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Aeropress vs. French Press: Taste, Quality, How to Make

Aeropress vs. French Press

If you ask most coffee enthusiasts which brewing methods are their favorite, the French press and Aeropress are two of the most common answers that you are likely to get.

Both are manual coffee making methods and at first glance, they look the same but they make coffee using different techniques, and the flavor and quality of brew that you get will also be different.

The French press has been tried and tested for about 90 years now while the Aeropress has only been around since 2005 but it has still made a huge impression.

If you are considering buying either of them or just wondering which one might suit your needs best, it is worth knowing how they compare. Below we highlight the major differences to help you decide your best option among the two.

Comparison Chart


Aeropress

French Press

Origin and Period

USA, 2005

Italy, 1929

Grind Size

Medium-fine and fine

Coarse

Brew Time

1-3 minutes

5 minutes

Extraction Method

Pressure

Steeping

Making Coffee

Add paper filter, place Aeropress over mug, add grinds on central chamber, pour hot water, cover and pressing down

Pour grounds on beaker, add hot water, bloom and stir, steep for 4 minutes and push down plunger

Brew Size

1 cup

1-10 cups

Resulting Brew

Strong and Clean

Bold and Full-bodied

Average Price Range

$20 - $40

$10  -$70

Aeropress vs. French Press

While Aeropress and French press might look similar at a glimpse, any seasoned coffee maker and drinker will tell you that they are worlds apart. Here are some of the main points of departure between the two popular coffee makers.

1. How Coffee is Made

Both the French press and Aeropress will involve some kind of pressing to make coffee, but the process is quite different and this is what gives the brews different tastes.

Aeropress

Aeropress

Aeropress uses the same concept as an espresso machine as it combines medium-fine coffee grinds with hot water and pressure to extract a shot. But the difference here is that with an Aeropress the pressure will be generated by hand as you push the plunger down.

The Aeropress coffee maker is not complicated to use but mastering it will often take some time. But, here are the simple steps to follow to make Aeropress coffee.

Step 1: Heat water to around 175ºF

Step 2: Grind the coffee beans to medium-fine or fine depending on the strength you want

Step 3: Insert the paper filter to the cap, wet it with some hot water and attach the filter cap

Step 4: Add the coffee and place the Aeropress chamber over a mug/carafe

Step 5: Pour in the desired amount of water and stir

Step 6: Insert the plunger and push down for at least 15 seconds

Step 7: The coffee that you get is concentrated, and so you should dilute before drinking

French Press

French Press

French press coffee making is mostly about steeping coarse coffee grinds in hot water and filtering the coffee. Like with any other coffee making method, you need some practice to master it but the following are the main steps to follow.

Step 1: Heat water to around 205 ºF

Step 2: Grind the coffee beans to coarse and put them in the beaker

Step 3: Pour water in the beaker until grounds are completely soaked

Step 4: Wait for 45 seconds for the coffee to bloom

Step 5: Steep the mixture for at least 4 minutes

Step 6: Push down the plunger slowly and steadily

2. Volume of Coffee Made

The volume of coffee that you can make is another crucial point to take into account when picking between the Aeropress and French press as it determines how much coffee you can make at once, and hence how much time you need to spend brewing.

When it comes to the volume, the French press beats the Aeropress hands down as you can easily make 10 cups of coffee at a go. All it takes to make a large volume of coffee with a French press is adding more coffee and water if the beaker is large enough.

With the Aeropress, you can only make one cup at a time as it comes in one just one size. If you are making coffee for the entire family or a small group, this relatively small capacity can be a problem and will hence make the Aeropress inconvenient.

3. Bean to Brew Time

Because there is no steeping time when using an Aeropress, it will make coffee relatively faster than the French press.

Given that boiling water and grinding coffee beans for both coffee makers will take just about the same time, the point of departure is the actual brewing.

With an Aeropress, it will take anywhere between 1 and 3 minutes while for the French press it will be at least 5 minutes given that you have to give the brew at least 4 minutes to steep.

4. Brewer Design and Sturdiness

French press and Aeropress come in a simple design as both will only include few parts which make them easy to use and ensures they will need almost no maintenance all.

The Aeropress coffee maker will consist of three main parts which are a plunger, filter cap, and the brewing chamber, and it will typically come in an 8-ounce size.

The French press coffee maker, on the other hand, is made up of a glass or stainless steel beaker, a mesh filter and a plunger. And they are available in four common sizes which are 8, 16, 23 and 32-ounce.

When it comes to the sturdiness, the Aeropress takes the day given that its main body is molded from sturdy polypropylene plastic that can withstand regular use and accidental falls. With a French press, you will often get a glass beaker which can be a little too fragile.

5. Ease of Use

Although both Aeropress and French press are easy to use and quite forgiving, they work in different ways, and so will work for different kinds of coffee lovers.

With the French press, the process is more straightforward as you only need to add coffee grinds, steep them and plunge. But, the difficulty comes in getting the coarseness of the coffee, steep time and the plunging spot on.

For Aeropress, making coffee is also quite straightforward, but what makes it a little complicated is the presence of many variances such as the inverted Aeropress which come with a learning curve.

6. Travel-Friendliness

Given that the French press is relatively larger than an Aeropress, it is less travel-friendly. Also, if you use a model with a fragile glass carafe, it will even be harder to pack and carry.

The Aeropress, on the other hand, is your perfect travel companion, and you can carry and use it from almost anywhere as it is relatively more compact.

Also, with an Aeropress, the tough plastic material makes it almost indestructible, and so you can carry it without worrying about it breaking in case it bumps into other things in the bag. The plastic material is also rugged enough for the outdoors which makes it perfect for camping.

Cleaning an Aeropress is also relatively easier given that there is no mesh filter like in a French press that traps grounds. This ease of cleaning makes it perfect for environments where it is not possible to do thorough cleanups, and this makes it even more travel-friendly.

7. Resulting Brew Flavor and Quality

The actual coffee quality and flavor that you get is always the most important consideration when choosing a brewing method. Luckily, both of these brewers can make some amazing brews.

For starters, the French press does not have paper filters, and so its mesh filter will produce full-bodied and full flavor coffee. Also, the mesh will not hold back the minerals oils in the coffee, and this will result in fullness and heaviness.

Given that the French press recipe is always the same as it entails using a coarse grind and steeping for 4 minutes, you can always be sure of getting rich, rounded and balanced brews every time.

When brewing with Aeropress, you will get a crispier, cleaner and brighter brew given that it uses paper filters. Unfortunately, the paper filter also means that the natural oils that give coffee an amazing flavor are also filtered out.

Which is the Best for You?

Picking between the Aeropress and French press is not an easy task even for real coffee fanatics and baristas as both brewing methods make some fantastic coffee.

However, the right coffee maker for you among the two will depend on the kind of coffee that you like and how much time you intend to dedicate to the process every day.

For those that want strong coffee with full body and full flavor, the French press is the best choice. Also, a French press will be more ideal if you want something relatively more straightforward to use.

Aeropress, on the other hand, is the brewer for you if you want a lighter and cleaner brew free of oils and a travel-friendly coffee maker that you can easily carry and use from almost anywhere.

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