French Press VS Pour Over: Which One Is For You?

french press vs pour over

Some coffee brewing methods often look similar to others, but there are ultimately big differences in taste. For those who have always wondered if there is a difference between French press Vs pour over methods, this brief guide will steer your straight.

French Press Overview

How it works

A typical French Press is a glass container with metal support built around it so it can be picked up like a cylinder-shaped kettle. Premeasured coffee grounds are added inside the cylinder. Hot water is poured and allowed to steep until it’s time to add more hot water. A special plunger lid is placed onto the cylinder and the coffee grounds are slowly pushed to the bottom using a built-in filter. After this, the coffee is ready to serve and drink.

Ease of use

This brewing method is easy to learn and only needs a brief learning period to get the best results. The most satisfying part is using the plunger to push the coffee grounds to the bottom of the brewing chamber. Clean-up is very simple and is considered a very elegant way to brew coffee for friends. All of the parts used with a French Press can be cleaned in a washing machine.

Brewing time

It takes less than 4 minutes to brew a whole carafe full of coffee that’s equal to 3 to 4 cups or more depending on the size and model. The first step is the most important since the coffee grounds need to bloom. Once you reach this critical point, the rest is only a matter of extracting the coffee using the filtered plunger.

Control of brew materials used

Using a French Press is all about adjusting the grind size to get the best-tasting coffee. It’s more common that this method uses coffee grounds that look more like rough table salt. This will be easier using a conical burr grinder so the coffee bean pieces will all be uniformly-sized. This also prevents smaller pieces from forming and being extracted before the rest of your coffee is finished brewing.

Sizes available

The brewing vessel size will depend on the model that you choose. This will vary from only 3 cups of coffee per brewing up to 12 cups. It also will depend on how many people in a household like drinking coffee likewise. The larger you go for cups yielded doesn’t affect the brewing time, but the number of coffee grounds added will need to be appropriate to the number of cups you are brewing each time.

Price range

The price range will always depend on the materials that your French Press is made from. Glass is better because it holds the heat more efficiently. There are import models that use thinner glass but will crack faster due to thermal shock. The average price range is between $20 to $40 for a decent brand while name brands will fetch as much as $100 or more if they are well built and have a sophisticated filtering plunger.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a French Press

The advantage of using a French press starts with flavor dins there is no paper filter to restrict coffee oils. This makes coffee taste brighter and easier to distinguish different types of coffee beans. It’s also portable and can be used anywhere with an upper hand while controlling the water temperature and steeping time.

The main disadvantages include a poor filter system that leaves small granules of coffee in your finished cup making coffee taste gritty. Another problem is not paying attention to the brewing times and getting a cup of coffee that is over-extracted and tastes bitter. Most people don’t like the cleanup which requires you to get your hands dirty cleaning up after.

Make sure to read our guide on how to make coffee with a French press to know more about it

When to Use a French Press

This method is perfect to use anywhere you have a coffee grinder and hot water, making it perfect for camping, traveling, and using every day at home. If you want a real show stopper, the French Press has always been proven to mesmerize guests when brewing this at the dinner table. It’s an elegant way to brew coffee with exceptionally great results. French Press Vs pour over methods are nearly equal for attractive and innovative ways to make coffee.

Pour Over Overview

Ease of use

The pour-over method is a bit more involved and needs to be followed step-by-step to get the best results. For most amateurs, there is a learning curve that is required using simple brewing instructions. Because this method gets rather involved at certain brewing points, this is why so many coffee artisans create their own steps in between to get different results.

Brewing time

The total brewing time is often between 3 to 4 minutes and is faster than the French Press. Because the steps involved keep most coffee brewers on their toes, this brewing time feels less than a couple of minutes. This is why many coffee gurus who love the pour-over method will start with using a stopwatch and later graduate to visual signs as your coffee is blooming and brewing.

Control of the brew

It’s very easy to say that the pour-over method has more control of your water temperature, blooming times, and coffee extraction. It’s all about the method you develop that determines how great the results turn out. Even the grind size will add more brewing time if the grind is too fine, so choosing the best grind size is crucial for each cup of coffee that’s brewed.

Materials used

There is a wide selection of materials including ceramic, metal, glass, and plastic. The shape of the pour-over vessel also will vary depending on the brand you buy. Some work better than others while high-end versions are designed to produce efficient results while the extraction process is performed.

Sizes available

Most people will be happy using a single serving cup vessel as a pour-over accessory. Some larger models allow up to 8 cups to be brewed at a time. Many of the single-cup versions are brewing vessels that sit on top of your coffee mug. Pricier versions such as Chemex are brewed in a single vessel and then poured into a coffee cup.

Price range

This is typically the same price as the French Press except that you will also need to buy coffee filters. You can find a good pour-over vessel that cost between $20 to $40 just for the vessel and then search around for paper filters that are budget-friendly. The filters cannot be reused, which is why this price range will be a continual fluctuation unless you buy your filters in bulk. The other solution is to buy a metal mesh filter that’s reusable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pour Over Method

The advantage of pour-over coffee is obviously the taste that comes from this method. The paper filters will absorb the coffee oils making each cup taste flavorful without the bite. Metal filters will make brighter cups if you like these oils too. The advantage is being able to slowly extract flavors to control the overall taste of your coffee.

The downside includes paying attention to each step and watching for what your coffee grounds are telling you. It’s too easy to over-extract and release flavors that you don’t want. This is the method that is perfect for people who like to be in total control of their coffee but can take a long time to perfect these skills if you aren’t patient.

When to use the pour over method

Do not attempt this method if you are in a hurry, this is best managed by someone who has gained the skills for pour-over brewing. It’s not unfair to say that any self-respecting coffee snob will love this method because it allows you to become a coffee scientist and is entertaining for others to watch while you make coffee. It’s portable enough to bring anywhere provided you have hot water and some patience.

I suggest two main products to have a great pour over coffee at home:

Let me know what are your favourite products!

Taste Differences

It’s often hard to distinguish pour-over and French Press coffee aside from the most obvious hint if you are using a paper filter on your pour-over vessel. The coffee oils that give brightness to each cup will be missing from the pour-over, but you can cheat this by using a metal filter that allows these oils to slip through. There is better control to pull flavors that you wouldn’t notice if you are using the French Press.

French Press VS Pour Over: The Final Verdict

Both of these brewing methods are nearly the same price unless you want to splurge for a fancy model. The ultimate difference is taste and is obvious if you are using paper filters. Some experts have even added paper filters to their French Press to get mellow-tasting coffee just like pour-over can produce. When considering the French Press Vs pour over method, it’s always best to try each method to see which flavor is more appealing to you.

Take a look at our other articles that analyze these two methods and suggest you the best products to buy to prepare coffee at home:

Giacomo is an Italian living in Shanghai since 2016. After working as a barista in Italy, he started to be more interested in the different types of coffee, beans, and the ways to prepare this ancient beverage. He founded Authority Coffee and he is currently on a mission to find the best coffee in China.