Pour Over vs French Press

Last updated on January 3, 2024


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We get asked all the time about the differences between pour over and French press coffee brewing methods. Honestly, both methods are great options for making delicious coffee at home. Which one makes a “better” coffee will depend on some of your personal preferences, though.

With this in mind, we’ll break it all down in a way that's easy to understand—and will help you make the best choice wherever you’re at on your coffee journey.

After Reading this Article, You Will . . . 

  • Grasp the key differences between the French press and pour over brewing, in terms of equipment, method, and resulting flavor.
  • Learn key tips to refine your technique and achieve optimal flavor for both French press and pour over. 
  • Understand why pour over requires precision and French press is more forgiving.
  • Understand how pour over showcases certain unique bean flavors, aromas, and mouthfeel while French press highlights others.
  • Compare factors like cost, cleanup, and oil retention between the two.
  • Feel empowered to experiment for yourself and discover your preferred brewing style.

The Short Answer

If you're new to manual coffee brewing and just want a simple answer, here's the short version:

  • Pour over brewing produces a clean and bright-tasting coffee, with pronounced acidity and subtle flavors shining through. The light, floral notes really pop in a well-brewed pour over cup. 

  • French press makes a bold and creamy cup with deeper, richer flavors. You really taste the body of the coffee. 

  • Both methods allow you to experiment with variables like grind size, water temperature, ratios, and steep time to fine-tune your perfect cup.

Because of these factors, French press is especially good for showcasing body and roast notes of medium and darker roasted beans—and still capturing and balancing this with acids. 

For fresh, high-quality, and lighter-roasted specialty beans, pour over often does the best job of showcasing those delicate flavors. It can be a bit trickier to master the pour over technique though.

If you’re just starting out, French press is also more forgiving of variables and produces a consistently good cup of coffee with less effort, so you might enjoy it more while getting comfortable with manual brewing at home.

French Press Brewing Basics


Required Equipment:

  • French press (Bodum, Frieling, and Espro are popular, solid-quality brands)
  • Coffee grinder
  • Kettle for heating water
  • Stirring tool like a wooden chopstick
  • Scale


  1. Boil your kettle and let it sit for 1 minute to lower the temperature to around 200°F (95°C). 
  2. Grind your beans to a medium-coarse consistency right before brewing.


  1. Add your coffee grounds to the French press—a typical starting ratio is 1 g of coffee to 15 ml of water.
  2. Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds and let it fully saturate for 30 seconds without disturbing.
  3. Give the grounds a quick stir to break the crust.
  4. Insert the plunger lid but do not press it down yet.
  5. Steep for 3 minutes to extract flavor and oils from the grounds into the water.
  6. Slowly press the plunger down to trap the grounds.
  7. Pour and enjoy your rich, full-bodied French press coffee!

Now you have freshly brewed coffee in just a few minutes. 

The full immersion method extracts complex flavors for a consistently delicious cup. 

When you’re ready to take your experimentation further, there are also other methods and brewing ratios you can try. 

Pour Over Brewing Basics


Required Equipment:

  • Pour over coffee dripper (Hario V60, Kalita Wave, and Chemex are popular options)
  • Paper filters (recommended for starting out—although reusable filters of metal and nylon are also available)
  • Kettle for heating water
  • Coffee grinder
  • Scale for precise measurements


  1. Heat your kettle water to 202-205°F (95-96°C), the ideal range for most light-medium roasted coffees.
  1. Grind your beans right before brewing for maximum freshness—aim for a medium consistency; depending on your preferences and brewing device, you may lean towards coarser or finer. 
  1. Place a filter in your pour over dripper and rinse it with a small amount of hot water.


  1. Add your desired amount of freshly ground coffee—a good starting ratio is 1:16. 
  1. Start your pour timer and slowly and evenly saturate the grounds using a circular pour motion. This helps prevent channeling. 
  1. Once saturated, allow the coffee to bloom for 30 seconds or so to release gas and allow more flavors to find their way to your cup.
  1. Continue pouring in a slow, concentric spiral until all the water has been added—this should take around 3 minutes total. 
  1. Enjoy your delicious pour over coffee! Cleanup takes just seconds.

That covers the basics. From there you can fine-tune variables like grind size, pour techniques, ratios, and steep times to suit your preferences for brightness, body, and taste. 

Mastering pour over takes practice but results in coffee that really lets you taste unique bean flavors.

French Press vs Pour Over: Tasted 

James’s Tasting

French Press

While writing this article, I brewed two batches of the same bean—a medium-dark roasted Thai arabica—using both V60 pour over and French press. 

This bean is one known for its full body and also floral notes—even at deeper roast levels, so I thought it would be ideal for comparing these two brewing methods.

The French press extraction of this bean was very bold. The body was heavy—but not unpleasantly bitter. The chocolate notes balanced well with the light floral notes. 

I brewed in a 500ML Bodum Kenya—which has a large circumference metal mesh filter. 

I was very happy with how much less sediment made it through compared to my smaller French press. Of course, there were still some fines in the cup giving the usual touch of French press “muddiness” to the mouthfeel—but nothing to me that was unpleasant.

Pour Over

On the other hand, the result of my V60 pour over with these beans was very clean— smooth with no bitterness and absolutely no sediment. 

But, it was also a bit thin—not much body and very light on the roast and chocolate notes. The light floral notes were certainly highlighted against the lighter body. Because this was a darker roast, though, I felt like I was wasting the beans by not getting the balanced flavor with more body from it, like I did with the French press.


Even from a quick comparison like this, it is easy to conclude that the types of flavors you want to extract and highlight from your beans are an important consideration when choosing the method you want to brew with. 

Full immersion from a French press lets the oils through—along with some fines: great if you want a strong, full body to your coffee. 

Pour over with a paper filter, such as with the V60, captures a lot of those oils and all of the fines—allowing lighter notes and acids to stand out.

Taste, Aroma, Mouthfeel — Which Beans for Which Method? 

A More In-Depth and Technical Explanation of Why French Press Is Best for Medium and Darker Roasts Compared to Pour Over

We’ve suggested that full-bodied flavor and roast notes of medium and dark roasted coffee beans are best extracted using a French press. 

This is because the French press utilizes full immersion brewing, meaning all of the coffee grounds remain in contact with the water for the entire brew time. 

Full immersion allows for a thorough extraction of the oils and solids that give medium and dark roasts their rich, intense flavor:

  • Oils like cafestol and kahweol contribute to the creamy mouthfeel and heavier body associated with French press coffee. (Urgert et al., 1995)
  • Maillard reaction products formed during roasting, like melanoidins, furans, and pyrazines, impart roast-dependent flavors ranging from nutty and chocolatey to caramel-like and earthy. The French press allows optimal extraction of these compounds. (Santanatoglia et al., 2023)
  • Darker roasts in particular develop more sugars and amino acids due to prolonged roasting. Compounds like these are soluble in water and are extracted well with the French press method. (Bicho et al., 2011)

The metal filter of the French press also allows more insoluble particulates to be suspended in the final brew, adding to the full body.

A More In-depth and Technical Explanation of Why Pour Over Is Recommended for Lighter Roasts of Specialty Coffees

Lighter roasted specialty-grade coffee beans have more delicate, complex flavors that are accentuated through pour over brew methods like V60. 

The continuous pouring of water allows for even extraction, without over-extracting bitter compounds. The paper filter also removes more insoluble particulates, resulting in a cleaner cup that highlights the fruity, floral, and bright acidic notes of lighter roasts. 

Immersion methods such as French press do not extract these delicate flavors as well.

  • Acids like chlorogenic, citric, malic, and quinic acid are abundant in light roasts and contribute to their tangy, bright character. The pour over method extracts these while limiting bitter acids. (Laukaleja, I., & Kruma, Z. 2019)
  • Aroma compounds like esters, aldehydes, and alcohols are volatile and delicate. The fast extraction of pour over better preserves their fruity, sweet, and floral notes. (Arisseto et al., 2011)
  • Alkaloids like trigonelline also decline during roasting. These alkaloids impart a sense of liveliness and are showcased through pour over.

Cost Comparison

Financially, both pour over and French press are very affordable options for enjoying specialty coffee at home. The upfront costs are low—around $15-30 will get you a quality manual pour over dripper or French press. 

If you choose pour over and use paper filters, those will be an additional ongoing cost. French press has no filter costs since it uses the full immersion stainless steel or nylon mesh filter. 

So for cost alone, French press has the slight advantage long term.

This said, even high-quality paper filters for pour over are reasonably priced, and there are also reusable non-paper filter options for many pour over devices—so the difference is minor. 

Either way, you'll save versus daily coffee shop runs!

Preparation and Cleanup

French press is usually a bit faster to prepare since it involves mostly passive steeping time versus the active pouring cycle of pour over. 

Total hands-on time for French press is just 4-7 minutes to boil water, grind beans, and steep the coffee. Cleanup only involves emptying the used grounds and giving a quick rinse to the glass pot and filter.

Pour over takes slightly more active effort but also around 5-8 total minutes to heat water, grind beans, rinse the filter, and do the stepwise pouring. Cleanup is very fast though—just dispose of the used filter and grounds. 

Either way, both methods are quick and easy compared to methods like siphon brewing and espresso machines. In our opinion, a few extra minutes is well worth the fresh, delicious coffee. 

Pour Over vs French Press: Final Stack-up  

So in summary, here are the main factors you should consider when comparing these two classic brew methods:

  • Pour over shines for its bright, nuanced flavors that highlight unique bean qualities, especially in fresh light roasts of specialty coffee. However, it requires more precision and practice.
  • French press makes a satisfyingly full, robust cup with depth of flavor, making it great for high-quality, fresh roasted beans at a medium or darker roast. 
  • French press brewing can also mask flaws in commercial-grade beans or stale coffee of any roast level as the process is more forgiving.
  • Either way, both allow customization through variables like grind size, ratios, temperatures, and steep/pour times. Experimentation is part of the fun!
  • Pour over filters remove more oils for a cleaner cup, while French press produces more body and silt from a full-immersion steep and its more porous mesh filter.
  • Cleanup is slightly quicker with pour over but costs slightly more long-term if using paper filters versus reusable mesh for French press.

In the end, both will let you experience the amazing flavors specialty coffee has to offer from the convenience of home. 

The best option depends on your preferences—do you want bright acidity or more creaminess? Easy brewing or precise control? 

Try both and see which one suits you best for unlocking coffee's potential! 



What Is a French Press?

A French press, also known as a press pot or plunger pot, is a method of manually brewing coffee. It consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless steel container with a plunger and a metal or plastic mesh sieve. 

The coffee is brewed by placing coarsely ground coffee beans (ideally medium or dark roast) at the bottom of the press, adding hot water, and then pressing the plunger down after a few minutes of steeping. 

This method produces a rich, corpulent, and slightly gritty coffee, where the most robust compounds—oils, sugars, and toasty bitters—-overcome the more subtle notes. 

What Is a Pour Over?

Pour over is a method of brewing coffee in which hot water is poured evenly over medium-fine coffee grounds (ideally light roast), allowing it to pass through a filter and into a carafe or cup. The process involves pouring hot water over the coffee grounds in a controlled and steady manner, allowing the coffee to bloom and extract the flavors evenly. 

This method produces a crisp, refreshing coffee in which the aromatic acids are the protagonist, highlighting the more subtle notes. 

It’s the brief interaction of hot water and coffee that allows for those subtle yet notable flavors to have their moment in the spotlight—increasing extraction time would pull out more sweet and bitter compounds that would eventually mute the unique acid profiles.  

Does Grind Size Matter?

Yes, grind size plays an important role in both brewing methods. For pour over, a medium-fine grind is typically recommended to extract those more delicate flavors because the hot water-coffee interaction is so brief (finer grinds encourage extraction as a result of increased surface area). 

For French press, a fine grind coupled with the increased extraction time can lead to over-extraction, and too-tightly-packed grounds also cause uneven saturation, so, a medium to coarse grind is recommended.

The medium grind lends itself to more flavor but will also pass through the filter more easily, leaving more sediment in your cup.

What’s the Best Grind Size to Use for a Pour Over?

The best grind size for a pour over is medium; depending on your preferences and brewing device, you may lean towards coarser or finer. This grind size allows you to extract the maximum flavor from the coffee beans by increasing the surface area, which augments extraction and helps offset the brief interaction.

What’s the Best Grind Size to Use for a French Press?

The best grind size for a French press is medium to coarse. The medium grind is going to generate more flavor, given the increase in total surface area, but the tradeoff is more grit; the coarse grind will be slightly less robust, but also less gritty.

Does Water Temperature Matter?

Yes, water temperature is key for both methods. The ideal water temperature for both pour over and French press is between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Too hot or too cold water can lead to over-extraction or under-extraction, respectively, and affect the coffee's taste.

Can You Make Iced Coffee with Either of These Brew Methods?

Yes, you can make iced coffee with both methods. 

For pour over, brew a more concentrated coffee than you normally would (1:8 - 1:10 coffee to water ratio), as the ice will somewhat dilute the resulting mixture; use half the amount of hot water and replace the other half with ice in the serving carafe.

For French press, you’ll also want to brew using this more concentrated ratio, plunge, and pour over ice. Or you can also make a cold brew in the French press. 

In this case, you’ll use room-temperature water, and let the coffee brew for 16-20 hours in a cool spot. You can also use a stronger coffee-to-water ratio to make a cold brew concentrate. 

What Are the Best Type of Beans to Use for French Press? 

Medium and dark roasts do well in a French press. The full immersion of the coffee grounds in water extracts more oils and sugars from the beans, making it more suitable for balancing out deeper, toastier coffee beans. If you only have a light roast, try a higher temperature to get the most out of it. 

What Are the Best Type of Beans to Use for Pour Over?

Generally, lighter, single-origin beans are best for pour overs, as pour overs really highlight the terroir—this is because the brief interaction has only enough time to pull out the aromatic acids unique to the specific terroir, and not enough time to begin pulling out the oily, sweet, and bitter compounds that begin to mute those flavors. 

It’s precisely the brief contact between coffee and water, which the pour over method facilitates, that allows light roast lovers to get more flavor out of their coffee. And, by more flavor, we mean a harmony of aromatic undertones, not the bold, dominating characteristics of prolonged extraction. 


Bicho, N. C., Leitao, A. E., Ramalho, J. C., & Lidon, F. C. (2011). Identification of chemical clusters discriminators of the roast degree in Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. European Food Research and Technology, 233, 303-311.


Laukaleja, I., & Kruma, Z. (2019, May). Influence of the roasting process on bioactive compounds and aroma profile in specialty coffee: A review. In Proceedings of the Baltic Conference on Food Science and Technology and North and East European Congress on Food, Jelgava, Latvia (pp. 2-3). http://doi.org/10.22616/FoodBalt.2019.002

Pavesi Arisseto, A., Vicente, E., Soares Ueno, M., Verdiani Tfouni, S. A., & De Figueiredo Toledo, M. C. (2011). Furan levels in coffee as influenced by species, roast degree, and brewing procedures. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 59(7), 3118-3124.


Santanatoglia, A., Alessandroni, L., Fioretti, L., Sagratini, G., Vittori, S., Maggi, F., & Caprioli, G. (2023). Discrimination of filter coffee extraction methods of a medium roasted specialty coffee based on volatile profiles and sensorial traits. Foods, 12(17), 3199.https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12173199

Urgert, R., van der Weg, G., Kosmeijer-Schuil, T. G., van de Bovenkamp, P., Hovenier, R., & Katan, M. B. (1995). Levels of the cholesterol-elevating diterpenes cafestol and kahweol in various coffee brews. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 43(8), 2167-2172. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf00056a039

About the author, James Allen

James is a seasoned coffee enthusiast, dedicated home roaster, and brewing aficionado with over 15 years of immersion in the world of coffee. His passion for the bean has taken him on an incredible journey, from assisting locals in establishing farm-to-cup micro-roasteries and cafes in Bali to pioneering one of the first blockchain projects aimed at enhancing traceability in coffee supply chains. Based in Japan, James spends a significant portion of his year embarking on travels to coffee-producing countries with a recent focus on the rapidly advancing Thailand arabica scene.