Aeropress Vs French Press: Which Is The Best Brewing Method?

Looking to change up your coffee routine and try something new? Then you should consider the AeroPress and French press coffee makers. 

Coffee drinkers love these two brewing techniques, but there is an ongoing AeroPress vs French press debate.

In this guide we'll explain the key differences and help you, as a coffee drinker, decide which is the best coffee for you. 

There are similarities in these different brewing recipes. They both add coffee grounds to hot water in a press pot. They both let the coffee steep, and then filter them out to create the final brew. However, there are also some big differences between AeroPress vs French press coffee. 

Let's take a closer look:

1. How They Work

Comparing design features of AeroPress and French press is like comparing apples to oranges. They're both "fruit" (or rather, coffee makers), but they're totally different. 

AeroPress coffer makers use an airtight seal to create pressure in the brewing chamber. This air pressure forces the coffee and hot water mixture through a thick paper filter to give you your fresh coffee drink.

A French press requires pressure too, and you press the plunger to create air pressure in the brewing chamber. This forces the coffee and hot water mixture through a mesh metal filter to create the coffee drink. 

Brewing coffee with either method requires pressure, but an AeroPress paper filter allows for more pressure, giving you a smoother coffee.  

2. Brewing Speed

If you're brewing coffee at home then you don't want to spend all day waiting around for it. AeroPress and French press are both quick brewing techniques, but AeroPress is faster. 

An AeroPress brews take 1-3 minutes. The high pressure allows the water to absorb the flavor from the finely ground coffee much more quickly than a drip coffee maker or espresso machine, and it's one of the quickest coffee making techniques around. 

French presses take 3-5 minutes to make your coffee. The coffee grounds sit in the water for longer before you use the metal mesh filter to remove them - leaving you with a stronger coffee.

To put that in perspective, making cold brew coffee can take over 24 hours - so these coffee drinks both have a pretty short brew time. However, if you want a quicker cup of coffee with a shorter brewing time, then the AeroPress is best for you. 

3. Grind Size

The secret to getting the most flavorful cup of coffee is selecting the right beans - or more specifically the right grind size to match the brewing technique being used. Within the coffee industry there are a lot of different options, and both AeroPresses and French press coffee makers use different grinds. 

A French press needs coarse ground coffee. A coarse grind works well in the full immersion brewing process, and is easier for the metal filter to remove at the end. 

The AeroPress brew method should use fine grounds. Even though there's shorter brew time, the brewing process involves a lot of pressure, and the hot water can pick up the flavor better if the coffee bean grinds are smaller.

The grind size does sometimes come down to taste preferences, but if you're using the French press brew method you really need to use a coarse grind.

4. Coffee Flavor And Quality

Casual coffee drinkers might not notice the difference that different brewing techniques and coffee beans can have on the flavor, but there can be a stark difference. 

Typical French press coffee is bold and robust. It tastes thicker and has a very strong coffee flavor. French press often has sediment too because the course grind residue doesn't fully dissolve. This can make the strong, thick coffee taste a bit gritty. 

AeroPress is still fairly bold, but has a lighter flavor. It tastes reasonably similar to an espresso but with fewer coffee oils, and has no sediment from the coffee grounds at all. 

These are both flavorful coffee options, but if you prefer smooth, clean cup of coffee you should go with AeroPress. If you like coffee hot and strong, you should go with a French press. 

5. Ease Of Use And Convenience

Many coffee drinkers want to brew coffee quickly and easily - and thankfully both of these techniques are fairly easy. 

An AeroPress is simple to use, you just load the paper filters in with the ground coffee and hot water, then push down. 

A French press is also simple in that you submerge the coarsely ground coffee in water, and after the coffee steeps for a few minutes you push the plunger to force the stainless steel mesh filter down. 

The real advantage of an AeroPress is that it's very portable. All you need is some paper filters and a coffee cup and you'll be able to make a fresh brew anywhere. This is why they're really popular on camping trips or at festivals.

French press is less portable, though some durable stainless steel French presses and suitable for taking with you on your travels.

Overall, a French Press is slightly easier to use, but an AeroPress is much more portable. 

6. Brewing Capacity

When making coffee and selecting the best brew methods you need to consider who you're making coffee for - and this is the main difference between AeroPress and French press coffee.

An AeroPress brewing only makes 1 cup of coffee at a time. You can get some larger models which can accommodate enough coffee and water for one, but most AeroPresses can't. 

Most French presses can make anywhere from 1-8 cups of coffee. You can individual French presses or large ones which makes multiple cups at once. Just bear in mind that a large glass French press will cost quite a lot. 

If you're making coffee for two or more then you'll need to use a French press - just remember that the brew time may be longer if you use more coffee grounds (depending on the grind size you use).  

7. Price

True coffee lovers will pay a lot to be able to make good coffee, but it's still worth understanding the cost differences with each option. 

An Aeropress costs $30-$40. This is really good value when you consider how versatile and portable it is. 

A French press generally costs $25-50, but some models are over $100. The larger the French press, the more you'll pay, but it can be worth it to take good, strong coffee for lots of people at once. 

8. Cleanliness And Durability

Cleaning coffee stains is never fun, so it's important to know how easy it is to maintain each device. 

An AeroPress is really easy to clean. It's made entirely from plastic and you just have to remove the used paper filters and wash it. You can even put it in your dishwasher. The only downside is that the inverted method used can cause a bit of mess before you get used to it. 

A typical French press coffee maker is a little bit more difficult to clean. You have to take out the French press filter, glass carafe, metal lid, and other smaller bits and clean them separately. The used coffee grounds often remain in the chamber for longer too, potentially leaving more stubborn stains. 

French press brewers also tend to be less durable than the plastic AeroPress brewing device which are specifically designed to be portable. 

All in all, if you want an easier to maintain brewing device you should use an AeroPress over a French press.


AeroPress Coffee Brewing (Overview & Method) 

The AeroPress is a unique manual coffee maker that consists of a cylinder chamber, a plunger, and an airtight silicone seal.

The device was founded in 2005 by a man named Alan Adler, so it's fairly new to the coffee scene compared to other methods, like pour over vs French press vs AeroPress.

However, it has received a lot of attention even in a short amount of time because of the inverted method used to make coffee.  

AeroPress coffee

How To Make An AeroPress Coffee

1. Take the plunger assembly for the AeroPress, insert a paper filter, and secure the filter cap fitting.

2. Carefully flip the AeroPress so the filter cap is just above your coffee cup.

3. Spoon the coffee grounds (it's best to use a fine grind) into the brewing chamber.

4. Heat water and pour it onto the coffee grounds.

5. Give it 1-2 minutes brew time and let the coffee grounds steep (the steeping time can be adapted depending on how strong you like your coffee).

6. Once the brew time has elapsed, push the top plunger down to compress the air in the brew chamber. This should force the water to filter through the thin paper filter and into your cup.

7. Carefully lift off the AeroPress and leave somewhere it won't make a mess.

8. Enjoy your single cup of delicious AeroPress coffee!

The main concept behind AeroPressed coffee is pressure. By adding pressure - that’s where the Press in AeroPress comes from - in a closed steeping chamber, the coffee brews faster, which means there’s less bitterness in AeroPress coffee. 

So if you don’t generally enjoy coffee’s natural bitterness and you consider yourself an impatient person, this is a great choice for you. 

AeroPress on coffee table

Now, there are a few different models of AeroPress coffee makers, including the AeroPress Go that is specifically designed for coffee enthusiasts with an on-the-go lifestyle.[1]


Pros & Cons of AeroPressed Coffees  

While there’s a lot that people like about AeroPress coffee makers, there are also a few cons:  

What We Like 
  • Very versatile device that can steep more than just coffee 
  • Delivers a clean and flavorful brew with less bitterness 
  • Durable and portable 
  • Great if you want a single cup 
  • Brewing time is a speedy 1-3 minutes 
Things We Don’t 
  • Can be messy 
  • There is a physical challenge involved when it’s time to push the plunger (lots of pressure in the chamber) 
  • It’s a less-forgiving method - there’s more room for mistakes! 

French Press Coffee Brewing (Overview + Method) 

black french press

The French press brewing method has been around for quite some time. It originated somewhere in France, but the Italians often claim that it started with them. We’ll never know the exact origins, but we do know that it was officially patented by two Italian men in 1928.  

How To Make French Press Coffee

The process for using a French press is very similar to the AeroPress:

1. Load coffee grounds into the French press briefly. Medium roasts are best and a coarser grind.

2. Boil water and add to the coffee. Stir briefly to combine.

3. Leave the coffee to steep for 3-5 minutes. 

4. Slowly press the plunger so the metal mesh filter removes the grounds from the liquid.

5. Enjoy your full flavor French press coffee!

Because French presses are immersion brewers which use a traditional method where coarse grounds are fully immersed in the water. The extended steeping in the hot water makes a French press rich and bold, with a full body. 

It's an excellent choice for anyone who likes a strong, flavorful, robust cup of coffee with a muted natural acidity.  


Pros & Cons Of French Pressed Coffees  

Just like the AeroPress, there are some French press pros, and some French press cons: 

What We Like 
  • Easy to use 
  • Delivers a rich, bold flavor 
  • Very little work involved (except for cleanup) 
  • Can produce multiple cups at a time 
  • You have control over how strong your coffee is 
Things We Don’t 
  • Can have a muddled taste that feels heavy in the mouth 
  • Clean up is a pain 

Common Brewing Mistakes: Tips From A Barista 

Any coffee brewing method has the potential for making mistakes, and though you don’t have to be a professional barista, trained baristas know their stuff when it comes to avoiding brewing mistakes.

Here are some of the most common mistakes made for both brewing methods and brewing tips to help coffee enthusiasts avoid them:  

Common AeroPress Mistakes 

  • Using coffee beans that aren’t fresh
    With some other brew methods you can get away with lower quality beans, but the way an AeroPress and French press work leaves no room to hide. Whenever possible, try to use fresh beans. Or at the very least, make sure to store your beans properly to promote freshness and avoid getting a really acidic cup of coffee.[2]
  • Low water quality
    The quality of the water you use does make a difference in the overall taste of hot coffee, so try to avoid using hard water or water that contains contaminants (filtered water is best for a good cup of coffee). 
  • Pressing the plunger too fast or too slow
    The brewing devices aren't complicated, but you need to use them properly. Improper plunging can impact the flavor and consistency of the final brew - and stop the AeroPress's paper filter working properly. Try to aim for a plunging time between 30 and 45 seconds. 
  • Grinding the beans too coarse or too fine
    Grinding the coffee too fine can remove too many of the natural oils and stop you getting a full bodied cup. However, the way you grind your coffee comes down to personal preference, so you’ll have to experiment with this one! Just do your best to get an even grind throughout. 

Common French Press Mistakes 

  • Not grinding the beans properly
    Just like with an AeroPress, the grind quality for French pressing depends on your personal taste. However, it’s best for the beans to be ground coarser since this reduces the chance of residual grounds in the brewed coffee. The standard method using a hand grinder can be difficult, so it may be worth buying an electric grinder if you're doing it yourself.
  • Poor coffee to water ratio
    The general rule of thumb for coffee: water is 1:10, so do your best to meet this ratio. However, this can vary depending on whether you prefer a bolder or weaker brew.
  • Leaving the coffee in the French press after plunging
    If you don’t pour your coffee into a mug directly after plunging, the brew will likely taste bitter. Even though the beans have been filtered out, French pressed coffee in the brew chamber will continue to brew slightly after the plunger has been pressed. 

Common Aero & French Press Brewing Questions

How many times can you reuse AeroPress filters? 

There are some very useful Reddit posts on this Reddit comments on this topic, and one AeroPress user states:  

“After I press, I let the coffee cool a bit, I peel off the filter, give it a rinse and let it air dry on the filter cap. I usually reuse it 10-20 times before I throw it away. I don’t have a set number of reuses, I just keep going until it looks a little worn…”[3]   

Can you get crema from AeroPress? 

Yes, it’s possible to make crema (flavorful froth on top of an espresso shot) using your AeroPress without any additional coffee accessories. As long as you use the correct techniques for water temperature, pressure, and grinding the beans, making crema is relatively easy with this device.  

Is French Press coffee stronger? Which has more caffeine? 

The French press makes coffee that is stronger in taste but not necessarily in caffeine content. Actually,  AeroPressed coffee is thought to have more caffeine since it uses muscle power to add pressure to the coffee-making process. Depending on the pressure exerted, this can result in a more caffeinated cup of coffee.  

What is the difference between a Moka pot and these two brewing methods? 

When comparing Moka pot vs French press vs AeroPress coffee machines, you’ll quickly see that a Moka pot is unlike these two brewing devices. A Moka pot is a stovetop or electric coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. 

Although it uses pressure, just like the AeroPress, a Moka pot brews coffee directly on the stovetop.  

What is the difference between a Chemex and these two brewing methods? 

Another common comparison is between AeroPress vs Chemex vs French press. A Chemex coffeemaker is a manual pour-over style glass coffeemaker. Instead of fully immersing the beans and water together, it uses the standard method for pour-over coffee.  

How long does an Aeropress last? 

As long as you take care of it properly, your AeroPress should last for 2-3 years of regular use.  


Conclusion

If you’re looking for a clear-cut winner to the AeroPress vs French press battle, unfortunately, there isn’t one. 

If you're a coffee lover who enjoys a hot coffee on the go then an AeroPress is best. It gives a cleaner cup of coffee, but it can only make one cup at once. 

French press users are those who appreciate great coffee - and want it rich and bold. With a French press you can also make more than one cup at once, so it's good for larger households.

Hopefully this guide has helped explain the key French press vs AeroPress differences, and you now know which method is best to make your perfect cup of coffee.

References:

1. https://aeropress.com/shop-aeropress/

2. https://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/how-to-store-coffee

3. https://www.reddit.com/r/AeroPress/comments/7ezz42/reusing_filters/