French Press vs Drip: What’s the Difference?

Last updated: May 22, 2020

Whether you are relaxing on the weekend or need some extra energy in the morning, nothing beats a nice cup of coffee. People have been drinking coffee for many years, and every part of the world has a slightly different way of making their perfect cup.

Two of the most popular ways of preparing coffee are the French press and drip method. But what exactly is the difference and why should you be interested? Surprisingly enough, each method is quite different in how it makes your coffee, and we will look at some of the various factors that separate the two methods. The French press vs. drip way you actually brew the coffee and how the coffee will taste are all factors that can help you determine which style of coffee to drink in the morning.

What is French press?

French Press vs Drip: What's the Difference?Many people have heard of a French press coffee maker, but what exactly is it? The French press, as we know it today, was invented in France around 1929 and offered a unique way to make coffee that required very little moving parts and little effort. The design consists of a cylinder, a plunger, and a filter that all work together to make your coffee.

The cylinder portion of the press is made of glass and is where you will put your ground up coffee and hot water. Once you have the ingredients inside, you put the plunger and filter in then press the pump down to filter the coffee. The French Press makes an excellent cup of coffee, but it is really only perfected with the right steps. You will want to freshly grind your coffee beans and take your time making the coffee. The French rewards your patience with a great cup of coffee.

What is drip?

When the drip coffee vs. French press argument usually arises, it is with respect to time. While the French press method is slow and methodical, the drip method of the coffee method is much less advanced. A French press relies on mixing all the ingredients together at once, but the drip method is a little different.

If you use a standard, automated coffee machine, then it more than likely uses a drip system. The way this works is you load the coffee into a filter, and then the machine heats up and drips water through the coffee and into your cup. It’s a fairly simple mechanic and is great for the person who wants to wake up and have their coffee waiting for them. Where the French press is a nice treat to make when you have the time, a cup of drip coffee has the same general appeal without all the flair.

French Press vs Drip: What's the Difference?

What is the difference between French press and drip?

When you wake up in the morning and need some energy, coffee is coffee. But is it really that simple? Despite the very basic essence of coffee just being some beans and water, the actual science that is behind its preparation is much more advanced than you would initially believe.

To understand what separates French press vs. drip coffee, we have to look at several factors that actually make your final cup possible. From the beans you use to something as simple as how the water is poured, every small difference between these styles of coffee leads to an entirely unique experience. We’ll take a look at some of the major differences between the two ways of preparing coffee so that you have a better understanding of what really goes into making your cup of coffee.

Brewing method

The brewing method of the French press and drip method are quite different and are often one of the major factors that affect the taste. For the French press, you will brew the coffee by first boiling a pot of water on its own. When the water is hot and ready, you will add it to the press cylinder, where it will meet the coffee grinds. Once there, you will have to wait for several minutes before actually getting to the pressing portion and completing the coffee-making process.

A drip brewing method is often much less complicated. If you use a machine for drip, it will simply heat up the water for you and then pour it over the grinds into a cup for you to drink. If you want to control the drip, you can simply place a filter over a large glass and pour hot water over the grinds yourself for a more controlled experience.

Grind size

The grind size refers to the size the coffee beans are supposed to be ground before being used to actually make coffee. You can find various grind levels from very coarse to very fine when you are looking to get different flavors out of your coffee. For the French press, the grind is much more important than the drip because the grind and water will be spending a lot of time together. It is best to grind your own coffee for pressing and opt for a medium grind for the best results.

When making drip coffee, the quality of the grind is less important. You will be picking up some already ground up beans from the store and placing it into your coffee machine. You can look for a medium-coarse to medium grind for the best results. If you plan on hand dripping, you may want to opt for grinding your own coffee as that will make for better results.

French Press vs Drip: What's the Difference?Caffeine content

Caffeine is one of the primary reasons people opt for coffee in the morning as it gives the body a boost of energy to wake up and get going. Many people believe all coffee has the same amount of caffeine, but that is simply not the case. When you look at how to French press coffee is made, you can see that the water and coffee grinds spend much more time together. What this means is that a cup of French pressed coffee can contain around 80-100 mg of caffeine.

In contrast, a cup of drip coffee from a machine generally only contains around 60-80 mg of caffeine. This difference is due to the fact that French pressed coffee spends more time with the beans than drip coffee. If we look at hand drip coffee vs. French press, then the numbers get a little closer as that method can be controlled more than an automated drip.

Taste

Taste is somewhat subjective when it comes to coffee, but we can look at the general consensus when taking taste into consideration. At the core of the argument, the coffee beans that you use are primarily what will determine the taste of the coffee. Beans that are well grown and that you grind at home will taste better than the value brand coffee that is already ground up.

However, that doesn’t mean that one doesn’t taste better. Among the coffee community, it is generally agreed that a French press will almost always make a better cup of coffee. The richer flavor from having the coffee mix with water means the flavors can grow and come to life more than just the water being dripped over the grinds. The longer the coffee and water have to interact, the more flavor you will get. This is why many go for the self-drip method as a happy medium between methods.

French Press vs Drip: What's the Difference?Calories and nutrition

Coffee isn’t necessarily a very calorically dense beverage, but the way you prepare it can actually affect its nutrition and mineral content. When you use a French press, the lack of a very fine paper filter means that you are going to be getting much more of the natural nutrients found in the coffee. The minerals and natural substances in the grinds will be more present in your drink.

A drip filet allows you to get much more coffee out of your grinds, but at the cost of flavor and natural benefits. The very fine filters that the water passes through the coffee to get to the cup stop almost every natural trace of flavor and coffee nutrients. There aren’t all that many health benefits that are lost, but the flavor is drastically reduced. Each cup of coffee will have similar calories, but the French press is your best bet if you want coffee as close to natural as you can get it.

In Conclusion

The debate of French press vs. drip coffee has been had many times and for a good reason. Each method certainly has its benefits and drawbacks that make each method tempting. In all honesty, many people enjoy having both options as it allows them the ease of a fast cup of coffee when needed and the enjoyment of an excellent brew when time allows. The French press and its intricate brewing process get you excited to sit down and relax with your coffee while the drip method gives you consistent coffee for the busy workday.

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