Moka Pot vs. French Press: Taste, Quality, How to Make

Italians love their coffee, and so it should not be a surprise that two of the most popular methods of making coffee, the Moka Pot and French Press originated from Italy. But their similarity probably ends there.

While both make some strong, rich and bold coffee, the method they use is quite different and the resulting brew quality and taste also differ greatly.

Basically, a Moka pot works like an espresso maker as it uses pressure to extract coffee while the French press makes coffee by steeping coarse grinds in hot water.

In this piece, we compare the two traditional coffee making methods in more detail to make it easier for a coffee enthusiast to decide which one to go for.

Comparison Chart

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Moka Pot

French Press

Origin

Italy, 1933

Italy, 1929

Grind Size

Fine

Coarse

Brewing Method

Pressure

Steeping

How to Make Coffee

Fill the boiler with water, add coffee grinds to filter and place on the heat source to brew

Pour beans in the beaker, add hot water, steep for 4 minutes and plunge

Brew Time

5-10 minutes

5 minutes

Brew Size

1-18 (2-oz cups)

2-10 (8-oz cups)

Resulting Brew

Strong and sharp

Full-bodied and full flavor

Average Price Range

$30-$100

$10-$70

Moka Pot vs. French Press

Anyone that has been drinking coffee long enough and prefers to use the more traditional brewing methods has probably used both the Moka Pot and French press at some point. However, even if you have used both, the differences are not always that obvious. But, here are some useful parameters to use when comparing them.

1. Their Design and Origin

Before you get to the nitty-gritty details, the first point should always be to understand what each coffee making method is all about and where it comes from.

Moka Pot

Moka Pot

The Moka pot or stovetop espresso maker as it is also often referred to as is an Italian stable that you can find in almost every kitchen in Italy and many other European countries. And this has been the case for more than 85 years now.

This Italian style coffee maker was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, and Bialetti Industries continues to make and sell these coffee makers across the world to date.

A typical Moka pot will contain three chambers which are the bottom one that houses the boiler where you put the water, a smaller middle one with a filter for the coffee grinds and the top chamber where the brewed coffee collects.

French Press

French Press

Despite its name, the French press is also an Italian coffee maker, and it has been around for just a little longer than the Moka Pot.

The French press which is also known as a coffee press, press pot or coffee plunger was invented by Paolini Ugo but patented in 1929 by the Italian designer, Attilio Calimani. It quickly went on to become more widely used and popular in France, hence the name.

This coffee maker will also consist of three primary components which are a beaker where the steeping occurs, a mesh filter and piston rod (plunger).

2. How Coffee Is Made

The two coffee makers might be both traditional Italian style brewers that make quite strong coffee but they will do it in different styles.

Moka Pot

A Moka pot uses pressure to extract coffee from finely ground beans just like an espresso machine would, but it uses way much lower pressure and it does not rely on electronic components. Here are the steps involved in Moka pot coffee making.

Step 1: Add water to the boiler (bottom chamber) up to the safety release valve level

Step 2: Insert funnel-shaped metal filter (middle chamber)

Step 3: Pour finely ground coffee on the filter

Step 4: Tightly screw the upper part/chamber

Step 5: Place the Moka pot over a heat source

Step 6: Bring the water to boil and the steam will build up the pressure to extract coffee

French Press

French press makes coffee by steeping coarsely ground coffee bean in hot water for a few minutes before plunging.  The process is also quite straightforward as you only need to follow the easy steps below.

Step 1: Boil water to around 205 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Grind the beans to a coarse grind size

Step 3: Add the coarse coffee grounds to the beaker and pour hot water

Step 4: Bloom the mixture for 45 seconds and then stir

Step 5: Steep the coffee for at least 4 minutes

Step 6: Push down the plunger to filter the coffee

3. Ease of Use and Cleanup

Both methods are quite straightforward to use as there is nothing much that you need to do. But, with both Moka pot and French press, you need to make sure that you get the grind size right to prevent over or under extraction.

To make Moka pot easy to use, you should make sure that the grounds are fine enough with particles about the same size as table salt while for French press you will need a coarse grind.

Read More: 9 Best Coffees for French Press

But, given that the Moka pot requires some skill to pull a great shot, it is more of a challenge to use than a French press, but it is still not rocket science.

When it comes to the ease of clean up, the Moka pot will give you an easier time, but you should be careful when handling it when hot, and you should give the metal pot enough time to cool before washing. But, the actual cleanup only requires you to throw out the used grounds and rinse it with cold water.

French press cleanup can be a little complicated to wash because of the mesh filter that traps the coffee grounds, but it should also not take a lot of effort

4. Bean to Brew Time

The bean to brew time also differs for the two coffee making methods. With a Moka pot, most of the time goes into boiling water. But, once the water boils up, the actual extraction will not take a lot of time.

For Moka pots, the entire process will take a maximum of 10 minutes. But, this is not a brewing method that you can leave unattended because if you leave the pot on the stove for too long, you will probably end up with bitter coffee.

French press takes relatively less time because once you boil water, the only other significant time goes into steeping which can take as little as 3 minutes. Hence, of the two coffee brewers, the French press is a bit faster.

5. Size of the Brew

If you are a heavy coffee drinker or brew coffee for several people, the French press is the best option for you as it makes way much more coffee than the Moka pot.

The smallest French press coffee maker will make at least one 8-ounce cup while the larger models can make at least a dozen cups of coffee. Also, with the French press, making more coffee does not take a lot of effort as you only need to add more coffee and water.

Moka pots will also come in different sizes with the smallest ones being able to make one 2-ounce serving and the largest ones can make up to 18 of these 2-ounce shots.

6. Ease of Portability

For the coffee enthusiast that are looking for a coffee maker that they can carry along for camping trips and other outdoor excursions, the Moka pot will work better.

Moka pots are usually made from strong steel or aluminum materials which make them almost indestructible. And their design also makes them more camp-friendly as you can easily make coffee by simply placing them over the campfire, and you will not have to do complicated cleanups afterward.

While French press coffee makers are often also quite compact and easy to pack, the fragile glass puts them at a disadvantage as it can easily break when on transit.

7. Resulting Brew Quality and Taste

Given that the Moka pot uses pressure to make coffee like an espresso machine, you will also get a strong and sharp brew which like espresso is also slightly sweet. And if you master the Moka Pot brewing technique, you can also get some soft and lush crema at the top.

For French press, the brew will be full-bodied and with full flavor. This rich, thick and strong brew will result from the fact that the steeping process means that the grinds will be in contact with water throughout the brewing cycle.

With a French press, you will almost always end up with some sediment in your cup, but for a Moka pot, the brew is always clean.

So, Which One is Better?

The choice between a Moka pot and French press always boils down to the kind of coffee that you prefer to take. For those that like espresso-like or espresso based brews, the Moka pot is the best choice.

If you are more of a strong and bold coffee person, the French press is your go-to coffee maker as it will make full-bodied and full flavor coffee that is one of the strongest you can get with any coffee making method.

However, with all said, you will not know which among the two will work best for you until you try out both. You can even buy both as they are not pricey, and better yet, they can be handy for different situations.

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