What Separates An Aeropress From A French Coffee Press?

Just because the names of the French press and Aeropress coffee devices are similar doesn't mean they produce an equivalent cup of joe — the taste and texture of the resulting beverage will be quite different. Both options require immersing coffee grounds in hot water, and the cost investment for each machine is similar. However, depending on its size, a French press can make more than one cup of coffee at a time, while the standard Aeropress is a single-serve device. The tool you choose really depends on the qualities you are looking for in your cup of coffee.

A French press maker works by soaking coarsely ground beans in hot water. After steeping for four minutes or more, the grounds are pushed to the bottom of the device using a simple plunger, and the resulting brewed coffee can be poured out. The carafes can vary in size, but usually you will get at least a couple of cups out of each pass.

An Aeropress also requires the coffee grounds (in this case, a medium-fine texture) to sit in water, but the device itself looks very different. Instead of a carafe, the coffee and water go into a small cylindrical chamber, which is then placed directly over a mug. The coffee is extracted by the pressure you apply to push down the plunger. This method yields up to 10 ounces, depending on the model. The XL version does make 20 ounces, but you have to brew it in the carafe that comes with it, and it can be a little awkward to use.

The taste of Aeropress coffee vs. French press coffee

Because of the steeping time and metal filter involved with a French press, this kind of coffee has a thicker mouthfeel and full-bodied flavor. A significant amount of the natural oils and tiny coffee particles will also make it into the final brew. For fans of this method, the rich taste and texture are ideal, but others describe it as being too thick and gritty since there is always sediment that gets left behind in the cup.

Aeropress coffee is often described as clean tasting and has a thinner consistency than a French press brew. The coffee is pushed through a paper filter that prevents much of the oils and grounds from getting into the mug. On account of the vacuum seal and pressure extraction, the brewed coffee from an Aeropress is quite strong and can be compared to espresso. You can easily dilute it to your liking, however. 

With an Aeropress, you won't need the Starbucks order hack for cheaper Americanos when you can make your own version for even less money and effort. For those that prefer a more textured beverage, there are also stainless steel Aeropress filters that allow more oils (and silt) to pass through more akin to a French press.

The pros and cons of these two coffee-making machines

An Aeropress coffee maker is great for those that want a strong cup of coffee in a short amount of time. It's very portable and easy to clean. You can also easily tinker with it to figure out how to make your best brew. This is both a positive and a negative, however. For some coffee drinkers, it could be fun to try switching out the type or number of filters, adjusting the brew time, changing the usual grind size, and experimenting with the standard versus inverted method, the latter of which requires filling the brewing chamber upside down and then quickly flipping it over the mug. All these variables could be tiresome for a bleary-eyed caffeine seeker that just wants something simple, though.

That's one of the reasons why French coffee presses remain popular — the low-lift approach allows you to simply set a timer and let it be. Also, the versatility is a draw. You can even use a French press to make better cocktails or make cold brew iced-coffee. On the other hand, an Aeropress is singularly focused.

If you like to have more than one cup at a time, you may find an Aeropress to be a bit of a hassle since you will have to empty it and reset it between rounds. However, if you are a one-and-done type person, or like to have an easy and portable coffee brewing option for work or travel, an Aeropress is a great choice.