In today’s blog, two iconic manual brewing methods are coming head-to-head in the ultimate battle of the brew. Combined, the AeroPress and the French press are used by millions of coffee drinkers around the world. Both of these brewing devices are known to create distinct, delicious brews that even today’s fancy coffee makers and modern electronic brewing systems can’t rival. If you’re making the switch to manual brewing, then you can’t go wrong with either the AeroPress or the French press. But is there a superior brewing device? Read on to learn more about these popular coffee-making methods.

Aeropress VS French Press Comparison Table

AeropressVSFrench Press
aeropress vs french pressfrench press vs aeropress review
BPA-Free PlasticMaterialMetal, Glass, or Ceramic
6-8 ouncesServings28-36 ounces
1-3 minutesBrew Time3-5 minutes
• Easy to clean
• Versatile
• Portable
• Durable
Pros• Easy to use
• Consistent brew
• Multiple servings
• Rich flavor
• Physically hard to use
• Single serve only
Cons• Hard to clean
• Not as healthy
CHECK PRICEPrice CHECK PRICE

French Press

The French press is arguably the most popular manual brewing method in the whole world. Invented over 80 years ago by Attilo Caliman, the French press uses a deceptively simple steeping-and-plunging mechanism to produce deliciously rich coffees and cold brews. Coffee drinkers who love the french press praise it for its convenience, quick brewing times, and “set and forget” brewing process that requires very little attention or effort. Plus, they’re pretty affordable, with most French presses going or $20-40 apiece.

Advantages

  • Easy to use, minimal preparation
  • Creates a very rich and unique brew
  • Can brew more than one serving

Disadvantages

  • Taste and mouthfeel may be too strong for some
  • Difficult to clean due to multiple parts
  • Easy to over-steep the coffee

Aeropress

The AeroPress doesn’t have the French press’s long and storied history; in fact, it’s only been around for just over a decade. Since its introduction in 2005, the AeroPress has slowly and steadily built up a loyal fanbase of coffee drinkers who love its incredible versatility, super short brew times, and clean-tasting brews. Much like the French press, the AeroPress also uses an infusion method to make your morning cup of coffee. However, it has a piston-like plunger that forces coffee through a paper filter and into your cup. Because of this additional pressure (and a finer grind level), the coffee is ready in a much shorter amount of time. An AeroPress will set you back just $29.99, similar to the price of the average french press.

Advantages

  • Clean brew with distinct flavors
  • Extremely durable and portable
  • Versatile

Disadvantages

  • Messy preparation
  • Poor choice for multiple servings
  • Less room for error

French Press VS Aeropress Showdown

Product Material & Design

The AeroPress is a piston-style brewer made out of BPA-free plastic, so it’s virtually indestructible. Its small size and durability have made it a community favorite for on-the-go-brewing since you can bring it around without worrying about it taking up too much space or breaking mid-travel. It’s also just two simple components, so it’s really easy to clean – just soap and rinses. The downside is that, due to its plastic material, it’s not the most elegant-looking device. The French press is a tall carafe, usually made out of clear plastic or glass, with a metal mesh filter/plunger device. The design is very classy-looking and doesn’t take up much space, so it’s perfect to leave out on your kitchen countertop. The smaller-sized french presses can be portable, but most are pretty bulky. Plus, the glass carafes are more likely to break during transport. Due to the multiple components, it’s a bit challenging to clean, especially the mesh filter.

Winner

The French press is the embodiment of a simple yet elegant design, but we’ll have to give this round to the AeroPress. Its durability and portability are unrivaled, and you can brew your favorite cup of coffee no matter where you are.

Ease of Use

There are two ways to brew with the AeroPress. With the original or “standard” method, you place the AeroPress on top of a cup, fill it with water and coffee, then slowly press down on the plunger to extract its flavor. With the inverted style, you place the AeroPress upside down on the plunger, add the coffee grounds and water, then let it steep for a few minutes. Once it’s ready, you have to quickly flip it over the cup, then press down. The inverted method produces a much darker and richer brew, but it’s also significantly messier and more prone to being knocked over. Both methods are pretty physically tasking, especially for people with shoulder issues, because plunging requires a little bit of strength to push it down all the way. It can get pretty technical and complicated since you have to experiment with brew time and level of grind to create the coffee you want, but it’s very reliable once you have the process down. Since the AeroPress is best for single 6-8oz servings, making multiple cups can be very laborious. The French press is a lot simpler and way more low maintenance. Just add coffee grounds to the carafe, fill it with water, then steep for a few minutes. Press down on the plunger when you’re ready to pour and serve. It’s great for beginners or people who don’t want to get too involved with the coffee-making process, you can just set it and forget it until the brew is ready.

Winner

Both processes are pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but the French press wins out for having a much easier learning curve.

Brew Time

Because the grind is much finer, the AeroPress takes just around 1-3 minutes, depending on the method you choose. Meanwhile, the French press takes slightly longer at 3-5 minutes to extract the full coffee flavor.

Winner

The 2-minute difference isn’t staggering, but we can’t deny that the speed of the AeroPress is incredibly impressive for a manual brewing device.

Taste & Quality of Brew

Coffee made with an AeroPress has a very clear, super defined flavor. It filters out much of the oils and sediments, so you get the perfect balance between clarity and body. You could also get a much darker, French press-esque taste (with none of the heavy mouthfeel) by using the inverted method and allowing it to steep for longer. You can make different, unique-tasting coffees just by playing with the different variables such as brew time, roast, grind level, and more. Because you steep french press coffee for several minutes, you can get a much harder-hitting, robust taste using this method. The oils and sediment remain in the coffee, so it creates a much thicker brew that goes well with cool weather. It can be too muddied and heavy for some coffee drinkers, and complex flavor notes aren’t as distinguishable compared to other brewing methods. However, it goes great with bright notes such as chocolate or nuts, and many people like the distinct, natural mouthfeel.

Winner

Taste is incredibly subjective; some people like how clean and light an AeroPress coffee can be, while others prefer the dark, rich coffee of a french press. The AeroPress has a slight advantage, just because it can be used to produce both nuanced, delicate coffees and heavy, full-flavored ones.

Versatility

You can use any kind of coffee grounds with an AeroPress. We recommend starting off with a medium-fine grind, but experiment with different grind levels until you find the one that best creates the coffee you want. This brewing device is incredibly versatile; you can do hundreds of different kinds of coffees just by adjusting the grind size and brew time. You can even make an espresso-like coffee concentrate to make custom cafe beverages like lattes and cappuccinos. To avoid getting too much sediment in your coffee, you need to stick to a coarse grind for your french press. Technically any roast will work with this brewing method, but because it can blur out the flavors a little bit, light and delicate coffees with nuanced flavors are best brewed using other methods. For a french press, we recommend bold, dark roasts with citrus, chocolate, or nutty notes to really get the best flavor. French presses can actually be pretty versatile with the right technique. You can brew many different kinds of coffee, from your regular cup of joe to cold brews.

Winner

You just can’t beat the AeroPress when it comes to versatility. You can make different kinds of coffee by tweaking the process slightly, and you’re not limited to a certain kind of grind.

Final Verdict

Both the AeroPress and the French press have a special place in our hearts, so it really all comes down to what you prefer the most. The AeroPress is a versatile powerhouse for a such a small, portable device, and we love its clean and crisp coffees. On the other hand, we also have to give props to the French press for its deep, bold, thick brews. The good news is that you don’t need to choose one or the other – both are affordable enough that you can buy both, experiment with them a little, and use whichever one you’re feeling at the moment. Both are quick and small devices, so it won’t take up much time or counter space.

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Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.