Moka Pot vs. French Press - Coffee Maker Comparison

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Moka Pot and French Press go head to head in this easy guide. Both authentic brewers bring years of tradition and heaps of value and performance with them. 

Which one would be a better match for your Java-craving palate, and which will fit perfectly into your morning coffee routine? Read on to find out!

Moka Pots and French Press Differences

Although they both have Italian roots and share a long tradition, these two methods of brewing coffee are nothing alike.

The Moka pot is a manual coffee maker that will give you a brew, similar to the authentic espresso.

Moka pots have three chambers: one reservoir for the water, a section for the ground coffee, and a tank for the brewed liquid. The pot works on stovetops and pushes steam pressure through the coffee grounds to extract concentrated and creamy brew.

For comparison, Moka pots use 1.5 bars of pressure, while professional espresso makers generate 9.

Get it right, and rich and creamy coffee is guaranteed. Fire it up the wrong way, and you’ve got yourself intense and cowboy-like coffee.  The uniqueness of this brewing method makes it a bit complicated, but once you get the handle of it, you’ll see that the extra effort is so worthwhile.

The French Press, on the other hand, is a fairly simple brewing method that produces heavy, rich, and full-bodied cup. That’s why this brewer is a definite must in artisan coffee shops – real enthusiasts like to drink real coffee.

The brew here is achieved through precise steeping of the ground coffee. The maker consists of a piston rod, a beaker, and a mesh filter. You add your grounds to the beaker, pour your hot water over, depress the filter, and that’s it.

French-press lovers say that this extraction gives the richest mouthfeel that reigns supreme.

French Press Pros and Cons

A French press is one of the best ways to brew coffee (manually or automatically). The most significant advantage of this brewing method is the fact that coffee can be prepared in a simple, hassle-free way. Newbies find this extraction super desirable for that reason, and they soon get hooked up on the dense taste completely.

Thanks to the fact that it requires coarsely ground coffee, brewing in a French Press takes a little bit longer, which is great since it minimizes the risk of error or over-extraction. But that’s not the best part. Even if you do rush it, you can always just lift the plunger and give it some more time to brew to perfection.

Being a user-friendly and hands-on method, the French Press gives you full control in the process of filtering, getting the temperature right, as well as in controlling the brewing time.

Of course, getting the mouthfeel that pleases your palate may require some experimenting, but all in all, brewing in a French Press allows complete extraction of the flavorful and aromatic compounds of the coffee, resulting in more vibrant and robust coffee, but without any harsh bites.

For us, the only downside of this method is the cleaning process. Coffee gunk tends to get stuck in the beaker and the mesh filter, but If you don’t mind the extra scrubbing or flushing, this shouldn’t be such a big deal.

Moka Pot Pros and Cons

The best thing about the Moka pot is that you can enjoy a rich, espresso-like coffee, without a machine. Thanks to the pressure-fueled method of brewing, the Moka pot is able to produce an intense and creamier cuppa.

But despite the quality of the coffee (which should be the main determining factor) and the fact that it has no special cleaning requirements, there are not that many perks about this brewing method.

While brewing in a Moka Pot is a straightforward process, it can be quite fussy at first, and pretty hard to master. There are a lot of parameters that need to be aligned for the best mouthfeel to be extracted. But unlike with the French Press, you cannot simply let the coffee steep some more; here, you will have to wait for the next brew to readjust the temperature and time.

Another thing that pushes avid coffee drinkers away from this extraction is the fact that Moka Pots brew only one cup at a time. Compare it with the French Press that can brew as many as twelve at once, you can see how this can be a problem for large households.

Design and Origin

French Press

The French Press, also called cafetiere, press pot, coffee plunger, or even a coffee press, is a brewing device that has been around for at least a century. Despite its name, history says that this coffee brewer is more Italian than it is French.

Invented by an Italian and patented in 1929, it quickly got popular in French, which is where its name comes from. Although the French claim to have made the first press there, the origin of this brewer has still remained a never-ending debate.

The original French Press had a metal body and used cheesecloth as a filter, but it had gone through many rounds of modifications since then. Today, the modern French Press usually has a glass body and a stainless steel mesh filter.

Moka Pot

Moka Pot, or also called stovetop espresso, is something that Italians take pride in. If you’ve ever visited, then you must have noticed how common of a staple Moka Pot is in the Italian kitchen.

Invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, the Bialetti Industries have been selling this coffee brewer for almost 70 years now; and with great success.

Traditionally, Moka pots are made of aluminum and can be used on electric ranges and flame, but today, many manufacturers design Moka Pots with a stainless steel body.

Flavors and Extraction

Nailing down the extraction when making coffee is the ultimate key to having a pleasant flavor. Under-extract your grounds, and your coffee will taste sour and bland. Over-extract it, and you will end up drinking a bitter beverage with harsh and unpleasant bites.

The extraction with French Press is more forgiving, as it takes longer for the coffee to fully release the flavor and aroma.

With Moka Pots, the extraction is pretty quick as it uses steam to purge out these amazing compounds from the grounds. However, don’t forget that you will have to wait for the water to come to a boil first, so the overall process will not be as quick as you’d think.

When it comes to the flavor, French Press extraction results in a more layered, richer, and full-bodied brew. That’s mainly because the grounds are left to steep for a longer time so that the water can release all of the trapped flavorful particles that the beans have.

The flavor you get with Moka Pot is similar to those of an espresso. Don’t be fooled though, as Moka Pot can never recreate the richness or creaminess that espresso machines can; however, the taste resembles the classic Italian coffee, and it is much more concentrated than those of a French Press.

How to Make Coffee With a Moka Pot?

Although we’ve mentioned a few times that brewing in a Moka Pot takes experience, the process really is simple. All you need to do is practice, practice, and practice. A dense and pleasant mouthfeel is guaranteed!

  1. Start by grinding about 20 to 22 grams of coffee. Keep in mind that the grind here has to be as fine as an espresso machine requires.
  2. Pour water in the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot (which is the boiler). Make sure not to exceed the top level mark, though.
  3. Add your finely ground coffee to the filter basket of the Moka Pot, and just give it a gentle shake to make sure the coffee is evenly distributed. Gently, insert the funnel-like filter inside.
  4. Take the spouted top of the Moka Pot, and screw it tightly over the middle chamber.
  5. Now that everything’s in order, place the Moka Pot over your stovetop (or another source of heat).
  6. Allow the water to come to a boil. Once it approaches that temperature, the pressure of the steam will start pushing through the grounds extracting your coffee. This is the tricky part, though, as you have to make sure the temperature is right. If you notice that the steam kind of explodes vigorously, that means that your water is too hot. If the water seems to be burbling without energy, then you should probably turn up the heat a bit.
  7. Once you hear the bubbles hiss, that is your mark to remove the pot from the heat as the extraction is over.

How to Make Coffee With a French Press?

Although, when compared to Moka Pot brewing, preparing coffee in a French Press is an easier process, still, the best taste lies in the details. Here is how you can make the ultimate cuppa in a French Press.

  1. First of all, start by preparing your boiled water. Fill up your kettle (or any pot, for that matter) with water, and bring it to a boil. For a 17-ounce French Press, you will need about 12 ounces of water.
  2. Meanwhile, grind your beans. Make sure to grind them just before brewing, to ensure the freshest flavor possible. The grind size here is coarse and it should be even. That’s why a decent grinder is imperative for perfect French Press extraction.
  3. When it comes to the coffee-to-water ratio, a good start would be 1:12. So, for every 12 ounces of water, add about 1 ounce of coffee.
  4. Now, add your ground coffee to the bottom of your French Press.
  5. Start by pouring about twice the amount of boiling water over the coffee. So, for one ounce of water, pour about two ounces of water over. Grab a chopstick (or something bamboo-made), and give the mixture a gentler stir. Let sit like that for about 30 seconds.
  6. Now, pour the rest of the water over, and put the lid on. DO NOT plunge yet. Allow the coffee to rest for exactly four minutes.
  7. And press it down! The taste and flavor depend on this pressure, so pay attention to it. If it feels hard to press the filter down, then your grounds are probably too fine. Try a coarser grind next time. If the plunger gets to the bottom almost instantly, that’s a sign that the grind is too coarse – grind the beans more finely for the next brew.
  8. Experienced baristas say that the pressure should feel like pushing 15 to 20 pounds on the scale. Try it out and see how that feels for reference.
  9. Pour gently, but immediately. Don’t let it sit as it may over-extract. Enjoy!

Ease of Use and Cleanup

When it comes to using the French Press and Moka Pot, it seems that the former is winning the battle, but only slightly. As you can see, a lot of precision is involved with both brewing methods, and if you want the best taste, you have no other option but to experiment and practice until you pinpoint the exact time and temperature that your taste buds are the most satisfied with.

The grind size plays a crucial part in both types of extraction, so make sure to get that right first. Remember, Moka Pot requires fine, espresso-like coffee, while for the French Press, you need coarser and even grind.

As for the cleaning up, the Moka pot is definitely in the lead, but pay attention that this pot needs quite the time to cool down after brewing, so handle it with care. French Press tends to have some leftover grounds stuck inside, but that shouldn’t take too much of an effort to clean, either.

Clean both with warm soapy water and a soft sponge. If there are dishwasher-safe parts, that’s even better. Remember, regular maintenance is the key to a lasting relationship between your mug and brewer, so make sure to clean your brewer (whether a Moka Pot or a Press), regularly.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve peeled the layers and inspected the core, what do you think – which one should wear the crown? 

The dense and punchy Moka Pot or the smooth and rich French Press? Of course, this is up to you and your palate. 

We just hope that we’ve made the decision making a bit easier.

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