Looking for a quick and easy way of making coffee? Then you should definitely consider French press and drip coffee.
French presses and drip machines are used to make some of the best coffee you can get at home. They're both cheap, and convenient for regular coffee drinkers. But which brewing method is best?
This guide we'll explain the key differences between each brewing process, and help you determine which coffee is best for you.
French Press Vs Drip Coffee: Brewing Comparison
The basic principle remains the same with these two brewing methods, and they both use ground coffee beans and water. However, while the core ingredients are similar, there are a few key differences.
Let's take a closer look:
1. Brewing Equipment
One of the biggest differences between French press and drip coffee is the equipment you use to brew coffee, so it seems like a good place to start.
A French press is made with a French press coffee maker, whereas a drip coffee is usually made with an automatic drip coffee machine.
A French press coffee maker is a manual device which doesn't require any external power source or electricity. The French coffee press itself is a large, jug style container with a brewing chamber, metal filter, and plunger. The coffee plunger is pushed down to make the brewed coffee.
An automatic drip coffee maker is an electrical device. Water is heated within the drip coffee machine and slowly dripped through the coffee grounds so there's a steady coffee drip into the pot underneath. The coffee gathers in the drip coffee pot - which also keeps the coffee warm.
The key difference is that the French press method is entirely manual and you don't need access to a power outlet - whereas drip coffee requires electricity.
2. Brew Size- How Many Cups It Makes
Some coffee lovers enjoy their brew alone, whereas others make multiple cups at a time. This can be a key factor in the French press vs drip coffee debate.
French press coffee makers generally make 2-3 cups at a time. Smaller options will only make 1-2 cups, whereas some models with a larger press pot can make up to 8 cups (though these are expensive).
Drip coffee makers can make 8-12 cups at a time. They're designed for volume and have a large drip pot so lots of people can grab a brew. They also usually have a heating plate for keeping hot coffee ready - which is why you often see them as the free coffee in offices.
Both French presses and drip coffee machines can make more than one cup of delicious coffee at a time, but if volume is important you should go with drip coffee.
3. Brewing Time
Making coffee shouldn't be a chore, and thankfully neither of these coffee brewing methods have a really long brew time.
The average French press takes 3-5 minutes to make a cup of rich coffee. This allows enough time for the coffee grounds to steep and capture all the coffee flavor.
A drip coffee usually takes 10-12 minutes, depending on how fast the automatic drip system is. The best drip coffee makers can make a fresh pot of good coffee in under 5 minutes, but these are generally expensive models.
French press coffee is quicker, and since it's a manual brewing process you have full control over it. If you want a fast coffee then French press is best.
4. Ease of Use
French press and drip coffee are both pretty easy to make, but drip coffee requires less effort.
Drip machines are really simple to use. You just have to put in a filter, some coarse grind coffee, and hot water then hit a button. You can even leave it to work and it will keep the coffee hot.
A French coffee press requires more effort. You can to set it up and then press the plunger yourself so the hot water passes over the coffee ground. The manual process is a bit of work, but the end result is generally better tasting coffee.
It's also worth noting that drip machines are usually simple to clean, but a French press requires more effort. You have to take apart the glass carafe, metal filter, plunger, and smaller parts to clean them separately. You also need to carefully remove all the finished coffee grounds from the brewing chamber. This can take be time consuming.
All in all, both French press and drip machines are reasonably easy to use, but regular coffee drinkers will find drip coffee easier.
5. Grind Size
One of the big differences between these two brewing methods is the grind size of your coffee.
A French press requires coarse grinds. This is because when you're pouring hot water over the grounds they will pick up more from coarse grinds, making the coffee's flavor bold and intense. It also allows your stainless steel filter to remove the grounds from the finished brew more easily.
Most drip machines are best with medium grind coffee. If you use very coarse grind it can make the drip coffee week, and if you use too fine a grind it can mean the coffee picks up too many of the natural oils and it becomes bitter.
The grind size is important to the taste, so make sure you find the best ground coffee for the method you're using.
6. Taste & Flavor
The taste and flavor of every fresh brew is influenced by many different factors, including the ground coffee beans, water temperature, and extraction time - so it's no wonder these two coffees taste so different.
Most French presses have a stronger coffee taste, with a bold and robust flavor. This is because the French press ensures the coffee grounds and fully immersed, so there's more prolonged contact between the water and coffee compared to other techniques (like the pour over method).
Drip coffee has a weaker taste. This is because the water doesn't always get hot enough to properly infuse with the grounds. It's always a smooth cup of coffee though because the paper filter removes all the sediment.
Coffee aficionados tend to prefer French press coffee, just make sure you get the right coffee to water ratio and don't leave it to brew for too long or there could be over extraction.
7. Caffeine Content
Coffee remains a popular drink because of the energy boost from the caffeine. The different ways to brew hot coffee influence the amount of caffeine in the coffee, so it varies between them.
French press coffee has 80-120mg of caffeine in a cup, but the coffee strength can vary depending on the type of coffee used and the brewing time.
Drip coffee has 60-80mg of caffeine in a cup. This varies depending on the volume of coffee grounds used, and you can add more coffee to make it stronger.
French press is the best cup of coffee for those who love coffee with a big energy boost.
What Is a French Press? Brewing Method Explained
The French press is arguably one of the most popular coffee brewing fixtures known to man. The history behind it is interesting - you’d assume that it found its origins in France, but Italians actually argue that the French press originated in their country because the patent was issued by two Italian men in 1928.
No matter who made the French press, we know one thing; this coffee making method is great for anyone who’s looking for a bold, robust cup of joe. Best of all, it’s possible to get that bold flavor in a few easy steps.
A French coffee press consists of 3 simple components:
- a glass container (or carafe)
- a metal mesh filter
- a plunger attached to a lid
How To Make French Press Coffee
1. Start by placing the ground coffee in the carafe (use a coarsely ground bean). 3 tablespoons should be enough coffee for a single cup.
2. Boil water and pour it over the coffee grounds and leave them to steep. This entire process takes 3-5 minutes.
3. Press down on the plunger filter to remove the coffee from the liquid. Some fine particles will remain in the liquid and that's normal.
4. Pour out and enjoy your great coffee!
How Does French Press Coffee Taste?
In terms of taste, French press coffee has a lot going for it. It’s bold and rich, has a heavy body, and the natural acidity of the coffee beans is muted thanks to the steeping process. So when comparing French press vs. drip coffee taste, the French press is without a doubt the bolder option.
So why is it bolder and richer? It all has to do with the full immersion of the coffee grounds. Ideally, you’ll allow the grounds to steep for 4 minutes, and during this time, the boldness is able to come out. When the grounds are filtered, there are tiny “micro-grounds” left behind, and this attributes to the heavier texture.
Another great thing about using a French press is that it allows the drinker to have more control over the strength of the brew. Just plunge the filter once you’ve hit your desired steeping time.
What Is Drip Coffee? Brewing Method Explained
Drip coffee machines are a common household fixture. Most drip coffee machines use electricity to automatically push the water through the grinds, which eventually “drips” through as yummy coffee. This method first came about in Germany in the 1950s, and it quickly became viewed as one of the most convenient ways to make coffee.
How To Make Drip Coffee
You’re probably already familiar with how a drip machine works, but let’s do a quick recap:
1. Plug in and set up your drip coffee maker to a compatible outlet. The best coffee makers are usually really straight forward - but always check the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Use the coffee pot or press pots that come with the machine and fill up the water reservoir in the back.
3. Add a paper filter to the coffee grounds compartment, and add your coffee beans (medium grind is best).
4. Turn on the machine to start brewing. Water will move through the grounds and drip into the coffee pot.
5. Once it's done brewing, take the final brew and pour it into your mug.
6. Relax, and enjoy your good cup of joe!
Why Do People Enjoy Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee machines are convenient and efficient. All you have to do is pour the water in, add your filter and coffee grounds, and hit a button. This is definitely a big reason behind drip coffee’s popularity. It’s even possible to set up an automatic feature ahead of time so that your coffee brews at a specific time each morning.
Another reason so many people enjoy drip coffee is the easy clean-up. Most of these machines use paper filters, so all you have to do to clean up is toss the filter and used grounds into the trash.
Can You Make Espresso in a French Press or Drip Machine?
Yes and yes! It’s possible to make espresso in both a French press and drip coffee machine, removing the need for any espresso machine.
Here’s the step-by-step process for making espresso with French presses:
- 1Pre-heat your French press with warm water prior to brewing. This will help to create a warm, full-bodied espresso
- 2Using an electric kettle, stovetop, or microwave, heat your water to about 195 degrees.
- 3Empty the water you’re using for pre-heating the French press and add your ground espresso beans. It’s recommended that you use 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water.
- 4Add a small amount of water on top of the grounds. The key here is small; this will result in a more flavorful brew, which is essential for espresso.
- 5After a few minutes, add the rest of your water and stir. Allow the mixture to brew, and when you’re ready (3-4 minutes brew time is plenty), press down on the plunger.
- 6Add milk, sugar, or other extras, but make sure you enjoy your coffee hot!
The steps for making espresso in a drip coffee maker are just as simple:
- 1Using finely ground espresso coffee grounds, add the grounds to the drip coffee maker's filter.
- 2Tamp down gently with a spoon to help create pressure in the brewing process.
- 3Add water to the drip machine water reservoir.
- 4Turn the machine on, wait for the drip coffee maker to finish brewing coffee, and enjoy your espresso coffee!
Common French Press & Drip Questions Answered
Which has more caffeine, French press or drip?
When examining how much caffeine is in your coffee, drip coffee is the winner.
Taste of Home says that
“French press coffee is low in caffeine because the grinds are so large. They have to be; otherwise, you'd be left with a cup full of coffee grounds."
What is the difference between percolator and drip coffee?
Before the drip coffee maker came about, a percolator was a go-to option for brewing coffee at home.
With a percolator, the water is cycled through the grounds multiple times, which results in a stronger, more robust-tasting coffee. However, a drip machine is definitely considered more convenient and easier to use, especially if you live an on-the-go lifestyle.
What is the difference between pour over drip vs. French press?
Pour over coffee is similar in style to drop coffee, only it is a manual method that requires you to slowly "pour over" the water into the grounds. Feel free to check out our guide on pour over vs French press for a full comparison.
What is the difference between Vietnamese and French press coffee?
Vietnamese drip coffee vs. French press machines have a few similarities, like a robust, bold flavor. But there are some major differences, like the fact that a Vietnamese coffee maker drips coffee slowly into your cup or mug, while a French press steeps the grounds directly in the water.
If you’re interested in making Vietnamese coffee at home, check out this recipe.
How long do French press filters last?
If you take care of them properly and clean the filter after each use, it could last for several years. The French press uses a mesh metal filter, so the trick is to keep it well-maintained to avoid rust and corrosion.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with adding French press or drip coffee to your daily routine.
Coffee enthusiasts tend to prefer the strong flavor of French press, but using drip coffee makers is much more convenient - especially if you're brewing for a lot of people at once.
Hopefully this guide has helped explain the differences, but if you're still not sure then why not invest in both a French press and a drip coffee machine - so you can brew coffee either way!