The Best Coffee Grinder for French Press Coffee (Side-By-Side)

The French press is undoubtedly one of the most popular methods for making high quality coffee among home baristas. It’s unrivaled in both its simplicity and its ability to tease delicate and complex flavors from the coffee beans being used.

But beans aren’t everything when it comes to making delicious coffee. As anyone who has ever tried to make French press at home will know, the quality of the grind is second to none. And achieving the perfect grind starts with having the best coffee grinder for French press.

Coffee Grinders for French Press: A Quick Round-up

First, here’s a short roundup for you to skim through:
These are the coffee grinders we’ve selected – and further on in this article we’ll explain in detail our selection criteria. We’ve also included our own reviews for each grinder, and answers to all of your questions about coffee grounds for French Press.



Price

Pros & Cons

Caffeine Fiend Award
Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Baratza Encore Burr Grinder
$139.99+ Wide range of coarseness settings.
+ Simple to operate
+ Produces consistent and uniform grinds

Louder than hand grinders
Quite basic and doesn’t contain any extra features
Fairly expensive
Best Overall Coffee Grinder
JavaPress Manual Coffee Grinder
JavaPress Manual Grinder
$23.99+ Extremely affordable
+ Produces a consistent grind
+ Multiple grind settings that are easy to adjust

Requires some effort in order to grind the beans
Can be slightly inconvenient to hold
Best Budget Coffee Grinder
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Oxo Brew Cronical Burr Grinder
$99.99+ Efficient and produces a consistent grind
+ Easy to clean
+ Cheaper price tag than other electric grinders

Fairly loud
Draws quite a bit of electricity. 
Best Value for Money
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
Cuisinart Automatic Burr Grinder
$36.28+ Affordable entry level grinder
+ Attractive and sleek design
+ Produces a relatively consistent grind

Not as consistent as many of the other grinders on this list
Best Entry Level Electric Coffee Grinder
Khaw-Fee Manual Coffee Grinder
Khawfe Manual Coffee Grinder
$26.42+ Attractive and sleek construction
+ Very affordable
+ Very consistent and uniform grinds with many settings to choose from

Glass grinds catcher can be quite fragile if dropped
Best Manual Coffee Grinder
Comandante C40 MK3 Hand Grinder
Comandante Hand Grinder
$250.00+ Extremely consistent grinding ability
+ Beautiful and high quality design and construction
+ Perhaps the highest quality grinder on the market

Fairly steep price tag
Best Premium Coffee Grinder

Respect the Grind(er)!

What about pre-ground beans?

There’s nothing wrong with using pre-ground beans per se. In fact, many amateur coffee aficionados start out this way before they gain a deeper understanding of manual grinding and brewing techniques. However, it’s not perfect.

The main issue is the fineness of the grinds. The French press requires medium to coarse grinds for the best possible coffee, whereas store-bought pre-ground coffee tends to be extremely fine and suitable for other styles such as espresso or drip coffee. This type of grind is going to filter straight through the mesh filter of the French press, leaving a gritty residue in your mug.

We’re not bashing pre-ground beans. There are some excellent roasts made by extremely competent baristas out there. But if you want to extract the best, most delicate flavors when using the French press method, then grinding your own beans is definitely the way to go.

Down to grind.

So by this point we should have convinced you that grinding your own beans is not only important, it’s crucial. The question is why? What makes home-ground beans so superior to their store-bought cousins?

As we mentioned above, one of the main parameters has to do with fineness, or particle size. The French press requires a medium to coarse grind in order to achieve the best results. This isn’t only because some of the particles will end up in your final product (although that’s one reason), it also has to do with taste and extraction.

The ideal range for French  press uses about 100 to 300 particles of grinds. For comparison, espresso generally needs around 3500. On top of this you also want uniformity to your grinds to prevent over or under extraction.

Because maximum surface area is necessary for full-extraction, a medium to coarse grind will allow for more exposure when added to hot water. This allows for a more thorough and complete extraction. This also allows for a more efficient carbon dioxide release when the grinds are steeping, adding even greater nuance to the final flavor of your coffee.

So to sum it up – if your grind is too fine, you’ll end up with a slurry mess equivalent to sludge. If your grind is too coarse you’re not going to be able to get the most flavors or aromas from your beans.


French Press Coffee Grinders: Our Criteria For Quality

To really determine which are the best coffee grinders for French press, we’ve carefully reviewed a number of the top grinders on the market. It goes without saying that if you’re reading this guide then you’re serious about making a decent cup of coffee. You’re spending money on quality beans and you don’t want that compromised by a poor or mediocre grind.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the following qualities that we believe a good coffee grinder for French press coffee should have. 

– Consistency

You’ll see this word used a lot in this guide and others, and for good reason. The ability of the grinder to produce consistently fine or coarse grinds is one, if not the, most telling quality of a good grinder. A French press requires a coarse grind, and so you’re going to want a grinder that can deliver this every time without fail. 

Grinders are generally divided into two categories – blade and burr. While blade grinders do have their uses, they generally lack the consistency and accuracy that burr grinders deliver. And since this guide is about achieving the best results, we’ve decided to focus entirely on burr grinders.

– Manual, or Electric?

Another good way in which we’ve categorised grinders is whether they’re manual or electric. Neither is particularly better than the other and it largely comes down to which one you prefer.

A manual grinder has the benefit of being way quieter. Since it’s cranked by hand and doesn’t contain a motor, you can make coffee at all times of the day without worrying about noise. They’re also small and portable, meaning you can bring them with you on a camping or business trip and enjoy quality coffee wherever you go.

However, they’re also slow and laborious to use. Loading beans and grinding by hand is a time-consuming process that also requires you to break a slight sweat. Electric grinders, on the other hand, are great if you’re impatient for your morning cup of coffee and don’t want to work for it.

– Range of Use

If you’re investing in the best coffee grinder for French press, then you’re going to want a device that can do more than simply deliver coarse grinds. Grinders are versatile machines, and while producing consistent grinds for French press might be your goal, it’s never a bad idea to pick up one with a broader range of settings.

If you’re someone who only drinks French press occasionally, then maybe you want a grinder that can produce finer grinds for a weekend espresso. We took this into account when reviewing our favorites so you can rest assured that the suggested grinders can be used for a variety of different coffee styles.

– Size

As mentioned above, hand grinders tend to be smaller and more portable. Electric grinders on the other hand, can take up a hefty amount of counter space in the kitchen. 

If you’ve got the space and are more concerned with grind consistency, then this shouldn’t matter too much. However, this should always be a consideration when deciding on which grinder to purchase.

– Price

And of course the final aspect to consider is price. Grinders, both manual and electric, are available across a variety of different price ranges. Obviously not everyone can afford the highest-end grinder on the market, and so we’ve taken this into account.

You can find a decent grinder that won’t break the bank, but it’s generally a safe bet that if you’re investing a fair amount into it then you’re going to get great, consistent returns. It all depends on your budget and how much you’re willing to pay for the best coffee grinder for French press.


Top Coffee Grinders for French Press Coffee: The Breakdown


1. Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Best Overall French Press Coffee Grinder

With 40 different grind settings, the Baratza Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is a godsend for those looking for some variety and specificity when it comes to the coarseness of their grinds. It’s also why it’s made the top of the list as the overall best coffee grinder for French press. It’s able to deliver consistent and uniform coarseness and is perfect for creating the ultimate French press grinds.

The price tag, however, might scare away a few prospective buyers. At $140, the Baratza is a lot more expensive than some of the other grinders on this list – but it’s worth it. The fact that it’s electric and can grind continually and consistently sets it a league above many other grinders. And so $140 is a relatively small price to pay for the functionality present in this machine.

2. JavaPress Manual Coffee Grinder

Best Budget Grinder

Priced at only $23.99, the JavaPress is a conical burr hand grinder that is small not only in price but in stature too. It’s the perfect entry level grinder for someone who’s testing the waters when it comes to home grinding, but doesn’t want to splash out on the most intricate tool.

Equipped with over 15 coarseness settings, the JavaPress gives you a level of grind control not seen on many other grinders within this price range. It’s got a solid, clean and attractive design and grinds relatively quietly, especially compared to its electric counterparts. It’s also sporting ceramic burrs, which means it’s going to last about five times longer than its stainless steel burr counterparts.

3. OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Best Value For Money

The OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is a smart and beautiful piece of equipment that delivers grind functionality without a huge price tag. At $99 it’s very moderately priced for what it delivers. 

Whereas many other electric grinders rely on a timer in order to process the coffee beans, the OXO uses an integrated scale. This smart technology means that the grinder can accurately detect the precise amount of coffee being ground. This gives home baristas that additional specificity which so many love. 

The interface of the OXO is also great. The entire machine is controlled with only one button and dial, making the grinding process fun and intuitive. If there’s criticism to lever it’s that the grinds sometimes tended towards being too coarse.

That being said, the OXO is still a beautiful piece of equipment that is worth buying, especially if smart technology and precision are important to you.

4. Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

Best Entry Level Electric Coffee Grinder

If you’re keen to dabble in home grinding but aren’t comfortable with buying more expensive, sophisticated equipment, then the Cuisiniart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill is your answer. At just $36, it delivers pretty good results without ever setting your wallet on fire.

The design is cute and it will never look off in any kitchen, but for this price point you’re definitely not going to get the most hard-hitting functionality. The grinds won’t always be consistent or uniform, but for a beginner home barista this should do the job adequately. It may not be the best coffee grinder for French press, but it certainly does a decent job.

5. Khaw-Fee Manual Coffee Grinder

Best Manual French Press Coffee Grinder

If you’re looking for something delivers consistent, uniform grinds, is small enough to keep at home as well as take travelling with you, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Khaw-Fee Manual Coffee Grinder. Going for just $26.42, it’s an absolute steal as well.

The Khaw-Fee is not only ideal for producing grinds suitable for French press, but also for various other styles of coffee. Its easily adjustable settings means you have complete control of the coarseness of your grind. What’s more, since the Khaw-Fee is manual, it’s near silent, meaning you can grind coffee in the morning without ever having to wake your loved ones. 

Featuring an attractive plastic and glass construction, the grinder also comes apart for easy and effortless cleaning. If you can fault the Khaw-Fee on something this would be it. While the design is beautiful, the glass grinds catcher is fragile and can break if dropped. 

6. Comandante C40 MK3 Hand Grinder

Best Premium Coffee Grinder

If quality is what you want and you’ve got the budget to match it, then the Comandante C40 MK3 is going to be your coffee grinder match made in heaven. Selling at a considerable $250.00, the C40 MK3 isn’t just a grinder, it’s a work of art.

With a body constructed from high quality wood and burrs made of high-alloyed, nitrogen stainless steel, the C40 MK3 is not only pretty, but exceedingly functional too. Grinding coffee is a smooth and effortless experience, and beans are transformed into grinds with only moderate amounts of force.

And while the C40 MK3 is the best coffee grinder for French press, it can handle every other variety too, grinding fine enough even for espresso. This grinder just works on every level, and it’s workmanship is apparent in every aspect of its simple yet powerful design and functionality. 

Seriously, if you can afford it and you’re serious about French press coffee, buy the Comandante C40 MK3.

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.

AeroPress vs French Press: What You Need to Know

Espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, AeroPress and French press – these are just some of the more popular styles of coffee on offer when visiting your average coffee shop. They’re designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes, and this often leads to a lot of amicable disagreement about which style is the best.

The answer, as you might imagine, isn’t so straightforward and requires quite a bit of unpacking.

While it does depend in part on your taste and preferred style, many coffee experts across the board all agree on one thing: when it comes to brewing coffee at home, it’s hard to beat press style coffee. And at the forefront of the press movement are the two firm favorites: the French press and the Aeropress. 

But what sets these apart from other brewing methods, and what makes them so superior? At first glance it might not even seem obvious, especially since both contraptions look quite similar in style and produce a similarly high quality cup of coffee. The details are in the process, however, and it’s this that has placed them firmly in the good graces of coffee afficandios across the world.

The secret? Hot water and pressure and lots of it. Utilizing these two factors in both the Aeropress and the French press provides the means to expertly manipulate and extract delicate flavors where other methods fall short.


What do French Press and AeroPress have in common? 

As we mentioned briefly above, to the layman who doesn’t know too much about coffee production, the AeroPress and French press might look similarly strange. Both feature a plunger mechanism and a large chamber for storing liquid, and they also rely on the same mechanism for actually brewing the coffee – steadily applied pressure.

Unlike other methods which rely on complicated coffee machinery, these two tools are remarkably simple. Both use very few moving parts and rely on first steeping the coffee grinds before filtering them out and extracting the final product. It’s this steeping technique – all called immersion – that is unique from other coffee production methods.

The process of steeping coffee grounds allows for a lot of control over brewing variables which ultimately affect the final flavor. These variables include the steeping time, the temperature of the water, the amount of coffee grinds used and the volume of hot water added.

But for all their similarities, they’re still very distinct pieces of equipment.

AeroPress vs French Press – The Big Difference: 

Mechanically, the major differences between the French press and the AeroPress have to do with the way in which the coffee grinds are filtered. While both methods rely on steeping the coffee grinds in order to extract the flavor, the filters they employ to the job are quite different.

The AeroPress relies on a very fine, disposable paper filter in order to filter out the coffee grinds, while the French press utilizes a much more coarse steel filter which is attached to the plunger. The AeroPress also uses air pressure in order to force water through the filter and separate the grinds, while with the French Press the grinds are separated by being forced to the bottom of the chamber.

The use of a paper filter in the AeroPress means that a lot of the essential oils and aromatic essences of the coffee are going to be filtered out, while the coarser filter used in the French press allows them through. The trade-off for losing some of this intensity is that an AeroPress is going to deliver a much more balanced and consistent cup of coffee.

That being said, if you want don’t want to settle for your standard AeroPress kit, you can always invest in a set of reusable stainless steel filters of varying finenesses to take it to the next level. This will give you greater control of your coffee’s flavor, acidity and intensity. 


AeroPress Coffee

What is it?

But for all of its hype and praise, what exactly is an AeroPress? Invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, the AeroPress is probably the youngest and one of the most recent coffee inventions to change the coffee industry entirely. 

Its build consists of two cylinders made from high quality plastic. The smaller cylinder has a flexible airtight seal and rests inside the larger cylinder, similar to that of a syringe. The larger cylinder has space for either a disposable paper filter, or reusable steel filters, which the coffee grinds and hot water are then placed on top of.

The AeroPress is famous for using pressure in order to extract flavor from coffee beans and produce an espresso-style drink. While it will never be able to match the 9 bars of pressure produced by an espresso machine, the pressure it can produce by hand is quite impressive. Keen baristas can also invest in filters such as those by Fellow Prismo in order to achieve even greater levels of pressure for a more fully-extracted final product.

Unlike the French press, which has been around for quite some time and exists in many different variations, the AeroPress is unique in that it is not only a device, but a brand name, too. This means that there is only one variation of this particular device which is used across the coffee industry.

 AeroPress’ hidden Superpowers 

From the outside looking in, it may seem as though you need a plethora of intricate equipment in order to produce coffee even marginally better than a mug of freeze-dried instant. The AeroPress, with its simple design and affordable price tag, dispels those myths instantly upon use.

These aren’t the AeroPress’ only positive attributes, however. In fact, the device is so popular among coffee fans because of everything else it delivers.

To start with, the AeroPress is extremely durable and light. This makes it the ideal travel companion, and perfect for someone who is always on the go but wants to enjoy a proper cup of coffee in their hotel room or AirBnb. 

It’s also extremely affordable compared to other brewing methods of comparable quality. An AeroPress starter kit with a year’s worth of filters will only set you back about $30 depending on where you buy it from.

Brewing coffee in an AeroPress results in a much smoother brew over other conventional brewing methods. This has to do with the fact that grinds are being steeped in hot water before being filtered, and that nothing is left out during the extraction process. This also results in a much shorter brewing time than something like drip coffee.

The shorter brewing time is also a key factor in the final taste of the coffee, which by and large is much less acidic than even French press brew. All of these factors result in a smooth, easy to drink and consistently great cup of coffee.


How to make AeroPress Coffee

So after reading the above guide, we assume by this point you’re hooked. You’ve got your AeroPress and now you’re wondering exactly how to use this contraption and create the wonderful coffee we’ve waxed lyrical about. It’s pretty simple:

  1. Boil some water, let it rest then set it aside while you prepare the other components of your coffee.
  2. Grind your beans. The AeroPress usually requires a finer grind that even espresso, so make sure you have a grinder that can handle this. You want to use about four tablespoons of coffee grinds. 
  3. Assemble the AeroPress by placing your filter in the bottom of the larger cylinder, then placing it on top of a mug or other container. Splash a little hot water onto the filter before you start to avoid having the papery taste of it affect the coffee.
  4. Add the coffee grinds. If you’re unsure about your aim use the funnel provided.
  5. Once your water has rested add it into the coffee grinds until it’s near the top line.
  6. Stir the mixture briefly and then allow it to steep for 20 – 30 seconds.
  7. Insert the plunger on top of the AeroPress. Apply steady pressure to the plunger until you begin to hear a long hiss and the coffee accumulates in the mug below.
  8. Enjoy your creation. The AeroPress is known for quite strong espresso-style coffee, so if you find that it’s a little bit too intense try splitting it between two or more cups.

An Alternative Way to Make AeroPress Coffee

Introduced in 2005, the AeroPress is definitely one of, if not the, youngest brewing methods to hit the coffee market. Bluntly put, it took the world by storm, and baristas have been figuring out creative ways of using this device other than its intended purpose ever since. And while numerous methods have made the cut, perhaps the most popular is the Upside-Down AeroPress Brewing Technique.

Upside-Down AeroPress Technique
Upside-down AeroPress Brewing!

To make it you’re going to need all of the same ingredients used to make normal AeroPress coffee. The main difference is the setup of the AeroPress itself. 

You’ll want to start by placing the plunger on the counter facing upwards. Then, turn the brewing chamber upside down and place it securely on the plunger, resting the stopper around the #4 marking on the chamber. Now add your coffee and hot water just as you normally would.

Secure the filter to the top of the AeroPress and let the coffee brew for around 90 seconds. Unlike a normal AeroPress setup, this method allows the coffee to become fully immersed in a process actually quite similar to the French press. 

When you’re ready, flip the AeroPress and place it on your mug or desired container. Apply pressure as you normally would and in 20 seconds or so your Upside Down AeroPress coffee is ready to go.

Since making coffee this way can occasionally get a little bit messy, it helps to have something like the AeroPress organizer just to ensure all of your AeroPress parts are properly stored and ordered.


French Press

What is it?

Now that we’ve spoken at length about the AeroPress, it’s time to address the other device in the room.

The French press is a staple piece of kit for anyone looking to make premium, delicious coffee at home. It consists of a glass cylinder and a plunger with a fine wire mesh attached to it. Some variations of the French press are also made from steel or ceramic.

We went into detail about the history of the French press in a previous article, but some pertinent facts are worth repeating. Patented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929, the French press is actually an Italian design, although it may have been first created in France.

It saw a rise of popularity across Europe in the 60s and eventually became a common household device for making coffee. Its ability to make copious and consistently delicious cups of coffee, as well as draw out the best quality of the coffee being used, also makes it a firm favorite among baristas.

The Myriad Advantages of using a French Press

To start with, the French Press is a very simple device. Consisting of only two separate parts, it makes producing a surprisingly good cup of coffee a very easy affair.

Unlike other methods of producing coffee – looking at you, espresso – the French press is also able to produce relatively large amounts of coffee per brew. Whereas the AeroPress, for example, will only produce enough coffee for one or two people, the French press makes enough for six. This means you don’t have to brew multiple times when having guests over.

The French press is also renowned for allowing maximum control when it comes to manipulating the flavor profile of the coffee. From the amount of coffee used, the water temperature and volume, and steeping time of the coffee, the French press lets you fully determine how long you would like to extract the coffee for.

And because the grinds are steeped before it is filtered, the French press retains many of the oils and aromas that other methods lose. The resultant brew is more textured, intense and contains a more complex flavor profile that other filtered coffee.

How To Make a Perfect Cup of French Press Coffee

Making the perfect cup of French press isn’t rocket science. In fact, it couldn’t be simpler.

  1. Grind up the bean of your choice – about 8 grams of coffee to 200ml of water. The type of bean and roast you choose are the main determinants when it comes to your coffee flavor. The grinder you use, and the way you grind it, also play a role, so ensure you pick the correct fineness.
  2. Add the ground up coffee to the cylinder.
  3. Boil some water. Let it rest for about 30 seconds and add it to the cylinder.
  4. Stir the mixture gently with a spoon or coffee stirrer.
  5. Place the plunger on top of the cylinder but don’t push it just yet. Allow the French press to sit like this for around 3 to 4 minutes. If you like your coffee extra strong, let it steep for longer.
  6. Once it has rested, push the plunger down slowly, applying steady, even pressure.
  7. Enjoy! Some sediment may find its way into the final brew. This is normal and shouldn’t affect the final flavor.
Pouring a cup of French Press Coffee

AeroPress vs French Press – Which is Best?

The showdown between the AeroPress and French press is one of the most heated in the coffee world. While both devices require manual use, and utilize steeping as the brewing technique – admittedly very similar functionalities – the distinct difference between them lies in the way in which the coffee is filtered.

And because so many coffee aficionados want to have ultimate control of the exact flavor of their coffee, this is oftentimes the deciding factor on which device they opt to buy.

While both brewing methods offer control over most of the crucial variables that determine coffee flavor, each method possesses a quality that sets it apart from the other.

With the AeroPress, it’s pressure. While you won’t achieve anything close to the massive amounts of pressure generated by an espresso machine, you can produce a not insignificant amount of force with this trusty little hand brewer. It’s this pressure which allows for a faster and (some would say) more complete extraction.

The French press, on the other hand, allows for more complex flavors and aromas. Because the filter used is a more coarse and made of steel, many of the oils found within the coffee are retained. The resultant brew is generally tastier, more intense and more aromatic. 

So if you’re after a cup of coffee with a stronger flavor profile, then the French press is your friend. If, however, you prefer a more rounded cup of coffee, then you can’t go wrong with the AeroPress.

Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.

French Press vs Drip Coffee: Which is Better?

Coffee has undoubtedly experienced a certain renaissance worldwide, and especially within the United States. It has occurred steadily over the last two decades and has brought us to the caffeinated frontier on which we now find ourselves. As the interest in coffee has waxed, the methods used to produce a good cup of coffee have themselves become more refined and complex.

Cue: The French Press.

While many caffeine addicts remain attached to their drip coffee machines, another type of café has made headway among the enlightened crowd.

It used to be that in order to produce a truly exception cup of coffee, you had to know a barista who had been in the industry for several years. But boutique coffee production has since shifted to the home. It’s more common than ever to find an espresso machine, mocha, french press or drip coffee maker alongside other high quality kitchen products, as coffee aficionados search for more ingenious ways to manipulate the flavour profile of different roasts. 

This leads to a often-asked question within the coffee community: which method is the best for brewing coffee?

It’s a big question, and we’re going to try unpack it below by comparing two of the most popular home-brewing methods – the French press and drip coffee. We’ll be looking at exactly what constitutes each method, the history of their development, the differences in flavor and texture of the resultant brew, and some good tips on how to make some of the most fragrant, delicious and eye-opening coffee variants of each.

French Press Coffee: What is It?

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s understandable that the French press may sound like a complicated martial arts move, capable of rendering a person immobile and tearing the breath from their body. That’s only half true. The French press is neither a martial arts move, nor is it complicated – but it’ll still take your breath away every time.

The modern French press as we know it today is a simple construction consisting of a large glass, steel or plastic cylindrical beaker with a plastic or steel lid and plunger which fits snugly into the cylinder. The plunger is equipped with a fine mesh filter to capture all of the coffee particulates, but not liquids, as it moves downwards.

It might be worth mentioning the French press actually doesn’t even deserve to be called French. The machine itself was designed by a man called Paolini Ugo and patented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929 – a group of Italians. 

A French Press Device filled with Coffee
A French Press with the Plunger down – The Coffee is ready to serve

It underwent several design modifications by another Italian called Faliero Bondanini, who developed his own patent for the machine in 1958, after which its popularity spread across Europe.

And this popularity has continued to spread, with French press makers becoming a commonplace item in kitchens all over the world. This has resulted in a number of different names for the machine, depending on where you purchase it. In Germany, for example, they call it a Stempelkanne, or stamp pot. In South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, it’s known as a plunger, and the coffee it produces as plunger coffee. In France it is called a cafetière à piston, but often shortened to cafetière, which is what coffee drinkers in the UK and the Netherlands call it too.

Drip Coffee: What is It?

Unlike it’s francophile cousin, drip coffee is a little more straightforward to understand as a brewing method for coffee. Drip coffee involves placing a filter over a container, filling the filter with roasted, ground coffee beans and then pouring hot water through the mixture. The resultant concentrate at the bottom is what we know as drip coffee.

An Automatic Drip Coffee Maker
An Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

While many people will be more familiar with the drip coffee brewing process through the use of an automatic drip coffee machine, the more minimal, hands-on, pour-over method has become a vogue process in recent years.

Pour-over drip coffee brewing step1
Manual, “pour over” Drip Coffee brewing

Pour-over drip coffee brewing step 2
Manual Drip Coffee brewing in process

Unlike the French press, making drip coffee gives you slightly less control of the brewing process, especially with regards to brewing time. The resultant flavor is also difference since the water passes through the grounds rather than mixing with it for an extended period of time. However, it’s also very easy to do, which is perhaps what has led to its rise in popularity.

French Press vs Drip Coffee: What Makes Them Different?

There are a couple of main differences between French press and drip coffee. The two big ones are the type of grind used, and the amount of control of the brewing variables each method affords you.

The French press requires a coarse grind since the grounds need to steep, whereas drip coffee requires a medium grind in order to let the water pass through it. Because both devices rely on filters in order to get an even and consistent cup of coffee each time, the grind of the beans needs to be just right. 

Coarse Ground Coffee for French Press
Coarse Ground Coffee for French Press
Medium Ground Coffee for Drip Coffee
Medium Ground Coffee for Drip Coffee

Then there’s the amount of control of the brewing variables which each method allows for. Since the French press gives you the freedom to add as much or as little coffee as you’d like, and steep it for ten minutes or ten weeks, it gives you way more control over the final flavor of the coffee. Drip coffee, on the other hand, is going to give you a fairly consistent brew every time.

The natural oils within the coffee bean is the factor most responsible for the particular flavor of the coffee, and it’s these oils which get filtered out when coffee is prepared using a drip filter. Drip coffee uses osmotic pressure to drive the coffee concentrate out of the beans, which can result in an over-extraction when robs the coffee of its essential oils. The French press does away with over-extraction by using a much slower brewing process. Here, the grounds and the oils within them, are not merely saturated and then discarded. Rather, they’re allowed to steep, and the water as well as the heat draws out the oils and retains them in the final brew. It’s this extraction which captures the richness and depth of flavor for which the French press has become renowned. 

All of the above variables affect the taste to a greater or lesser degree. While drip coffee, especially machines, can produce full-bodied brews depending on the exact model you use, more often than not it’s going to be the French Press which produces a stronger, fuller-bodied cup of joe. 

The Science Behind the French Press: Here’s Why It’s Not the Same as Drip Coffee

With many other coffee-brewing methods, hot water is poured through your ground coffee beans, and how finely you’ve ground your beans is going to determine how quickly this water passes through. This ultimately has an effect on the flavor, strength, and bitterness of the end result.

A French press works slightly differently in that the brew yield, grind size and brew time are not married to how much water passes through them. With a French press, you’re much better able to control all of these variables, which in turn will give you a lot more control with regard to the final brew. 

Unlike the pour-over method, which using hot water to extract flavor from the grind pretty aggressively, a french press is all about going low and slow. It allows for an even saturation of the grounds rather than an uneven stream of water passing through them, which in turn makes for a more balanced flavor.

Is French Press Worth the Extra Effort?

It all depends on how pedantic you are about the flavor of your first cup of coffee. 

For many people the ease and convenience of drip coffee is one of the main reasons that they invest in either a drip coffee machine or a set of pour-over filters. There’s something to be said about simply pushing a button, waiting for a couple of minutes and receiving a decent cup of coffee in the morning.

In the same breath, if you’re a coffee aficionado who understands the difference between dark roasts and light, prefers single origin compared to multiple, and knows how to coaxe the best and most delicate flavors from your grind, then going the full mile with the French press is going to undoubtedly appeal to you.

Fifteen minutes waiting time is a small price to pay for a full-bodied, velvety-textured cup of the dark stuff.


Making Coffee with a French Press

To make a cup of coffee using a French press, use the following steps:

  • Start by heaping as much ground coffee into the bottom of the beaker as you would like. It’s important that the coffee is fairly coarse; if the beans are ground too finely they’ll simply slip through the mesh filter and into the liquid. 
  • Next, add enough hot water to the coffee and fill most of the beaker, but not all the way to the top. 
  • Allow the coffee to brew for as long as you would like, and when it’s at a satisfactory strength, place the lid and plunger on the top of the beaker. 
  • Push the plunger all the way down to the bottom of the beaker. Do this slowly; too fast and you’ll displace the coffee and it’ll spill everywhere.
  • Pour out a cup and enjoy your handiwork.

I’m a French Press Noob – What Gear Should I Buy?

If you’re new to the French press and unsure what to buy, then we’ve got you covered.

Perhaps the best overall French Press is the Chambord by Bodum. It’s a classic French press that can trace its design all the way back to the fifties, but that still uses the same manufacturing processes today. It’s of the glass and stainless steel variety and is perfect for one or two servings with a 12oz capacity.

For a more premium model and one less prone to breakage, the Freiling double-walled stainless steel French press is the one to buy. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but with a capacity of 36oz, you’ll be able to brew enough coffee for a party of five or six.


How to Make the Best Drip Coffee

In order to make a perfect pour-over drip coffee, we’ve put together a number of steps for you to follow below:

  1. Start with a good grind. You’ll want to ensure that the grind is not too coarse or too fine, but somewhere in the middle. 
  2. For a single cup of pour-over coffee you’ll want somewhere around 23g of ground coffee.
  3. Place the filter over your beaker or mug and prewet it with some hot water. This will allow the water to filter through a little easier while also removing a lot of the paper taste that filters can sometimes have.
  4. Remove the water you used to prewet the filter, then place the filter back on top of your container.
  5. Add the coffee grounds to the filter, then shake it around gently to even it out.
  6. Boil 400ml of water, take it off the heat, then let it rest for around 30 seconds. 
  7. Pour just enough water to wet the grounds, then let the brew sit for 30 or 40 seconds. This process is called blooming, and it releases some of the gases trapped within the grounds. This allows for a smoother extraction, and will prevent the coffee having a sour taste. 
  8. Pour the rest of the hot water through slowly, starting in the center then working outwards and then inwards in concentric circles. If you find that water runs too fast, try using a finer grind, and if it’s too slow, try a coarser one.
  9. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the grinds and drain the last of the water.
  10. Remove the filter, let the coffee sit for a moment, and then it’s ready to drink.

I’m Looking to up my Drip Coffee Game – What Gear Should I Buy?

With regards to drip coffee machines, the Bella 12 Cup Coffee Maker comes out on top. Not only is it affordable and stylish enough to fit in any kitchen, but it can brew consistently great cups of coffee in only nine minutes.

And if you’re serious about pour-over drip coffee, then we recommend the Kalita Wave 185 Dripper as well as the Kalita Wave Series 500. Bolster your purchase with Kalita’s wavy filters in order to produce a fast and incredibly delicious cup of coffee.  


Can’t spring for French press? Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Average, Everyday Cup of Joe

If you’re not in a position to grab the latest and greatest French press just yet, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some steps you can take in order to up your coffee game to the next level. Coffee, after all, is about more than just the device used to brew it.

There are two important things that will change your morning coffee routine for the better: your bean and your grinder. Choosing a well-roasted coffee bean is the basis for getting the most delicious-tasting coffee possible. Of course, this is a matter of taste, so you’ll have to switch it up until you find one that you really like.

Some favorites include:

Now that you have the beans you’ll want to get a grinder. It doesn’t have to be an expensive electronic one with different gauges and measuring tools; a hand grinder will work fine. The important thing is that you have a tool that can produce consistent grinds that range from fine to coarse depending on your needs. Check out our favorites below for all budgets:

  • Hero Manual Coffee Grinder – For a no-frills grinding experience that won’t break the bank but will still produce a consistent grind, Hero’s manual coffee grinder is hard to beat.
  • KRUPS GX5000 Burr Coffee Grinder – This affordable electric grinder by KRUPS will let you get the precise grounds you need while still leaving some cash in your pocket for another bag of beans.
  • The Smart Grinder Pro by Breville – If you’ve got the money to spend and want the absolute best when it comes to grinding beans, the Smart Grinder Pro by Breville is hard to pass up. With over 60 grind functions and a design geared towards preserving the essential oils within the coffee bean, this machine is worth the price.
Martin Stokes

Martin Stokes

novelthings

Martin Stokes hails from Johannesburg, South Africa. He enjoys writing about all manner of things and can quote lines from films like nobody’s business. He moved to Berlin in 2015 and is working tirelessly at broadening his repertoire of bad jokes.