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person holding black coffee in white cup

Drip Coffee vs French Press | Which one would I choose?

Over the years, there have been a number of debates within the specialty coffee industry, however, drip coffee vs french press is a debate that has continued to grow with coffee enthusiasts across the globe.

Both of these brewing methods can create a great cup of coffee, with each option coming with their own positive and negative aspects.

But which one would I choose, and ultimately which one should you choose?

In this article we are going to dive in and put drip coffee vs french press to the test.

What is French Press Coffee?

four images of french press brewing stages

French Press Coffee is a cylinder pot with an in-built filter screen and plunger, when pressed down the filter presses hot water through the ground coffee, ready to be poured into a coffee cup and consumed. 

Also known as a cafetière, it is a manual brewing method where the coffee grounds stay in contact with water during the entire brewing process, involving you to steep the coffee.

When done correctly, French Press coffee is smooth, rich, earthy and indulgent, and arguably one of the most low maintenance coffee brewing methods out there.

Pros
  • Easy of use
  • Cheap to buy
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to store
  • Does not need electricity
  • Consistency
  • Portable
Cons
  • Longer brew time
  • Risk of over-extraction
  • Additional equipment needed to heat water

What is Drip Coffee?

drip coffee machine with coffee in a cup sitting next to it

Drip coffee is made by dripping boiling water over your coffee grounds and using gravity to pass the water through. 

It requires a gentle brewing process using slower techniques and lower temperatures, which allows roasters to infuse a wide variety of flavours and aromas for you to enjoy in your cup.

Many experts and coffee enthusiasts alike suggest that drip coffee can unlock the full potential of your specialty coffee beans, bringing out the most subtle flavours.

It has a lighter body then your french press brew and generally does not require any added ingredients such as milk or milk alternatives.

You can also now find automated electric drip coffee machines, offering complete automation.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean
  • Can brew larger amounts of coffee
  • Heats the water for you
Cons
  • Cannot always control heat of water
  • Requires electricity source
  • Will need to buy filters
  • Limited to what you can do with it

Does Drip Coffee Contain More Caffeine Than Espresso? Read Here.

How to Make French Press Coffee?

What you need:

  • French Press
  • Spoon/Stirrer
  • Kettle
  • Scale (optional)
  • Water
  • Coarsely Ground Coffee

How to Make Drip Coffee?

What you need:

  • Drip Brewer
  • Paper Filter
  • Kettle (preferably gooseneck kettle)
  • Scale (optional)
  • Water
  • Medium Ground Coffee

What is the Difference in taste?

At a glance, you can see the two brewing methods will produce different coffee tastes. 

Drip CoffeeFrench Press Coffee
ClearRich
Light/Clean BodiedDark/Full Bodied
WeakerStronger
Simple Aromatic
professional coffee tasting

In regards to the french press, you do not use a paper filter, therefore, the tiny particles and oils that come from your ground coffee beans will end up in your cup, as the stainless steel mesh filter does not absorb or stop it, which gives you that richer, full-bodied brew.

Where as Drip coffee, you do use a paper filter or a filter of some sort, and these tiny particles can not come through into your cup, generally absorbing into the filter, and therefore, gives you a much clearer, light-bodied brew.

Which One Would I Choose? 

Man thinking

So which one would I choose? I personally love both full-bodied and light-bodied brews therefore, ultimately I think it all boils down to personal preferences.

If you are new to brewing your own coffee at home, I would probably start with the french press.

A typical french press starts at a single serving size, which is perfect if you are just brewing for one or two people.

You also do not actually need to know a whole lot in order to prepare, brew, and clean up from the French press, just ensure you get the right coffee grind size.

However, I wouldn’t rule out drip coffee, because if you need to serve coffee to a number of guests, then certainly I would choose drip coffee.

It generally offers a larger capacity, which you can keep hotter for longer, and therefore, enable you to serve ready to drink coffee for a longer period of time.

Finally, when it comes to training my palate, I would always go with drip coffee as it is very difficult to find the subtle notes of your coffee with a french press, especially if you have added milk.

So although I would generally choose the French press, drip coffee does still have its place in certain situations.

So when it comes down to what you should choose, you need to consider what situation you will be in, as well as knowing what coffee flavours you prefer. 

What Are The Best Specialty Coffee Beans for Drip Coffee vs French Press?

roasted coffee beans

When it comes to choosing coffee beans for either drip coffee or french press, you will always want to start with a whole bean, this goes for any coffee brewing method.

Not only do whole beans taste a lot better than pre ground coffee, using whole beans means you have total control over your grind size.

French Press

Dark roasted coffee beans are generally the preferred option to use when brewing with a French Press.

Reason being is it will give you a more intense full bodied brew which the French press is so good at doing, however, you can actually use a lighter roast too.

Again it does come down to some personal preferences, as you can get away with both dark and light roasted coffee beans in a French Press.

When purchasing your coffee beans, for best results, put in those extra few dollars/pounds to ensure a high quality product that has been freshly roasted to order, and preferably directly from the roaster.

Something like the Daybreak Blend by Rounton Coffee is a great choice as it is versatile and designed to help you tackle whatever the world throws at you.

These coffees are strong, rich, and bold, all which are roasted in small batches in North Yorkshire England, to bring out the optimum flavour profile of each origin.

Drip Coffee

Because the drip coffee method works well to bring out those subtle flavours and aromas, many would suggest going for a light roasted coffee bean.

Light roasted coffee beans are the brightest, offering the most acidic flavours.

“Light roasts showcase the most authentic quality of the coffee”.

Chad Wang, World Brewers Cup Champion 2017

Just like the french press, you do not have to only stick to one type of roast profile, you can also use medium, or even dark roasted coffees if that is what you prefer, however, for best results we would stick to a light roast.

Try something like Balcones Peru by Union Hand-Roasted, which is an exceptionally balanced speciality coffee, full of body and no bitterness.

This coffee is harvested from the highest elevations of Balcones, La Lima and Cordillera. 

Person holding coffee

It is sourced directly from smallholder farmers in Peru via Union Direct Trade, and then roasted in small batches in London.

Perfect for any drip coffee maker, pulling through a very sweet, chocolatey coffee reminiscent of red apple, plum and toffee.

What Grind Size Should You Use?

ground coffee beans spilling out of cup

Drip coffee you should be using medium grind size, and the french press requires a coarse grind.

It is important to get this right so you do not end up with a disappointing brew. 

If your grind size is too fine, it will reduce the water flow rate. This can then result in a bitter, over extracted cup of coffee.

If the grind size is too coarse, then this can result in an under extracted and weak cup of coffee.

FAQ’s

Q: Is French press coffee stronger than drip coffee?

A: No. The flavours in press coffee tend to be more intense because the stainless steel mesh doesn’t filter out the fine particles or the natural oils. Drip coffee filters out both oils and fines, which give a cleaner taste that can seem milder.

Q: How long should you leave coffee in a French press?

A: Let it steep for 4 minutes to produce a robust brew. If you want to tweak your French press as you learn its nuances, you may find that different roasts of coffee do better with slightly longer or shorter steeping times.

Q: What is the difference between brewed coffee and drip coffee?

A: All coffee, other than instant, is brewed. The drip method, where hot water is run through the coffee grounds which are usually held in a paper filter or metal mesh cone, is one method of making brewed coffee.

Q: What is the difference between pour over and drip coffee?

A: Pour overs give you full control over your pouring style, whereas drip coffee machines do it for you.

Conclusion: Drip Coffee vs French Press

a brewed coffee sitting on the window sill

Overall, both drip coffee and french press coffee can produce great tasting coffee.

Drip coffee will give you a light-bodied brew, and French press will give you a full bodied brew. I believe both styles of coffee have their place in the specialty coffee industry.

Although I like both brewing methods, if i could only choose one, then I would choose the French Press.

Drip Coffee vs French press will continue to be debated, however, there is no real right or wrong answer, and it all comes down to personal preferences and experience.

Do you brew coffee at home? What is your preferred method?

If you are looking to find out more about Specialty Coffee, be sure to check out more articles over on our beginners guide 🙂

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