In this article, I will compare two of the most popular coffee machines we all probably had at home, as they are quite old. We are talking about the french press and the Moka pot, two super traditional, easy-to-use, simple and affordable methods.
These are coffee machines with different methods, as one works by immersion and the other by drip, so let’s take a closer look at their differences, if they have similarities and for whom I recommend each.
Many brands have both coffee machines, perhaps they vary a little in materials or designs, but they fulfil the same function. For this article, I will take as a reference the Bodum and Pedrini coffee machines, specifically.
Design and construction
The Bodum french press comes with a borosilicate glass vessel that resists sudden temperature changes and maintains it very well throughout the brewing process.
Then we have the plunger with which we filter the coffee, which consists of a metal mesh, a structure, and a spring on the edges so that it fits tightly into the glass, and we can lower it and leave it fixed in any position without it falling out just because of the weight. All these parts are easily removable for cleaning and are made of stainless steel.
And then we have the frame that holds the glass container. This is what generally varies between the different models in materials and design; some are made of polypropylene, others of stainless steel, others of copper, etc.
Pedrini’s Moka coffee makers are all made of aluminium with some details in polypropylene so that we don’t burn ourselves when we touch them.
They have a lower container where we put the water, which has a safety valve. Then there is the basket where we put the coffee and through which the water rises. And in the upper part that receives the coffee as it is extracted, we can see a silicone ring at the bottom and the metal filter that is very easy to remove for cleaning.
If we talk about the aesthetic point of both coffee machines, it will depend on your chosen model and design. For example, I love the copper french press; it’s very nice. But I also like the matt black Moka Pedrini, which has a more modern, industrial design. So, I think they are both very good aesthetically speaking.
Performance in everyday use
Now I’m going to tell you about the performance of each of these coffee machines in everyday use… how convenient are they? what about cleaning and portability? etc. I’ll start by saying that they both come with metal filters, so you don’t need to buy any other filters, accessories, or anything extra.
If you are looking for something to make a quick coffee, the Moka wins because when you put hot water in the bottom, it only takes a few seconds to finish extracting the coffee, and it will be ready to serve. With the French Press, on the other hand, we have to wait between 4 and 10 minutes.
Size and capacity
In terms of capacity, the french press wins. In a french press with a capacity of 8 cups or one litre, we can prepare from one to four standard-sized cups, i.e. we can choose how much we will prepare, despite its size.
On the other hand, in the Moka, the size will determine how much we will prepare, as it is always necessary to fill it with both coffee and water to obtain a good extraction. Although, let’s remember that the Moka produces a very intense coffee, so we would need less water for the same amount of coffee we would use, for example, in the french press.
This is because the Moka produces a very concentrated coffee that we can drink like this or add a little hot water to drink something similar to the preparation with the french press. We can add milk and prepare drinks such as Flat White, cappuccino, or latte.
Cleaning and maintenance
On the cleaning side, the Moka wins because it is very easy to disassemble, discard, and wash the coffee. On the other hand, with the french press, it is a bit more complex; nothing to worry about, but it is more cumbersome to remove the coffee residue that remains in the container and then remove the different parts of the filter to make sure that no coffee beans are left, it is a bit more effort.
In terms of portability, the Moka wins again as it is made entirely of aluminium, so we can put it in our backpack or suitcase without fear of it breaking. However, it needs a heat source to make it work, so this will be a small disadvantage. With the french press directly, there is no possibility of portability as being made of glass makes it very fragile and easy to break.
Ease and convenience of use
I think we have a tie between the two coffee machines in terms of ease and convenience of use. While the two use different extraction methods, they are both very easy to use.
Certainly, some of the easier ones share the simplicity in that sense; they don’t need special tools for pouring or anything else. Although a scale to measure the amounts of coffee and water always helps, in case you don’t have one, both can be used without it, especially the Moka, which comes with the amounts already measured.
For both coffee machines, it is a matter of finding the right grind. The french press will do the extraction work on its own, letting the coffee infuse with the water, and the Moka will do the extraction work on its own, letting the water pass through the coffee.
The French Press wins hands down on this last point, as the Moka is not versatile. As you have seen in other articles, we can use the French Press to froth milk, prepare Cold Brew, or other infusions. It has many uses, and that’s a big plus point.
The real test is to compare the final brew between the two coffee machines
OK, let’s get to the most exciting part of these comparisons. I decided to brew coffee with the French Press and the Moka and test them both simultaneously. I used the same coffee beans, but obviously with different grinds, as each method uses a different grind.
As I have already mentioned, the Moka produces a much more intense and concentrated coffee, so I used less water for the same amount of coffee that I used in the french press. After preparing it, I diluted it a little with water, the Moka, until I reached the same concentration as the french press.
In this way, I could taste them as equals without the intensity playing against me, to feel the differences and similarities that I could find between the two preparations.
Once the coffees were prepared and served, I waited for the temperature to drop a little before tasting them. The interesting thing was that they were both very tasty. However, I waited for the temperature to drop, so I could feel the flavours better.
Result of the tasting
The result was interesting because the preparations were quite similar. It was the same coffee, but these two very different extraction methods could be different; however, the results were very similar.
Both had a moderate body, although the Moka brew had a heavier, denser body. The french press had more of the chocolatey notes of the coffee, but the other flavours were a bit cloudy, lacking clarity and brightness.
This is since the metal filter of the french press has quite large holes in it and lets more of the oils and particles from the coffee into the cup. And although I think the brew lacked a little more extraction and would have ground a little finer, it was still very tasty. I think this would benefit greatly from being combined with milk and would be delicious.
In the french press preparation, you also felt this silky body, although the fruity notes were more apparent with more acidity and sweetness. It was a little more balanced, with more clarity. This is because the french press uses a similar technique to the tasting process, where all the particles are allowed to settle to the bottom, producing more clarity in the cup.
The flavours in the french press were brighter, they were more noticeable, they were very rich, and the chocolate notes were noticeable, but it showed a little more of the fruity side, which is also very rich.
Taking all the above points into account, I think the Moka pot would be winning over the french press so far. But more than the sum of the points, you must consider what adds up the most for you or influences you the most, according to your needs.
In my case, I use the Moka when preparing small quantities of coffee, up to two cups. But the versatility of the french press adds up to a lot.
I recommend the Moka pot for those who enjoy milky drinks, as it produces such an intense coffee; it’s like a cheaper and more accessible imitation of espresso. Excellent for those looking for something quick, practical, without having to weigh or measure, and who want the same result every time. It’s also a good option to take a camping trip where you can access a stove.
And I recommend the French Press for those looking for something basic, easy to use, but versatile. For anyone starting in the world of coffee, it’s ideal. If it’s a good size, you can make one cup or several cups simply by changing the proportions you use, and it doesn’t require your attention during the process.
Also, why not? I recommend buying both at the same time. In the Moka, we prepare the coffee; in the Press, we froth the milk, and we have a quick, accessible, and economical way to prepare delicious drinks such as Flat White, cappuccino, latte, and so on.