French Press Coffee or Drip Coffee?
French Press vs Drip… which coffee-making method should you use?
Do you press and plunge, or do you let it drip drip drip? When it comes to coffee, which is best: French Press or Drip Coffee?
There’s only one way to find out! No, Harry Hill, it’s not to fight for it (not this time)…
Let’s put the French Press and Drip methods head-to-head and find the best coffee for you!
What is French Press Coffee?
The French Press is an immersion coffee brewer. What does this mean? Immersion-style brewers involve steeping (immersing) your coffee grounds and hot water together for a certain amount of time. Then, you separate the grounds from the coffee and enjoy a full-bodied brew that’s lovely and rich and bursting with flavour.
French Presses have lots of names. Because, well, why not? Cafetiere is another common name, but you might also hear them called a press pot, a coffee plunger or a cafetière à piston. Take your pick!
Is the French Press actually French? Goodness knows. Things start off nice and simple in France, with two Frenchmen designing an early French press model in the 1800s. But then it gets knottier because the first patent of an early French press-esque model came from the Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. Then, we find Faliero Bondanini (Swiss this time) honing the classic plunger design in the 50s. So, yes, the French Press is French… ish.
The history leaves us discombobulated, but don’t fret – the French Press is easy to use! Keep reading to find out more…
What is Drip Coffee?
But let’s be fair, now, and give drip coffee its airtime. Because drip, drip, drip coffee deserves it!
The idea of drip coffee is simple: you brew coffee by pouring hot water over ground coffee and a filter. This is different from immersion brewing, which leaves the coffee and water immersing together before plunging to separate.
We can make drip coffee manually or with an electric drip machine. Generally, when coffee fans chat about ‘drip coffee’, they are referring to the electric style. We tend to say ‘pour over’ or ‘filter’ if we wanna describe drip coffee brewed by hand. The V60 and Chemex are two of the most popular ways of doing this.
Electric drip coffee makers were invented in 1954 and became a big thing in the US in the 70s – Americans couldn’t get enough of their ease and convenience! Offices and coffee shops also like them, as they make multiple cups at once and can be good at keeping brewed coffee hot.
Fancy learning more about coffee-making methods? Then grab yourself a FREE Brew Guide Handbook. Jam-packed with handy tips and step-by-step instructions, it’s your go-to guide for making coffee at home. Simply click the link and we’ll pop one in the post!
Drip Coffee Maker vs French Press
Enough of the intro stuff. Let’s take a closer look!
So, here it is, the good, the bad, and the beautiful (no ugliness here) of French Press Coffee and Drip Coffee…
– Taste –
French Presses are ideal if you like coffee with SASS. The immersion method gives a full flavour and bumper boldness. People, this is coffee with attitude!
We have the plunger’s holey mesh to thank for all this flavour. The gaps in the mesh allow some of the natural coffee oils to pass into your cup when you plunge, resulting in a thicker and more robust coffee.
And it gets better. Because you also have lots of control over this awesome flavour. You control the coffee amount, brew time and water temperature with French Press coffee – simply tweak these variables to create the coffee you’ve been dreaming about…
Prefer coffee that’s a little lighter? That’s bright and complex and fabulously clean-tasting? Then your destiny might be drip shaped!
The filter paper in your drip device creates a lighter-textured coffee by trapping most of the coffee oil and sediment. Some find this a tad too light and, well, drippy, but others adore it’s crystal-clear delicacy!
You will get the best flavour from manual drip methods like the Chemex and V60. In fact, these awesome devices are so good that speciality coffee shops use them to make their coffees!
Electric drippers are uber easy but can cut corners when it comes to taste. They struggle to keep the temperature of the drip consistent (195°F to 205°F/90°C to 96°C is ideal) and have a nasty habit of sploshing water up the sides of the carafe as they brew. Both can lead to uneven extraction. Owww…
– Ease of Use –
Looking for nice, well-behaved coffee that runs like clockwork? That gives a bangin’ brew again and again and AGAIN? Yeeeeeeas?
Then the French Press is your answer.
French Presses are great if you’re looking to migrate from shop-bought coffees to delicious home brewing. The immersion method gives a consistent extraction which tends to taste the same day after day (as long as you don’t alter the brew time too much). It can take a bit of experimenting to get the brew time right, but once you’ve got it, oh my, you’ve got it.
To brew, simply place the coffee grounds in the base of your warmed-up cafetiere and top it up with recently boiled water. Place the lid and plunger on and wait for a couple of minutes. Give it a stir, then wait for two more minutes. Now for everyone’s favourite part – plunging! Press the plunger down slowly and give it a couple more minutes to steep.
Okay, correction, now comes your favourite part… drinking! Pour your French Press coffee and enjoy!
Electric drip machines are pretty low-sweat. It’s just a bit of weighing and button-pushing. The manufacturer will tell you exactly how much coffee to add (how nice), so you’ve not got to fret about brew ratios.
To be honest, the only room for error is in the grinding if you grind at home.
To use your electric coffee maker, you simply pop the filter in the basket and tip in the coffee grounds. Then, measure your water and pour it into the machine’s reservoir. Flick the switch. The water will start to drip from the showerhead onto the grounds and filter, and freshly brewed coffee will trickle down after a few more moments.
Many drip machines feature a hot plate to keep coffee hot (obviously). So now you can have good coffee all morning!
Manual drip brewers take a bit more work and trial-and-error. Check out our failsafe guides for all you need to know!
How to make filter coffee by hand
– Control –
The cafetiere is your friend if you fancy creating a bespoke coffee recipe. You can experiment with the brew time and coffee amount to tweak the final flavour. Like coffee that’s richer and more intense? Allow to brew for a little longer. Finding your coffee a tad bitter? Try reducing the coffee amount by a couple of grams or brewing for less time.
Have a play, and find a recipe that sets those taste buds singing!
You don’t really have much influence over your electric drip machine. This is great for faff-free coffee, but not so good if you want to change the flavour of that final cup.
The V60 and Chemex (the manual filter methods) give you much more control. As with the French Press, the ball’s in your court with brew time, coffee amount and water temperature when you use a manual filter method.
Want even more control? As in, supreme control? Grab yourself a swan neck kettle. These picture-perfect kettles help you direct the water flow as you pour over the coffee to give a lovely, even extraction. Perfect!
– Speed –
The French Press method goes as follows: boil-steep-stir-steep-plunge-steep-pour. Catchy, isn’t it?
From start to finish, the whole method takes around ten minutes. Just the right amount of time to feed the dog, make some toast and do a little boogie.
Life’s not hectic with electric! Electric drip machines are super speedy and require little effort on your part. Just flick the switch and let them get on with it…
You will have to wait for the machine to heat up and for the coffee to drip down – we’re not talking espresso speed here. But, in general, most drip coffee makers will give you great coffee in five-ten minutes.
– Amount of Coffee Produced –
You can find various sizes in the shops, but most cafetieres produce three or eight cups of coffee. Are you making for friends or enjoying coffee pour uno? Just pick the best French Press size for you! Or maybe just get both…
These are the French Presses we recommend!
Again, the amount of coffee you get from a drip machine depends on your model and brand of choice. On average, you can make up to 12 cups of coffee at a time – sometimes more! Ideal if you’re a social butterfly and want to spend more time coffee breaking than coffee making.
– Price –
Don’t go for that cheap-as-chips cafetiere. Please don’t. It may seem like a bargain, but it’ll probably offer pretty poor insulation and be awkward to use. It might break after a while, too.
But does that mean you need to take out a mortgage for a decent French Press? Nope! You can get a good-quality branded French Press (and a friend for life) for just £30. Bargain!
Electric drip coffee makers can be costly. Still not taking-out-a-mortgage material, but no pocket money treat, either. It’s best to go for an established brand such as Bonavita, Moccamaster, Wilfa or Ratio if you want a really good drip coffee. A machine from one of these groovy guys will cost around £200 (possibly more), but it’s worth the investment. Cheaper models might only make a few cups or fail to get your water to the correct temperature.
French Press Coffee or Drip Coffee? Who wins?
So, which coffee-making method gets your vote?
Drip coffee is convenient and great for busy people. It’s also good if you prefer a lighter-tasting cup. But they’re not designed for standout coffee. If super delicious, light textured loveliness is what you’re after, then we’d recommend manual filter coffee. Why not give the V60 a whirl?
French Press coffee might not be as flick-switchingly simple as drip coffee, but it’s certainly not hard. In fact, it’s one of the easiest manual coffee brewing methods to master and gives a rich, full-flavoured brew. You can make small tweaks to tailor the final flavours and create a personal recipe you’ll ADORE. You’ll be doing cartwheels up the garden. Well, you won’t. You will be too busy enjoying your delicious French Press coffee for that…
Whether you’re #teamfrenchpress or #teamdrip, freshly roasted coffee is a must! Find yours in our lovely online shop!
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