Aeropress vs French Press
Do you like brewing your own coffee? Is it time to look for a new coffee maker?
For many years most home brewers would tell you the same thing: the best option is the French Press (which, amusingly enough, actually came out of Italy in 1929). It dominated the coffee brewing industry for 80 years, but in 2005 everything changed with the invention of the Aeropress, a new method of brewing coffee with a machine that looks like it came straight out of the future.
Both the Aeropress and the French Press have their share of fanatical fans, but I’ve taken the time to research each system extensively and figure out whether one method is actually better than the other.
We’ll start with the Aeropress because it’s the one you’re less likely to be familiar with. It uses a piston-style system to force coffee through a thin paper filter into a cup. The paper filter is extremely good at getting out sediment and oils, giving your coffee a distinct taste.
How do you use an Aeropress to brew coffee?
The interesting thing about the Aeropress is that there are actually two ways you can brew coffee with it. The first and most common method involves placing the Aeropress on top of a cup, filling the press with coffee and water, then inserting the plunger and pressing slowly.
Coffee drinkers have also created the inverted method, which involves placing the Aeropress backwards on top of the plunger, filling it, and flipping it onto the cup to press it. This method doesn’t really make it taste any different but it looks awesome and makes you feel more like a barista.
This type of coffee press is designed to brew only one coffee cup at a time, making it ideal if you live alone or with someone who doesn’t drink coffee.
The appeal of the Aeropress
The main advantage of this type of coffee press is the amount of versatility it offers. An Aeropress gives you the ability to experiment with different grind sizes of coffee and different brew times—it’s even possible to make your own espresso. Even better, your regular cups of coffee will only take 30 seconds to brew.
Many travelers also love these brewing systems because it is also extremely portable and durable, making it easy to take on the road.
Aerobie Aeropress Coffee Maker
Aerobie is the company that invented the Aeropress in 2005 and today they’re still the leader in a small group of companies producing these specialized coffee brewing systems. Their brewing system also comes with a tote bag so you can take it on the road easily.
- Unlike most Aeropress systems it can make up to 4 cups of coffee(two medium sized mugs)
- Specialty funnel for coffee grounds
- Large scoop
- Comes with a full years’ supply of paper microfilters
What makes it different?
The Aerobie Aeropress system is the original, which means they’ve had more time to perfect every aspect of the design.
This brewing system comes with the same potential drawbacks as any other Aeropress system: they only brew one or two cups at a time and if you’re not quick and careful they can make a massive mess. It can take several tries to perfect the movements required to brew great coffee with this system.
The Aerobie Aeropress is a durable and easy to clean brewing system you can take on the road with you and use to brew a morning cup less than a minute. It’s also a great option if you like the idea of manually brewing your coffee but you prefer the cleaner taste of coffee brewed through a paper filter.
On the other hand, you might not like this brewing system so much if you drink multiple cups of coffee in the morning, if you’re used to the taste of French Press coffee, or if you’re not very physically coordinated until after you have your coffee. The Aeropress is a highly stylized system that’s great for a specific type of coffee drinker.
MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker
Do you like Espresso? Well this altered Aeropress is the smallest Espresso maker around, ideal for frequent travelers or anyone with a small kitchen.
- Extremely compact and sleek plastic housing small enough to fit in any bag
- Simple push button system reduces the risk of mess
- Travel Espresso cup connects directly to the machine
What makes it different?
The Minipresso is unique because it’s designed specifically to make a single Espresso shot rather than a full cup of coffee.
This brewing system is so small that you can only make a single Espresso shot with it, so it isn’t ideal for anyone who prefers normal coffee or who likes to drink multiple Espressos in a row.
If you’re a fan of Espresso this is the press for you. The Minipresso is easy to use, eliminates almost all risk of mess, and makes a perfect single shot of coffee. It’s a little bit on the expensive side for a single serve brewer but it’s a lot more affordable than any electric Espresso machine on the market.
For the perfect brewing experience with either machine you’re also going to want to pick up a couple other things, the most important of them being a good coffee grinder.
Amado Coarse Grinder
This stainless steel grinder uses a ceramic grinding core to grind your coffee perfectly without changing the taste at all. At roughly 7.5 inches tall the Amado is one of the most portable manual grinders on the market.
It’s also incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is fill it with coffee, shut the grinder bottle tightly, and crank the handle for 1-3 minutes depending on how finely ground you want it.
Aeropress S Filter
Made out of stainless steel mesh, the S Filter can permanently replace the paper microfilters your Aeropress comes with. This allows you to save money and significantly reduces the impact you have on the environment. These filters have 16 rivets to keep the mesh secure no matter how hard you press on it and 100,000 tiny holes that ensure not a single ground get through.
S Filters also let the essential oils in your coffee pass through, giving you a very similar flavor to coffee made with the French Press.
Last but certainly not least, the company that produces S Filters is also a coffee roasting company and every S Filter customer gets a 30% discount on their coffee.
Blue Horse Aeropress Caddy
It may seem a little ridiculous at first but the Blue Horse Aeropress Caddy can save you a significant amount of counter space and ensure that your Aeropress dries properly after cleaning. This will help preserve the quality taste of your coffee.
The Caddy is made out of solid stainless steel and can be assembled without tools. It also has rubber feet to protect your counter tops. If you’re going to be using your Aeropress at home rather than taking it on the road this accessory is definitely worth the money.
The French Press
The French Press is probably what you’ve used since you started brewing your own coffee. It’s a classic system which takes almost no effort to set up and use, and which has virtually no risk of mess. French Presses also allow a fair amount of sediment and oil to seep into the coffee, which adds flavors many coffee drinkers love.
How do you use a French Press to brew coffee?
French Presses only have one brewing method: you fill it with hot water, put coffee beans in the top and let them brew for 3-6 minutes depending on how strong you like your coffee, and then you push the coffee beans down to the bottom of the press with a fine mesh filter attached to a long stem.
With a French Press you can generally only use coarse grinds or you risk drinking the actual grinds with your cup.
Why do people like it?
The French Press is easy to use and easy to clean. Many people who have been drinking coffee brewed with a French Press for a long time will say other coffee doesn’t seem as flavorful to them because paper filters don’t let the same amount of oil or sediment through.
You can also find French Presses in a variety of sizes, ranging from 4 cups(roughly one or two mugs) to 8 cups of coffee. This makes these brewing systems more attractive to heavy coffee drinkers or people who live with other coffee drinkers.
Last but certainly not least, French Presses are usually made with thermal glass to keep your coffee hot for at least an hour. Many can keep your coffee hot for around two hours.
The Aeropress is so new that Aerobie is still one of the only companies making them, but there are dozens of companies making high quality French Presses. Let’s take a look at some of our favorites:
Osaka Cafetiere 6 Cup Double-Walled Borosilicate Glass French Press
This attractive French Press doubles as a coffee pitcher. It is a high quality press made with only the best materials so it will last you a long time—and it’s sold for a very affordable price.
- Hand blown and double-walled Borosilicate thermal glass to keep your coffee warm for up to three hours
- Thermal shock resistance
- Hardwood cover
- Stainless steel mesh filter
- Makes 6 cups of coffee
- Dishwasher friendly
What makes it different?
The Osaka Cafetiere 6 Cup French Press is made with careful attention to every detail and the glass used is some of the most durable in the world.
You might want an 8 cup French Press, but otherwise the only potential drawbacks of the Osaka Cafetiere are characteristics of all French Presses: the taste that comes from the essential oils and the 3-5 minutes it takes to brew your coffee.
The Osaka Cafetiere is not only one of the most attractive French Presses on the market, it is also one of the best. Its fine mesh filter ensures that no grinds get through the coffee but still allows essential oils to pass, giving you the flavorful French Press taste without any risk of extra bitterness.
Le Crueset Stoneware Petite French Press
Designed to brew the single perfect cup of coffee, the Petite French Press is made with high quality stoneware instead of thermal glass. It comes in several different colors and has a handle and spout for easy pouring.
- Dense stoneware is safe for the microwave, oven, broiler, dishwasher and even the freezer
- Makes roughly one cup of high quality coffee
- Non-stick glaze inside for easy cleaning
- Fine steel mesh filter plunger
- The enamel exterior is almost completely scratch proof
What makes it different?
The Petite French Press is unique because of its dense stoneware design, which makes it shatterproof in all temperatures.
You can only brew one cup of coffee at a time in this press, so you’ll want something else if you drink a lot of coffee or plan to share your press with other coffee drinkers in the house.
The Petite French Press is a high quality press with a durable exterior that will last you many years. If you want something simple for your own personal use and you don’t drink a lot of coffee, this is the perfect press for you.
Double Walled Tea & Coffee Brewer
This stainless steel French Press is ideal for the heavy coffee drinker or family of light coffee drinkers. It has a massive capacity for a French Press—more than 1L—and stainless steel walls to keep your coffee hot for 3-4 hours.
- 1.34L capacity
- Long spoon for effective stirring
- Three part stainless steel mesh filter plunger
- 18/10 Stainless steel
- Double walled and insulated
- Dishwasher safe
What makes it different?
The main difference of the Double Walled Tea & Coffee Brewer is the sheer size of the thing. Where most French Presses only fit 1-6 cups, this brewing system can hold roughly 12 cups.
If you have an older style kitchen you may not like the look of the stainless steel and this brewer holds way too much coffee for most single people, but otherwise this is a solid machine without any potential drawbacks.
A Double Walled Tea & Coffee Brewer is the best choice if you want a French Press you can fill with coffee for the entire day and forget about until you need a refill. It doesn’t have the classic feel of the other French Presses on this list but it will still give you the classic taste you’re looking for.
Aeropress Vs. French Press: The Final Verdict
The Aeropress and the French Press both produce high quality coffee, but they come with very different brewing experiences and different tastes. Personally I prefer the French Press because there’s way less risk of making a mess in the morning, but many people prefer the speed of the Aeropress and the taste it produces.