French Press vs Drip Coffee, The Real Taste Difference

Last Update: August 29, 2021
The French Press is almost as popular as Drip coffee makers. Deciding between the two is tough. Read about their differences, and which affords better flavor.

French Press vs Drip Coffee — A Quick Overview

Every coffee lover knows that your brewing method determines the coffee taste and overall flavor of your brew. There are many coffee brewing methods, but French press and drip coffee are easily the two most popular. In the quest to solve the age-old conundrum of French press vs drip coffee, here is a quick overview of both devices.

French press is known by many names including coffee press pot. It is ironically a product of Italy and not France. This simple creation has been around since the 1920s. It has largely remained the same barring a few tweaks.

french press vs drip

A French press coffee maker is basically a cylindrical beaker with a plunger and filter attached to the lid. To use it, you put coffee in the beaker, add hot (not boiling) water to about midway or to the three quarter level depending on the amount of coffee you want to make, stir it around and attach the lid.

Then leave it for a short while, then press down the plunger slowly. The filter on the plunger separates the coffee ground from the brew. That’s it. Using a French press is simple and fast, although not as simple as instant coffee.

Drip coffee machines are a cheaper alternative to an espresso machine. Drip coffee makers are ideal for people who want a hot cup of coffee on the go and don’t want to wait or put effort into the brewing process. There are a variety of drip coffee makers on the market, but they work the same way.

A drip coffee machine is largely automatic. You put in your coffee ground and water, then turn the machine on an it does its magic. As the water is heated, small bubbles travel through a pipe into the filter. The hot drops of water are evenly distributed over the coffee grounds, and it flows through, dripping into your pot below to create your brew.

The question of drip v.s. French press is a matter of personal preference. If you want a no-hassle coffee device, a drip machine is best for you. However, if you care about the taste of your coffee and you want something that gives you control over the brewing process, you should definitely get a French press.

French Press vs Drip - Which is Better?

From espresso to cappuccino to flat white, people love their coffee. In the past, people had to go to their local coffee shop and asked a barista to prepare their favorite coffee beverage. Because of the availability today of various kinds of coffee machines, people can now brew their favorite cup of coffee as a professional barista did.

Today's coffee machines have acquired a degree of refinement that allows people with no experience in brewing coffee the skill to make different recipes of coffee. People now freely make a latte, cappuccino, and other popular coffee beverages in the comfort of their homes.

Coffee machines are so popular that you could hardly find a home without one. You can buy a coffee machine for as low as $20 to a high of thousand dollars, depending on the quality and type of coffee you want to brew.

The traditional way of brewing coffee involves two popular methods: pressing or dripping. To press or to drip is an ongoing battle that coffee fanatics love to have. For many years, the debate continues on which is better between the two methods of brewing coffee.

The goal here is to closely examine the popular methods of brewing coffee and find out the best way of preparing your morning jolt of caffeine.

Benefits of French Press over Drip

Despite improvements in the technology that has led to more advanced espresso and drip coffee machines, many people still choose to go the manual route and use a French Press. There are many benefits of French press over drip coffee. Here are a few pros of using a French press.

Using a French press gives you a more intimate coffee brewing process. If you are a coffee lover and you have never brewed coffee with your hands, you’re missing out big time on this one-of-a-kind experience.

But its not just about the coffee brewing experience, using a French press allows you to produce really good coffee not just regular coffee. Despite the criticism that French press tends to over-extract, the flavor of the coffee that you get from a French press beats what you’ll get from an automatic drip brewer or espresso machine.

Some other benefits of using a French press include full control over the brewing process. For example, you can customize the brew to make it stronger or use bigger size grinds for a less intense brew.

A French press is also likely to last you longer than a drip coffee maker. Unlike drip coffee makers, there’s no chances of wires corroding or parts deteriorating with a French press. The only damage you may experience is the glass carafe breaking, and you can easily replace that.
So, the next time you hear a debate about drip vs French press coffee, you know the pros and cons of both devices.

What is French Press Coffee?

French Press Coffee

At home and in the foodservice industry, French press coffee has become one of the most popular coffee brewing methods. This method of preparing coffee produces coffee with strong flavors that people have come to love. 

What is a French press? Contrary to its name suggests, a French press is not French as it was invented in Milan, Italy, more than 80 years ago, with the classic design persisting today. French press still makes coffee with rich flavor to complement your breakfast of choice.

The French presses make coffee by steeping coffee grounds and hot water in a beaker. After steeping the coffee, the coffee grounds are separated from the liquid coffee by pressing a filter made of metal mesh to the beaker's bottom. The liquid coffee that has been separated from the grounds will then be poured into a mug. The filter lets the natural coffee oils and fine particles pass through it, giving the coffee a thick body.

The process of steeping water and coffee over an extended period is called immersion brewing. The coffee grounds are immersed in water, unlike the drip method of making coffee, where the water must pass through the grounds.

The mixture of coffee grounds and hot water allows for a uniform extraction of coffee. However, leaving the coffee and water too steep for too long could result in over-extraction of coffee. Over extraction also occurs if the coffee grounds are too small. The immersion of coffee grounds in water should be done at a certain period to get the best-tasting coffee possible.

The French press has two main parts:

1. The Lid, Plunger, and Filter

A French press has a metal filter that allows the coffee grounds’ fine particles and natural oils to pass through. This allows French press coffee to have its rich texture and hearty body that you do not see in coffee brewed using a paper filter.

The metal filter is connected to the metal rod that goes through the plunger, which is used to press the metal filter down to the beaker's bottom. This is the reason why the process of brewing coffee is called the French press.

The lid fits exactly onto the beaker’s top, with the filter snugly fitting the beaker’s sides with pressure on the walls to prevent the coffee particles from slipping through when pressed.

2. The Beaker, Base, and Handle

The beaker is made either from glass or hard plastic. There are also cases when the beaker is made of metal or ceramic, although these two materials are not as popular as glass and plastic. The beaker holds the coffee and hot water for steeping and as the vessel to pour coffee into your cup or mug. The body and the handle of the beaker are configured according to the material used. 

The minimum requirements to make French press coffee are a French press, hot water, and ground coffee. You do not need other equipment such as a long neck kettle, electricity for brewing, or a supply of paper filters. 

You can improve your French press coffee quality with a few additional tools, such as a burr grinder. The burr grinder allows you to ground your coffee beans right before you start brewing freshly. This ensures that you will get the freshest tasting coffee possible compared to when you use pre-ground coffee beans. Coffee beans, once they are ground, will begin to oxidize and lose much of their flavor. Pre-ground coffee, therefore, is not much of an option when you want to brew fresh-tasting coffee.

Another advantage of using a burr grinder is having a uniform particle size of the coffee grounds. Uniformly ground particles are important in a French press because the coffee grounds may be over-extracted when steeped with water for so long. For the French press, coarse grind coffee is highly suggested.  Uneven particle sizes of coffee grounds, such as those produced by a blade grinder, will have the small particles over-extracted while the large particles will be under-extracted. Over-extracted coffee particles result in a bitter taste.

french press parts

What is A Coffee Maker?

The coffee maker is a friendly utensil found in most American homes. Most people dependent on caffeine to start their day rely on the coffee maker for the java cup that gives them the needed jolt to start the day.

Preparing coffee using a coffee maker each morning is easy. All you have to do is scoop on the coffee grounds, add some water to the machine’s water reservoir, and turn the switch on, and shortly, coffee will be dripping out of the machine as its rich aroma fills the air. Most likely, you don’t even bother to imagine what was going on inside the machine – how the machine heats up, how water from the reservoir goes over the coffee grounds in the filter basket. When the coffee machine operates, the gurgling sound is a welcome sound to many people, without even bothering to find out how coffee is brewed.

The typical drip coffee maker is not rocket science, so it will be easy for coffee lovers to understand its works. To make your morning cup of coffee, you will need coffee beans, which are seeds of the coffee plant’s seeds or cherries. The two most common species of coffee plants are Arabica and Robusta.

Many types of coffee makers on the market, but the most commonly used, and perhaps the simplest, are the traditional coffee maker or the drip coffee maker. The drip coffee maker is a simple device that had been around for many decades.

When you open the top lid of the coffee maker, you will see three important parts:

  • The reservoir – This is a small tank that holds the water needed to brew coffee. This pours into the reservoir before you start your coffee-making process. When you peer inside the reservoir, you will notice a hole at the bottom.
  • The tube – There is a tube that leads up from the hole at the bottom part of the reservoir. This goes up the device carrying water to the drip area.
  • The showerhead – Hot water is sprayed over the coffee grounds through a showerhead. In some coffee maker versions, the water comes out of the hose onto the drip area, a perforated disc, and falls to the coffee grounds.
coffee maker big

The system of a coffee maker cannot be classified as a high-tech device. It is a simple device of tubing and electric wires. A tube picks up the water from the bottom of the reservoir and passes through the hot-water tube. Inside the device is a heating element. It is a simple coiled wire that heats in the same manner as a light bulb's filament or an electric toaster's heating element. The coil gets hot when electricity runs through it. The heating element performs two main tasks: first, to heat the water used in brewing coffee and keep the coffee in the carafe warm.

The coffee maker’s switch controls the heating element. The heating element is powered when the switch is flicked on. The heating element comes with sensors and fuses to prevent it from overheating. If the coil gets too hot, the sensor will detect it and turn off the power. When the heating element is cooling down, the same will also be detected and turns on the power. The cycling keeps the heating element at even temperatures.

A coffee maker has a one-way valve to prevent boiling water from flowing back into the reservoir. The valve lets cold water pass through the aluminum tube, forcing the boiling water to bubble up the white tube. The valve accepts only inflow but prevents any backflow. The valve system allows water to flow only in one direction toward the showerhead and never back into the reservoir.

Making coffee using a drip coffee maker follows these steps:

  1. Pour cold water into the reservoir. Water will flow from the reservoir down through the hole and into the heating tube.
  2. Water flows through the one-way valve into the aluminum tube in the heating element and up through the white tube. Gravity will propel the water.
  3. Turn on the switch. The heating element heats the aluminum tubing, and the water starts boiling.
  4. As the water boils, the bubbles rise into the white tube. The tube is small, and the bubbles are big, forcing the column of water upward on top of the bubbles.
  5. The hot water flows up the white tube and drips evenly on the coffee grounds.
  6. The hot water flows through the coffee grounds, picking up the oil essence on its way down to the coffee pot.
  7. Pour the hot coffee from the pot into your mug.

You can add milk and cream to taste.

Their newer models of the drip coffee maker with advanced features allow you more control over your coffee. Some machines will built-in grinders to give you nice and fresh coffee each morning. There are also digital coffee makers that allow you to adjust the strength of the brew. Automatic coffee makers can be programmed so they will start brewing coffee before you wake up in the morning, giving you the privilege of waking up to a steaming pot of fresh coffee.

The best coffee makers are available on the market. Just choose the right one for your taste and needs.

French Press vs Coffee Maker

You’re likely to find a coffee machine in just about every home today. And the good ol’ French Press just seems like a piece of archaic equipment next to advanced coffee machines. But should you ditch your French Press for a coffee maker? Let’s briefly highlight some overlooked perks of a French Press vs coffee maker.

We’ve already talked about how French Press gives you full control over the brewing process, and yes it does require some effort on your part, but it is worth it because you get a better brew at the end of the day. One of the reasons why a French Press makes a better brew than coffee machines is that the oils in the coffee beans remain intact. When you use a coffee machine, the paper filter eliminates a large percentage of the oils in the beans during the filtration process. This is one of the reasons why the flavor of filtered coffee is not as intense as that of French Press coffee.

Another thing that makes a French Press preferable is that it is very portable and has a short brewing time. You can take it with you when you’re going camping or on long trips and make your coffee on-the-go. You don't have to settle for a cold brew. Although there are portable coffee machines, they can’t be compared with a French Press.

With that said, coffee machines require less work and are easier to clean compared to a French Press.

What to Choose - French Press vs Drip Coffee Maker?

Drip Coffee

People have a coffee press or coffee maker. Seldom does a regular person have both. When discussing french press vs. drip, it is necessary to understand that these two deliver different coffee types. The drip coffee maker has advantages over the French press, particularly in its capacity. A drip coffee maker typically brews up to 12 cups of coffee in one operation. It also allows you to plan, which is possible by setting up the machine in advance without worrying that your coffee grounds or water will be contaminated during the wait. When you are ready to brew your coffee, all you have is to turn on the switch, and your drip coffee will be ready. Another option is to program when your machine turns on if you have one that is automatic. 

By contrast, the typical France press coffee makes only two or four cups of coffee per cycle, although newer versions of the press can make up to eight cups.

The drip coffee maker keeps your coffee pot nice and hot, allowing you to enjoy more than one cup. This machine is advantageous when you will be brewing coffee for a big group.

The French press coffee goes cold fast. If there is any leftover, you will have to reheat it, but the flavor will no longer be the same.

Another consideration when you need to choose between French press vs. pour-over coffee is the time taken to brew. There are instances when you want to have your coffee immediately after waking up in the morning. The time it takes before your brew is ready could be the deal-breaker of your choice.

The average time to produce a brew using the French press is between 5 and 8 minutes because you have to boil the water first and allow some minutes more for steeping the grounds and the hot water.

A drip machine, on the other hand, takes from five to minutes to brew your coffee. You have to wait for the machine to heat up, let it brew the coffee, and wait for it to drip down into the coffee pot.

When it comes to ease of use, a French press has many variables to play while a drip machine requires grinding the beans, setting up the machine, brewing time, speed of drip, and more. You need a lot of practice before perfecting your brew with the French press, while you will do no wrong brewing with the drip coffee maker.

How Often Should You Replace and Clean a French Press Filter?

You must clean your French Press filter every time you use it. A simple rinse is enough to get rid of the coffee ground residue and oils. Doing this prevents the leftover oils and coffee bean ground from running the taste of your fresh brew. Also, it prevents the filter from getting clogged.

Apart from the regular daily cleaning after each brew, we recommend giving your French Press a deep clean at least once or twice every month - sort of like descaling your coffee machine. You can use vinegar, citric acid, or any descaling solution to give your device a deep cleanse.

A few factors determine the frequency with which you should change your french press filter. If any of the following things happen to your french press, consider purchasing a replacement filter:

  • You notice coffee grounds in your cup, as well as a tear in one of your existing filters.
  • If you’ve misplaced your primary (lower) or secondary (upper) filter, as well as your filter brace (medium and large, only).
  • If one of your filters’ plastic structures has been damaged (e.g., by leaving it on a hot stovetop).

You can extend the life of a French Press filter with proper care and maintenance, but it will eventually fall apart, and you will need to purchase a replacement filter. The length of time it takes will be determined by the quality of the product you use. A low-quality filter may not last more than six months, but it can last for years if you spend a little more and care for it properly.

In general, the filter does not need to be replaced unless it tears or frays due to regular use and cleaning. The filter screen on a good quality French press, such as the Bodum French Press, Frieling French Press, or Espro Press, can last for a year or more with no problems.

Remember that not all French Presses are created equal, and some models’ filters tend to crease at the edges. As a result, coffee grounds accumulate on the sides of some filters, causing them to deteriorate more quickly.

Is French Press Coffee Better?

People always ask 'is French press coffee better?' The simple answer is yes! French press coffee is better for a lot of reasons.

For example, it has the right temperature. The water temperature in a French press is maintained throughout the process, which affects how the coffee is brewed.

Drip machines and percolators heat and cool the water quickly, so the ideal temperature is reached only in the middle of the brewing process rather than throughout the entire brewing cycle.

French press coffee allows you to experiment and determine how exactly your coffee to taste. This is possibly the number one reason why French press is rated higher versus other coffee-making devices.

Cafe Du Chateau French Press Coffee Maker

Another glaring reason why French press coffee is better is that a French press can be taken almost anywhere. It comes in one piece, can be easily packed in luggage, and can make great instant coffee wherever you are.

You don’t have to settle for stale, poorly brewed cup of coffee just because your hotel room has a pod maker these days. You can use those machines to get hot water and make your coffee in your French press with freshly ground coffee beans, and it requires no special guide

If you’re still using a percolator or drip machine, upgrade to a French press machine and experience the difference. You’ll want to put your drip machine away and use your French press to make the best coffee you’ve ever had. Drip machine is no match versus french press.

Why use a French Press?

We all agree that French Press makes the best coffee. If you’re still wondering ‘why use a French Press?’ Here are some things you should know.

The oils in your coffee grounds are absorbed by the paper filter in the machine when you’re making a drip-brew. A French Press does not have any paper filter so your coffee flavor is not watered down in any way.

You make a good cup of tea by steeping your tea leaves for several minutes. A French press works in a similar way. The coffee tastes better because the grounds are steep rather than a filter.

When you use a French press, your coffee grounds are completely saturated. This guarantees full extraction and a deep, richer flavor. On the other hand, with a drip machine, you can only get partial extraction at best.

Another perk of a French press is that it is very easy to use. You don’t have to go through a complex guide to figure out how the different parts of the device work. So, whether you love technology or you’re not a fan of fancy gadgets, a French press is perfect for you.


Both the French coffee press and drip coffee maker are useful in their ways. The benefits of each depend on the coffee drinkers themselves, specifically their preferences on taste and their lifestyles.

Coffee lovers who want to better control the variables in brewing coffee would prefer the French press. When you know how to operate the French press, you will be confident in brewing the perfect flavor and taste of coffee every time.

With the drip machine, you are likely to get a light and bland flavor. If you keep the coffee pot too long warming in the machine, the more bitter taste it will have.

If you are looking for the maximum and pure coffee flavor and taste, go the French press way.

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