French Press vs. Drip (Is There A Clear Winner?)
To press or drip, that’s the question many coffee aficionados often ponder; but which popular brewing method is the best? There really isn’t a clear winner and which is the best brewing method will ultimately boil down to personal preference. But with that being said, the French Press vs. Drip Coffee debate does deserve a thorough exploration outlining the pros and cons of both methods, so you’re armed with the facts when deciding to purchase a new coffee brewer.
Both the French Press and drip coffee methods are both excellent ways to brew coffee, and they are standalone methods in their own right, one being full immersion and the other being… well, drip. Let’s taker a closer look at both of these popular coffee brewing methods so you can get a clearer picture of both types.
We’ve covered the French Press a lot here at Bean Ground, and there’s no denying that this an extremely popular way of brewing coffee at home after a push button automatic coffee makers. The humble French Press has gone through a few modifications since it was first patented by an Italian designer in 1929.
So is the “French” Press Italian or French? The original press may have been made in France. Back then it was a rather primitive coffee brewing device that consisted of a metal or fabric screen that was fitted to a rod that the user would then press down into a pot of boiling water. It wasn’t until Italian designer Attilio Calimani came along that the French Press underwent a few design modifications and became the French Press that we all know and love today.
The French Press is pretty simple to use. A cylindrical glass or metal carafe is filled with coarsely ground coffee, you then pour in some just off boiling water, briefly stir, place the plunger into the coffee, allow the coffee to steep (longer = stronger/bitter), and then slowly push down the mesh plunger. The coffee grounds will then separate from the coffee. Just like any other brewing method, there is a skill to nailing the perfect French Press coffee; this step-by-step French Press brew guide is a good place to start.
Automatic Drip Machines
Automatic drip machines were born from the manual pour over method with consumers wanting a more automated brewing experience as electricity became more readily available in homes. Today, automatic drip machines are found in almost every home and office, they’re a simple and easy way to make coffee, and they take little to no effort to create a cup. Once your coffee is brewed, it will stay piping hot for hours while still in the carafe (albeit with a slow deterioration of the quality of the coffee).
Most of the best drip coffee machines are fully automated, you place your medium-ground coffee into the filter basket which holds either a paper or permanent filter, you add room temperature water into the reservoir (often located at the back of the machine), and then simply flick a switch.
The machine then takes over and will automate everything leaving no opportunity for you to tweak your coffee to your liking. Unlike the French Press that lets you control various parameters such as coffee-to-water ratios. Offering almost complete automation and the ability to keep your freshly brewed coffee hot for extended periods of time, these brewers really are ‘set and forget’ machines that will have a cup of Joe ready when you wake up in the mornings.
Manual Drip Coffee
If you take the electricity away, you are left with manual drip coffee. This brewing method is more superior in our opinion vs. the automatic drip machines. You have a lot more control over your brew with the added ability to change and tweak brewing variables on the fly. You can experiment with different water temperatures, coffee grind size, and volumes until you’re happy with your brew.
There are many different pour over coffee makers such as the Chemex, the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, and the Clever Dripper (which allows full immersion), to name just a few. Manual drip coffee is going to take some practice, and it's not as simple as just flicking a switch, but once mastered this is going to be the best way to make coffee (in our opinion).
The Brewdown French Press vs. Drip
Now that you have a better understanding of both the French Press and Drip coffee methods we are going to highlight the pros and cons of each. You’ll discover which is the fastest coffee maker, how much coffee you can brew at any one time, and how easy they are to use. After reading through the French Press vs. Drip showdown, you will know which is the better coffee brewing method for you.
When comparing the French Press vs. Drip one of the most important factors to take into consideration is the brewing capacity; just how much coffee can it brew! If you live alone, have a large family, or an office full of coworkers how much coffee you can brew is obviously going to be a deciding factor.
The French Press: even though the French Press is a small cylindrical pot, it can brew enough coffee for 1 or up to 12 cups depending on the size purchased.
Automatic Drip Machines: with automatic drip brewers you have multiple options. There are drip machines that will serve just a single cup and others that can knock out up to 14 cups; which should be enough for an office full of caffeine craving colleagues.
Manual Drip Brewer: these can brew up enough coffee for 1 or 2 people (depending on the size of your mug). However, the Chemex offers the most flexibility with various cup sizes from 3, 6 or 8 cups.
Winner: Automatic Drip Machines
Time: Bean To Brew
Which gives you a faster cup of Joe, the French Press or Drip? Let's be honest; there is nothing worse than stumbling around the kitchen first thing in the morning trying to get that much-needed hit of caffeine so you can function as a human being. So which method can brew up coffee the fastest might be a deciding factor.
The French Press: with the French Press you can expect to have your coffee brewed anywhere between 5 to 8 minutes. This time includes boiling your water and allowing for steeping (brew time).
Automatic Drip Machines: drip is marginally longer at around 5 to 10 minutes depending on the brewer. However, there are fast coffee makers that can knock out coffee in under 5 minutes. With automatic drip machines, you have to wait for the water to heat up and then allow the machine to run its preset cycle.
Manual Drip Brewer: manual drip is very similar to the French Press regarding brewing time. Remember you’re in control, not a machine, typically you can fill a 6 cup Chemex in under 5 minutes with additional time needed to boil your water. With automatic drip, you can use pre-ground coffee, and the French Press at a push can also use pre-ground coffee from the supermarket shelves, but most manual drip brewing methods will require that you grind your own coffee beans, so you will have to factor this into the overall time as well.
Winner: French Press
Ease Of Use
When it comes to French Press vs. Drip, you’ll have to take into consideration just how easy it's going to be to brew your coffee. Do you want to simply push a button or would you prefer to take some time to learn how to brew coffee just the way you like it?
French Press and Manual Drip: with both the French Press and Manual Drip you have control over all of the brewing variables such as grind size, water temperature, and brew time. How long you let the coffee steep (brew) will affect how your coffee tastes. Just like the grind size in the manual drip will affect how quickly the water passes through your coffee grounds, which in turn will give you a weaker or stronger cup of coffee.
French Press and manual drip will take a bit of practice however once mastered you cannot compare it to automatic drip coffee, French Press and Manual Drip is simply BETTER coffee. You may struggle at first, but the brewing will become super easy and second nature once you get the hang of it.
Automatic Drip Machines: obviously automatic drip is going to be the simplest brewing method. All you need to do is measure the correct amount of ground coffee, add it to the machine, add some water to the reservoir, press a button and sit back and relax; but does that mean the coffee is better? Some machines will allow a bit of control, but the manual drip and French Press are where you have almost full control over how your coffee is brewed.
Winner: Automatic Drip Machines
Verdict: French Press vs. Drip Which Is Better?
After looking at this showdown brewdown, you would think that the automatic drip is the clear winner. While this is true when looking at the results, it doesn’t mean that it makes the best tasting cup. Any coffee lover knows that how the coffee tastes is going to be the biggest factor over how many cups or how fast you can get you coffee into your mug.
At the end of the day, it’s the taste we crave, okay maybe the caffeine, but you get my point. There can be only one winner as far as we are concerned here at Bean Ground, and that is the Manual Drip.