Last Updated on October 22, 2021 by John Moretti
Coffee lovers the world over use a variety of items to make their favorite brew at home. With proper espresso machines costing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, the humble Moka Pot and French Press have traditionally been used to whip up a hot cup of joy at a fraction of the cost. What is the difference between these two, and which is the best at making good coffee?
Where a Moka Pot uses steam and pressure to brew coffee, the French Press relies on steeping coarser grounds to release flavor and oils. The result is a sharp, strong brew from the Moka Pot and a rich, full-bodied taste from the French Press. It takes a bit more practice to use a Moka Pot.
As a frequent user of both methods, I’ve spent the day making copious cups of coffee to distinguish the differences between what each of these produces. Let’s discuss which one comes out on top.
Let’s have a look at where moka pot and french press differ:
- Brew Method – Pressure vs. Steeping: The Moka Pot uses steam and pressure to force hot water through the coffee grounds to make the brew, where the French Press relies on steeping grounds in hot water to release the flavors.
- The coarseness of the grounds: Due to the different brewing methods, the way the coffee beans are ground is different too. Moka Pot grounds need to be fine; by contrast, French Press grounds should be coarser to create more surface area from which to extract the oils.
- Ease of use: Whereas the French Press requires you to measure out grounds, top with hot water, and plunge after a few minutes, the Moka Pot requires a bit more skill to fit the parts together and supervise the brewing process.
- Taste: The resulting brew from each of these is quite different. Moka Pot coffee tends to be strong, sharp, and more espresso-like, while French Press coffee has a rich, flavorful, and often sedimented taste.
- Time to brew: The process is not excessively long using either brew method, but whereas a French Press requires a steeping time of around four minutes, a Moka Pot may take a little longer, depending on your heat source used.
- Control over brew: Using a French Press allows you to control the strength and intensity of your brew a little more – you could plunge and pour sooner than four minutes if you wanted something less full-bodied. The Moka Pot doesn’t allow for this.
- Looks and size: The Moka Pot comes in aluminum or steel only and is generally only available in limited sizes. The French Press comes in a wider variety of looks, from glass and plastic to wood and steel-trimmed, it can be had in many different sizes.
- Price: There isn’t much difference in price between these two, with cheap versions available from around $10 and high-end, branded, or embellished versions nearing $90.
The Moka Pot
Invented way back in the 30s in Italy, the Moka Pot has the pedigree to lend credibility to its ability to produce a high-quality brew. After all, Italy is the home of espresso! With its attractive, characterful design style and low buying price, the Moka Pot has remained a popular way of making coffee at home.
The Moka Pot works by forcing hot water from the bottom chamber up through the coffee grounds in the basket and dispensing it via a spout to the top compartment. Working in a similar way to pressure-driven coffee makers, the Moka Pot does the same thing on your stovetop, without any fuss.
What the Moka Pot does right in the showdown includes the following:
- Temperature: Because the Moka Pot uses steam from either a flame on a gas hob or your standard stovetop, the coffee brew that results is hot and ready to drink.
- Taste: The resulting brew is strong; it’s the closest taste to proper espresso made with expensive equipment.
- Aroma: The process allows the smell of the brewing coffee to fill the room as it is piped up into the coffee chamber.
- Easy: Once you’ve filled the basket with coffee grounds, added the water, and set it to brew, it does everything on its own.
- Charm: The sight and sound of this oddly-shaped little pot prattling away are particularly charming and gives off authentic connoisseur vibes.
- Burnt grounds: As the heat source you’re using can continue to heat the coffee after it’s done brewing, there is potential to burn the grounds if not removed from the heat once done.
- Restricted amounts: The Moka Pot is only available in a few sizes, which means you don’t get to make large quantities in one go. You may need to brew a few pots if you have friends over.
The French Press
Using a different method entirely, the French Press relies on soaking grounds in hot water to extract all the flavors you want in your brew. The oils from the coffee bean are released through a process of steeping. The premise is to cover coarsely ground beans in hot water in the French Press, stir, and let it sit for four to five minutes.
Once the allotted time has passed, you press down on the plunger to separate the grounds from the brew before pouring. With various beautiful designs, the French Press has a particular flair of its own.
- Cost: French Presses are not expensive to buy, and since you only need to add hot water, there are no other costs associated with using electricity or gas flames.
- Taste: Coffee that has been steeped tends to have a rich and full-bodied flavor, thanks to the release of oils from the grounds.
- Control: Using the French Press gives you more control over the brew by customizing the amount of grounds and water used.
- Size: You can get a French Press in many different sizes, from one cup only, to larger ones that make six cups at a time.
- Convenience: As you don’t need a heat source and only need to pour hot water over the grounds, you can have coffee anywhere.
- Time: Steeping for four or five minutes is still quicker than many other methods of making coffee.
- Texture: Sometimes, some of the grounds pass through the plunger filter and into the bottom of your cup. This results in a sedimented taste and texture.
- The temperature of brew: Since you’re using hot water to steep, and the steeping time is around four or five minutes, the coffee you drink after won’t be piping hot.
And The Winner Is…
Trying to decide on a winner here is very much dependent on the type of coffee you enjoy – if sharper, strong coffee is your vibe, you should opt for the Moka Pot. If you want a smoother, rounder taste with more depth in flavor, a French Press is your best bet.
As neither are remarkably different in price and ease of use, despite the Moka Pot needing a little more practice, we wouldn’t judge you for having both on hand and using them whenever you feel like one type of coffee over the other.