French Press vs Drip vs Pour Over
There is a long-standing debate that exists between coffee drinkers everywhere. Coffee is universal love, one that can come in many different shapes and sizes. Whether it is simply your morning medicine or your study is religious, we can all agree on one thing: coffee is a fundamental part of our human existence.
As such, we often debate over which brewing method is best: French press vs drip vs pour over. If you aren’t already a coffee connoisseur, you’ve probably at least heard of these different methods—but do you know the difference? Below, we dig into what the exact difference is between French press, pour over brew, and drip brew coffee. Perhaps you will find the one that is best for you.
The coffee most of us have grown up with or are used to is known as drip coffee. It’s one of the most convenient and efficient methods for brewing coffee today, mostly due to the advent of the automatic drip machine. A drip coffee maker is your standard coffee machine, whether you use a CoffeeMate pot or a Keurig one-cup machine.
Drip brewers work by taking the cold water in the reservoir attached to the machine and heating it up rapidly. Once it has reached the correct temperature, it pours the hot water over the grounds sitting in a paper filter into the carafe below. Voila: coffee. It’s simple, effective, and extremely popular.
By using an automatic drip coffee maker, you can create the most efficient experience possible. This method is excellent for anyone who typically has busy mornings or doesn’t want to think too much about their coffee: they just want to drink it.
The downside to drip coffee, however, is that you lose the control that you would otherwise have with a different method. Not being able to control the oil and flavor extraction process affects the overall taste and body of the coffee. Aiming for speed over taste can lead to unsavory cups, and may even cause people to not enjoy the taste of black coffee very much.
French Press Coffee
French press coffee requires a little more patience than your regular drip coffee. It’s a trendy brewing method that is actually over 100 years old and only recently came back to the limelight.
The French press method involves the most specific piece of machinery: a cylindrical carafe equipped with a lid, plunger, and mesh screen. With this device, one places their beans into the bottom of the carafe. They would then boil water, let the water cool to 205 degrees, and then pour only half of the water directly into the carafe with the grinds. There should be about 1 Tablespoon of grinds and 1 Cup of water per serving. Allow the grinds to bloom about a minute.
After the first minute is up, pour in the rest of the coffee and stir with a utensil, preferably made of wood. Let the coffee sit for another three minutes—longer for those who prefer stronger coffee. Letting the beans soak gives ample time for the water to extract as much flavor and oil from the grinds as possible.
Then, press the plunger gently with the palm, which begins the second extraction. As the mesh screen presses onto the grinds and pushes them toward the bottom of the carafe, the pressure squeezes even more flavor.
The result is a hearty, robust cup of delicious coffee.
Due to the process providing multiple flavor extractions, using French presses results in a generally more robust and bolder coffee. For those of us who don’t care for light coffee, the French press can ensure that every cup is intense and flavorful.
It also meets a happy middle ground as far as the amount of effort and time brewing your cup will take.
Though it requires more attention than a drip pour, the French press still only takes four minutes of your morning or afternoon. Plus, the end result is well worth the extra brewing time.
The biggest downside to using the French press is that it does limit you to a coarser grind—or you’ll wind up with a gritty coffee due to fine grinds being able to get through the mesh screen. Additionally, French presses provide the most extensive cleanup.
You must discard the grinds, take apart the entire plunger contraption, and clean each piece individually to ensure it is properly cleaned between brews.
Pour Over Coffee
Slow and steady wins the race, or so say those who prefer the pour over method. The pour over method takes time and patience, much like French press coffee, but takes it a step further. With this method, you have complete control over brewing during the entire process. It might not be for those in a hurry, but many say that the end result is plenty worth the time it takes.
Pour over coffee is made by placing a filter, in which you will place the grinds, into a funnel over a carafe or mug. Then, pour the water over the grinds in a circular motion for a few seconds. Allow the coffee to bloom, and then repeat the process in carefully timed pouring intervals. The entire process takes longer than any of the other methods, but it allows the brewer to monitor all the grounds and make sure they are all being evenly saturated during brewing.
A pour over brew creates a flavorful, but light and aromatic cup of coffee. Plus, it’s plenty easy to clear up since the machinery used is relatively minimal.
On the other hand, though, pour over coffee is not always possible for everyone. The typical cup of pour over takes about four minutes of consistent pouring to finish brewing.
So, French Press vs Drip vs Pour Over. Which Coffee Brewing Method is Best?
It’s easy to break each method down on its own, but only when you compare them side by side does it become clear which brewing method is superior—or, more accurately, which brewing method is right for you.
At the end of the day, coffee is subjective, and every coffee drinker, whether an expert or not, will have their own expert opinion.
What is The Difference Between Drip and Pour Over Coffee?
Describing pour over and drip on their own can result in two very similar-sounding brewing methods, and as a result, these two are the most commonly confused with one another. This is probably because they both involve pouring the water directly over the coffee grinds in a paper filter, into the mug or carafe below.
However, it is the attention to detail that really sets them apart. When you hear drip coffee, you can probably assume that the coffee is going to be made with your regular, home coffee maker. While the drip coffee is made by blasting the hot water through the coffee grinds, pour over coffee requires you to do the pouring little by little on your own—no automatic drip involved. Drip coffee makers can fill your mug in a matter of seconds. Pour over, though, requires you carefully pour the water over the grounds intermittently to make sure every ground is saturated during brewing. It is essentially the difference between automatic and manual.
However, the end cup of coffee goes straight into flavor. Automatic drip coffee makers are harder to regulate, so you may end up with coffee that is too hot more often, dulling the flavor. Plus, using this method doesn’t allow for as much extraction, so you are ultimately not going to get as robust of a cup as other methods—this is a good method if you are just looking for a cup in a hurry that will get caffeine into your body as quickly as possible.
Pour over, on the hand, with its precise control over the brewing, allows you to monitor every step of your coffee’s extraction. Pour over brew ultimately takes longer, but provides you with a light and flavorful cup of coffee that is well worth all the diligence it requires.
So, is pour over better than drip?
Ultimately, yes, the resulting cup of coffee from the pour over method is objectively going to be superior to the one that comes from using a drip machine. At the end of the day, even if it takes a little longer, the coffee is going to taste cleaner, more flavorful, and generally better.
Where does that leave French Press?
French press coffee is in a bit of a different world because it allows the coffee to brew by saturating the grinds entirely and letting them extract oils and flavors for the longest period of time. This alone is going to allow the grinds to reach a higher flavor profile than pour over or drip machines can do by letting the water drip through the coffee instantly.
Additionally, French press coffee flavor is heightened even more by the fact that is goes through a second extraction period during the slow press of the plunger.
Is French press coffee better, then?
Not necessarily. When it comes to drip coffee, it is safe to say that either French press or pour over is going to produce a better cup of coffee. For that reason, drip coffee does typically come in third place for just about everyone, though much appreciated for the convenience it has provided us in today’s fast-paced world.
French press vs pour over, however, is an entirely different conversation. The methods are completely different, but that is because they aim to do different things. They both share wanting to saturate the beans entirely, but you get different results if you do that by soaking the grinds for a full four minutes vs carefully executed intermittent pouring.
French press aims to provide the most full-bodied and robust cup of coffee. This is perfect for people who want something more “flavorful” or often complain that some coffees are “too watery.” On the other hand, pour over coffee is able to achieve a light and more sophisticated cup that is easy to enjoy without the flavors becoming too overwhelming or intense.
At the end of the day, the debate between French press vs pour over is going to strictly be up to personal opinion.
Not only is it going to come down to the type of coffee flavor you prefer, but you’ll have to think about whether you want to spend four minutes on brewing, plus a more thorough cleanup, or take your time a little bit more and have perfect control over every step of the process. They are both superior coffee brewing methods, and both are excellent choices over drip coffee.