French Press Vs. Aeropress (Complete Guide)

Last Updated on September 28, 2021 by John Moretti

Alternative coffee brewing methods provide fun and engaging options for coffee fans like you. For example, the French Press and Aeropress produce fantastic coffee and operate in similar but different ways. Which of these options is the best for you? That all depends on your taste and how much work you want to produce the best cup of coffee for your home. 

The French Press and the Aeropress are two very similar brewing options. Both are pretty trendy and have advantages and disadvantages to their operation. The French Press works best for the hands-on coffee maker, and the Aeropress is an excellent choice for those who want a quick cup of coffee.

Examining the French Press 

The French Press is a unique brewing device with a pretty high level of popularity with many people. It consists of only a handful of elements and requires no electricity to operate. These parts include the press pot (also known as a cafetiere), including a carafe, a plunger, a filter screen, and the lid. Using this device is relatively simple and requires no specialized skills to handle. 

First, you put your coffee into the carafe and boil water. You need to get the water between 185-205 degrees to work effectively. Consider a teapot or a similar brewing device to get the temperature that you want. Once you get the water to this temperature, you pour the water carefully into the carafe. At this point, the hot water brews the coffee over a several-minute period. 

Most brewing should finish up in about three minutes. However, longer brewing times may be necessary for some types of beans or grounds. Read the guidelines on your machine or your beans to learn more. Time the brewing using either a kitchen timer or your phone to get the best results. At this point, you slowly and gently press the plunger down to strain the coffee into the pot. 

Now, you can pour cups of coffee from the pot and enjoy it with various types of foods or even flavor it with cream or sugar. I particularly appreciate the French Press experience because it feels more hands-on and in-depth than a Keurig or grounds machine. It also provides us with the chance to adapt our brewing experience in a variety of different and fun ways. 

Why People Enjoy This Process 

Not everyone is going to enjoy the French Press. However, I find it to be a fun alternative way to brew coffee. Fans who want a more personal and specific cup of coffee find the French Press to be particularly beneficial. There are few other methods you can use to create such a personalized, fun, and unforgettable cup of coffee. A few reasons why I love it include how it:

  • Let’s You Use Ground Coffee – Many people will use coarsely ground coffee in their French Press to get great results. This option is a strong choice if you want to speed up the brewing process and don’t have time to wait for the beans to absorb the water while you brew fully. 
  • Makes It Easy to Integrate Home-Roasted Beans – Do you prefer brewing directly from home-roasted beans you prepared yourself? The French Press lets you do that, too. Simply carefully put your beans into the machine and let it brew a little longer than average to get a high-quality flavor. 
  • Produces a Surprisingly Bold and Rich Flavor – The French Press is a good option for making a rich and bold coffee. I love pairing this option with dark-roasted beans, as it creates the kind of savory and deep flavor and aroma combinations that I love with these beans. 
  • Allows Variable Brewing Times – Timing out your French Press brew lets you choose the intensity of your coffee. Do you want a reasonably light cup that goes easy on the stomach? Brew for 2-3 minutes. You can brew longer (4-5) to create a more intense and rich cup of coffee. 

As you can see, I love the French Press and use it for many of my finest brewing experiences. However, I also want to highlight a few other unique advantages that make this machine worth your time. The section below will go over a few of these concepts and give you a better idea of whether the French Press is the right option for your coffee brewing needs. 

Other Benefits of the French Press 

As if the advantages outlined above weren’t enough, the French Press provides other benefits well-worth your time. Let’s take a look at a few of these right now to understand just why so many people enjoy using this brewing method:

  • Surprisingly Affordable – The French Press is not an expensive tool and is something that should fit into the budgets of just about anybody who enjoys making great coffee. 
  • Appealing and Attractive Design – Do you want a coffee machine that just looks great on your counter? The French Press works well here because it is one of the most appealing of all coffee machines. 
  • Quick and Efficient Operation – You don’t need specialized skills to make coffee in a French Press machine. You’ll get your great brew in a matter of minutes with a rich and flavorful profile. 
  • No Electrical Needs – If your lights go out and you need a great cup of coffee, you can use a French Press to get the java you need to get through this situation. 

So, the French Press is the perfect coffee machine, right? Not quite. Nothing is perfect, after all, and this tool does have some drawbacks. Let’s take a look at a few of these pressing concerns. Doing so will help to make your purchasing decision easier and smoother.

Cons of the French Press 

The downsides of the French Press don’t necessarily outweigh its positives. They can be adapted if you understand them and prepare appropriately. However, after using a French Press many times, I find that their downsides include the following elements:

  • Needs Additional Equipment – You’re going to need a coffee grinder, a kettle to brew your water, a scale to weigh your grounds and beans, and a thermometer to test temperature. 
  • Requires a Lot of Attention – Unlike other machines that let you walk away while your coffee brews, the French Press requires your full attention during the whole experience. 
  • Immediate Serving Needs – Unfortunately, you can’t let your pot sit too long because it might result in over-extraction of your coffee. Instead, you must serve immediately or store elsewhere. 
  • Risk of Burns – The French Press requires you to handle and pour boiling water. If you’re not careful, you could spill some and experience a high risk of home damage or third-degree burns. 

These problems are inherent to all French Press machines. Even those with safer pouring systems still require handling boiling water. I think most of these concerns can be worked around easily. However, they must be understood if you’re considering one of these brewing tools.

Examining the Aeropress 

The Aeropress is somewhat similar to the French Press but works as a bit of a middle-ground between traditional drip coffee and the French Press. It utilizes the same kind of pressing mechanic common with the French Press but centers it around producing one cup of coffee. This step helps to minimize the waste you might experience with a French Press and cuts back on other issues as well. 

The Aeropress is made out of a heat-resistant plastic container. On top of this container is a plunger that forms an airtight seal. At the bottom of the cylinder is a filter cap. This cap holds your filter and coffee grounds in place. You then pour hot water into the cylinder, put the plunger on top, and let the coffee brew for a few moments. Then, you press the plunger down slowly to push the water into the cup. 

This overall design helps to speed up your coffee making and works perfectly for those who just want one cup of coffee at a time. For example, if you just like one cup in the morning to wake up, an Aeropress is an excellent choice for you. So why else do I love this option? Let’s take a look at a few unique advantages that this coffee machine has over others. 

Why I Love the Aeropress 

The Aeropress has many advantages over espresso machines and the French Press. However, I compare it to espresso brewers because they produce a similar style of drink when appropriately used. These benefits include how they are:

  • Cleaner Than Espresso Machines – The Aeropress is cleaner and easier to maintain if you want to make an espresso-style drink. This helps to minimize your cleaning time and provides you with a durable and reliable machine that doesn’t take up half your life. 
  • Cheaper Than Espresso – A good espresso machine can cost hundreds of dollars and take up a considerable portion of your kitchen. An Aeropress is much less expensive and has a fraction of the counter space. As a result, you can keep your kitchen cleaner and more compact. 
  • Faster Than the French Press – The pressure used in an Aeropress helps to brew your coffee more quickly and instills taste faster than the French Press. In this way, it is suitable for those who don’t have much time to fuss over their machine every morning.
  • More Efficient – If you want a single cup of coffee, the Aeropress is your best choice. It creates a delicious and high-quality cup of coffee or espresso with minimum difficulty and without wasting a lot of grounds or brewed coffee in the process. 

These advantages make this device an excellent option for many homes. That said, some downsides must be considered before making a purchase. These concerns affect many elements of the Aeropress and must be carefully understood if you’re interested in alternative coffee brewing methods. Here’s what you need to know about the disadvantages of the Aeropress. 

Downsides of the Aeropress

The Aeropress has a few unfortunate concerns that must be addressed. I don’t think that these doom this machine to obscurity. Most can be worked around easily or may not upset many people. However, they must be understood to ensure the best purchasing choices. These concerns include:

  • Hard-to-Find Non-Reusable Filters – The Aeropress requires you to use non-reusable filters (like most coffee makers), which isn’t a huge deal. However, they can be hard to find in some areas, particularly rural spots that don’t commonly sell or offer Aeropress machines to consumers. 
  • Needs Some Tweaks – The Aeropress is such a new device that it needs a few simple quality-of-life tweaks to feel complete. For example, I wish it had a permanent filter that you could simply clean and replaced less frequently. Such a design choice would make it even better. 
  • Minimal Brewing Capacity – If you’re someone who loves many cups of coffee every day, this is not the machine for you. While you could always clean it up and brew again, cleaning all the parts takes time and reduces efficiency. Those in a home with many coffee drinkers may want to pass. 
  • Challenging to Master – Unlike the French Press, which requires minimal specialized skills, you need to be steady when you press your coffee here. If you move too fast or too slow, you might affect the quality of your brew. So, again, practice is needed, unlike with the simpler French Press. 

I also have to point out that the espresso-style drink produced by the Aeropress will not be up to a proper espresso machine. The cost-efficiency and compact size of the Aeropress make up for that downside. However, hardcore espresso fans might be disappointed. 

What to Look for In These Machines

Both of these coffee machines have simple designs that don’t vary much between models. However, you must keep track of a few things to ensure you get the best results. Just a few factors that you should investigate before making a purchase include:

  • Manufacturing Materials – The French Presses uses metal and other strong materials. So look for stainless steel designs that minimize rust and other complications. Plastic and even ceramic models may be available and do the job well enough. But steel is probably your best choice. The Aeropress uses hard plastic and should be suitable for most users.
  • Country of Origin – Many of the best French Press and Aeropress machines are manufactured in the United States, Italy, and many other European nations. Lower-quality (but lower-priced) options may come from China, Taiwan, and other similar areas. 
  • Brand Name – Try to find French Press brands that produce high-quality products. My research found that consumers loved Frieling, IdylcHomes, and Bodum French Press models. Aeropress is a trademarked brand and has the finest machines of that type on the market. Copycat devices don’t get the same kind of high-regard as the original.

Weigh these elements before buying either of these coffee machines. Doing so will help to make it easier to identify the option that works the best for you. You can also save money by avoiding buying a product that doesn’t work for you or breaks at any point during operation.

Pick the Machine That Works for You 

As you can see, the French Press and the Aeropress are similar options. However, they are different enough to make it worth a careful debate. Do you want to use potentially scalding hot water and run the risk of burning yourself? Or do you want a machine that is hard to clean and a little tricky to master? On the other hand, both produce great cups of coffee, so weighing the negatives may be necessary here.