French Press vs Pour Over: Which One is Best?

French Press vs Pour Over Which One is Best
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French Press vs Pour Over: Which one is best?

Among coffee lovers everywhere, there is a never-ending debate taking place. That debate focuses on one simple question – just what is the best method to brew your coffee? French Press vs Pour Over?

Thanks to all of our modern conveniences, there are several different options available to you when it comes to making your coffee these days. Two of the most popular ways to make your cup of joe involve using either the classic French press or a pour-over machine.

You’ll find no shortage of coffee fans shouting the praises of both methods, declaring their preferred coffee making device the best.

But between the French press and pour over, which method really is the best?

That’s the question that we aim to answer in this head-to-head comparison as we put the two coffee makers against each other and compare them in a variety of categories in order to see which method emerges as the winner.

Will it be the French press, with its method of manual operation and deliberate control over how your brewed coffee turns out? Or will it be the pour over, with its rich flavor and ease of use?

Direct Comparison

French Press

  • Brewing: Steeping
  • Coffee extraction speed: 3-5 minutes
  • Effort required: Manual operation

Pour Over

  • Brewing: Filtration/dripping
  • Coffee extraction speed: 4 minutes
  • Effort required: Involved pouring process

Breaking it down

There are a few factors that we’re going to be looking at while trying to determine whether you should go with the French press or the pour over. We’ll compare the two to see how they perform in the following categories:

  • The method in which they brew the coffee
  • The amount of time required to brew the coffee
  • The ease of use and effort required to use the device

Brewing Technology

Brewing Technology

The first comparison that we’ll be making involves the brewing technology used for the French press and the pour over.

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Ask anyone who really knows their stuff when it comes to coffee and they will tell you that coffee extraction is quite an exact science. With that in mind, let’s see how the brewing methods stack up against each other.

French Press

The French press uses a steeping brewing method, where the coffee grounds are allowed to soak in the hot water. This method allows nearly all of the oils and chemical compounds contained in coffee beans to be released into the coffee. The excess sediment is then pushed down using the plunger.

Pour Over

A pour over machine uses a combination of a filtration and a drip system in order to brew the coffee. The coffee grounds are added into a filter and then water is poured in. The coffee grounds are allowed to bloom, and then more water is poured in gradually a few more times. The coffee then drips through the filter.

Winner: The French press takes this one as the steeping process allows for more of the beneficial compounds contained in coffee beans to be released into your coffee.

Coffee Extraction Speed

Coffee Extraction Speed

Next, we’ll compare how long it takes to make a cup of coffee with each of the methods. When you’re feeling groggy first thing in the morning and craving that first cup, time can be of the essence.

With that in mind, the quicker you can get your coffee into your hands, the better! While both devices require some additional set up and cleaning time, for this section, we’ll be looking solely at the actual brewing time required.

French Press

When allowing your coffee to steep in a French press, it’s generally recommended to give it a timeframe of between 3-5 minutes. We tend to prefer waiting a full 5 minutes as it provides a much more robust flavor.

Pour Over

After completing your pours, the time required for a pour over coffee maker to drip feed your coffee is about 4 minutes total.

Winner: The pour over takes this one by a hair, depending on how long you allow your French press to steep.

Effort Required - Manual or Pour Process?

In addition to not wanting to wait for too long to enjoy that first cup of coffee, most people usually don’t want to have to go through a lot of hassle when making it as well.

With that in mind, let’s take a look to see which method is easier to use when it comes to brewing your coffee. We will be looking at the actual effort required to use the French press or the pour over.

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French Press

While the French press requires you to manually perform every step of the brewing process, it’s still a rather straightforward procedure.

Add the coffee grounds, add your water, let the coffee steep, and then plunge the sediment down. That’s all that is required before you can enjoy your cup of coffee when using a French press.

Pour Over

The pour over is another rather straightforward coffee making process, but it still requires slightly more effort to brew in this method than a French press. Having to set up the filter and perform repeated pours in a careful manner is a rather involved process when making your coffee.

Winner: The French press just barely takes this one. Both methods require quite a bit of effort on your end when compared with something like a drip coffee machine, but the repeated pours required with a pour over bump up the effort required ever so slightly.

Final Recount

Let’s quickly review how each of the coffee makers scored based on our comparisons:

  • Brewing Method Winner: French Press
  • Brewing Time Winner: Pour Over
  • Speed Winner: French Press

As you can see, the French press wins this match-up with a score of 2-1 according to the comparison criteria that we used.

However, there’s one final important consideration to keep in mind.

There are also automatic pour-over machines available. If you’re using an automatic machine, the effort to make your coffee would obviously be significantly lower. In that case, the pour over would slightly edge out the French press and take the win.

So if either option could end up the winner here, depending on certain factors, let’s quickly take a moment to briefly go over the pros and cons of both coffee makers before we make our final decision.

Pros and Cons of Each

PROS

CONS

French Press

  • Steeping method releases more oils and compounds in coffee beans
  • Can make quite a strong cup of coffee
  • More control over extraction process
  • Can brew multiple cups of coffee
  • Incredibly portable
  • Involved process requiring manual operation
  • Clean-up can be a hassle due to sediment buildup

Pour Over

  • Produces a rich, clean flavor
  • The filter catches the sediment from coffee grounds
  • Can brew multiple cups of coffee
  • Pouring process is quite involved
  • Less safe than other methods

Final Verdict

And so we come to the final verdict. French press versus pour over – which one is best?

The answer might end up surprising you.

In spite of our initial scoring above where we gave the French press a 2-1 advantage, you also must consider that if we opted for an automatic pour over machine, the score could have been reversed.

With that in mind, our final verdict when comparing both of these coffee making methods is that they are TIED.

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