What’ll it be, Aeropress or French Press?
The Aeropress – a plastic tube from space? Or the French Press – the twentieth-century kitchen staple?
Now, every coffee nerd has a bit of an opinion about this. French Press is notorious for introducing folks to better-than-Folgers coffee. It’s elegant, aesthetically preferable to this thing (it’s not what you think), and it makes a smooth morning brew. On the other hand, an Aeropress is the brewing device of the millennial age. It’s a beacon of experimentation and whimsy for the craft barista and hobbyist.
Some people may be thinking, “why the heavy analysis? They’re both the same.”
Sure, both brew methods incorporate a plunging motion, they’re both full immersion brew methods, and strangely enough, they both make coffee…
But their brewing characteristics, resulting brew/flavor profiles, manipulable parameters, and overall brewing process heavily contrast.
Finding a New Brew Method
When choosing a new brew method to buy, it’s important to cover all bases. It’s important to understand that it’s not just about which method makes the best coffee. Yes, good coffee is important. It’s extremely important. However, it’s not the only aspect of a brew method that you should take into account.
For instance, siphon brewers make incredibly consistent coffee, but they are more demanding than an Aeropress or French Press. Siphons are challenging to master, take a long time to set up, and they’re expensive (not to mention, fragile). Most could argue that the siphon method produces better coffee, but owning one is an arduous task unto itself.
This is why we say that the best coffee isn’t everything. You need a brew method that suits your lifestyle – one that makes killer coffee, and one that will be a loyal a partner in crime.
Now, let’s discuss the two brew methods in question. Which will you choose? Aeropress or French Press?
Released to the world in 2005, the Aeropress quickly gathered a fond following of coffee tinkerers and specialty baristas. It’s not hard to fall in love with the little brewing device. It’s compact, simple, and brilliantly designed.
Specialty cafes around the globe accept the Aeropress as a valued brewing tool. Instead of simply offering one, two, or even three ways to brew coffee, the Aeropress offers a bounty of options. It’s rather difficult to become bored with the brewer. Having an Aeropress around promotes ingenuity.
How it works:
There are two primary methods of brewing when approaching the Aeropress:
Start by inserting the plunger 1 inch into the top of the brewing chamber. The hexagonal bottom of the Aeropress – where the filter cap is inserted – should be facing up. Toss in some grounds and pour your water.
When the desired immersion time is reached, screw on the filter cap (with paper inserted), and flip the Aeropress 180 degrees onto a decanter. Plunge and enjoy.
Regular (not inverted)
Insert the filter cap on the brewing chamber, set it filter-side down on a decanter, and throw in your grounds. Now pour in your water. Unlike the inverted method, the plunger isn’t attached until the actual decanting phase. Once the desired immersion time is reached, attach plunger, and push.
Ease of use:
It takes some getting used to, but the Aeropress is moderately easy to brew with. You must be active when brewing – flipping things around, pouring, stirring, attaching, plunging – but the process keeps you focused and dialed in. The beginner may be frustrated at first, but the magic WILL come. Just give it time.
Once brewing is complete, the grounds can be easily disposed of. Just take the filter cap off over a trash receptacle and push the plunger to its maximum capacity. The spent filter and grounds will make an exodus from the brewer into the trash.
For cleaning, the three pieces can be washed by hand in mere seconds. Piece of cake.
The Aeropress should be a staple in the adventurer’s toolkit. It’s near indestructible, and it can be used in almost any environment. The compact nature of the brewer makes it a compelling choice for camping, travelling, and simple living.
How’s the coffee?
Being an immersion method, Aeropress coffee exhibits a heavy body. For more clarity of flavor and less body, multiple filters can be used. To manipulate the amount of solubles allowed in the brew, one could even use an able filter.
Brewing parameters are easily manipulated with the Aeropress, so the coffee can turn out pretty magnificent. Just note that it all depends on the barista. EACH CHOICE you make affects the final brew. Be intentional.
We’ve already written a bunch of stuff about this tubular wonder. Check out our Aeropress and pour over method comparison here, and also make sure to read up about it in our immersion brewers analysis!
It’s no mystery that this brewer can make a solid cup of Joe. It has been around since 1929 for a reason. We see the French Press everywhere; on TV, in any appliance store, at the supermarket, on kitchen counters…
As mentioned earlier, the average person invests in a French Press when they wish to improve their morning brew. Even if they know nothing about coffee, folks assume that a French Press is “upper class” and “fancy.”
And why wouldn’t they? The French Press looks incredible. Its sleek design and timeless aesthetic are appealing for even non-coffee drinkers.
But like every coffee brewer, the French Press isn’t enchanted. It takes knowledge and work to brew a tasty cup. Poor brewing technique with a French Press will result in a cup resembling astringent coffee slop. Let’s dive into this classic brewing tool.
How it works:
It’s one of the most simple brewing methods around. There are many variations of the classic French Press, but most of them are pretty similar.
Simply add some freshly ground coffee in the glass decanter (aka chamber), and pour in your water. Now, make sure the mesh filter is properly attached to the lid and plunging rod. After you manipulate the brewing parameters to your liking, attach the lid and press.
The grounds remain at the bottom of the chamber, held back by the mesh filter. Transfer the brew to a decanter to prevent excess extraction. That’s all.
Ease of use:
The French Press is probably the easiest brew method to start your coffee journey with. Pour, wait, press… that’s all there is to it.
But don’t be discouraged if you want to dig deeper. Once you begin to understand how brewing variables work, the process will become more arduous. You’ll find yourself micromanaging bubbles, stirring, and messing with temperature variations.
After your coffee is decanted from the Press, you’re left with a slurry of grounds. It’s a bit messy. You’ll have to dump the spent grounds, take apart the filter, and wash the chamber and filter parts. It’s won’t ruin your day by any means, but it’s a bit of a process.
A significant number of mobile-friendly presses are being invented and kick-started these days. But remember, we are discussing the classic French Press.
Which really isn’t the best when it comes to mobility.
Some French Presses have a plastic or reinforced body, but these are unappealing aesthetically. They are also bulky. The normal glass body is fragile, so it should be used with caution during travel.
How’s the coffee?
Coffee brewed with a French Press has a heavy body. The metal filter allows for a large number of coffee particles to end up in the final brew. This isn’t a bad thing. Body promotes mouthfeel. Flavor clarity is lessened, but texture and some viscosity are gained!
Ease of use:
The French Press is easier to use, but the Aeropress is easier to clean and maintain.
As time goes on, you may find that the Aeropress offers more variance and brewing capability.
The French Press is great for large volume output, but the Aeropress is good for exploration and experimentation. Defining “ease of use” honestly lands on the shoulders of the barista. The Aeropress or French Press can win the “ease of use” category.
Sorry, French Press. The Aeropress wins on mobility, hands down. The French Press is just too bulky. Even if you use a mini French Press, the Aeropress will be lower hassle, as it’s easier to clean and maintain.
How’s the coffee?
Both are good. The Aeropress or French are great options – depending on the barista.
You may want to experience coffee that abounds in flavor, not body. With an Aeropress, you can easily switch out filter types to somewhat change the coffee’s body. A French Press will always be heavy.
So Now… Aeropress or French Press?
You could just get both of them…
Both of these brewers bring something to the table. If it’s possible, you should probably just add each of these to the ole coffee arsenal. No harm in that!
Hopefully, we laid this out in a way that presented the options fairly. Make your choice, and get to brewing!
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