While the rest of the world may not mind sipping instant cup of coffee, some of us who’ve “tasted better” turn up our noses. Kidding aside, a serendipitous encounter with a good brew is palate-changing and something that we wish to recreate right in the comfort of our homes. If you’re in a quandary whether a pour-over dripper or a French press is right for you, let our article about Pour Over Coffee vs French Press method provide you with some insights.
We’ll show you how a pour over brew maker and the French press method differ in terms of preparation method and end-result coffee taste, and how it may fit your level of commitment and attention-to-detail in preparing the perfect brew.
How is Pour Over Coffee vs French Press Prepared?
Pour Over Coffee Brewers
How to make Pour over drip coffee: start by pouring hot water over grounds on a dedicated device with paper filters. The liquid that drips through it and collects in the cup or carafe constitutes your drink. While this manual brewing sounds very simple, it requires certain technique.
The Six Important Elements in the Preparation of Pour Over Coffee
- Freshly ground beans
Coffee starts to lose it freshness after you grind it, so it’s important that you grind your beans right before start your brewing process.
- Burr grinder
Besides being freshly ground, your granules must also be coarse and the right size because they affect timing and extraction. To find the perfect grind size, a burr grinder will come in handy. And between a flat and conical burr grinder, choose the latter, which comes with speed settings.
- Clean water
Water should be boiled to 195-205°F or 90-96°C. That’s about 30 seconds off the boil.
- Cone paper filter
To remove any unwanted taste that this screen filter may add to your coffee, rinse it by placing it in the dripper and pour hot water around it for five seconds. Remember to discard the water that collects in the cup or carafe.
- Long-necked kettle
While any kettle will do fine, a gooseneck kettle affords you more control.
- Pour-over dripper
This is your dedicated tool for this preparation.
Now, how do you brew coffee using this particular drip technique? Considering you already have the ingredients and the tools in their ‘right setting,’ here are the steps in making your pour-over coffee:
Step 1: Place the freshly ground beans in the rinsed paper filter, which by now has its sides stuck onto the inner walls of the dripper. Station the dripper on top of your cup or carafe. Start with a 1:16 water to coffee ratio and tweak it to your liking after a few trial-and-errors.
Step 2: Pour enough hot water into the fresh grounds to dampen it. Let it sit for 30 seconds, and watch the grounds bloom. The blooming process releases the carbon dioxide in the grounds and allows the hot water to pass through later with less resistance.
Step 3: Slowly pour 195-205°F hot water onto the coffee bloom to dissolve it. Pour in steady spirals, hitting the dark spots. The key to a tasty brew is knowing when to stop. The best flavor balance is at the first 19-20% mass of the coffee.
Step 4: Finish off in 2.5 to four minutes. This should already include the drip time which is 20-60 seconds. For dark-roasted, the target total brew time is 2.5 to three minutes. For medium to light-roasted, it’s three to four minutes.
Step 5: Record how you did your preparation so that you can make adjustments accordingly making it a little different the next time. Plus, if you have already come across the perfect blend, then it will be easy to replicate it.
Pour over brew preparation is all about control and consistency, from the size and coarseness of the grounds and water temperature to the coffee-and-water ratio and the speed with which you pour the hot liquid.
The key principles to help you tweak the flavor:
- Granule texture and size
Larger granules allow water to flow over the granules faster. Finer granules, on the other hand, will slow down extraction. Additionally, if it’s too coarse, you’ll get weak and sour coffee. If it’s too fine, you’ll get a bitter and harsh taste.
- Flavor balance
The best flavor balance is extracted at the first 19-20% of the mass of the coffee. In principle, the fine ones will get the nasty flavors faster than the larger-sized grounds as you run hot water over it. And if you brew longer than you should, then you’ll start getting the unpleasant flavors.
- Consistency and Speed in the pouring of hot water
The faster you pour, the lighter the flavor. The slower you pour, the stronger the taste.
French Press Coffee Makers
If pour over coffee is all about control and consistency, then the French press is all about freedom. In fact, it is one of the least fussy—and therefore one of the most common—of the brewing methods. It uses a French press which is a cylindrical beaker with a plunger. With a press, the mesh piston at the end of the plunger separates the coffee grounds from the liquid.
Considering you already have the coarsely ground beans, hot water, and a French press, here are the steps on how to brew with your French press:
Step 1: Put the coffee in the French press. Because the mesh isn’t as fine as the paper filter, you’d want to use a coarse grind. Again, start with a 1:16 coffee-to-water ratio and adjust accordingly.
Step 2: Pour the hot water into the press. Hot water right off the boil is okay to use unless you have an insulated press for which hot water at least 30 minutes off the boil should be used.
Step 3: Give your coffee and water a gentle stir at around 30-40 seconds in order to give the granules a good wetting.
Step 4: If you’re working with a very coarse grind, then brew for six to eight minutes. If you used fine granules, then brew for only three to four minutes.
Step 5: Press the plunger gently when you think it’s time to stop brewing. Make sure not to take too long; otherwise, you’ll start getting the bitter and astringent flavors. Minimal brewing action will take place once the plunger is pressed down. If you want to stop whatever little brewing is taking place, then remove the liquid from the French press.
Step 6: As with the pour-over method, record and tweak accordingly in your next batch of brew.
French Press vs Pour Over Comparison
Because the coffee granules have longer contact with water in a French press than in a pour over coffee maker, you get a thicker texture and a richer taste with the former. This is also because more oils are drawn from the coffee during the process and fine coffee grounds don’t get filtered out. With a pour-over coffee, you are going to get a great full flavorful taste that’s smooth and lighter.
Ease of Preparation and Cleaning
As you may have already noticed, pour over needs more time and attention than French press. If you want to buy a few minutes to put butter on your toast and other minute tasks while your coffee is brewing, then you should go for the French press because you can’t do that with pour over drippers. Additionally, with pour over coffee, you can’t prepare for everyone in one batch.
There is a difference when it comes to cleaning, the pour over coffee method is much easier. Simply throw away the filters and wash the dripper and it’s ready for your next brewing session. With the French press, you need to collect the coffee granules at the bottom, dismantle the device, and then wash it.
What wins the pour over vs French press brew battle? It all comes down to what you love. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, then we reckon you’re willing to go through the ceremonious preparation of a pour over coffee for a light and smooth brew or the tediousness of cleaning a French press for a rich, bold drink. Remember you have control over either coffee brewing method just by adjusting a few things, making every cup of coffee enjoyable. You can even make a cold brew by adding ice. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can always get both.