AeroPress vs French Press. Which One Brews A Better Cup?

making aeropress coffee

Aero Press vs. French Press

When it comes to brewing coffee, you can use several different methods, with more being developed daily. So how do you choose between two different methods that seem similar, like the AeroPress or the French Press?

The AeroPress and the French Press involve a full immersion brewing process with applied pressure. The differences lie in what type of grind they take, the equipment’s versatility, and the brewing’s final result.

Read on to get the details and differences between these two popular coffee brewing methods.

AeroPress Vs. French Press:

The AeroPress and the French Press are fairly similar. They both involve pouring hot water over ground coffee, letting it steep for a certain period, and then using a piston or hand-press method to filter the coffee grounds out of the finished brew.

Beyond that, there are some differences in technique and brew time.

Technique for  AeroPress:

The AeroPress method involves the following technique:

  1. Place the cylinder over an empty cup.
  2. Pour in coffee grinds and hot water
  3. Insert the plunger cylinder
  4. Press down – this will force the brewed coffee through the filter at the bottom and into the cup below.

The AeroPress also allows for a second technique, known as the ‘inverted’ technique, which involves the following steps:

  1. Place the plunger in the top of the cylinder and flip the apparatus over.
  2. Add coffee and hot water through the bottom of the cylinder
  3. Attach the filter.
  4. Flip the apparatus over on top of the cup
  5. Press down

Which method is easier? That’s a matter of debate, but both methods can be used equally efficiently.

Regarding time spent brewing, this is a quick process that rarely takes about 3 minutes from grinding to the finished cup.

Technique for French Press:

The French Press method involves the following steps:

  1. Set up the tall carafe
  2. Pour in coffee and hot water
  3. Let steep
  4. Take metal mesh filter and place insert into top of carafe
  5. Press down to filter the coffee grounds out of the finished brew
  6. Pour coffee into fresh clean cup

The technique is not as versatile as the Aero Press, but it has been around for over 80 years.

If you want the best flavor of coffee, you’ll need to let this steep for about 5 minutes or so. If your morning routine involves trying to do multiple things at once, this can work in your favor.

making french press coffee

The Essential Difference:

In the AeroPress, the water is filtered through the grounds to create your cup of coffee

In the French Press, the grounds are filtered through the water to create one or more cups of coffee.

It may seem like a difference in semantics alone, but it results in differences in taste, texture, and versatility.

making french press coffee

Grind Coarseness Differences:

You might think that there’s not much difference grind size can make, but it influences several other factors.

The coarser the grind, the less surface area of the grounds, is exposed to the hot water. Less surface area means a longer steeping time, among other things.

AeroPress Grind Coarseness:

Used in its intended manner, the AeroPress takes a  fine grind with very small coffee grounds.

It takes less time to steep than the French Press and has the potential for a smoother flavor.

Note: AeroPress grind size can be adjusted as desired by changing the filter type or other components.

A different filter and grind size will require a change in steeping time, something to consider if you’re looking to experiment with the coarseness of the grind.

French Press Grind Coarseness:

The French press tends to take a fairly coarse grind due to how the filter is set up – the metal mesh tends to require a coarse grind.

The coarse grind means the French press takes longer to steep, which can be a benefit for multi-taskers or a detriment for people in a hurry.

The coarse grind also leaves more chances for sediment to get through the filter into the finished cup of coffee, especially if you try to brew with a finer grind than the mesh normally takes.

The Versatility of Equipment/Brew:

Versatility can make a difference if you’re brewing for people with different tastes or if you just like to vary your morning brew. On the other hand, there’s also something to be said for consistency.

AeroPress Versatility:

The AeroPress is a very versatile instrument. The filter is a paper one, which means it can be adjusted to any type of grind coarseness you might prefer.

Changing the grind coarseness and the filter may change the amount of time you need to let the coffee steep, but that also means you can adjust it if you need to make your coffee faster – or slower.

The versatility of the AeroPress is a selling point for individuals brewing for multiple people with different tastes or for individuals still experimenting to find their ‘perfect cup.’

French Press Versatility:

The metal mesh filter of the French Press means that it’s not as versatile as the AeroPress. It might be considered a ‘one size, one method’ type of apparatus.

It might be possible to change the filter mesh, but you would almost have to buy multiple metal mesh filters or find a way to jerry-rig your filter, which can have uncertain results.

On the other hand, this is a good method if you like consistency in your coffee. As long as you keep an eye on your time and temperature for steeping, you can guarantee the same great taste every morning.

Amount Brewed:

If you’re brewing for just yourself, you might not want to make a whole pot. If you’re making coffee for a family or coworkers, you might want a larger amount brewed.

French Press and AeroPress make different amounts of coffee, something you’ll want to consider when choosing between the two.

AeroPress Production:

The AeroPress generally only produces a single cup per brew. That makes it an optimal method for brewing for a single person.

An AeroPress can be a good investment if you’re just making coffee for yourself.

French Press Production:

The French Press uses a carafe in its brewing process, making for a larger amount. If a standard cup is 8 to 12 ounces of coffee, it’ll give you at least 2 cups.

This is good if you’re brewing for multiple people. The French Press takes a little longer to steep than the AeroPress, but it takes a shorter time to brew one French Press carafe versus two or more AeroPress cups.

Portability and Travel:

When you love your coffee a certain way, being able to take your press with you can be an important factor in which one works better for you.

AeroPress Portability and Travel:

The AeroPress is made of lightweight and durable plastic, plus it’s small and compact, easy to tuck in a corner or a small pocket.

The water temperature required to make a good cup of coffee in the AeroPress is about 185 degrees Fahrenheit. This means on camping trips, you’ll find it easier to get your water to the temperature you need.

Likewise, this is a temperature that coffee makers and water heaters in most hotels will reach, which adds to the travel value of the AeroPress.

French Press Portability and Travel:

The French Press isn’t known for its portability. The carafe that serves as the main part of the apparatus is larger than most AeroPress cylinders.

It’s also usually made of ceramic or glass, which is a somewhat breakable material. The size and the breakability make it less portable or travel-friendly than the AeroPress.

It also takes a higher temperature of water to get the best brewing results, about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it takes longer to get the water to the temperature on camping trips.

It’s also not a temperature that all hotel room heating tools are able to reach, meaning you might not be able to brew your coffee on the road unless you also bring a surefire method of getting your water temperature higher.

Ease Of Use And Cleaning:

Having an easy method of making coffee is handy. So is having equipment that is easy to clean, so you don’t have to worry about getting a build-up of oils or other contaminants.

AeroPress and French Press are fairly easy to use, but what about cleaning?

AeroPress Ease of Use and Cleaning:

The AeroPress is easy to use but also fairly easy to clean.

The filter is close to the cylinder and almost acts as a squeegee to take the oils off the sides.

The grounds condense into a neat little ‘puck’ at the bottom of the cylinder, which can be easily knocked loose and tossed away.

The cylinder and filter press can be easily cleaned with a quick wash and wipe down. The filter itself is paper and can be tossed away.

French Press Ease of Use and Cleaning:

The French Press is fairly easy to use but not as easy to clean.

The carafe must be thoroughly washed after use to remove all the oils and sediment from the sides and the bottom.

The metal mesh of the filter also needs to be carefully cleaned, or leftover grounds and sediment can clog it and make it harder to use, as well as leaving an unpleasant addition to your next cup of coffee.

Taste, Texture, and Health Benefits:

When it comes to coffee, the taste is one of the most important things when determining what kind of brewing method is best for you.

Coffee also has certain health benefits that can be maximized – or not – by the methods used in brewing.

AeroPress Taste and Health Benefits:

The AeroPress taste has low acidity, largely due to the fine grind and quick brew time (about 3 minutes).

The AeroPress also offers a ‘clean’ cup of coffee, without a lot of sediment or oils in the finished coffee, as opposed to other coffee brewing methods.

The AeroPress gives a full body of flavor without over-extraction or remnants.

In terms of health benefits, the low acidity makes it gentler on the stomach than other methods without sacrificing flavor.

The paper filter of the AeroPress filters out cafestol and kahweol, both of which can increase LDL cholesterol, which is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. In that respect, it can be deemed ‘healthier’ than other coffee brews that don’t filter this out.

French Press Taste and Health Benefits:

The French Press requires a longer steeping time than the AeroPress – generally about 5 minutes.

The longer steeping time leaves a risk for over-extraction, resulting in an acidic, bitter cup of coffee, though it can still have a full and robust flavor.

The mesh filter of the French Press often allows oils and sediment through to the final cup of coffee, even with a coarser grind. The result is a more oily and textured cup of coffee.

Some individuals enjoy the unique texture of French Press coffee, but it isn’t for everyone.

The higher acidity can be unpleasant if you have sensitive taste buds or a sensitive stomach.

The mesh filter of the French Press doesn’t filter out cafestol and kahweol, which means these molecules can contribute to your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.  If cholesterol is a health concern you worry about, French Press coffee may not be recommended for you.

Final Thoughts On AeroPress vs. French Press:

There are a lot of positive things to say about AeroPress. It’s portable, versatile, and brews a nice clean cup with plenty of flavors but not a lot of sediment or oils.

The AeroPress is also easy to use and easy to clean. Its biggest faults are the one-cup production and the need to keep an eye on your brew time.

The French Press is a little less portable and versatile, but it’s great if you’re looking for a strong, rich flavor and feel to your coffee.

The French Press is also a good choice for individuals looking for a multi-tasker-friendly, consistent method that can be used to serve multiple people at once.

Christopher Mize
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