Every brewing method has its own charm and influence on the taste profile of coffee. The simple drip coffee is good enough to get you through a long day at work. And on certain days, you like to indulge in a shot of espresso after a nice meal.
Pour over and french press methods let you achieve the highest quality brews.
Both french press and pour over are manual brewing methods that give you full control over brewing temperature and time. Result? A bold, aromatic cup of coffee that you can prepare in a snap.
Deciding on which brewing method will suit your lifestyle and taste preference can be difficult. And since life is too short to spend way too much time hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, I’ll make this easier for you.
In this guide, I’ll draw a detailed comparison of french press vs pour over coffee, explain the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
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Pour Over Coffee Overview:
My grandpa’s favorite brewing style, making pour-over coffee is an experience you don’t want to miss out on. When done properly, a pour-over brewer produces a very clean tasting brew, something even the most expensive drip machines can’t replicate.
Pour-over method works by slowly drizzling hot water on a flatbed of coffee grounds. Doing so allows you to extract maximum flavors from the beans, resulting in an unforgettable cup of coffee.
How Does Pour Over Brewing Technique Work?
Choosing the correct water temperature, pouring technique, and brewing time are important. If you are completely new to pour-over brewing or you need suggestions on how to improve the taste of your pour-over coffee, you’ve come to the right place.
Below I have laid out the steps you need to follow to achieve a well-rounded, aromatic brew with pour-over method.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Dosing
If you are using premium quality blonde roast coffee, I recommend 22 grams of coffee per 350 ml (12 oz) water. If you want a stronger cup, use 30 grams per 350 ml of water.
Step 2: Boiling Water
For a 20 oz pour-over, bring at least 600 ml water to a boil in a gooseneck kettle. Ideally, the water temperature should be between 197-202 degrees F for proper extraction.
Step 3: Adding Filter in the Dripper
Place your pour-over dripper on a cup or carafe, add the filter in the dripper and rinse it 4-5 times by gently drizzling hot water on it.
This step is critical as you don’t want the taste of paper seeping into your cup. Once the rinsing is done, empty the cup and place the whole setup on a weighing scale.
Step 4: Blooming the Coffee Grounds
Next up, add the coffee and tap gently to level the surface of the coffee grounds. Slowly pour about 30-60 ml of hot water on the coffee bed, making sure all the grounds are saturated.
Wait for 30 seconds and notice the bubbles. This process is called blooming or degassing, which is an indicator of the freshness of the coffee.
Step 5: Pouring and Brewing
This is by far the most important step of the process. Start a timer and gently pour the rest of the water on the coffee grounds in a swirling motion. Start pouring from the outer edge and steadily move towards the centre.
Pause pouring and allow the coffee to drip for about 15 seconds every now and then. Pour, pause, and repeat this way until the weighing scale reaches 350 grams. If the grind size is right, it will take you about 3-4 minutes to finish brewing.
That’s it. Your pour-over coffee is ready to be savored.
What Filters to Use for Pour Over Coffee Dripper?
For starters, you will need a pour-over brewer which is basically a coffee dripper made of heat-resistant glass. These coffee drippers come in different sizes, ranging from 1-6 cups.
For Hario V60 and similar cone-shaped pour-over drippers, you will need #2 to #4 cone filters.
Chemex coffee makers come with their own proprietary bleached bonded filters. However, I figure they can be expensive and hard to find at times.
So, can you use other filters with Chemex? Definitely. #6 cone-shaped natural filters will easily fit a Chemex.
How Do You Make the Perfect Pour Over? – Mastering the Water Pouring Technique
The secret to getting a balanced, clean-tasting brew is mastering the water pouring technique. To achieve the right taste, you will need to invest in a gooseneck kettle.
I will strongly recommend against using a regular kettle for pour-over.
Gooseneck kettles have been traditionally used for pour-over brewers for a simple reason. The thin spout provides a great deal of control over the pouring speed placement. Pour-over brewing is all about consistency, which is impossible to achieve with a wide spouted kettle.
Advantages of Pour Over Coffee
Here are a few reasons why I believe pour-over coffee is a gift from coffee gods to humans-
#. It Brings out the Finer Qualities of Coffee Beans
Pour over is essentially an infusion method. It allows you to highlight the nuanced, intricate flavors of high-quality coffee beans. If you believe in freshly roasted and ground single-origin coffee supremacy, pour-over brewing should be the way to go.
#. It’s Fun
Granted, the pour-over method is a time-consuming, labor-intensive brewing process. But your labor of love will be a delicate, perfectly balanced cup of coffee.
So the extra effort and time required to ensure a thorough saturation of the ground are totally worth it.
For me personally, slowly drizzling hot water on freshly ground coffee grounds is a therapeutic experience. It’s a great way to jumpstart my mornings.
#. It Gives Total Control over the Brewing Process
Baristas and coffee nerds adore this manual brewing process for this very reason. With a pour over brewer, you can try and test endless combinations of coffee to water ratios till you find what works out for you the best.
You can also freely experiment with the grind size, brewing time, and water temperature to see what yields the most desirable brew.
Disadvantages of Pour Over
There isn’t really a noteworthy disadvantage of opting for a pour-over brewing method unless all you need is a quick cup of coffee.
Pour over is anything but quick. If you don’t wish to commit to the process yet, there are alternative brewing styles that offer a great-tasting cup, minus all the fuss.
How Pour Over Coffee Tastes Like?
The clarity of flavor offered by the pour-over brewing method is hard to contest. The infusion time is considerably longer in the pour-over process. This allows the water adequate time to extract delicate flavors and aroma from the grounds.
This yields vibrant flavors that are impossible to reproduce using any other manual brewing method.
Who Is It for?
It’s a misconception that pour-over brewing is only meant for seasoned brewers. Even a beginner can achieve pour-over perfection with a little patience, practice, and a great pour-over coffee maker.
If you would like to be able to control each step of the brewing process, opt for pour over.
Those who prefer lighter brews and stick to light-medium roasted coffee beans will be able to get the most utility out of the pour-over method.
French Press Coffee Overview
French press brewer, cafetière, coffee plunger – different names but same function. French press is a manual coffee brewing that requires a carafe made of borosilicate glass or double-layered stainless steel.
All french press machines come with a coffee plunger and two to four fine mesh screens.
How Does It work?
French press brewing is an immersion brewing technique. Making a full-flavored cup of coffee using a french press machine is a cinch if you follow a few simple rules.
Step 1: Dosing
The golden rule of thumb when it comes to dosing coffee for the french press is using the 1:12 coffee to water ratio. This means you will need about 20 grams or 3 heaping tablespoons of coffee grounds for every 12 oz (354 ml) of water.
Step 2: Heating Water
Don’t pour boiling water into a french press, never! It will burn the coffee grounds, resulting in a bitter-tasting brew. Instead, take the water off the boil or if you have a thermometer, use it to heat the water precisely to 200 degrees F for optimal flavor extraction.
Step 3: Immersing Coffee in Water
Add the right amount of coffee grounds in the carafe, add hot water, give it a good stir (don’t whisk it). Put the lid on, making sure the plunger is pulled all the way up. Wait for 3-4 minutes while the coffee steeps.
Step 4: Coffee is Ready
Slowly pull the plunger all the way down and immediately pour all coffee into the cups or transfer to another carafe. Don’t let the coffee sit in the french press or the coffee will continue to brew and turn rancid.
Pro tip: Preheating the french press carafe with hot water before brewing. It will prevent temperature fluctuation during the brewing process. All you have to do is add some hot water in the carafe, swirl it around and discard it before adding coffee and water.
Using a weighing scale for dosing is the only foolproof way of dosing coffee. It’s okay to use measuring spoons but if you are a sucker for perfection, the measure by weight. Always.
Advantages of Using a French Press Coffee Maker
Here are a few good reasons why you must not miss out on french press coffee-
#. It Yields Full-bodied Coffee
If full-bodied coffee is what your heart is after, think french press coffee. French press coffee makers don’t use a filter like a pour-over brewer or drip machine.
This allows the final brew to retain all the coffee oils extracted from the beans. Paper or reusable filters soak most of the coffee oils, resulting in a lighter-bodied coffee.
The fine mesh screen passes robust flavors and a heady aroma into your cup, which is something most coffee connoisseurs aim for.
#. It Lets You Customize Your Coffee
The french press brewing method allows you to calibrate water to coffee ratio, water temperature, and brew time to suit your unique taste.
By adding or reducing the amount of coffee or bumping up the steeping time, you can noticeably alter the taste of your coffee.
#. It’s Travel-friendly
I don’t think the portability of the french press gets highlighted enough. It’s easily the most portable coffee maker you can carry with you on hiking trips, camping, or trekking.
It doesn’t have any electrical components and all the parts, i.e the plunger and mesh filters fit into the beaker.
The entire piece is one small unit that will fit into any travel bag. All you need is access to hot water, a cup, and a spoon to get going.
If you refuse to live without freshly brewed coffee, no matter where you’re traveling, choose a french press and thank me later.
#. It’s Economical
A standard french press coffee maker is significantly cheaper than electric drip machines and pod coffee makers. Moreover, the cost of buying tons of paper filters is off the table.
You can invest in a high-quality french press with a 4-stage superior filtration system without spending an arm and a leg.
Disadvantages of French Press Brewing
Like almost all things in the world, french press brewing isn’t also devoid of downsides. For instance,
#. Cleaning Is a Pain
The thought of discarding the grounds and cleaning the microfilters after every brew deeply annoys me.
Every once in a while, you will have to disassemble the filter setup and thoroughly scape off and rinse out all the grounds, and then re-assemble the filters.
It’s not nearly as quick and effortless as taking the filter out and emptying it in the trash.
#. Some Sediments Make Their Way into the Cup
A small number of sediments will almost inevitably seep into your cup from the beaker. If that sort of thing really bothers you, the french press won’t be your thing.
Having said that, you can effectively avoid coffee grounds with the help of multiple microfilters.
How Does French Press Coffee Taste Like?
Highly aromatic and teeming with robust flavors – a cup of fresh-pressed coffee is like a carnival in your mouth. It is because the full-immersion method and absence of paper filters allow all the coffee oils to be released into the brew.
These coffee oils are the real deal and impart that distinct coffee flavor into the decoction.
Who Is It for?
French press is way more forgiving of wrong dosing and grind size than pour-over coffee or espresso. New to manual brewing and prefer rich-tasting, full-bodied brew? I would confidently recommend you to get a french press coffee maker.
French Press vs Pour Over Coffee – Detailed Comparison
Now that you have a working knowledge of how french press and pour-over brewing methods work, it’s time for a head-to-head comparison between french press vs pour-over.
A traditional 34 oz. french press coffee consisting of a borosilicate glass beaker, stainless steel base, and fine mesh screen, and two stainless steel mesh filters can cost anywhere between $18-$37.
Excluding Chemex, most pour-over drippers including the revered Hario V60 come in affordable price. However, the cost of paper filters quickly adds up over time. Hence, the french press emerges as the winner of this round, by a very small margin.
The average brewing time for both french press and pour-over is 3-4 minutes. However, the pour-over method takes slightly longer due to the sheer number of steps involved.
To get the best brew with pour-over, you have to drizzle a very little amount of water at a time, pause for a few seconds, and repeat the process until you obtain the desired quantity of coffee.
With a french press, you just heat water, add the coffee and water in the beaker, mix and wait.
If you want fast, choose french press, and if you would like to take your sweet time extracting every last ounce of flavor from the coffee grounds, go for pour-over.
As I have mentioned before, cleaning the french press coffee maker is an arduous process due to its fine mesh screen filter setup.
To get the grounds out of the filters, you will have to take them apart, rinse, and put them back on. It’s not difficult, just a little annoying when you are in a hurry.
To clean your Chemex or pour-over coffee brewer, all you need to do is carefully take the paper filter out and toss it out. Rinse the glass cone with water and be done with it.
For a periodic thorough cleanup, wash your coffee dripper with mild soap and warm tap water. A vinegar bath (for Hario V60) or vinegar flush (for Chemex) once a week will leave your pour-over coffee maker looking brand new and smelling fresh.
If you are using lightly roasted specialty coffee, the pour-over method will allow the nuanced flavors of the beans to shine. The longer infusion time yields a delicate, clean-tasting cup that lets you identify and enjoy the more subtle notes of the coffee.
A french pressed coffee, on the other hand, is a rich, robust, full-bodied brew that can be enjoyed both black and with creamer.
This method is well-suited for medium-dark to dark roasted coffees.
Ease of Use
The french press brewing method, without a doubt, is much easier to master for anyone. The pour-over technique requires both precision and patience.
My Top 3 Picks for the Best Pour Over Coffee Makers
Needs no introduction. The ingenious design and proprietary bonded filter of Chemex dramatically enhance the flavor and texture of the brew.
Almost as good as Chemex but not as expensive. The only improvement it can borrow from Chemex is the shape of the spout.
In Chemex, the spout acts as an air vent that regulates the flow of filtering more effectively.
Affordable, durable, easy-to-use, it’s quite hard to go wrong with this classic pour-over brewer.
My Top 3 Picks for the Best French Press Coffee Makers
The classic Bodum french press provides a full-flavored brew and doesn’t ruin your experience with coffee residue at the bottom of the cup.
Glass carafes turning your brew cold by the time the filtering process is complete? This double-wall stainless steel carafe will solve the problem for good.
Apart from impressive aesthetics, the remarkable quality of fine mesh filters also makes it a worthy choice for coffee snobs.
Q. Is pour-over coffee better than french press?
A. Depends on how YOU define better. The pour-over method yields a delicate cup, something coffee connoisseurs will highly appreciate. You can taste all the intricate flavors of your beans in pour-over coffee.
When you sip a french pressed coffee, you will feel a burst of flavors in your mouth. For those who like a strong-tasting cup that will jolt them out of sleep, a french press would be a better option.
Q. Why is french press coffee bad for you?
A. The high concentration of fatty esters such as cafestol and kahweol in a standard serving of french press coffee can slightly increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) level.
However, the spike in LDL is very small and nothing to lose sleep over unless you are drinking more than 5 cups a day.
Q. Can I use pre-ground coffee for pour-over?
A. You most certainly can but to allow a pour-over coffee maker to reach its full potential, you should try grinding freshly roasted coffee beans right before brewing.
Q. Which coffee brewing method is the healthiest?
A. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, filtering coffee with a paper filter is the safest way to brew coffee.
Filtered coffee has significantly lesser amounts of bad cholesterol-increasing compounds like cafestol compared to unfiltered coffee.
Q. What is a blonde roast Pour over?
A. A blonde roast is essentially lightly roasted premium-grade coffee. The light roasting allows the intricate, subtle flavors of the coffee to shine, making it a perfect choice of coffee for pour-over brewers.
Q. Why is Chemex coffee so good?
A. The double bonded filters of Chemex are denser than regular paper filters. Thus, they can slow down the flow of water passing through the coffee bed, allowing enough time for the flavors to develop.
The 30% thicker filters also remove a good amount of unsavory fats and oils, leaving you with a vibrant and clean-tasting brew.
We are finally at the very end of the french press vs pour-over coffee debate. I hope this guide cleared up all the doubts you had in mind and nudged you in the right direction.
Long story short, coffee snobs who want to enjoy the complex notes of custom roasted premium AAA grade arabica beans should definitely choose the pour-over method.
The resulting brew is worth the effort. Those who won’t settle for anything other than a bold cup of java will find the french press method more up to their liking.