To press or pour? That is the question. In recent years, manual home coffee brewing has rapidly grown in popularity as consumers seek to make coffee that is as good or better than what they can find in chain coffee shops. This has led many coffee lovers to French presses and Pour-over coffee makers.
Both of these hands-on methods are known for producing coffee that is a different experience from what you can get from electric coffee makers. However, while they are likely both an upgrade to the ancient electric coffee pot in a typical office breakroom, they can have very different results from each other as well.
Here we'll look at the difference between French Press and Pour Over along with tips and tricks for how to brew coffee with each method.
A French press is a relatively simple device that was invented in Italy in the 1920s but is now a hallmark of good coffee for an entirely new generation of coffee lovers. This device has three components:
While the design of the French press has been refined over the decades, this method is still known for allowing some grit to pass through. You can minimize this downside of French Press in three ways:
One of the hallmarks of good French press coffee is that it is known for being intense and full-bodied. The method allows for more of the beans' oils to remain in your cup which adds to the richness.
One of the greatest benefits of French press is how customizable the process is. Not only can you personalize the ratio of water to grounds, you can also choose how long the grounds remain in the water.
The presence of grit tends to be the primary complaint from coffee drinkers, but there is also the issue of clean-up. Though the device is simple, the mesh portion can be difficult to get perfectly clean. You can minimize this by rinsing your carafe as soon as you have finished pouring out your coffee. Do not let it sit in the leftover grinds for longer than necessary.
Pour Over coffee has many similarities to French press with some key differences. In both methods you are pouring water directly over the coffee grounds and, just like with the French press, you will want to use fresh, filtered water and freshly ground beans.
The big difference is that a pour-over kit consists of a carafe and a paper filter, not a mesh strainer like a French press has. To brew a cup of pour over, you simply place the filter in the top of the carafe, pour in your ground and then pour hot water over this. The water extracts flavor from the grounds as it passes through before dripping into the carafe below.
Use a gooseneck kettle to pour your water. The thin spout of a gooseneck kettle lets you better control how quickly you pour the water.
Pour Over kits are extremely easy to clean up. Once you remove the used paper filter with the grounds, you simply have to rinse out the carafe. Pour over also eliminates the issue of grit that comes with a French press.
There are two main cons for Pour Over coffee. First, it can be inconvenient to use disposable filters. While the cost is not high, it does mean you have to keep them on hand when you want a cup of coffee.
There is also more waste and environmental impact associated with paper filters compared to a reusable mesh strainer like we find in a French press. Pour-over also does not let you control how long the grounds stay in contact with the water which can result in a weak brew if you are not careful.
While factors like freshness of the beans, water quality and brew method are the most important, proper brewing equipment can also affect your pour-over. Here are some of our top picks:
Kalita 102 Ceramic Dripper. This straight-sided pour-over dripper uses Kalita's famous 3-hole extraction method to produce a consistently high-quality cup of coffee. Use it with almost any decanter of your choice for one delicious cup of coffee at a time.
Hario V60. The V60 lets you have fresh brewed coffee no matter where you are. Use it to brew coffee right into your mug.
Ceramic Kalita Wave 185 Dripper. This elegant porcelain dripper helps to evenly maintain heat in your coffee. Use it for up to 26 oz of full-bodied coffee.
Yama 6-Cup French Press. This sleekly designed French press is designed to give you the best in bold, dark brews. With a 6-cup capacity, this is ideal for larger households.
When it comes to deciding between French press and pour-over, personal taste is the most important factor. If you like dark roasts and strong flavors, the French press will likely be best for you. However, if you like a lighter roast, pour-over is the best method.