- Food and Cooking
Moka Pot Vs French Press Coffee: What's The Difference?
What's The Difference Between Stovetop Espresso And French Press Coffee Anyway?
It's probably safe to say that the vast majority of households in the US own a coffee maker. Even those people who don't drink coffee tend to have simple coffee machines tucked away in a storage closet somewhere in their house. My parents for instance keep one in the pantry and bring it out every time I visit as a courtesy and I don't think they are unique.
Although so many people make coffee in the home most only make coffee with drip systems. They are simple to use and keep clean but they don't make the best coffee. If you were to peer into my kitchen, or a kitchen of any other avid coffee drinker, you'd probably find a drip coffee maker but upon closer inspection you'd probably see that they don't use it all that often.
The best coffee is almost never made in a drip machine.
Most people who like really good coffee make espresso drinks or brew their coffee in a press pot. Some swear by the Aeropress but a run of the mill french press can easily make coffee that tastes far better than any coming from a Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker.
Some espresso machines can be very difficult to use and require a bit of a learning curve, they also tend to be pretty expensive on the high end. In my kitchen I use a Bialetti Moka Express to simulate the espresso made from the big fancy (and expensive) machines. It's way cheaper and makes moka that is extremely similar in taste to true espresso.
I also use a cheap Bodum french press pot, just about the cheapest one you can possibly buy and it is far better than my Cuisinart drip machine. The coffee is vastly different from the moka pot however. Is it better or worse? I don't think so; I think they are both worth owning and using regularly especially because they are both so inexpensive and small.
Bialetti Moka Express (6-Cup Moka Pot) - The Best Selling Stovetop Espresso Maker Of Them All
I own the Bialetti and it's pretty much amazing. It makes espresso that tastes just as good as my local drive through coffee kiosk and I don't have to shell out the cash daily. Unlike a big espresso maker this unit is cheap and has no moving parts. The only thing you'll have to do is replace the gasket once a year or so which only costs a few bucks per gasket.
The Bodum Brazil French Press - The Best Selling French Press Sold Today
I have owned the Bodum Brazil for almost a decade but I've only used it daily for about a year. When I started using it I considered going out to buy an expensive version thinking they would be better. Turns out that you don't need any of the bells and whistles if you don't want to pay for them. This thing is a simple plastic and glass press pot with a stainless steel strainer. It works amazing and can even be placed in the microwave should use use it for anything else in the kitchen. The only feature I would pay up for after using these things for so long is thermal walls but even that isn't a deal breaker.
Pros & Cons
Whats to like (or dislike) about moka pots and french press coffee.
If You Had To Choose Only One
Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who owns both a moka pot and a french press and uses them both very frequently. I believe that it's worth having both in your kitchen but if I were to advise you to choose one over the other then it would depend on a few things.
Do you own a conical burr coffee grinder? If so is it manual?
I am currently using a manual burr grinder (the Hario Slim MIll). It's perfectly fine for me but when I grind beans for the moka pot it takes three times as long as when I grind beans for the french press. This makes a big difference for manual crank grinders but for automatic grinders this may be a non issue.
Do you like drinking large quantities of coffee? If so then you really should opt for the french press. With a moka pot you'll be making cup sizes that are 1.5 ounces each. A 12-cup moka pot would only make 18 ounces of moka. You could then add hot water to make an Americano which will add some volume but it may not be worth it because you'd have to make 12 cups of stovetop espresso every time. Moka pots make the same amount of coffee every time, you can't just make a half pot.
With a larger french press you could easily make strong or weak coffee in large or small batch sizes as often as you want. You can control the temperature of the water and the strength of coffee you make by steeping it longer or shorter or using more or less grind. It is highly customizable unlike the rigidity of a stovetop espresso maker.
Even still if you love your espresso based drinks or want the ability to make espresso in the home then you have to get a moka pot. They are going to give you shots of espresso that will be fine for specialty drinks and they can easily be topped of with water for a drink more akin to string (well brewed) drip coffee.
If price is your only consideration the lower end moka pots might be slightly less expensive than the lowest priced french press pots but on average both coffee makers are far cheaper than the average coffee or espresso machine.
The Best Alternative Coffee Makers
When we think of coffee we think of a simple drip coffee pot usually but some of the best ways to brew coffee are usually fairly inexpensive and simple to use. Here are the most common alternative coffee makers which all make amazing coffee.
This is the "beautiful" french press pot that Bodum makes. It's a bit more decorative than the Bodum Brazil and maybe a bit more sturdy and barely more expensive.
The 6-cup Moka Express makes about 9 ounces of "coffee". You can't make more or less without using a different pot. This is very inexpensive and it replaces the need to buy a large expensive espresso machine.
This is an all plastic press coffee maker. It arguably makes the best coffee possible but filters out the oils that a french press will leave behind. This is usually a point of personal preference.
Want cold brew coffee? This unit will deliver the goods and it's super inexpensive.
If I were to buy a fancy french press this would be the one. It's stainless steel so it's durable and easy to clean but it is also insulated so coffee in it doesn't get cold as fast as it does in your cup.