The French Press vs Pour Over: Coffee Brewing Methods Compared

french press vs pour over coffeeIt’s hard to believe that most of our parents lived their whole lives with one single brew method. Day in and day they’d prepare the same drip coffee.

Nowadays we can experiment with a variety of techniques and technology to produce a fix to our waking caffeine headaches and send us out the door, ready for the day ahead.

Regardless of your preference, the only way you’ll better understand what you like is to experiment. That’s half the fun right?

Well, manual coffee brewing has become wildly popular over the last few years. That’s a term for a slew of different brewing methods, that like pour over or french press, and are probably foreign to our parents generation.

So the question then comes to us, what’s better, French Press or Pour Over? Let’s compare and contrast these two lovely styles so you can get on with your coffee making experience.

Pros and Cons of the French Press

french press and pour overIf you’ve never experienced the bold taste of a French Press, I’d recommend quickly changing that. Also called a cafetiere or coffee press, this is a significant discovery in the science of coffee. Simply procure one tablespoon (or more if you’re looking for dark and bold) of medium to coarse grinds for every cup of coffee you want to brew. That usually equates to four cups of water, depending on the size of the press.

Heat water below boiling on a stovetop, or my preference is to quickly heat some water with my drip brewer. Your call.

What is going to instantly separate the french press from the pour over is that while the pour over filters and doesn’t come into contact with the finished brew, the french press and the grounds make contact for a full three-to-four sweet minutes.

french press coarse groundsAs a result, pour over coffee isn’t typically as strong as a French Press brew will be. Still it has it’s own characteristic flavor. Many who have phobia of coffee grinds ending up in their cup will thus swear by their pour over.

It’s normal for the standard cup of French press coffee to have a bit of grit and be thicker, but pour over coffee has no grit and has a texture that’s more akin to what you’d get from an automatic drip machine: smooth and lighter.

Though pour over brew has a nice flavor it doesn’t have the strong hit that comes from French press coffee, which is why some people prefer using a pour over setup.​ Perhaps that’s their loss.

Different pour-over coffee makers brew slightly different styles of coffee however so keep that in mind.

Since the French press traditionally brews a more robust, stronger tasting cup of coffee it comes down to preference on taste. The taste lends itself to the coarse metal mesh that steeps the grinds coffee rather than the filters in a pour over. Additionally, the ratio of water to grounds can be up for debate as a flavor improver as well.

Sometimes the seal between parts of the french press will lose their hold, of course, this means that coffee grounds can easily find their way to your coffee cup. However, we’re big fans of the lot of the oils and flavor properties that transfer to the beverage.

French Press Oils

A good cup of coffee of course owes itself to those oils and most paper filters don’t treat those properties so kindly. It’s kind of a shame to let the suspended solids, as some call them, go to waste. This taste is hard to compare with the pour over, but many will take it over the french press if they are seeking a smooth draw from a fresh pour over.

So don’t think we’re biased just yet.

Related – I prefer using a large French Press because it gives me better taste due to it’s more consitent temperature. If I need to take something to-go though there are a few excellent French press travel mugs that work well too.

Quality and Quantity in the French Press

The French Press might seem compact, and to an extent it certainly is, but you’re going to get quite a few cups out of one pot, and that’s something to be celebrated.

The French Press continues to succeed in a world of Keurigs and fancy mocha pots because it’s capable of brewing a substantial amount of coffee of quality. A traditional french press brews enough coffee for four decent sized coffee cups. Some pots are even bigger. Some french presses are even more compact. The brewing time may be longer than say, an Aeropress, but the yield is much better.

Some reasons you’d prefer the french press also include the advanced control over practically every variable in the process. This can scare off the novice coffee maker.

However, if you’re here to experiment, add more or less grounds, and see how the flavor is affected. Ultimately, it can be really rewarding.

To try a french press brew yourself follow these simple but fundamental instructions:

  1. Place grounds in the bottom of the french press’s glass carafe with the filter press removed. Add pre-heated water and make sure to cover all the grounds equally as the water enters the vessel.
  2. Next, set the filter press and cover on top of the grounds, sealing the vessel, but don’t depress the plunger yet. Instead, set a timer for thirty seconds to one minute. Again, experimenting with this yields your personal preference.
  3. After the timers up, depress the plunger, pressing the grounds to the bottom of the french press.
  4. Now that the grinds are off the coffee product, you can serve or choose to wait. Some experts say to wait for four minute, again with the timer. If you’re not crazy about waiting for your brew than that’s fine! Give it a shot.

While a French press coffee maker has been the go-to brewing device for years, the pour over coffee maker is quickly gaining interest amongst the caffeine addicted.

Benefits of the Pour-Over Method

single cup pour over

Pour over coffee making is perfect for anyone trying to control their caffeine intake. You’ll be able to brew slowly and fine tune it with ease, and there’s not a terrible amount that goes into the process.

The mouthfeel of pour over coffee is smoother and more refined. It’s certainly not the dark, bold, or often described as biting flavor that a French press coffee has.

Due to the nature of the process, the brew doesn’t sit on the grounds, so grittiness is eliminated. As we covered, french press coffee can get gritty if your grind size is too small or your press pot’s screen filter isn’t effective.

pour over coffee making

Regular sanitary maintenance is pretty easy with this contraption. And the pour over looks pretty charming all on it’s own. In fact some might think you’re conducting a science experiment before accusing you of brewing a tasty beverage. Cleaning a pour over coffee maker is eons easier than cleaning a French press, which needs to be dismantled and cleaned piece by piece. Though we know a trick or two about cleaning a french press.

Brewing slow is a comfort we often take for granted. The ritual is mundane when one fires up a drip brewer, but this is different, and  we want to savor every moment of it. A pour-over coffee is the way to go for enjoying the process of brewing.

First heat up your water in a kettle on the stove. Next, prep some beans by grinding your coffee beans. Pre-infuse your grounds by slowly pour boiling water over your grounds, which sit in the filter above the cup. Pour water in a circular motion ensuring all the grounds get soaked.

Now wait about thirty seconds. If you’ve not added enough water for a full cup, then add more and watch it filter through. Now you’ve for a pour-over coffee. We hope it is well-balanced, full-bodied, and nuanced.

You might notice that it’s different from many other kinds of coffee you’ve tried. The benefits aren’t just in the cup either:

  1. One and Done: If you’re trying to cut down on caffeine then there’s nothing easier to inhibit you than brewing one cup at a time.  Don’t wait for a full pot of coffee to brew, go for one at a time, and it’ll likely taste better this way too. Once your water reaches the proper temperature, you can enjoy your cup of coffee in less than a minute.
  2. The Traditional Approach: If you want to take an early 1900s hundreds coffee tour then you’ll likely prefer the pour-over. The idea and design was invented in 1908 by Melitta Bentz. According to legend, Ms. Bentz invented the first coffee filter out of boredom with previous practices. Using some household paper she created a quick and now vastly popular way to prepare coffee.
  3. Keeping It Tidy:  If there was an award for the cleanliest preparation method then the pour-over is a shoe in. This is a simple way to keep grounds in one container and easily dispose of them, and the filter, with ease. There’s simply no other method with less stress involved.

If you’ve never had a cup of pour-over coffee before, you’re missing out on a great cup. More marvelous than machine-drip coffee, brighter and cleaner than French press brew, and less dangerous than a stove-top percolator.

Though it might have a connotation of it’s own, Pour-over coffee is often seen as purely the realm of coffee snobs and “cuppers”. We like to think there’s nothing negative about this though.

More Benefits to the Pour Over

Modern day versions of the Pour Over have been altered to make them super efficient and easy to use, plus they’re also fairly inexpensive, and come in a wide variety of styles to match whatever you’re into. Like we said before, some might even get you accused of hosting a science fair.

The Pour over is also disputed for varying greatness by the use of filters. There’s bleached filters and unbleached filters. This is where coffee fanatics really start to get picky and call each other names. The dispute between bleached and unbleached coffee filters rages on. And some pour over apparatuses come stock with a metal filter implement. Lovely.

coffee filter pour over

Like the French press, pour over coffee involves manually boiling water, letting it cool a bit, and then pouring it over coffee grounds. The biggest difference is the contact of the grounds to the final product. These two are about as far away from each other as one could get, in that regard.

 As a result, the french press is typically much stronger but comes with the grit. While pour over coffee can be thought of as weaker, it’s really a matter of preference.

They are both widely recognized as sone of the easiest methods of coffee brewing.

If you need a single cup of coffee, pour over is one the best cups of coffee you can make. Both are long lasting and durable for long periods of time (in or outdoors). One could easily pack either apparatus in a cluttered kitchen or take them out camping for brewing on the trail.

For medium to lighter roasts, the pour-over is great because if the coffee has less body and more floral and fruit notes, the pour-over will not only highlight those flavors, it will also give depth to those flavors.  This makes for a more balanced cup of coffee if that’s what you’re looking for.  The manual aspect of making a pour-over makes it easier to adjust variables.

Pour Over Vs Chemex?

So you might be wondering what the deal is with all the science fair talk. Well that’s where the Chemex comes in. Maybe you’ve seen the iconic glass beaker with the wooden collar and thought it must be some exotic piece of coffee making gear, unattainable by normal folk. Well, they’re actually quite attainable, but you might have been living in your parents coffee gadget-less world. chemex coffee preparation

This is actually a type of pour over unit that that some purists will say is totally and completely different from the traditional pour over. Why would they blaspheme such?

First, the Chemex is both the filter and vessel, not just the cone that sits on a cup. It’s actually referred to as bonded filters. It’s this aspect which gives the Chemex it’s signature taste, and not just that of a pour over.  The filtration here is actually much thicker than the filters of bleached or unbleached yore.

These cups take a little bit longer to make than the pour over method too. So if you’re really in need of a caffeine fix, this is going to be like watching paint dry. Well, not that slow, but you get the idea.

Preparing a Chemex, one can follow the same steps as listed above for pour overs, with a few simple alterations.

  1. Unfold the filter provided with the Chemex. They come packaged flat and you’ll have to fold it into the cone shape. You should take notice that one side is made up of three layers and the other is only one layer. Put the three layered side, the thickest side, facing toward spout.
  2. Grind some fresh coffee but go for a slightly coarser grind than you typically would do for a pour over. Grind about eight grams of beans per cup. As always, adjust and find what you like.
  3. After heating your water to just under a boil, then you can pour over the grinds, covering evenly. This will take slightly longer than the typical pour over method but that’s okay, just sit back and watch the science of brewing take place.
  4. Remove the filter and discard the spent grounds. This should be an easy cleanup, just make sure to wash the filter as per the instructions.

Now enjoy that fresh Chemex brew. Why don’t you post a picture of it on Instagram to confuse all the non-coffee initiates out there.


If you’re wondering whether to go with a French press or pour over coffee maker, it comes down to your lifestyle and personal taste preferences. Maybe both. If waking up in the morning and choosing a method off the top of your dreamy eyed mind suits you best then go for it. That’s one part of your day that you can definitely choose.

The main difference to consider here is that the coffee grounds sit in a filter and don’t come into contact with the finished brew when preparing a pour over. Thus a pour over coffee isn’t typically as strong as French press brew, although it has a great flavor.

Those who want coffee that’s strong, rich and bold, don’t mind coffee with a thicker texture, and want more flexibility with the types of grounds they can use should go with a French press. Some even say that making cold brew with a french press is better than ever. Try it out!

Coffee lovers who prefer java with a more subtle flavor, don’t need to brew much at a time, can’t stand gritty coffee, or want a coffee maker that cleans up in a snap will be better off with the pour over method.

Since both types of coffee makers are so affordable, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the best of both worlds and get one of each. If you’re looking to contrast the French Press with other kinds of coffee makers, check out our review of the Stovetop Espresso Vs. French Press here.

How Does Pour Over Coffee Compare to French Press?

Manual methods, to this day, remain the best way to make coffee. They provide all-around better coffee. If you manually make coffee, you have a ton of different options for doing so, and it can be a tough choice on what method you prefer. With that in mind, what makes Pour Over and French Press Coffee different from one another?

Now since not every consumer has the time set aside to go compare the differences between all the different methods and how they taste, we do it for you. Gamble Bay Coffee is here to provide you with one of the most reliable sources of information related to coffee on the internet.

We want you as the consumer to always be drinking a type of coffee that you love the most, so let’s look at how Pour Over coffee and French Press coffee are different.

How are Pour Over and French Press Coffee Different?

Both of these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. I personally prefer French Press coffee, but it is not necessarily the best coffee out there, but how is it different from Pour Over Coffee?

  1. Pour over coffee requires a paper filter. French Press coffee doesn’t use a paper filter so you’re getting more out of the coffee than you would be with Pour Over Coffee. The reason I say this is that the paper filter blocks a lot of the Oils that make coffee beneficial from getting into the coffee.
  2. French Press coffee uses pressure to do its’ job rather than time. You can vary the time you let French Press coffee steep, but it has ideal times. Pour Over coffee you pour the water through and you have to monitor and make sure it is going through at a steady suitable rate.

These are the two most important differences between French Press Coffee and Pour Over Coffee. It is what really makes a difference in the taste and enjoyment of the coffee. Now let’s take a look at each of them individually.

Is Pour Over Coffee better than French Press Coffee?


For the most part, I would have to say no. Although preference in taste can make a bit of a difference, most pour over coffee makers have plastic in them that leaves a taste behind that generally isn’t present in French Press coffee makers. Now, although I don’t think Pour Over is better than French Press coffee, I firmly believe that pour over coffee is still better than automatic coffee,

Most manual methods of making coffee are better than using drip coffee, as manual methods offer more versatility and choice when making your coffee. The kettles for pour over coffee can get somewhat expensive, so it may not be a feasible choice for everyone.

Pour over coffee is a method created by Japanese people to have a unique way of making coffee. One thing you should know about this special style of Japanese coffee is that it isn’t something you can just pour and go. It requires a special kind of kettle, a certain kind of carafe, and good beans. This particular method of making coffee requires a lot of patience as it is one of the most time-consuming methods of brewing coffee.

The method uses a narrow spout to produce an even, steady stream of water – instead of flooding the filter and letting it drip, you deliver a continuous, measured amount of water over a period of several minutes. This method may seem to be a bit tedious and annoying to take so much time to brew the coffee, but it is well worth the wait.

The resulting coffee tastes different than most other methods of making coffee you can find. The flavor can be sweet and bright, something quite distinct in coffee. It is rare to have coffee that tastes as unique as this method, so I really think this method of coffee making is worth all the time it consumes.

Now if you’re looking into getting a pour over coffee kettle, there are several you can find, but I would personally recommend this Stagg pour over kettle.

Is French Press Coffee better than Pour Over Coffee?

Overall, I would have to say no. I think it is far superior, personally, for many reasons, but this comparison isn’t meant to be biased.

French press coffee is some of the best tasting coffee you can make. Depending on how you prefer your coffee, this can require a good bit of patience to really brew it to perfection.

The reason the process requires so much patience is that most grocery stores don’t sell the right kind of coffee grinds to make it. French press requires the beans to be ground to a specific coarseness so that the coffee is still clean enough to drink while sill allowing the water to get the most out of the beans.

This coffee is also quite healthy compared to many other coffee brewing methods. For one, being that there is no paper filter, unlike the Pour Over method which does use one, the French press coffee retains many of the minerals and oils throughout the brew. So you are gaining many of the things in the coffee that makes it so healthy, as well as giving it such a bold taste.

We know that spending a fortune on an automatic grinder and a fancy French press is not feasible for everyone, so for most people, a good manual grinder like this JavaPresse will work just fine. However, if you can spare the cash for an automatic grinder, and you are looking for something different, we have a page on grinders.

The self-grinding also goes for Pour Over coffee, although you don’t necessarily need to do so.

The grinds help give a bold taste and texture to the coffee, while also giving it a natural “fresh coffee” fragrance that you just don’t get from regular brewing. The downside is that, for some people, this bold taste is a little too much.

Although it is somewhat time-consuming to brew it, the satisfaction you feel from having a properly brewed cup of hot French press coffee makes it so worth it.

So Which is Best?

Overall I would have to say that French Press coffee is the best of the two. It retains the oils from the coffee so it is much healthier than Pour Over Coffee. It also has much more texture and has a much bolder taste that many people enjoy.

However, because of the filter, Pour Over Coffee will still be the preferable method for many people.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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