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French Press vs Pour Over: The Main Differences


Maybe you want to start brewing coffee at home, or maybe you already do but are not sure which method is best to use. Here, we’ll take a look at the French press and the pour-over, which are both simple, effective methods for brewing coffee. These two different methods alter the taste of the coffee, the amount of coffee you can make, and the time it takes to finally get to enjoy your morning delight! Let’s take a closer look.

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French Press vs Pour Over: The Basics

The French press has a simple process. The user puts in a measured amount of coffee grounds at the bottom of the French press, and then pours a proportional amount of hot water on top. This steeps for 4-5 minutes. The metal lid is attached to a metal filter. After steeping is complete, you push down the filter top. This pushes the grounds to the bottom, leaving flavorful, aromatic coffee on top!

The term pour-over refers to brewing a single cup of coffee using a drip method. Typically, you’ll have a pour-over funnel that is mounted directly over your cup. The coffee filter is inside the funnel, along with the coffee grounds. To brew the coffee, hot water is manually poured evenly over the grounds. The amount of coffee you want determines the number of grounds and water you use. This creates a drip of coffee that goes straight into your cup.

How Much Time Do You Have?

If you want a quick batch of fresh, hot coffee, you should use a French press. This less hands-on method tends to be quicker, taking about 6-8 minutes altogether: about 1 minute to measure, 4-5 minutes to steep, and 5 seconds to press. Pour-overs use the drip method, which takes longer and requires you to regularly pour in hot water. A cup of coffee from a pour-over takes as little as 8 minutes to brew and sometimes as long as 15.

French press espresso brewing

Taste Differences

French presses bring out all the natural oils in coffee, which will give you a true taste of your coffee blend. The 4-5 minute steeping process allows for more of the coffee’s natural oils to be released, which in turn builds more flavor.

Pour-overs have the opposite effect. When coffee is brewed using the drip process, there isn’t any steeping. This limits the number of oils that come out and reduces the rich, full flavors. Another factor is the paper filter used. Paper filters tend to soak up the oils in the coffee, thus giving you less depth of flavor. Pour-over coffee still has plenty of flavors, but it’s a cleaner cup with less mouthfeel and oil.

How Much Coffee Do You Want?

A typical French press holds 48 oz and can serve one 8-oz cup of coffee to 6 people. French presses also have the capability to produce just one or two cups of coffee. This is because you can vary the proportions of coffee grounds and water you put in. A pour-over, on the other hand, is best for hand-brewing one cup of coffee. Indeed, pour-overs can also use varied coffee and water amounts, but it will be very time-consuming to produce coffee for a crowd.

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French Press Pros & Cons:

French press pouring coffee

  • Keeps natural oils
  • Bulk batch of coffee
  • Takes less time
  • Can have grounds in coffee

Pour-over Pros & Cons

best electric kettle for pour over

  • Single-serve
  • Filters out grounds
  • Clean, clear cup
  • Takes more time
  • Soaks up natural oils

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Final Thoughts

Both of these brewing methods will produce delicious cups of coffee, so it’s hard to choose a winner. That’s where you come in! If you’re brewing for a crowd or like coffee with a thick, creamy mouthfeel, try a French press. If you just need a cup or two and like your coffee clean and clear, pull out the pour-over. Either way, enjoy your morning cup of Joe.



Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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