AeroPress vs French Press: Which Should You Choose?

AeroPress vs French Press

At-home brewing is a cheaper and sometimes more convenient way to drink your daily cup of coffee. Certain brewing systems make home brewing easier or more flavorful than using a drip coffee maker. Two of these systems are a French press and an AeroPress. We will be going in-depth about the benefits of each and the differences between the two. Then you can decide which product better meets your needs.

French Press Facts

A French press is a 48-oz container with a metal lid that acts as a filter. After putting in measured amounts of ground coffee and hot water it steeps for 4-5 minutes, giving time for flavor to develop. After the steeping process, the user pushes down the top with the metal filter. The amount of coffee made can be altered by changing the proportion of grounds and water. French presses can create a batch of hot coffee for one, or for many people, to enjoy. The French press is known for creating a deeply flavored coffee due to having all the oils and acids from the beans present.

The French press has been around for about 170 years. The concept of the French press coffee brewing method appeared in the 1850s. A Frenchman making coffee over an open fire forgot to add his coffee grounds. After he added them to the hot water he needed a way to filter it. He bought a metal screen from an Italian merchant and used that to filter the grounds out of the hot coffee. This was expected to be a mediocre, or even bad, cup of coffee. Surprisingly, both men thought it was the most flavorful cup of coffee they’d ever tasted. A book published in 1852 called “The World Atlas for Coffee” mentioned two Frenchmen as innovators of this brewing process. The first patent for the device came from the Italians in 1928. This product has proven to be reliable over time. Throughout the decades there have been small changes made to different models of the French press and new patents. However, the process and the basic design of the device have stayed the same.

french press pluses

Image credit: Joseph Robertson, Flickr

All About the AeroPress

Invented in 2005, the AeroPress is similar to the concept of a French press. Like a French press, it pushes water through the coffee grounds. However, the AeroPress is smaller and somewhat more convenient. It’s a cylindrical tube with a plunger that pushes the water through the coffee grounds. The AeroPress brews one cup of coffee at a time and the device is typically mounted directly over the cup. The AeroPress brews a single 7-8-oz cup of coffee in a little under a minute. It also includes a microfilter, so no grounds will get in your cup.

The total immersion technology creates a full-bodied cup of coffee. AeroPress advertises that their system makes coffee that has low acidity. It can brew a full cup of American coffee, or it can brew espresso with some adjustments to the amount of grounds and water. The AeroPress company and their users have provided many recipes that are available on their website. The AeroPress has two options for brewing and are outlined below.

The Standard Method:

This is essentially the same process as a French press. Coffee grounds are measured and put into the tube. Hot water is then manually added to the tube. The user guide on AeroPress’s website suggests stirring the coffee grounds and water before letting it steep. After 10-15 seconds of steeping, the plunger is pushed down and coffee goes straight into your cup.

inverted method aeropress

Image credit: Abi Porter, Flickr

The Inverted Method:

This requires the user to put the coffee grounds and water in the tube, then push the plunger halfway into the tube. The AeroPress is then placed on a table or other solid surface so the coffee can suspend in the water. This is considered steeping and the longer you steep the coffee, the fuller the body and the deeper the flavors. During the steeping process, or once it is complete, the filter and filter cap are added to the device. Then it is flipped over the cup and the plunger can be pressed, releasing the coffee.

aeropress

Image credit: Nico Kaiser, Flickr

Benefits of Both

Both the French press and the AeroPress have some of the same benefits. Cleaning both products is easy—they just need to be rinsed with hot water. Making coffee while traveling or outdoors is convenient with either product, but the AeroPress is smaller and would fit in a tighter space. Both products allow the coffee to steep to develop flavor. The French press allows more steeping time and does not have a paper filter. Paper filters can soak up some natural oils steeping produces, and can have less depth of flavor. Therefore, the natural oils would appear more in coffee made from a French press than an AeroPress. This can give you a truer taste of the blend you are drinking. This doesn’t mean AeroPress doesn’t have good flavor, however. AeroPress lowers the acidity and makes a richer cup of coffee.

AeroPress Advantages

AeroPress has many of its own benefits including the speed at which it brews. A single cup of coffee can be finished in less than a minute. If you want to brew more than one cup of coffee, it would still take only 3-4 minutes to make at least 3 cups of coffee. (There are a variety of coffee recipes available to AeroPress customers. The recipes on their website show you how to make iced coffee, espresso drinks, and even regular cups of coffee with different intensities and flavors.) Another benefit is that the microfilter prevents you from getting any grit or grounds in your cup like you could with a French press. AeroPress users also have two methods to choose from. Standard Method is good for those already used to a French press, but who only want to make a cup of coffee for themselves. The inverted method provides an alternative for a longer steeping option and can prevent premature coffee from dripping into your cup.

French Press Pluses

The main advantage the French press has is that it can create multiple cups of coffee in one brew cycle. Unlike the AeroPress, if you want a bulk batch of coffee you can make up to 6 cups of coffee at once. (If you needed to use the AeroPress to provide coffee for 6 people you would have to repeat the process 6 times and it would take at least 6 minutes, maybe longer.) A French press could be seen as a simpler product. The AeroPress has 8 steps, whereas the French press has about 4. The design has been tried and true for decades.

Conclusion

One product is not better than the other, but one might be better for you. If your goal is to make a rich, less acidic cup of coffee in a short amount of time, the AeroPress is for you. If you need to make a bulk amount of coffee or you prefer all the natural oils and a truer taste, then a French press is better suited for your needs. No matter which product you chose, you will have a flavorful cup of coffee every time.