Making the perfect cup of coffee is as much of an art as it is a science. From the ideal water temperature, to what kind of premium coffee beans used, to the brewing method all play important roles in the quality of a cup of coffee.
It used to be that only coffee baristas had the proper skillset and know-how to brew the most delicious cup of joe. As time went on, technology caught up and now the average $50 drip coffee maker can make just as good of a cup as the local barista.
So why is there still a controversy about brewing methods? If you were to ask most coffee purists, or even the CEO of Starbucks, they’d swear by the French press. Still others think that their $50 drip coffee maker from Target can produce just as good of a cup of coffee, provided that you use good coffee beans.
So, who’s right and who’s wrong? We’re not going to answer that question until the end of this article (spoiler: it’s not who you think it is). In the meantime we’re going to look at both the French press and your standard drip coffee maker and compare and contrast the two.
What is a French Press Coffeemaker?
If you’re like most Americans, you’ve heard the term “French press”, but aren’t quite sure what it does or how it works. The French press was invented by an Italian in 1929. Over the next few decades it exploded in popularity all over Europe.
The genius behind the French press is its simplicity. Unlike a cappuccino machine (which oftentimes requires a NASA engineer to operate), a French press can literally be used anytime, anywhere, by anyone. A glass or steel container, mesh steel cylindrical piece at the top and a steel cover with a movable plunger makes up the standard French press.
In order to make this deceptively simple coffee-making contraption work, simply place your coffee grounds in the bottom of the container. Steep with hot water (anywhere between 160 and 185 degrees is the sweet spot), and then press down slowly on the plunger. The mechanical force of the plunger collects the coffee grounds so that they won’t end up in the coffee cup.
Advantages of a French Press Coffeemaker
The biggest advantage to a French press coffeemaker is that it allows you to completely customize the cup of coffee that you’re brewing. You can vary the size and type of grounds being used, temperature of the water, and amount of time that the grounds are steeped.
Each one of these variables can significantly affect how the final cup of coffee tastes. Most French press users have a system in place – a morning ritual of sorts – that consistently produces what they feel is a great cup of coffee.
It takes on average 5 -6 minutes to brew a cup using a French press coffee maker. There is nothing to plug into the wall, nor complicated dials and electronic gizmos to set. Some people view this as an advantage, as you can literally use a French press coffee maker on the top of Mt. Everest.
There are those who might say that this decidedly low-tech approach to coffee making is a slight disadvantage because you’re going to need to get the hot water from somewhere. The microwave is an option – but that requires another cup to hold the hot water. You can use your stove, but that too requires something to boil the water in. It all adds up to additional time spent making coffee.
What is a Drip Coffeemaker?
A drip coffeemaker is a device that you put a predetermined amount of cold or room temperature water in. You then add a filter and some coffee grounds inside the filter. Plug the machine into the wall and push the “Power” button and a little computer chip inside the coffee maker heats the water to around 175 degrees (depending on manufacturer and machine) and then the hot water is dripped over the loose grounds. The water doesn’t stay in contact with the grounds for very long – just long enough for gravity to pull the water down. A large glass or metal pot resides beneath where the water is coming down. Five to ten minutes later and the coffee is ready to drink.
Advantages of a Drip Coffeemaker
When it comes to drip coffeemakers, it’s all about convenience. Most morning coffee drinkers barely have enough time to get ready for work let alone go through a 5 -7-minute ritual of boiling water and attempting to manually push down on a plunger for the required amount of time.
The manufacturers of drip coffeemakers have perfected the quality of coffee their products can brew. They have programmed the computer chip to heat the water at just the right temperature and force it through the coffee grinds at just the right pressure. It’s almost impossible to make a bad cup of coffee with a drip coffeemaker – unless you’re using stale or store-bought coffee grounds.
Drip Coffee vs. French Press
And the winner is…. whatever your personal preference is.
Some people value the quality of coffee and customizable options created by French press coffeemakers, others value the time savings of a drip coffeemaker. Those in the drip coffeemaker camp would argue that if you used premium coffee beans, only die-hard coffee connoisseurs would be able to tell the difference between drip and French press.
No matter what method of brewing your coffee you choose, be sure to use premium coffee beans from such coffee growers as Carta Coffee. Store bought coffee is oftentimes stale and past its expiration date. This will result in a bad tasting cup of coffee, no matter how you brew it.