Today there are so many ways to produce and make coffee. But despite all the complexity, making excellent coffee really comes down to two basic components:
- The quality of the beans
- And the brewing method
If you lack in any of the above, you’ll miss out on some of the best things that coffee can offer.
In my opinion the best bean is the Vietnamese Robusta, an excellent bean from the central Da Lat highlands. Especially the Trung Nguyen brand is one of my absolute favorites.
But which is the best brewing method? Well I prefer methods where I have control over the brewing process, hence I can adjust the different variables such as water, coffee, pressure etc to brew the kind of coffee that I want.
A couple of years ago I discovered two devices that matched all my brewing requirements: the AeroPress and the French press. And by now I had plenty of time to evaluate them, and I believe it’s time to let the world know which one makes the best coffee!
Welcome to the Aeropress vs French press challenge!
AeroPress vs French Press
Though there are similarities between the two there are also many differences, ranging from the brewing method to the taste of the coffee. I believe you need to be aware of those differences before your decide what device to buy.
So without further ado, let’s jump into the first category in our Aeropress vs French press challenge: the brewing process.
The AeroPress consists of two nesting cylinders. One cylinder has a flexible airtight seal that fits inside the larger cylinder. The larger cylinder in turn has a circular filter cap in one end, that holds either paper filters or reusable metal filters.
Coffee is brewed by first pouring fine-ground coffee in the larger cylinder. Thereafter hot water is poured inside the cylinder, where the beans and water is immersed and stirred for approximately 10 seconds. Finally, the smaller cylinder is inserted into the larger one, then pressed downwards, forcing the coffee through the filter into the cup. The total brewing time is about 1 minute.
The French press consists of a cylindrical glass or plastic beaker, equipped with a metal or plastic lid. In addition there’s a plunger that fits inside the cylinder and has a stainless steel filter attached to it.
Coffee is brewed by first pouring coarsely-ground coffee in the empty beaker and then add hot water. After about five minutes of immersion, the plunger is pressed which separates the coffee from the grounds. The leftover ground are held at the bottom of the beaker.
The major difference between the two devices is the pressurized brewing. With the AeroPress, the coffee is brewed under pressure, similar to an Espresso machine. You can control how much pressure to apply, hence you can create a wide array of different flavors. The French press on the other hand, brews it’s coffee without any pressure at all, making the device less versatile.
Both the AeroPress and the French press makes excellent coffee, however there are some differences you’ll need to be aware of.
The AeroPress will give your coffee a clean, low acidic and flavorful taste, similar to the coffee you’ll get from an Espresso machine. It’s unique taste comes from the pressurized brewing plus the paper filter, that prevents oil and sediments from end up in your coffee.
The French press will have a more bolder, fuller taste compared to the AeroPress. The bold and full flavors comes from the sediments and the oil that’ll pass through the filter and end up in your coffee. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing and many people like their coffee that way.
By now I had my French press for 2 years and my AeroPress for 6 months, thus giving me plenty of time to form an opinion about the durability of each device.
First, the rubber seal eventually needs to be replaced on the AeroPress. When it start to crack, the pressure will decrease, and hot water may splash and scold your hands. But thus far my rubber seal is still flexible and robust, despite making coffee with it at least twice per day. In addition, all the other parts shows no sign of stress or decay. Great design!
Same goes with my French press. I have used it heavily for 1,5 years and the material never showed any signs of stress. Great design as well!
The last category in our Aeropress vs French press challenge is the cleaning.
With the AeroPress it’s very easy. After using it, you can just pop the filter and sediments straight into a garbage bin. Then you can rinse all the parts with some luke warm water. It’s very straightforward and the whole cleaning process takes only a minute. You can even wash your AeroPress in a dishwasher.
The French press on the other hand lacks the airtight seal, causing sediments to get stuck on the beaker wall during the brewing. Thus it takes a bit longer to clean compared to the AeroPress.
Now let’s summarize the benefits of using an AeroPress:
- The AeroPress has a very short brewing time (1 minute vs 5 minutes for the French press)
- The coffee is brewed under pressure, giving the coffee a flavorful Espresso-like taste
- Cleaning the Aeropress is very easy. You can just rinse it under lukewarm water
- The coffee will have no leftover grounds, while with the French press, some grounds may end up in your coffee
- An AeroPress will give you many ways to alter the coffee flavor (changing the pressure, putting it upside down etc) making it very versatile
- Finally, the AeroPress is the perfect travel companion due to it’s compact size and low weight
And here are the benefits of using a French press:
- Larger size hence you can make more cups per brewing. With the Aeropress you can only brew one cup at the time
- Very straightforward and easy to use. The AeroPress is a bit more complex and has a learning curve
That’s it folks. The AeroPress vs French press challenge is over. In my opinion we have a clear winner, and that’s the AeroPress. The AeroPress makes the type of coffee I like (clean, low acidic and flavorful) and it’s also ideal for a frequent traveler like me. In addition I like the easy cleaning.
But the French press may be beneficial for some folks, such as larger families or people that want a bolder and fuller tasting coffee.
And since both have a very attractive price, you can just get one of each and enjoy the benefits of both!
Did you like reading about my Aeropress vs French press challenge?
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