The French press vs the AeroPress is the battle between the old and the new.
The French press was in spite of its name invented in Italy almost hundred years ago, while the AeroPress was launched in 2005.
Both devices are called something with ‘press,’ but after that, the similarities are few.
- The Aeropress is a unique brewing method that has particular advantages and a few disadvantages.
- The French press is an efficient no-frills brewing method that anyone who has been to a diner is already familiar with.
This article will take a closer look at both and hopefully help you decide which is better suited to you. (If you wanna go deep down the Aeropress rabbit hole, check out my advanced guide.)
- Great for travel
- Fast & Efficient
- Versatile: You can brew both drip coffee and espresso style
- Extremely durable… Almost indestructible
- Great for brewing larger batches
- Makes strong coffee with a big body
- Easy to use
As its name suggests, the Aeropress utilizes manual power to push a piston against a paper filter for a quick brew.
The “standard” brewing method requires:
- Placing the Aeropress, which is a nesting set of plastic cylinders, on top of a cup.
- You then fill it with coffee and hot water.
- The second cylinder is then pushed through and forces the liquid and grounds through a paper filter.
This mechanism produces a clean cup of coffee. The Aeropress’ paper filters prevent any particulates or unwanted oils from getting into your brew.
This way of brewing is exceptionally efficient, producing a cup of coffee within 1-3 minutes. The polypropylene body is durable and nearly indestructible while still looking elegant and modern
French press basics
The French press is a straightforward brewing method that involves a glass chamber, called a carafe, and a metal filter that presses to the bottom of the carafe, filtering out coffee grounds.
Brewing is straightforward:
- Coffee grounds and hot water are poured into the carafe and extracted for a set amount of time.
- Then, the slurry is filtered, and your coffee is ready.
Unlike the Aeropress, the French press allows some sediment and oil to seep into the coffee, which may be desirable depending on the drinker’s preference.
The extraction time of the coffee depends on the bean and individual preference. Anywhere between 3-12 minutes could work. Although the French press is somewhat slower vs the Aeropress, it’s a relatively hands-off process.
The main body of the Aeropress is made primarily of molded polypropylene, which is a rather sturdy plastic. Being clumsy and dropping an Aeropress isn’t a big deal. I have never heard of one breaking from regular use or accidents. Some users have described it as “basically indestructible,” and that’s probably fair.
It also comes with a one-year warranty automatically by the manufacturer. The paper filters are disposable, so if you completely ruin one cup, your Aeropress will still be fine!
The glass carafe of the French press is pretty damn fragile. I have to admit I have broken quite a few of them.
Using one, especially when washing, requires some measure of attention, since dropping it even a foot or two will definitely destroy it. The mesh itself can sometimes become warped and clogged if you accidentally use a grind that is not coarse enough and should be washed with some care.
Winner: The Aeropress is a lot more sturdy. Easy victory.
The Aeropress comes in a single size and can make only a single cup of coffee at a time. This can be an issue on the off chance that you are making coffee for a group of people since it will take 1-3 minutes per cup. The absolute maximum is about 12 oz of coffee at a time with approximately, and that does require making a stronger brew and diluting with water… Almost like a giant americano.
The French press comes in a variety of sizes big and small depending on the manufacturer. Because of its super simple design and lack of real technique, brewing a massive amount depends only on how large the glass carafe is. You just add more coffee and water, and that’s it.
Winner: The French press knocks out the Aeropress almost immediately in this round.
The Aeropress offers a clean cup of coffee due to its exacting paper filter, which does not allow very much sedimentation or oils to pass it if it at all.
(By the way, you can also use paper filtration with this French press technique)
This kind of flavor clarity can be fantastic if you are into experimenting with different types of beans, grind sizes, water temperatures, or other parameters. The differences in brewing method, even mild, will be tasted due to the clarity in the flavor profile that the Aeropress produces.
The French press, generally, does not produce a “clean cup,” but instead delivers a full-body cup of coffee with some sedimentation and plenty of the oils extracted from the coffee grounds. This flavor profile is perfect for those who prefer a bold, strong coffee or a classic dark roast. The downside is that mouthfeel and body may muddy the more subtle flavors.
Winner: Personally, I like the subtle flavors of a lighter roast, but I know plenty of more old-school coffee drinkers who crave the hard-hitting impact of an intensely brewed French press. Let’s call this one a tie.
It’s a close call but I have to give the victory to the Aeropress.
This item is ideal for coffee geeks who like to experiment with different coffee and brewing parameters. People who prefer tasting subtle fruity flavors in lighter roasts would benefit from the clean flavor profile that is produced by an Aeropress.
The clean flavor also changes quickly with tiny changes, including grind size, extraction time, water temperature, and others. This diversity is what makes the brewer so appreciated, but it can also be unforgiving. A small change can either be transformational, either positively or negatively which makes it perfect for the experimental coffee geek.
This brewing device is also an amazing option for the frequent traveler or camping enthusiast who wants a portable way to brew a decent cup of coffee without fear of breaking the brewing apparatus.