AeroPress vs French Press
Two of the most common options for brewing coffee include the AeroPress and French Press. You’ve undoubtedly already heard of the French Press, which has been a popular method for over 100 years. But, the AeroPress is a modern invention that has taken the coffee world by storm, so much so that we wrote this Aeropress coffee maker review. This naturally leads many coffee aficionados to debate the two.
Both options boast a variety of advantages, but they also come with several drawbacks, so it can be tricky to decide which is better. Because of this, we’ve compiled this guide to cover the differences between AeroPress and French Press coffee so you can find the perfect brewing setup to wake you up in the morning. So, let's get to it!
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What The Heck In An AeroPress?
If you’ve never heard of the AeroPress before, your first question is probably, What exactly is the AeroPress? While it might be unfamiliar to many, it’s still an effective and straightforward method of brewing coffee quickly without sacrificing quality. An AeroPress comprises of several components. These include:
- Sieve base
- AeroPress chamber
- AeroPress plunger
- Circular filters
When combined, these components allow you to brew one cup of coffee at a time. The strength of the coffee depends on how much water you pour into the chamber, the amount of coffee used, and the coarseness of the grinds. You can even consider it a portable espresso-making machine which is suitable for situations where everyone has their unique coffee preference.
One benefit of an AeroPress is that you won’t get any coffee grit in your mug as long as you use it properly. They are also easier to clean compared to French Press models. However, it can take some time to determine how to use it correctly without wasting any coffee or filters.
Making Perfect Coffee On An AeroPress
Once you get the hang of it, using an AeroPress is one of the easiest things you will do every morning, and it is actually quite fun. The result is a mellow but delicious cup that can be as strong or as weak as you need it to be.
The process relies on pressure, which is where the AeroPress gets its name. You need to force air through the chamber using the plunger. If you do this correctly, the air will push the water through the coffee and filter, making you a perfect cup of coffee.
To use an AeroPress, simply follow these steps:
- Dampen the circular filter and place it in the sieve base
- Attach the sieve base to the AeroPress chamber and place it on top of your coffee mug
- Take a scoop (or more) of coffee and pour it into the chamber
- Boil the kettle and leave for one minute before pouring up to the required number (1 - 4). This determines the strength of the coffee, with 1 being the strongest and 4 the weakest.
- Stir the coffee
- Push the plunger into the chamber slowly until you hear a hissing noise
- Enjoy your coffee
Cleaning Your AeroPress
Probably the biggest advantage that the AeroPress has over the French Press is how easy it is to clean. If you have never experienced the luxury of cleaning an AeroPress after using one, you should probably stop what you are doing right now and go buy one just to clean it. Seriously, watching the coffee puck fly out of the AeroPress is probably more enjoyable than the actual brew.
After you have finished brewing your coffee, simply wait a few minutes for the AeroPress to cool down. Next, flip it upside down so that the coffee grounds are on top, and unscrew the cap over a trash can. Once unscrewed, continue pressing the AeroPress as if you were brewing coffee into the trash can. With a simple press, you'll see a perfect coffee puck shoot out the end of the device, into the trash can.
Since the AeroPress is so tight and compact, the plunger helps to maintain a tight seal throughout the coffee brewing process. Therefore, there isn't much residual coffee left to clean. Simply run the AeroPress through some water to get any particles off of the device, and you are ready to brew again. You can use soap and water to clean out any coffee oils as well.
AeroPress Pros and Cons
Starting with the pros, the AeroPress is extremely compact, easy to use and easy to clean. Additionally, the AeroPress is cheap and affordable, as well as consistent. With the AeroPress, you can produce a great cup of Joe on the go, basically from anywhere. It makes the perfect travel companion, whether that be for hiking and backpacking, flying or just bringing to work.
On the downside, the AeroPress does have a few drawbacks. The first major drawback of the AeroPress is that it only produces a single cup of coffee. If you are someone that needs to make a few cups to put into a thermos, and then head out the door, you may want a French Press. Also, the coffee that comes out of an AeroPress is usually very warm, not hot, which can be a problem if you put milk or cream into your coffee.
What The Heck Is A French Press?
The French Press is one of the most popular coffee brewing methods globally, and you will find Cafetieres wherever you go. You can usually tell if someone is a coffee snob, which is a good thing because they enjoy making good coffee, if they have a French Press. Like an AeroPress, it includes several components. These are:
- Plunger with built-in filter screen
One of the most appealing aspects of the French Press is how the coffee tastes. If you prefer your coffee rich and bold, the French Press is the best choice to get you started each morning.
However, it can take slightly longer than other methods, such as the AeroPress. Still, the result is enormously satisfying for anyone who cares one bean about quality coffee.
The French Press also gives you absolute control over every element of your coffee-making experience. Like the AeroPress, you can choose how strong or weak it is, which makes it ideal for households, offices, or anywhere with people who have differing coffee needs.
Brewing With The French Press
Making French Press coffee is straightforward, anyone can do it, even if they have never used a French Press before. Despite this, it can take some time to perfect your brew and pour the right cup of coffee to start your day every day.
- Fill the cafetiere with your desired amount of coffee grounds. For this, it is recommended to use a coarse grind size.
- Boil hot water and fill the cafetiere. If you are using a paper filter, be sure to add one.
- Add the hot water and leave the mixture to brew. The longer brew time, the more bitter the coffee will become. We recommend brewing for 5-6 minutes. Less than 4 minutes and the coffee will be sour and under extracted, but anything over 8 minutes may become over extracted and bitter.
- Press the plunger down to push the grounds to the bottom and prevent bitty coffee. If you are only using a mesh filter, you will most likely experience coffee with a lot of sediment.
- Pour out the coffee and enjoy. If you find the coffee to be too weak, try a finer ground, use more coffee grounds, ensure the water is hot enough or simply use a longer brewing time. If it is too strong, do the opposite. We typically find that the brew time is what you will need to change in the brewing method.
Your approach to using your French Press will depend on the type of coffee you prefer. If you like it smooth, you don’t need to steep the grounds for very long. If you like your coffee strong enough to give you a kick at the start of your day, don’t be afraid to brew it for a little longer. Waiting longer than eight minutes can make the coffee too bitter for even the most daring coffee lovers.
Cleaning Your French Press
Okay, this may be the biggest drawback to the French Press and why many have chosen the AeroPress over it. Once you are done brewing with your French Press, we recommend cleaning the coffee grounds out immediately with warm water while they are still fresh. If you wait too long, the coffee may become hardened to your precious French Press.
Luckily, most French Press coffee makers are becoming dish washer safe, which helps ensure you are getting all of the coffee residue and oils out of your brewer. However, not all of these are safe to clean in the dish washer, so it is important to check out the manuals and reviews before buying one.
French Press Pros and Cons
Starting with the positives of a French Press, it is easy to brew a few cups of strong and delicious coffee. Additionally, the French Press doesn't take much involvement. Simply add your coffee grounds and hot water, and you are good to go after a few minutes. The French Press is also quite portable and fun to use. Lastly, these devices are affordable and simple to replace if any parts break.
Although we love the French Press, there are a few drawbacks as well. By default, the French Press doesn't utilize a paper filter which will lead to coffee with higher amounts of sediment and acid, as well as actual coffee grounds. A paper filter can be purchased though, so don't let that fool you. Lastly, these coffee makers are a pain in the butt to clean compared to the AeroPress!
Which Coffee Option Is Stronger
You may not see many differences in the AeroPress vs French Press debate. They share plenty of similarities, especially as you use a plunger to brew the perfect cup of coffee for both, and you can control your coffee’s strength simply by altering the time in which the grounds sit inside the water.
If you came here hoping to find the stronger option between the AeroPress and French Press, well, there isn't one. For the French Press you use coarse ground coffee and brew it twice as long as the AeroPress. For the AeroPress, you use more finely ground coffee but only brew it for half the amount of time as the French Press. Therefor, both have relatively similar strength.
If you want the cleaner option, go with the AeroPress. If you want the option that has more coffee sediment, and the one that will appear darker or "stronger" as some mistakenly think of it, go with the French Press.
Which Has More Caffeine
Since both of these brewing techniques have a similar extraction method, use the same ratio of water to coffee, and have a similar level of coffee strength, their caffeine content is naturally similar as well.
If you are using the same coffee for both options then the caffeine levels will be the same. Yes, there is a difference in the grind size, but this is negated by the steeping times. So, it comes down to the coffee bean selection. Also, in case you were wondering, light roast coffee has more caffeine.
French Press vs AeroPress Verdict
To sum up our review of the AeroPress vs French Press, both approaches are affordable, simple and produce a great cup of coffee. Despite this, there are subtle differences, and these subtleties will appeal to different coffee enthusiasts when considering which method works best for them.
As with most things in life, it all comes down to what you prefer. If you are a fan of the classic espresso and want a compact and durable option that you can take on your travels, the AeroPress is perfect for you. The AeroPress is also capable of producing crema rich shots of espresso which makes it quite a diversified machine.
Alternatively, French Press coffee is ideal if you want to take it easy on the weekends or have a late start to your day. Not that the French Press will make you late for work, it just takes a few more minutes. Furthermore, a French Press enables you to make multiple, perfect cups of coffee, packed with all the rich and bold flavors that coffee lovers look for in every cup. For this reason, the French Press could edge it.
Of course, many coffee lovers will opt for the AeroPress and the French Press to give them options depending on the situation. If you’re in a rush or on the move, the AeroPress serves you well. On the other hand, the French Press is perfect for an easy-going morning. Let us know which you prefer and thanks for reading!