Moka Pot vs. French Press (Which Makes the BEST Brew!)
The Moka pot vs. French Press a battle of two popular coffee brewers, which is the BEST? Well, it seems that almost every coffee aficionado has their own forged opinion on which coffee maker brews up the best-tasting coffee and which they prefer.
However, these two brewing vessels use two entirely different ways to make a cup of coffee, so claiming that one is better than the other boils down to personal taste - it's like comparing chalk and cheese! The French Press uses full immersion brewing vs. the Moka Pot that operates in the same way as a pressure cooker to give you an “espresso like” cup of coffee.
Both are excellent ways to make a tasty cup of coffee, and it depends on what you prefer along with the amount of cleanup and pre-brew preparation you're willing to do.
Personally, I use both and alternate throughout the week depending on my mood. So if you are on the fence as to which is the BEST to buy, I’m going to give you an unbiased (or attempt to) overview of each of these coffee brewers and try to clarify the fundamental differences between the two.
The Moka Pot
The Moka Pot is an Italian stable found in almost every kitchen in Italy with Bialetti being the big name brand in the Moka Pot arena. Often called a stovetop espresso maker due to its ability to make coffee on par with an espresso, albeit a poor man’s espresso (the best espresso machines brew at about 9-bar whereas the Moka Pot only generates up to 1.5-bar of pressure). You’ll almost always find these brewers made from aluminum or stainless steel due to the need for the pot too quickly heat up and produce pressure.
The Moka Pot has three parts which all tightly fit together to form a sealed brewing container. There's the water chamber, a coffee filter that's sandwiched in the center, and a top chamber where the finished coffee is collected.
The brewing process is pretty simple. As the water slowly begins to boil the steam created in the bottom water chamber pushes the hot water up through the filter where your coffee grounds are located. The extracted coffee is then pushed up into the top chamber where it collects ready for pouring into your mug.
Making a perfect cup every time with the Moka Pot can be tricky, and there can also be some danger associated with this coffee brewer due to the pressure involved. Thankfully most Moka Pots are fitted with some type of safety valve, so accidents are infrequent.
Some tips when using the Moka Pot: always use a low heat on your stovetop so that you don’t burn your coffee. If you are using coffee that's already pre-ground fill your filter basket to the top (no need to tamp down). If you're grinding your coffee beans fresh before each brew using a coffee grinder, you’ll need to tamp them down by roughly 30% inside of the filter basket to account for the 'sifted' effect. For a FULL step-by-step detailed brew guide read this.
The French Press
The French Press uses immersion brewing rather than pressure which allows for longer steeping of the coffee which in-turn produces a more full-bodied and heavier brew as well as allowing more coffee oils into the final cup. French Press fans say that the overall extraction and taste is far superior to any other brewing method.
When it comes to the Moka Pot vs. French Press the French Presses are a lot less labor intensive and far more forgiving when it comes to the final brew; also no “baby sitting” is needed which makes the French Press perfect for the novice.
The French Press is super easy to use just place coarsely ground coffee into the glass carafe pour off the boil water over the coffee, fill to the top and leave to steep. There is no exact science as to how long to leave the coffee steeping (immersed) in the water.
However, the longer you leave it, the more bitter tasting your final cup of coffee will be due to over extraction of the immersed coffee grounds.
Once you're happy with how long the coffee has been steeping (I recommend no longer than 5 minutes) push down the plunger which houses a fine mesh which will push all of the coffee to the bottom of the carafe and keep it out of your coffee cup once poured. It really doesn’t get any more simplistic than this with coffee brewing.
If you want a more detailed overview on how to brew coffee using the French Press make sure to check out THIS helpful step-by-step guide (with pictures).
Moka Pot vs. French Press Summing up
The Moka Pot and the French Press both brew a great tasting cup of coffee. If you prefer a more espresso like coffee I would recommend the Moka Pot; it’s the closest brewer you’ll find that will give you something similar to an espresso.
Once you’ve mastered the Moka Pot, you'll find that you can get that much-loved crema! The Moka Pot also offers a much more concentrated brew vs. the French Press, but it does require a bit more leg work to get it set up and brewing.
The French Press is really super simple to use, and almost anyone can get a decent tasting cup of coffee out of it. The full immersion coffee tends to offer a fuller bodied cup bringing out much more of the coffees hidden flavors and oils.
Personally, I love the taste the French Press gives to my cup, but it really is a matter of personal taste. SterlingPro offers an excellent French Coffee Press that comes with a double walled filter to help reduce the number of coffee grounds that can slip through into your mug.
If you're moving up from a standard drip coffee maker looking for something a bit more adventurous I would recommend opting for the French Press like I said it's almost fool-proof and you're guaranteed a great tasting cup of coffee with enough left over in the French Press to share with friends.
If you don’t mind a small (minimal) learning curve, the Moka Pot is a perfect alternative to those expensive espresso machines. Bialetti offers some of the best Moka Pots like this, and they actually invented them! So you know you're getting the BEST.