French Press vs AeroPress: the battle for the best filter coffee divides coffee drinkers.
If you enjoy brewing filter coffee at home, at some point you’ve probably wondered: “is Aeropress better than French Press”?
Well, here we will take a deep dive into what makes up each of these very popular coffee brewing methods, find out more about each of them and get a greater overview of what is required to get the best out of your specialty coffee with both AeroPress and French Press.
First of all, let’s find out what is the difference between an AeroPress and a French Press.
Sign up to our coffee newsletter to receive exclusive updates, discounts and more! If you decide it’s not for you, you can of course unsubscribe at any time.
- The difference between AeroPress and French Press
- About the French Press
- About the AeroPress
- French Press vs AeroPress: key differences
- Pros and cons of French Press and AeroPress
- So, who wins in the French Press vs AeroPress battle?
This post may contain affiliate links, including Amazon Associates links, and we may receive a small commission if you use one. This is at no extra cost to you.
The difference between AeroPress and French Press
First of all, let’s make one thing clear: both the AeroPress and French Press can give you great coffee at home.
You’ll also get the best out of both by using specialty coffee that was recently roasted and is freshly ground to brew.
However, getting the best results from each will require a slightly different approach, and the final cup of coffee you get from each will be noticeably different.
The first thing we need to consider is how exactly they each brew coffee, and the method used on each is slightly different.
The French Press Brewing method is immersion all the way. Immersion coffee brewing is simply when the ground coffee is fully “immersed” in the hot water.
This form of coffee brewing allows for the coffee grounds to be fully extracted and, with the aid of the plunger, the grounds are then filtered as you pour. The result is a lovely clean cup of coffee.
When it comes to the brewing method used by the AeroPress, this is actually a hybrid of immersion and percolation.
This is because the ground coffee is first put into the AeroPress, with hot water poured on top to allow it to brew. Pressure is then applied, which adds to the percolation part of the brewing method, forcing the water through the now compacted ground coffee.
In a nutshell, a French Press gives you a longer coffee drink whereas the AeroPress produces a more espresso-style coffee (i.e. what can be used for latte or cappuccino).
This is largely down to the fact that the coffee-to-water ratio is very different.
About the French Press
Even if you’ve been making coffee at home with a French Press for a long time, you may not know too much about this popular coffee brewing device.
A little history of the French Press
The history of the French Press is actually quite interesting as it dates back to its earliest form in 1929, when two Italians, Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta, made their first patent.
Faliero Bondanini, from Switzerland, then patented the design that we are most familiar with today in 1958 – nearly 30 years after the initial patent was registered.
So, given that the original patent was created by two Italians and the design that we know today was created by a Swiss, why is it called The French Press?
The simple answer to this is that when Faliero Bondanini patented his design, the French Press was mainly manufactured in France – hence the name.
The simple and elegant design of this brewing method became very popular in France. As they were in abundant supply, it was very easy for most households to own one.
As the product spread outside of France, the common perception was that it was a French product and thus the name French Press stuck.
About the AeroPress
While the French Press has long been a very popular brewing method, the AeroPress has gained much popularity in recent years.
An easy and convenient device that’s also great for travel, we’re increasingly asked for AeroPress coffee in our Portugal coffee shops.
A little history of the AeroPress
Invented by Alan Adlerin in 2005, the AeroPress has quickly gone from a hipster favourite to a common method of brewing coffee.
There have been a few imitators over the years, but none has stayed the course as the original design and concept set the bar very high.
The Aeropress has become so popular that there is even a World AeroPress Championship held every year!
One of the most fantastic benefits of this little wonder is that it is kind of hard to mess up.
Yes, you will meet coffee fanatics who insist that their recipe is the only way, but there is also much more leeway than with other brewing methods. In other words, it’s not hard to get a great cup of coffee with an AeroPress!
That said, it’s still good to have an idea of what will yield the best cup of coffee with both methods. So let’s take a look at how the French Press vs AeroPress compare when it comes to brewing…
French Press vs AeroPress: key differences
While both the French Press and AeroPress are generally best suited to filter roasted beans, the ideal grind size, water ratio and timings vary a lot.
One of the major differences between a French Press and an AeroPress is the size of the coffee grind you’ll want to use.
When using a French Press, you will want your coffee to be ground on quite a coarse setting.
Grinding too fine could see finer particles of the coffee grounds seep through the mesh and end up in your cup, which would lead to a gritty texture. Of course, you want to avoid this at all costs.
The grind size for an Aeropress is surprisingly forgiving. As a rule of thumb, a good place to start would be a grind relatively close to a Moka pot setting – i.e. on the coarser side of an espresso grind.
That said, the Aeropress is so versatile that even if you don’t get your grind spot on you’ll still be able to enjoy a good coffee.
A bold statement, we know, but because the Aeropress primarily brews via the immersion method you have some leeway.
The only thing to watch out for is if your grind is too fine.
If this happens, your coffee may brew nicely but, when it comes time to press, you might struggle to get the required amount of water through the filter.
And, of course, grinding way too coarse would make the water pass too fast through the filter, giving a weaker cup.
Coffee to water ratio
A very common and easy way to get great coffee with a French press is by using a ratio of 1:15. That is, for every 1 gram of coffee, you would add 15 grams of water.
You can work out how much coffee to use based on how much many cups you want to brew (just divide the total amount by 15!).
When it comes to the coffee and water ratio involved when brewing an AeroPress, you do have a little more room to manoeuvre.
Generally speaking, you want to start with around 9g per cup. You can use the guide on the side of the AeroPress to measure the water needed.
A general rule of thumb when brewing in an AeroPress would be to use a 3:1 or a 4:1 ratio.
However, one of the beautiful things about AeroPress is its flexibility, so feel free to use these ratios as a starting point and adjust them to your taste.
Like most coffee brewing methods that require you to directly pour water over the ground coffee, you want to find a happy medium for your water temperature with both the French Press and the AeroPress.
Pour in water that’s too hot and you will just blitz the coffee, ruining any chance of extracting any flavour.
Pour in water that’s too cold and your brew time will take way too long.
Just like when you’re dialling in espresso, a good balance is around 91-93 degrees celsius for both brewing methods.
There are some schools of thought that believe the lighter your roast, the hotter your water when brewing with an AeroPress.
Results may vary – and this may largely depend on the country of origin and other factors – so take this with a grain of salt and experiment as you like.
Timing: French Press
Because the French Press is a relatively straightforward brewing method, timing your extraction is key to achieving a balanced cup of coffee.
The French Press brewing method, more than others, can sometimes lead to over-extraction.
It can be all too tempting to pour water over the coffee, give it a stir and think “that’s fine, I’ll leave that now for a while”.
There is also a great risk of under-extracting your coffee while using a French press.
This can happen when water is poured over the ground coffee and you immediately press the plunger and serve, not giving the coffee grounds enough time to properly brew and extract all its flavour.
A good starting point is to try a four-minute brew before pressing down on the plunger. This will give you the best chance to get a well-balanced extraction and allow the coffee grounds to be brewed correctly.
You can then adjust depending on the flavour.
The sweet spot for brewing times in the Aeropress is about one minute to one and a half minutes.
But thanks to the flexibility in brewing with an Aeropress, you do have the capacity to brew your coffee a bit shorter or a bit longer depending on both the roast and how strong or weak you prefer your brewed coffee.
So depending on the coffee you are brewing with your Aeropress use one and a half minutes as a starting point and adjust from there to suit your taste.
Both the French Press and the AeroPress require a simple (and hopefully smooth!) plunging motion to get your coffee.
With the French Press, you press down the plunger and then pour your coffee into however many mugs you like.
With the AeroPress, you can plunge the coffee directly into your mug. If you are making coffee for more than one person, you can of course plunge into a jug and pour into your mugs.
It’s important to note that you do not need to exert a huge amount of force on either – just a constant steady force.
One huge benefit to Aeropress is the cleanup is very simple after you have pressed the piston to the end. It’s a simple matter of unscrewing the filter and pressing the puck into the bin.
While the French Press is also fairly simple to clean up, you will need to clean out all of the coffee grounds before washing the equipment.
Pros and cons of French Press and AeroPress
One of the main advantages of a French Press over the AeroPress is the French Press comes in many different sizes whereas the AeroPress only comes in two (the regular AeroPress and AeroPress Go).
The variety of sizes in the French Press allows you to have, for example, a very large beaker so you can facilitate brewing enough coffee to serve potentially up to six or seven people.
Alternatively, you can buy smaller ones that would be enough for two people.
The AeroPress on the other hand only has two sizes, and the turnaround on brewing would be much slower. So if you had a group of friends over, the FrenchPress would be the best in that situation.
It is a bit more of a chore to clean the large French Press since you are left with a big clump of wet coffee grounds at the bottom.
As mentioned above, the AeroPress is a simple rinse and clean process, which appeals to many coffee lovers.
One fantastic benefit of a large French Press is the ability to make cold brew coffee.
We have a detailed video on our YouTube channel walking you through the process of how to make fantastic cold brew coffee using a French Press.
Unfortunately, the AeroPress just doesn’t hold the same capacity as a large French Press and thus would not be suitable for making cold brew concentrate (even though it’s great for a cold brew for one on the go!).
A fantastic benefit to the AeroPress and its size is that it makes it a wonderful travel coffee brewing companion.
The AeroPress Go is designed specifically for travel, but even the regular AeroPress is very easy to travel with as it packs away very small.
If you are going away for a long weekend or an extended holiday and you want to enjoy wonderful coffee while on the road, the AeroPress could be the travel brewer you are looking for.
The French Press, unfortunately, does not travel as well because the glass or light plastic construction could make it prone to breaking in your luggage.
So, who wins in the French Press vs AeroPress battle?
As always, while they can be used in many of the same ways, AeroPress and French Press are different products – and that makes it hard to compare.
As avid coffee drinkers, our advice would be to simply get both.
Sometimes it’s nice to have the ability to have a coffee brewing method that enables you to brew various different types of coffee and it is also wonderful to have a small easily packed travel coffee brewer.
However, if you have to choose, the French Press is better suited for social coffee situations while the AeroPress is unbeatable for travel.
Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight into both the brewing methods of the French Press and the AeroPress and will help you decide which one (or both!) would best suit your needs.
If you have any questions or need help choosing a coffee for either coffee brewing device, feel free to reach out to us over on our Instagram page (@thestudio.coffee) and we’ll be happy to help!