Pour Over vs French Press: Which Manual Brewing Method Is Best?

Pour Over vs French Press: Which Manual Brewing Method Is Best?

Pour Over vs French Press

The Pour over vs French Press, which is better? Whether you’re just getting into drinking good coffee, or even if you know your way around, it can be confusing with the variety of coffee styles and brewing techniques out there. So, we want to take everything back to the basics to ensure that our customers know everything there is to know about coffee.

To do this, we need to focus on what these brewing techniques are and how you make the coffee once it arrives to your door. Two of the most popular styles are French Press coffee and Pour Over coffee which we will explain in detail down below.

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Overview of Pour Over Coffee

pour over coffee makers

You can probably guess what pour over coffee is from the name. You pour hot water over coffee grounds and allow it to filter through into a Chemex jug. Depending on how much coffee you need each morning or how many people you are making coffee for, you can pour a lot of water for several cups, or a little water for a strong cup all to yourself. 

Pour over coffee is sometimes known as drip coffee or filter coffee. However, this shouldn’t be confused with a regular filter coffee machine as you need to brew pour over coffee manually. This, however, is all part of the fun and should be something any coffee aficionado looks forward to doing. If you want to buy a best pour over coffee maker, then we recommend the Chemex!

It is considered a classic method for brewing coffee, and this is why the pour over style is becoming increasingly popular in the US and South America, where it is more traditional. You will also find it in other parts of the world. Chances are, if you have spent time in a coffee shop, you've probably witnessed all kinds of hipster coffee, like a blonde roast pour over. 

It is a little different from French Press immersion coffee, as the pour over technique requires you to saturate the coffee with hot water constantly. Therefore, you will need to be beside your pour over coffee and add water repeatedly until it is ready to serve.

How to Brew Pour Over Coffee

pour over brew method

Whether you have a Chemex coffee maker or one from another brand, the approach to Pour Over coffee is the same. You need to pour coffee grounds into a damp, cone-shaped filter and leave them to sit for a little while. The filter prevents grounds from seeping through into the brew, which could ruin the coffee drinking experience, but it still allows enough flavor packed coffee to run through. 

The process is simple enough, but it is not as easy as merely pouring the water in and leaving it. If you want to know how to make pour over coffee, it requires a more sophisticated approach. To brew the perfect cup of pour over coffee, you must: 

  • Dampen the filter and place it in the jug, sealing it to keep it in place
  • Add the grounds and leave them for a minute
  • Boil the water and slowly pour it over the grounds in a circular motion
  • Be careful not to pour too much water into the filter to prevent overflow and spilling
  • Remove the filter and pour the coffee into your mug or mugs 

Overview of French Press Coffee

french press coffee brewing

French Press coffee was first developed in the 1920s, and as it gained popularity, it evolved into what coffee lovers recognize today. It brings a level of elegance to your morning brew and is a popular choice thanks to its affordability and ease of use. Plus, it’s fun to press the plunger down no matter how old you are. 

One appealing element of French Press coffee is the rich taste that is worlds apart from your standard instant coffee, so much so that you are unlikely to go back. When compared to pour over coffee, French Press coffee drinkers also discover that it has a thicker texture. This is because the water and grounds are in constant contact throughout.

In contrast, the water passes through the grounds in the pour over coffee method and goes through a thick filter before it ends up in your cup. Although it isn't quite as light as white coffee, the pour over technique will be a lighter bodied cup compared to the French Press.

If you prefer a more potent brew, the French Press is ideal. This is because of how the oils are separated during the brewing process, which provides a more pronounced experience. The French Press process is also super simple, so you don’t need to sit with your French Press for the entire brew time, meaning you can start on breakfast while you wait for the coffee to brew. 

How to Brew with a French Press 

french press brew method

Although the French Press sounds like something far too elegant for the everyday person, the reality is much different. The setup is simple and effective and uses immersion brewing that steeps the coffee grounds in hot water to extract the flavor. 

The French Press process is one of the easiest methods you’ll come across that isn’t boiling the kettle and pouring water over instant coffee grounds. To create the perfect cup of French Press coffee, you’ll need to: 

  • Fill the chamber with as much (or as little) coffee grounds as you need
  • Boil the kettle and pour into the chamber
  • Leave it to sit for several minutes. This depends on how weak or strong you like your coffee, but no longer than four minutes to prevent too much bitterness
  • Press the plunger down to press the grounds to the bottom and prevent any sediment
  • Pour the coffee into your mug or mugs  

Is Pour over better than French Press

Depending on who you ask, pour over coffee is much better than French press coffee. Of course, everyone has there own taste preferences and you should ultimately be the judge of that for yourself. While French press is often the go-to for a strong and bold taste of coffee, the pour over is your perfect solution for a better extracted cup of coffee.

While a French press does a wonderful job of extracting every little bit of flavor from the bean, it can also extract the unwanted qualities of a bean. Since the pour over method is a precise extraction technique, you can almost guarantee that your coffee will only contain the desired traits of the ground coffee. So, if you want better flavor and less unwanted sediment, stick with the pour over! 

Why French press coffee is bad for you

The French Press has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent times as many experts have claimed that it is an unhealthy way to brew coffee as it does not filter out cafestol. If you don't know what cafestol is, it is a diterpenoid molecule that is in every coffee bean, meaning it is also in your coffee. This cafestol causes your cholesterol to rise which is not something you want to think of when enjoying your morning cup of coffee.

Also, if you are someone that suffers from acid reflux, then you should know by now that a French press is not for you! Since these rely on metal filters, not all of the coffee sediment is removed from the brew, resulting in too many unwanted acids and compounds that may lead to acid reflux. So, if you want to remove the unwanted sediment, and the cafestol, you should consider a paper filter option.

French Press vs Pour Over Coffee Cost

If cost is a factor for you then you may need to consider the cost differences between the French Press and the pour over coffee maker. Like all things in life, there are always cheaper solutions, as well as the higher-end fancy options. When it comes to the French Press coffee maker and the pour over coffee maker, there are tons of options to choose from.

You may notice that the pour over coffee maker is typically a bit cheaper than the French press coffee maker, but don't let that fool you. As you begin to use both devices, you'll notice that the French Press requires less coffee and the filters (if you choose to use one) are much cheaper which makes it a better investment over time. So, the choice is close between the two in terms of price!

French Press vs Pour Over Conclusion

french press vs pour over

The answer to the French Press vs Pour Over debate all depends on what you prefer, how you like your coffee, and your lifestyle. When it comes to price, the French Press is slightly cheaper over the long run and you are able to use less coffee while the pour over coffee maker is cheaper up front, but can become expensive as you burn through coffee and higher quality filters more quickly. Plus, if you buy a pour over maker, you will need a nice gooseneck kettle and scale to go with it.

To review the two further, you might find that the French Press approach is straightforward, but that it takes a little too long. Conversely, the Pour Over method is ideal for speedy results, especially if you’re brewing a quick post-lunch cup to boost your energy for the rest of the day.

It’s also important to think about coffee’s strength. If you want something as strong and rich as it is bold and memorable, French Press coffee is a perfect choice. We understand that strong coffee isn’t for everybody, though. In this case, the Pour Over style is better for a gentle and subtle flavor that still ticks all the java boxes. 

Of course, coffee lovers needn’t just go with a single approach and stick to it come rain or shine. If you want to enjoy the full spectrum of coffee delights, there is nothing wrong with having both options in your kitchen. You can enjoy a speedy coffee solution if you’re in a hurry with a French Press as you don't need to stand around waiting for the French Press to do the brewing. Alternatively, you can use the Pour Over technique for a relaxed Sunday morning with your breakfast, especially if you like taking the time to learn the craft.

For more brew guides, be sure to check out our guides below!


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