Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to coffee their are endless brewing methods. It’s been a long-running battle among coffee connoisseurs over which of the two top contenders can produce the best caffeine-fuelled cup of coffee; is it the French Press or is it pourover coffee? In this writeup we’ll focus on French press brewing vs pourover brewing. We’ll outline the differences, pros and cons and when it may be best to reach for your favorite pourover instead of a French press maker. Each preparation method also features tips on bringing out flavor nuances that may align best with your personal brewing style.
French Press VS Pour-Over Brew Styles
You may know that the French Press method steeps coffee grounds in boiling water with a plunger filter that separates the finished coffee inside the carafe.
All pourover concoctions involve steeping the coffee grounds literally (and slowly) poured over the grounds. The brewed coffee then seeps through a filter that empties into a serving mug.
Because each method offers distinct characters and many variables, results can vary.These variables include grind size, brewing duration, water temperature, and agitation of the coffee grounds. All of these variables will affect flavor, texture, and caffeine levels.
Also see: French Press VS Drip Coffee
Pour-over brewing (Pourover) Vs Immersion (French Press) method of brewing
There are two things to remember about these two brewing methods before we begin. Here are the facts:
- A) Pour-over brewing means that you’re slowly adding hot water over freshly-ground coffee, and then it drains into a waiting mug- for you to drink immediately.
- B) Immersion (or infusion) brewing means that the hot water is directly mixed with your coffee grounds in the same carafe (as it steeps), and then is filtered and poured into a waiting cup.
Pour-over brewing has quickly become a popular way to make coffee. In a nutshell, it’s the result of pouring hot water over coffee grounds that filter into a cup or mug. This method provides a strong (yet delicious) cup of coffee if you follow the steps involved that can be adjusted to your liking. These steps allow you to customize the amount of time the hot water is steeping over your coffee which can further increase the strength and flavor.
It all starts with selecting the appropriate grind size and temperature of the water. It also relies on how slowly you pour water over the coffee grounds. Your pouring vessel has a paper filter that is added to filter out coffee grounds which need to be pre-wet with boiling water to remove paper-like flavors that many filters have. As far as grind size, you should settle for a medium-fine grind that works the best.
Once the filter is pre-wet, you add fresh grounds before you start the first stage of pouring. This is so you start the blooming effect which helps the coffee grounds release the coffee flavors that are extracted. Make sure your grind size is not too fine or too coarse with each granule of coffee ideally the same size by using a conical burr grinder. Smaller particles can release bitter flavors faster than larger bits, so your coffee grinder will help to regulate this problem.
Smaller granules make stronger coffee while larger ones make the coffee taste weaker. When it comes to water temperature, the general advice is to have 195-205°F (90-96°C). This temperature allows coffee grounds to have flavors extracted without being burned in the process. Using a gooseneck kettle helps to pour hot water easier while controlling your speed and flow volume. Each pouring stage is typically timed in intervals to get the best results.
As for the pouring speed, slow and steady work the best, while some people prefer to pour faster in shorter timed intervals. This all depends on the flavor profile you’re looking to get for your finished coffee. Pour-over brewing is rewarding if you are patient, but is flexible enough for you to adjust these instructions to customize the final results. It all comes down to preference using a technique that results in a cup of coffee that you enjoy in the end.
Some pour-over brewing vessels don’t require paper filters that give a completely different taste profile. These filters include ceramic, metal, and even cotton fabrics that all provide different results for pour-over coffee variant brewing methods. The most popular pourover devices are the V60, Chemex, Melitta, and Kalita Wave.
For methods that include French Press coffee, this involves immersion brewing to prepare your coffee differently. It involves the coffee grounds and hot water steeping together for several minutes for a very different flavor profile. This process extracts flavors and aromas that are not passed through a filter (per se) but rather separated from each other by having the coffee grounds pushed down by a plunger/filter before serving this unique coffee.
This process creates a cup of coffee that is more full-bodied than traditional pour-over coffee. It also happens to taste less acidic with fruitier notes because the coffee grounds are acting as a filter. When the plunger is pushed down on this mass of floating grounds, the grounds prevent the heavier and bitter flavors from rising up resulting in a flavorful coffee blend. But still, this process does require a slower extraction using controlled steps when brewing it correctly.
Brewing coffee with the immersion technique is not as complicated as the pour-over method, but still requires the same amount of care for ensuring grind size, water temperature, and pouring speeds. The temperature of your coffee will be fine when adding 196-200°F (90-93°C) and doesn’t need to be any higher like pour-over coffee brewing. This allows the coffee to bloom enough in the beginning and still remain hot until it’s poured after brewing.
And while the amount of heat is gentle on your coffee grounds, the blooming stage won’t burn your coffee grounds and helps release flavors slower than the pour-over method.
French Press VS Pour-Over Flavor Profiles
French Press Flavor Profile
French Press coffee is universally known as a great way to enjoy strong and flavorful coffee. The grind size is typically set for coarse granules with boiling water that doesn’t exceed 200°F (93°C). Additionally, the steeping time is 3-4 minutes to extract the flavors which will take longer to brew with coarsely ground coffee. What this does is helps to create deeper and bolder flavors that have plenty of aromatic oils included.
Because of the longer steeping time, French Press coffee does have more bite due to the acidic flavors, but cream and sugar do balance this out nicely. Bitter flavors are the result of coffee grounds that are too fine for this method. The longer steeping time would release these flavors into your coffee as a result. Properly brewed French Press coffee should have dark chocolate, caramel, and earthy flavor tones. See how you can even use a French press to make a strong espresso like coffee here.
Pour-over Flavor Profile
Pour-over brewing is nearly as flavorful as French Press but on the opposite spectrum of how coffee flavor is extracted from the grounds. It’s best described as the tea version of coffee rather than the deep and bold flavors you get with French Press. This method allows hotter water to be used (195-205°F) with coffee grounds that can be finer (medium-coarse). While the total brewing time is shorter than French Press, this is thanks to drip coffee extraction.
Many pour-over coffee makers are cone-shaped and require a paper filter. These brewing vessels are placed directly over a coffee mug that gives you instant results in minutes. The method of how water is poured over the coffee grounds relies on brewing stages that include the bloom pour and a 1st and 2nd stage pour. Each of these stages determines how the coffee will taste and your interaction with agitating the coffee grounds while pouring the water.
Pour-over coffee can release flavors that are filtered and refined with the pouring stages to get varied flavor profiles. The results that are a very common result in finer and smoother blends with bright fruity notes. There are obvious floral aromas and sweetness similar to citrus-zest or honey, and even jasmine depending on the beans you use. This version of coffee is lower in acidity since paper filters absorb these coffee oils making your coffee taste mild and smooth.
French Press VS Pour-Over Texture
The texture of French Press is notably bold and full-bodied with a thicker taste. This is partly due to the addition of the oils that are extracted and the longer steeping time. There is also a slight amount of sediment that gives each sip a fuller feel with plenty of body. Even if you filter out this sediment carefully, French Press coffee has a richer and heavier texture that remains on your tongue long after each sip you take.
On the other side of the coffee brewing fence, pour-over coffee is amazingly delicate and light resulting in smoother-tasting coffee. This is why the pouring process is so painstakingly careful to not disturb the coffee grounds as water is being poured. This helps to preserve flavors that are delicate and avoids over-extraction that will add acidic flavor. The paper filter is what prevents heavier oils from the finished coffee so you can taste the lighter coffee notes likewise.
As you can see, both of these methods are making great coffee with delicious results. Perhaps it’s a matter of opinion for coffee lovers to decide whether delicate and light flavors are preferred over bold and rich-tasting coffee. You can be sure that French Press coffee goes great with cream and sugar, whereas pour-over coffee is best served as a stand-alone cup of coffee-like tea without any extras.
French Press VS Pour-Over Yield
You will find that the yield size for both French Press and Pour-over coffee brewing depends on grind size, the number of beans used, and various factors. In general, an average-size French Press will produce 3-4 cups of coffee per ½ cup of wet coffee grounds. With pour-over coffee, you can average 2-3 cups with a decent-sized pour-over coffee vessel. French Press will allow more coffee since the flavors are extracted rather than absorbed into the coffee grounds.
Pour-over coffee will hold more water since it uses gravity to drain excess liquid into your coffee mug but will have a substantial amount of water that remains afterward in the brewing vessel. This will become very obvious when using finer grinds for pour-over recipes. With French Press, larger-sized granules don’t absorb water (so much) as they release their flavors from within. Both methods are reliable if you pay attention to grind size to control consistent results.
Precise measurements for each recipe between water and beans will further help when it comes to the exact amount of yield that you get each time. When it amounts to taste preference, you’ll need to adjust the number of beans and water to have the desired yield for each brewing method.
Pros and Cons of French Press Coffee
As usual, French Press coffee does have benefits and drawbacks even if you compare it with other brewing methods. The method itself is straightforward- Grind the beans, boil the water, pour in the grounds and mix with the water, add the plunger, and filter the coffee before you pour it into your favorite mug. The biggest downside is getting gritty results from finer particles that slip through the plunger filter. See some of our favorite French press makers here.
To remedy this to get smoother-tasting coffee you can try different filtering methods that minimize and stop grit from getting into your morning coffee. There’s also a few questions regarding French press and your health.
Pros and Cons of Pourover Coffee
With pour-over coffee, the light and delicate flavors are a treat for the senses, yet the right technique and patience will always prevail. As this brewing style is tricky enough, it’s become the buzz for coffee gurus who all claim they have the best technique. What it all comes down to is grind size, water temperature, timed water pours, and a steady hand. If you have the patience for perfection, the results will be well worth considering.
But for most people, some coffee lovers might be turned off at the sound of tea-like coffee that’s the complete opposite of French Press’s full-bodied flavor. While you do get coffee that is nice and smooth with no coffee grounds or acidic bite, a high-quality cup of pour-over brew is a chance to sample coffee flavors you’ve never experienced before. It does take practice to get this method right to taste flavors that you never thought coffee could produce otherwise.
So, Which is Better?
Both the French Press and Pour-over methods are equally popular brewing styles that brew two individual types of flavor profiles. French Press delivers hearty and bold-tasting coffee with a longer extraction time, whereas pour-over is lighter and fruitier with less time involved to brew. And though you can get more coffee when brewing French Press, it seems you will need to adjust water ratios to coffee grinds when brewing pour-over coffee.
Attention to detail and consistent technique get the best results for both brewing methods. It goes without saying, French Press needs bigger coffee grounds and pour-over does better with medium-sized grinds. You’ll find both have benefits and setbacks depending on which method you prefer. It may just be a matter of preference for vibrant flavor over subtle fruitier nuances. The fact remains that you still need to have patience and skill to brew either one correctly.
Why is Pour-over Coffee Better?
Pour-over coffee offers vibrant flavors that are unlike typical coffee brews and contain nuances of flavors you don’t often taste from traditionally brewed coffee beans. The texture is very smooth with low acidity which allows you to taste the fruitier notes just like you get with drinking quality tea. Unlike French Press, there is no gritty texture or heavy coffee flavors which is the result of careful brewing and attention to detail.
Why is French Press Better?
Brewing with the French Press method creates the ultimate bold cup of java that contains higher extracted flavors that coffee drinkers enjoy. The grind size may be coarser than you’re used to but the extended flavor extraction packs a punch every time. There are fewer steps involved than pour-over coffee and the yield you get from this brew method is more than pour-over brew. French Press is excellent for those who love richer and bolder-tasting cups of coffee.
How does French Press coffee compare to Pour-over in terms of flavor?
French Press is a strong and bold coffee with plenty of body and flavor, while pour-over is providing coffee that is highly aromatic and has complex flavors that are often hidden by heavier underlying coffee flavors.
What are the advantages of using the French Press brewing method?
French Press coffee provides you with more caffeine than pour-over coffee which gives you a bigger jolt from a single cup. The flavor intensity and aroma also heighten your senses while it’s brewing, making this coffee practice very addictive.
What kind of brew should I choose if I prefer a cleaner cup of coffee without bitterness or acidity?
Pour-over coffee can result in cleaner and smoother-tasting coffee with very little bitterness and low acidity. If you don’t follow the brewing instructions for any pour-over method, you will immediately find that you did something incorrectly while making your coffee.