AeroPress vs French Press – Breakdown at a Glance

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Last updated on August 6, 2023


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My many years of caffeine dependency have shown me that there are a lot of different coffee drinkers in the world. 

Some prefer their coffee velvety, dark, and full-bodied. Others like theirs smooth and grit-free with bright flavors. And then there are the folks that don’t care what it tastes like, so long as it wakes them up. 

No matter what category you fall into, there’s a brewing method that’s right for you. The only question is which one. 

And that’s why we tested and compared the beloved French press with the AeroPress. Below, you’ll find a complete comparison, so you can figure out which one is calling your name—who knows, maybe both are calling your name.

In this article, you'll learn...

  • The key differences between the AeroPress and French press and how they affect your resulting cup of coffee. 

  • A comprehensive look at each device's main components and step-by-step instructions for brewing classic and alternative styles in each.

  • How the AeroPress or French press might better suit your preferred coffee characteristics, such as roast, strength, and mouthfeel.

  • The practical considerations around owning both the AeroPress and French press – is it truly a worthwhile investment for your coffee needs?

AeroPress Summary


The AeroPress combines traditional immersion brewing with pressure to produce a silky espresso-style concentrate. 

There are four main components to an AeroPress: 

  • The chamber
  • The plunger
  • A filter cap
  • A paper or mesh filter

It also comes with a measured spoon as well as a plastic stirring stick. 


After screwing on the filter, you’ll quickly brew your coffee, insert the plunger, and then press! Light and bright coffee will drip down into your mug as you plunge. That entire process takes just over one minute to brew a single serving of espresso-style concentrate.

French Press Summary


Every French press has three parts: 

  • A carafe (vessel for the liquid)
  • A plunger
  • Attached mesh filter. 

Traditionally made of glass, there are now stainless steel, plastic, and ceramic models too. 


Remember, this is an immersion brewing method, meaning the coarsely-ground beans have time to steep in water. French presses don’t rely on pressure to make coffee, only water and time. Once steeped, the plunger will press the solids to the bottom of the carafe, leaving your coffee above.

[Full disclosure: I’m a French press gal through and through. Will the AeroPress win over my French press-loving heart? Wait and see! ]

The Main Differences Between a French Press & AeroPress


To start, one is old, and one is new. 

The AeroPress has been rocking the coffee world since 2005, while the French press has been a steady favorite since the 1850s. 


Then there’s the brewing methods. French presses are immersion brewing methods, meaning the grounds have plenty of time to sit and steep. 

The AeroPress is also immersion brewing but with one major difference: pressure. The plunger’s rubber seal creates enough pressure to speed up extraction considerably (similar to an espresso machine but with less extreme pressure). While French presses take at least four minutes to brew, AeroPresses can achieve ideal extraction in under a minute.

However, the biggest difference lies in the resulting brews. AeroPresses produce a single serving of espresso-style concentrate, impeccably smooth and light. French presses result in a robust, rich, and textured coffee, featuring much more grit. 


This difference in viscosity is due, in part, to the different grind sizes but mostly to their filtration systems. You see, the AeroPress’s paper filters block most of the oil in the beans from seeping through; the French press’s reusable mesh filter allows more of the oils to pass through and end up in your mug.  

Aeropress: paper filter → smaller holes —> fewer oils in resulting coffee→ lighter mouthfeel

French press: mesh —> larger holes —> more oils in resulting coffee —> fuller mouthfeel

Then there's the size. A standard French press, while not huge, is larger than an AeroPress, and thus less portable. But you can brew up to four (8oz) cups in a standard French press; AeroPresses only produce single servings.

Classic Brewing Technique for Each Press

How to Brew Coffee in an AeroPress


The AeroPress brews an espresso-style cup, not watered-down American coffee.

  1. Heat your water (90 ml or 3 oz) to 175 - 205°F (79.5 - 96°C) if you have an electric kettle. If unavailable, boil water, then let cool for one minute or so. 

  2. Expel the plunger from the AeroPress so the chamber is empty. 

  3. Place the filter in the designated cap, and then twist it onto the lipped end of the AeroPress.

  4. With the filter facing down, place the AeroPress on the rim of your mug. 

  5. Pour one rounded scoop (around 15 g) of ground coffee into the AeroPress. Shake it gently so the grounds lie flat.

  6. Next, pour hot water into the chamber until it reaches “2.” 

  7. Stir the slurry for 10 seconds. 

  8. Insert the plunger, and then pull it out slightly to create a pressure seal.

  9. Press down slowly and carefully. Keep pushing till it hits the grounds. Be sure to pause if faced with resistance.

  10. Remove the AeroPress from your mug, remove the filter cap, and press the plunger to remove the grounds. If you’re not yet caffeine-deprived, rinse the seal. 

  11. Sip and enjoy!

How to Brew Coffee in a French Press


French presses naturally brew American-style coffee, not an espresso-style concentrate.

  1. Preheat your water—900 ml or 30 oz—to around 195 - 200°F (90.5 - 96°C), and warm the French press and mug with just a dash of water (no more than an inch or so).

  2. Grind your beans (coarse to medium) or use pre-ground beans. Measure out 16 level tbsp or 56 grams and pour into the empty, warmed French press. 

  3. Gently tap or shake the French press so the grounds settle evenly.

  4. Bloom the grounds by slowly pouring a bit of water over them, moving the stream so they dampen evenly. You’ll want to pour until the water level is just at or over the grounds. Aim for 30-45 seconds. 

  5. Add the rest of your water, stir the slurry, and then insert the plunger. Stop just above the slurry.

  6. Steep for around 4 minutes. 

  7. Plunge, pour, and enjoy!

A Deeper Dive Into the AeroPress


What Coffee From an AeroPress Tastes Like

While I had my doubts about the AeroPress, after one brew, I was immediately hooked. Though it hasn’t replaced my French press, I use it at least three mornings a week. 

Why the sudden change of heart? 

Because it brews the smoothest coffee ever. Silky and light-bodied, each sip feels like sunshine in a cup. It goes down easy, practically as smooth as cold brew. Best of all, there are no fines, grit, or sediment lurking on the bottom of your mug. 

The flavor is round and well-developed, nutty and light. But it’s not nearly as robust as French press coffee. 

While darker roasts feel almost muted by the AeroPress, the light and medium ones retain their delicate flavor. The floral notes of Peet’s Costa Rica Aurora shone in the AeroPress. Still, I’d bet lighter single-origin beans would outshine them all.

If you drink coffee for the caffeine, you’re sure to love this. One cup of AeroPress coffee has between 60-130mgs of caffeine, which is right on par with what the French press would give you.

Pro Tip

Tailor your AeroPress brew to your taste buds by adjusting one variable at a time. Weak coffee? Up your coffee-to-water ratio first, then try longer steeping. 

The Upsides of an AeroPress

Well, where to begin? 

AeroPresses are: 

  • Fast
  • Efficient
  • Portable
  • Durable
  • Super smooth
  • Easy to clean

I kept muttering the same phrase every time I used my AeroPress: “This is stupid easy.” And it’s true! AeroPresses are designed to be simple, quick, and delicious—and they come through on it. While there are myriad ways to complicate it, the standard brewing method is as simple as it comes. 

The Downsides of an AeroPress

The downsides of using an Aeropress include: 

  • Single-serving only
  • Finicky plunge
  • Less robust flavor
  • Need a scale to make the perfect brew (expanded on below)

According to my colleague, a longtime AeroPress user, the plunger’s suction capabilities become less powerful over time, which can result in accidental spills. 

Also, the rubber bottom of the plunger can accidentally detach during removal, another major pain. 

AeroPress recommends replacing the rubber seals every three or so years, but if you’re in a pinch, try Joe Lindsay’s quick fix, located in their FAQ section.

To make the kind of brew, I prefer (rich, chocolatey, intense), you need a scale and a willingness to experiment. Precision coffee and AeroPresses go hand in hand. Whereas, in my experience, French presses are a lot more forgiving of errors and imprecision.

The Different Brewing Methods of the AeroPress

1. Easy American Coffee

It’s easy to make American coffee with an AeroPress. 

  • Grind your beans to medium-fine and heat around 8 oz or 240 ml of water to 175°F (79.5 C). You can also boil water then let it rest for 2 minutes or so (doesn’t need to be exact).  
  • Set up your AeroPress and mount it over a sturdy coffee cup. Use 15 grams or one full scoop  (provided with your AeroPress) to measure out your grounds and pour them into the empty chamber. 
  • Pour your preheated water into the chamber, making sure to evenly coat the grounds. Keep pouring until the slurry hits the “2” (4 oz or 120 ml) mark on the outside of the chamber. 
  • Insert the plunger at an angle and pull slightly back before plunging down. 
  • Plunge slowly, taking at least 30-45 seconds to plunge all the way. Stop either when you hear the AeroPress hissing or when the plunger hits the grounds. 
  • Remove the AeroPress, expel the grounds, and set aside. Pour the remainder of your preheated water over the concentrate or until you fill up your mug. Aim for about 8 oz of coffee in total. 
  • Sip and enjoy! 

The first time I made this, I followed the given directions exactly. I was shocked to see how smooth and grit-free the resulting coffee was. 

While I added a bit too much water at the end (I prefer a stronger brew), I was still impressed by this cup. Anything that’s very smooth and not bitter goes down easy! It did lack some of the robust flavors that come with using a French press, but this could be due to my own error. 

Pro Tip:  When pinpointing your ideal brew strength, let the amount of water be your fixed variable. Add enough water to create your ideal volume of coffee. Then taste and adjust coffee grounds or steep time to increase/decrease strength. 

2. Precise American Coffee

This method expands on the original recipe by blooming the grounds and lengthening the steeping time.

  • Grind your beans to medium-fine and heat your water to 200 - 205°F (93 - 96°C). For this brew, use the 1:17 ratio to start, then adjust it as needed. That will be 1 full scoop (or 15 g) of coffee and 255 ml (8.6 oz) of water. 
  • Add the grounds, give them a gentle shake to settle them, and bloom for about 30 seconds. 
  • Add the rest of your water (to the “4” mark)  and gently stir the slurry a few times. 
  • Then, insert the plunger and pull it out slightly at an angle. This will create a pressurized seal so that the coffee won’t drip out as fast. 
  • Let steep for 60-90 seconds. 
  • Slowly plunge for 30 seconds (stop either when it hisses or when the rubber hits the grounds). 
  • Clean and enjoy! 

When brewing your own, feel free to experiment with the steeping time!

Was this a better cup of coffee? Absolutely! It was so smooth and delicious. But is it worth the extra effort and time? Not for me. The standard cup is already pretty silky. No need to mess with delicious! 

3. Inverted Method

Water may spill everywhere if the plunger isn’t sealed properly. It is also more likely to fall or tip over since it’s not meant to be upside down.

First, let’s address why you would want to turn a gravity-powered machine upside down and reverse the entire process.

Well, some say the answer lies in the control it provides. When the AeroPress is inverted, there’s a 0% chance of leakage, whereas the right-side-up method might allow a few drips of water to escape through the filter before you get the plunger in, thereby creating a vacuum.

That said, the question of effectiveness between the traditional Aeropress method and the inverted technique is a hot topic. 

Despite coffee expert James Hoffman not detecting a taste difference in a blind test, two winners of the 2022 World AeroPress Championship favored the inverted method.

Personally, I found a slight preference for the inverted flavor, though this could be influenced by prior knowledge. In this comparison, objectivity can be a challenge.

Ultimately, the choice between traditional and inverted may come down to individual taste. Despite the debate, the goal remains the same: a delicious cup of coffee. The best way to find out what suits your palate? Brew, taste, and compare both methods. Because, at the end of the day, the perfect cup of coffee is the one that you most enjoy.

According to AeroPress, the perfect brew can be made using a 1:17 ratio—10 g (~3 tbsp or 1 level scoop) coffee + 170 ml (5.75 oz) water (1). This ratio works best for American coffee, not espresso. 

To brew with the inverted method, you’ll need a digital scale and a grinder (you can eyeball it, but we don’t recommend it). Here, we’ll cover the basic steps.  

  • Heat your water, and grind your coffee. Then prep your AeroPress by inserting the plunger and inverting it so that the plunger actually becomes the base—make sure that it is fully sealed. 
  • Toss in your grounds through the opening (that is now at the top), where you’ll place the seal, then shake gently to settle them. Bloom for 30-45 seconds.
  • Then, add in the rest of the water, gently stir, and let it steep for 30-60 seconds.  
  • Prep the filter, then screw it on top. 
  • Carefully flip the AeroPress so that it’s right side up again, where the plunger faces the sky, with the filter on the lip of your mug. 
  • Plunge slowly, pour, and enjoy!

I used Peet’s Big Bang roast and was surprised at how soft and well-developed the flavors were despite only steeping for a minute... While I do miss the intense, French press-produced flavors, this is one I will happily brew again and again.

4. Flash Brew

Also known as Japanese cold brew, flash brews are quick, easy, and delicious! My one trick is to plunge very slowly, at least 30-45 seconds. You want it to drip gradually, so the ice will chill the coffee and water it down as it melts. 

  • Fill a glass with ice, leaving about two inches at the top.
  • Heat water to at least 175°F (79.5°C).
  • Prepare your AeroPress and brew a standard concentrate.
  • Set your AeroPress on top of the glass and then slowly plunge, at least 30-45 seconds.
  • Once fully plunged, remove the filter cap, expel the grounds, and clean.
  • Sip and enjoy! 

Once again, I used Peet’s Big Bang for my flash brew, which produced a very smooth, almost slick coffee. Not too strong or overpowering, it was just as satisfying as a hot cup of coffee. 

And, whew, I felt caffeinated afterward! Needless to say, this will be a common occurrence once summer comes around. 

Pro Tip

You can also use the inverted method to make a flash brew.

A Deeper Dive Into the French Press


What Coffee From a French Press Tastes Like

There’s a reason why I make French press coffee almost every morning: the coffee is spectacular. 

These brews are strong, rich, and velvety with a darker flavor profile, even chocolatey. Despite the intensity, I’ve always had success in bringing out lighter notes too, albeit less so than with drip. This coffee is far less light and bright than the AeroPress’s, but the deepened flavor more than makes up for it. 

If you’re looking for something lighter or richer, play around with steeping times and roasts. I prefer to use medium-to-dark roasts, saving lighter ones for drip. But that’s just me!

Of course, if you’re using a French press, you’ll see some fines at the bottom of your cup. The mesh filter does a decent job, but the coffee is nowhere near as smooth as the AeroPress’s. 

You can avoid that gritty texture by brewing cold brew instead for a smooth and not-at-all bitter cup!

The Upsides of a French Press

Considering buying a French press but need another reason why? Here you go:

  • Small
  • Simple
  • Versatile
  • Sustainable
  • Strong, full-bodied flavors
  • Great for an individual or a family

Whether you’re an individual or a family of five, a French press will come in handy. You can make multiple kinds of coffee (or even tea) with little to no extra equipment and up to four (8 oz or 230 ml) cups at a time in a standard-size press. 

Since French presses use mesh filters, they produce no waste aside from the grounds. (Though, it’s fair to note that you can buy AeroPress’s reusable mesh filter instead of paper ones). 

And nothing beats the incredibly strong, well-developed flavors of the French press! 

The Downsides of a French Press

Nothing is perfect, not even my beloved French press. Here are some of the downsides: 

  • Sediment/fines
  • Difficult to clean
  • Not ideal for an individual
  • Less smooth
  • Takes more time than an AeroPress

I didn’t realize how much the sludge at the bottom of my cup bugged me till I switched to the sediment-free AeroPress. If you want a silky smooth mouthfeel, AeroPress is the way to go. 

French presses are also somewhat difficult to clean. And if you’re a person who only needs one cup of coffee, a French press can seem like a lot.

The Different Brewing Methods of the French Press

1. Espresso-Style

This is espresso-strength coffee (lovingly nicknamed French Press-o), not espresso. Why? True espresso needs at least nine bars of pressure to brew. And traditional espresso is made with an extremely fine grind size, not coarse or medium. And French presses rely on immersion brewing to make coffee, unlike espresso machines.

So, are the two actually compatible (or even related)? Not really. But you can make a very strong cup of coffee that gives you a kick similar to espresso. 

  • Using 20 g of grounds (6 tbsp) per cup (240 ml) of water, grind your beans medium-fine.
  • Heat water to 195°F (90.5°C). In the meantime, warm your French press and mug. 
  • Bloom the grounds for 30 seconds. 
  • Pour in remaining water, and insert the plunger so the filter sits just above the slurry.
  • Let steep for 1-4 minutes, leaning closer to 4.
  • Plunge slowly. To create crema (the foam on top), plunge halfway, then lift up, and plunge again. You may have to repeat several times to get a good foam, but it also depends on the quality of the beans you’re using.
  • Pour and enjoy! 

Be sure to pour all of it out of the carafe once finished, or your brew will become bitter. 

Remember, this isn’t actual espresso, so let go of what you know about espressos and anticipate something robust, full of flavor, and unique to the French press. Feel free to drink it black or doctor it with your favorite add-ins. 

2. Cold Brew

Cold brew is notoriously less bitter than hot coffee. The key? A long extraction. 

Try to keep your coffee-to-water ratio between 1:10 and 1:4, using coarsely ground beans. The latter makes a cold brew concentrate, which you can always add ice to or water down once steeped.

Cold brew needs to steep for a long time, preferably overnight. If you steep it in the fridge, leave it be for 12-24 hours (usually 12-14 is perfect for me). If you can’t steep it in the fridge, make sure it’s tucked away somewhere dark and cool.

  • Coarsely grind your beans and then pour into the empty carafe. 
  • Pour your desired amount of cold water over the grounds, wetting them evenly. 
  • Insert the plunger, but don’t press it down. Make sure the filter is sitting above the slurry, not on top of them. 
  • Place in the refrigerator and let steep for 12-24 hours.
  • Once brewed, remove the French press from the fridge and gently press the plunger all the way down. Do not plunge too quickly, or you may agitate the grounds.
  • Pour and enjoy!

If you want, you can line your container with a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel so it will remove any remaining sediments for you. And you can make plenty ahead of time, as it’ll keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge. 

My cold brew experiments ranged from delicious to even more delicious. This method removed all of the bitter and astringent notes from the Big Bang and Major Dickinson roasts but kept the darker flavor profile. In fact, it was almost sweet! 

And I won’t lie—the major caffeine hit was just as appealing as the brew itself. 

3. James Hoffmann Technique

Hoffmann’s technique takes immersion brewing to a whole ‘nother level. While it’s best to use a scale and grinder for this recipe, you can make do without (however both of us would adamantly recommend investing in a scale for better future coffee). Hoffmann recommends using a 1:15 ratio, so 60-70 grams (17-20 tbsp) of coffee per liter of water (34 oz).

  • Boil your water and warm your French press. Grind your coffee to a medium grind size. 
  • Pour the grounds into the carafe and shake it to help them settle. 
  • Next, pour your water over the grounds evenly—no dry spots! 
  • Let sit for 4 minutes.
  • With one spoon, break the crust that has formed on the surface of the slurry. Stir it gently.
  • Grab another spoon and scoop up the foam and floating grounds on the surface. Remove them gently and try not to disturb the slurry too much.
  • Once the surface is mostly clear, set a timer for 5-8 minutes and let sit.
  • Insert the plunger and press down till it sits just above the surface.
  • Pour out your coffee, using the plunger as a strainer instead of a compression tool.
  • Sip and enjoy!

The second waiting period allows the sediments to fall to the bottom of the carafe, eliminating the gritty mouthfeel. It’s also best to use dark roast for this method or a medium roast if you don’t have it. 

I prepped my brew with Peets’ Major Dickinson’s medium grind size, using about 30 g (~9 tbsp) of grounds to 500 ml (~17 oz) of water. Once fully steeped, I was taken aback by how sweet the brew smelled. 

My first sip was just as surprising; it was as smooth as coffee made with an AeroPress but with the intensity of a French press. Powerful, dark, and smooth, I’ll be brewing Hoffmann’s method for years to come. 

4. Tea

Yes, you can brew tea in a contraption built for coffee—versatility at its finest! While this won’t work with every type of tea (like traditional chai), most black loose-leaf varieties should work. 

  • Pre-warm your French press before adding your leaves.
  • Use approximately 1 tsp (1.5 g) of tea per cup (235 ml) of water. 
  • Let steep per the tea’s directions.
  • Plunge, pour, and enjoy! 

Make sure to pour any leftover tea out of the French press once done brewing. It will continue to steep if left there, resulting in a bitter mess. 

Pro Tip

Love this tea? Consider investing in two French presses, one for tea and one for coffee. If you only have one, make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned ahead of time, or else the coffee residue will spoil the flavor of the tea. 


If you’re still not sure which tool suits you best, ask yourself the following questions: 

How many cups of coffee do I drink a day? 

When sipping, do I focus on the mouthfeel or the flavor? 

How much time do I have to spare when brewing? 

The AeroPress: 

  • If you brew on the go, are happy with a single serving, and love to sip on something crisp and extra-smooth… the AeroPress is for you!
  • Probably the biggest con of the AeroPress is that it only makes a single-serving at a time. It can also take a little bit of time to get the ratios down pat. And some find that their dark roasts can’t be fully appreciated with such a quick brew. 

The French Press: 

  • If you crave that robust flavor, plan to down more than one cup, and like to take it easy in the morning, you’ll want to stick with your French press. 
  • The only real downsides of French press are the extra brew time and the silty mouthfeel that can come with less-than-perfect mesh filters. It can also fail to highlight the delicate notes of some lighter or even medium roasts.  

So, this brings me to one final consideration: if you’re a true coffee enthusiast—the kind of person who likes to try different beans in different ways under different circumstances—you’ll most likely enjoy the flexibility of having both types of press in your arsenal. That way, you can always whip up just the kind of coffee that your day is calling for. 

It’s time to get those grinders out and start brewing!

Happy sipping!


About the author, Dolly

Dolly is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London and an avid cook. After managing a miniature organic farm for a year, she fell in love with the art of cooking and the taste of homegrown greens. Dolly first became plant-based eight years ago, and she is now a full-blown vegan; her plant-based journey has made her creative and experimental in the kitchen. If she’s not writing or cooking, Dolly can be found on her front porch, strumming her guitar and singing for anyone who will listen.