for a party. But both methods hold about the same capacity.
A scale and timer can help make a good French press brew, but they aren’t necessary. A dual filter system gives an added bonus too but isn’t necessary either.
A gooseneck kettle is a must-have for pour overs. It allows for the balanced, precise pour you need to get the best brew. Finding one with a temperature gauge on the side is even better.
You’ll also need specific filters for pour over coffee. And for a top-notch brew, invest in a scale and a timer.
Pour overs tend to be a little picky, so the prize here goes to the French press. All you really need besides the press and the coffee is a way to get hot water into it.
One and done. A French press doesn’t require anything other than the initial purchase, and you can find a wide price range all offering good coffee.
You can find inexpensive designs that produce quality coffee, but you’ll need to have filters on hand and may have to invest in other equipment initially.
French press. You can find both pour over devices and presses in the same initial price range but won’t need to keep investing with a French press.
Rich and strong. Because the grounds are filtered at the end of the brewing process, the flavor is bold and thick.
Smooth and light. Because the coffee grounds are filtered, the flavor tends to be lighter and less biting than a French press brew.
You pick! While the French press allows for greater customization of flavor, picking a winner here would mean we’d be telling you how to drink your coffee. We’ll leave that up to you.
Take Your Pick
Ready to try one of these methods now?
Maybe you’re a budding at-home barista wanting to start small. Perfect! Go with the French press. It’s versatile, dependable, and pretty easy to master.
This is my preferred method because it makes good coffee every time. And even though it takes a little more time than drip coffee, it’s a satisfying morning routine.
Maybe you already feel comfortable with the French press and want to try your hand at something a little more challenging.
The pour over is for you with its simple but sophisticated technique. You’ll be a barista boss in about 3 minutes and 30 seconds!