If you want to make great coffee at home without an espresso maker then Moka pots and French presses are both good options.
They both use a manual brewing technique, but produce very different tasting coffee. Everyone wants to start their day with the best coffee, so it's important to choose the right coffee maker.
In this article we'll explore the Moka pot vs French press debate and help you decide which will give you the most delicious cup of coffee.
Moka Pot Vs French Press (Key Differences Explained)
Metal (stainless steel or aluminum)
Glass, ceramic, metal, plastic, etc.
Little flexibility, strong results.
Very flexible depending on your brew style.
Taste & Quality
Bold, aromatic, and flavorful.
Depending on roast, strong and aromatic.
Number of Servings
1 - 18
3 - 8
Ease of Use
Difficult to perfect, easier to clean
Easy to use, but can be harder to clean up.
Portable – can be used on any heat source
Fragile – won’t hold up well other than in kitchens.
Minimum 10 years
Up to 5 years with proper care
$30 - $100
$15 - $70
Moka pots are made of stainless steel or aluminum. These two metals are able to heat and cool things quickly, making them perfect for brewing. The design is early art nouveau and able to match with many different kitchens.
A French press coffee makers are available in stainless steel, ceramic, glass, plastic, and others. They don't come in contact with a direct source of heat, so there's less chance of accidents. Their designs come simplistic, usually with a detachable beaker.
2. Brew Control
Moka pot coffee makers don't give you much control when brewing coffee, and require serious concentration. A Moka pot brews coffee and isn't much else you can make with it.
A French press gives you greater control over the coffee brewing process. You can change the strength, and brew more than just coffee.
3. Taste & Quality
A Moka pot will produce strong, bold, and flavorful coffee. It's designed for coffee lovers who enjoy their brew a lot stronger than other methods produce. When done right, you can create a clean, aromatic, and tasty coffee.
The French press flavor changes on the type of ground coffee used. The French press allows the oils from the coffee beans to mix with the coffee, and so will retain most of its flavors. It doesn’t have a filter, meaning all your grounds will mix into the water.
Their flavors generally depend on the roast of the coffee beans you're using; a light roast will have sweet, honey notes, while darker will have nutty, chocolatey undertones.
4. Grind Flexibility
Both the Moka pot and French press require specific types of ground coffee.
A Moka pot needs finely ground coffee beans. This finer grind size allows the water needs to pass through quickly, and a coarser grind would hinder this.
The French press needs coarsely ground coffee beans. The coarsely ground coffee helps ensure that you don't end up with over or under-extracted coffee. You can use a finer grind, but you will need to reduce the brew time.
5. Number of Servings
Moka pots and French press coffee machines come in different sizes.
Most Moka pots are designed to make one cup of coffee and act as a stovetop espresso maker at home. However, some Moka pot coffee makers can brew up to 18 cups of espresso like coffee in one go.
A standard French press will made 3-8 cups of delicious coffee. The amount of brewed coffee it produces can vary depending on the make and model, but it's usually a lot more than standard stovetop espresso makers.
When it comes to French press vs Moka pot brewing methods and the volume they produce it can vary, but a French press coffee machine will usually make more.
6. Ease of Use
When you compare French press vs Moka pot coffee brewer ease of use, there's a big difference.
Moka pot brew technique is a bit more complicated because you control the brewing time much more closely. This can give you a great concentrated brew, but if you're not focused it can ruin the coffee taste.
French presses are much easier to use. Simply add the coarse coffee grounds and pour in the hot water before leaving it to brew (give it about 5 minutes for the best tasting coffee). Then, press the plunger and enjoy.
Some coffee snobs tend to think that coffee making with French presses it more challenging, but it's actually the complete opposite. However, cleanup can be a bit more challenging with French presses because the filter basket can leave coffee grounds all over your kitchen sink.
If you're a cultured coffee drinker you probably want to produce coffee on the go, so it's important to know how portable they are.
A Moka pot is very portable, and if you look at the Moka pot origins you can see it was designed to give an alternative to drip coffee on the move.
The metal design of the Moka pot mean it's much more durable and can be used with any heat source. Perfect for those who want to take their coffee culture with them when they go camping.
French presses are much less portable. They're typically made from glass, which is more fragile, and they need preheated water to produce finished coffee.
If you want to enjoy bold coffee tastes on the move then the Moka pot coffee maker is a better choice.
In terms of longevity and lifespan of a French press vs Moka pot, the Moka pot wins hands down.
A French press coffee maker will last up to 5 years if it's properly maintained.
A Moka pot can last a lifetime, giving you a perfect cup of coffee for years.
Both French presses and Moka pots are much cheaper than any complicated espresso machine.
Moka pots cost about $30, but for a high quality coffee brewing Moka pot it can cost over $100.
A French press coffee maker costs about $15, but you can pay over $70 for a higher quality coffee maker.
When it comes to the cost of French press vs Moka pot it's basically a tie, but Moka pots offer better long term value for money.
Pros & Cons of Using Moka Pots
The Moka pot has a bad reputation – it's assumed that it'll only make bitter coffee. While this isn't necessarily wrong, the internal drip coffee process can produce much smoother cup of coffee if brewed properly.
The Moka pot was invented by Renato Bialetti in 1933, to bring espressos into the home. It’s well known that a Moka pot produces bold, strong coffee even with a short brewing time.
You can also brew up to 5 or 6 coffees in one sitting. Using a fine grind is the best method because a coarser grind won’t let the water through.
The design is small, which means it will fit anywhere you need it. The metal design also means it is less fragile than a French press and can be used with any heat source.
Because of the speed of brewing in a Moka pot, it is very easy to burn the grounds the first time. It's important to remember that not everyone can brew in a Moka pot easily, and it takes a few attempts to get right. Don't be disheartened if you get it wrong first; try, try again!
What We Like
Things We Don’t
How to Make Coffee with a Moka Pot
The brewing method gets easier as you keep practicing, and it’s important that you keep trying to get the perfect brew. It can be used on any heat source, so you may find it easier on a portable electric stove than a gas stove. The method is as follows:
- 1Add hot water to the bottom, to the safety valve.
- 2Add coffee grounds to the basket and level the grounds off.
- 3Screw in the top chamber tightly to retain the steam pressure.
- 4Immediately add to a heat source and allow the air bubbles to escape the funnel.
- 5Wait until you hear a gurgling sound before you take it off the stove. Run the bottom under cold water to stop the brewing process.
- 6Pour the resulting coffee from the top chamber into espresso cups or mugs, add milk and sugar if desired, and enjoy!
You should also run a low heat so that you don't overdo the grounds. Keeping your Moka pot clean will also remove any bitter old coffee from the brew. And remember to keep practicing!
Pros & Cons of Using A French Press
The French press has been in use since the 1940s. It’s a simple and relatively easy brewer to master. You simply plunge the coffee after waiting 3-5 minutes to brew.
You can control the strength of your brew better as well, by the amount of grounds you add. A French press is also very versatile; you can brew tea leaves easily as well.
The taste is usually very acidic; there's no filter to catch the natural oils in the coffee grounds. This is both a pro and a con, as it depends on your taste preferences.
While cleanup is as simple as unscrewing the plunger and cleaning the beaker, the coffee grounds are liable to spill over or find their way all over your kitchen. Because it's usually made of glass, the French press is much more fragile than a Moka pot and should be used with care.
The French press is for those of us who enjoy simplicity and want a good tasting brew with bold flavors.
What We Like
Things We Don’t
How To Make Coffee Using a French Press
The brewing method of a French press is simple. You can use a light or dark roast coffee blends. For bolder, more robust coffee flavors, we recommend a darker roast.
To brew in a French press, follow these steps:
- 1Add 2 – 4 heaps of ground into the beaker. Use more/less for varying strengths.
- 2Pour over hot water to the top. A standard French press can make up to 4 cups.
- 3Brew for 3 – 5 minutes. You can brew for less time for a smoother brew or longer for a more intense flavor.
- 4Gently push the plunger to the bottom, keeping it straight to avoid grounds escaping.
- 5Serve in a standard mug, add milk and sugar if desired, and enjoy!
If you're brewing for yourself, try using 1 ½ heaping spoons of coffee, and only fill halfway. Loose tea leaves can also be brewed, simply follow the guide above and use the leaves instead of coffee. Make sure you don’t use boiling water, as this could shatter the beaker.
Moka Pot Vs French Press Vs AeroPress Vs Pour-Over
The AeroPress is a fine example of a home brewer that can produce strong coffee. Like the Moka pot, it uses air pressure to brew coffee, but is a lot faster. It's made of two cylinders, and the air pressure from plunging one into the other pushes the coffee through a filter.
In this comparison, the French press will produce the weakest coffee. This makes it suitable for those who like a softer, more subtle coffee.
The AeroPress is a good option for those who want stronger coffee but don't want to try the Moka pot just yet. For the strongest, boldest coffee, a Moka pot is the way forward.
Common Brewing FAQs Answered
Is Moka coffee as strong as espresso?
A Moka pot is the closest you can get to the strength of an espresso, without owning an espresso machine. The pressure in an espresso maker is roughly 5-10 times higher than a Moka pot, but you will still get roughly the same result.
Is French Press coffee stronger than espresso?
The French press will contain more caffeine per 8oz cup than an espresso because of the volume. The flavor will depend on how much ground you use and the time you take to brew.
Why are Moka pots made of aluminum?
This is because of the metal's ability to heat and cool its contents quickly. The two metals it is made from (stainless steel and aluminum) both have their merits. Nowadays, you'll find them made of stainless steel to accommodate induction or electric stoves.
Is a Moka pot stronger than a French press?
You will find the caffeine content higher in a Moka pot than a French press, as the grounds are extracted faster, and so will push more of the caffeine through. You can expect up to 73mg of caffeine in one cup of Moka pot coffee.
You don't need an espresso machine to make a full flavor coffee at home, but deciding between these two coffee brewers can be difficult.
If you're a beginner, we recommend getting your caffeine fix with a French press and working your way up to a Moka pot once you know the process.