Pour Over vs French Press – Our Take on the Age Old Question

Sep 21, 2017 @ 10:47 pm

Pour over vs French press, which brew is better? This is an age old question indeed. For eons, coffee nerds have been bickering and fighting over which coffee brew is better, or the more sophisticated.


In fact, the pour over vs French press debate is the coffee nerd’s equivalent of the console war.



French Press vs pour over - bluepenguin coffee


But they are different.


French Press


french press vs pour over - blue penguin coffee


Let’s start this pour over vs French press debate with the good old French press.


For French press, the most important thing is the pot, or, rather, the press you make it in.


For both brews, you pour slightly cooler than boiling water over them, but there is a significant difference to how much contact the water has with the grounds and for how long.


With the French press, the ground is put into a carafe, and the water poured over it.


Then you let the grounds steep and soak it in like you would in a hot tub.


After that, you press the plunger and separate the grounds from the lovely concoction.


At this point, the coffee is ready to drink.


What does it mean for the brew, then?


It means that more of the flavor is retained by water which passes through the grounds.


French press brew is much richer and has a weighty feel in your mouth when comparing it to pour-over.


It’s also ‘thicker’


Some might say it’s more bitter, but it’s probably just stronger in flavor.


This makes sense since the grounds do not pass through any sort of paper filter.


In other words.


French press is also much ‘darker’ than pour over.


In fact, the French press is most akin to straight up black coffee.


With the oils and compounds that make up the flavor of coffee beans being assimilated by water, the coffee is strong.


Especially if over brewed.


All in all, French press brew is preferred by those who like a rich coffee taste and a powerful brew.


If you want something to lift you up in the morning and something to keep you running throughout the day, then you will definitely prefer the French press.


However, the brew can have some grit to it if not made correctly and some will prefer something less assaulting to their palate.


Pour Over


Pour over french press - blue penguin coffee


In the other corner of the pour over vs French press match is the lightweight but incredibly delicious, pour over.


The way you make pour over is similar to the French press, but with one striking difference.


The use of a filter.


Obviously, the French press also uses a filter, but the press’ filter is only there to separate the liquid from the grind.


But since the water stays in contact with the grounds for much longer, it is more likely to produce a ‘thicker’, heavier, final brew.


With pour over, the water does not stay in the contact with the grounds for as long.


To prepare a pour over you take a paper filter, put the grounds in, pour water over it, and leave it to gravity to do its job.


Of course, this is a little simplified, but you get the idea.


The filter helps by slowing down the flow of water, so the water can soak up the goodness the coffee has to offer.


But at the same time, it traps more of the smaller particles and grit that you might find in the French press brew.


The result?


A brew lighter in texture and less gritty and biting too.


For those who like to sip on their coffee like tea, and like a few cups per day, pour over method is ideal.


The brew is refreshing, but never bland.


It’s smooth, making it a perfect way to chill out on a chilly winter afternoon (it’s winter here in MN which is why I was thinking about it).


Another difference between the brews is the amount of clean up after.


I mean, this isn’t a factor in my coffee brewing life, but it might make a difference if you’re in a rush.


If this is important to you, the pour over method is much more forgiving.


You only use a paper filter, so just throw out the paper filter, rinse and you’re good to go.


With French press, you need to take the whole press apart to clean it.


Summary – Pour Over Vs French Press


Pour over vs french press - blue penguin coffee


So, in the end, as I said in the beginning, it really comes down to personal preference.


No brew will make you more or less snobby, nor more or less sophisticated.


It simply comes down to your drinking habits and what you like.


I know for me, I went from being a French press ‘snob’ to a pour over ‘elite’ to now a Moka Pot geek.


Your tastes are likely to change more than you think.


All in all, both brews are unique and delicious, and if you’re a true coffee enthusiast, you will be able to appreciate both of them.


Which brew do you like better?


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