The French Press and the Moka pot are two traditional methods for preparing coffee, both easy to use, simple and accessible.
They are coffee makers with different coffee extraction methods since one works by immersion and the other by drip, so we will see in detail their differences, if they have similarities, and for whom I recommend each one.
Differences in design and construction
There are many brands and models of each type of coffee maker; some brands even manufacture both types. Although the coffee pots may vary slightly in design or their materials, they serve the same function.
The French Press
Quality French presses come with a borosilicate glass container that resists sudden temperature changes and keeps it constant throughout the brewing process.
We have a plunger with which we filter the coffee, consisting of a lid, a metal mesh, a transversal filter, and a spiral filter on the edges. Thanks to this design, the plunger remains tight in the glass, lowering it and leaving it fixed in any position without falling just because of the weight.
All this part, usually made of stainless steel, is easily removable for cleaning.
Then we have the frame that holds the glass vessel, which varies among the various models both in materials and design; some are made of polypropylene, others of stainless steel and the one you see me using in this article is made of copper.
The Moka pot
Most Moka pots are made entirely of aluminum, with some details in polypropylene so as not to burn us when we touch it.
In the lower part of the Moka pot, we find a lower container where we place the water with a safety valve. We also have the basket where we place the coffee and through which the water rises.
In the upper part, we see a tank that receives the coffee as it is extracted, and below this, there is a silicone ring that holds the metal filter against the tank. Between the upper and lower part is the funnel with the coffee basket.
Differences in ease of use, cleaning, and portability
Both coffee makers have their metallic filters incorporated, so they do not require the purchase of any other accessory to prepare coffee, although each coffee maker has different preparation times.
If you are looking for a coffee maker to prepare a quick coffee, you should choose the Moka pot since placing hot water in the bottom, as I explained in the guide on Moka pot, it only takes a few seconds to start extracting the coffee. On the other hand, with the French press, we must wait between 4 to 10 minutes.
Coffee maker capacity
In terms of the capacity of the coffee maker, the French press is better than the Moka pot. In both coffee makers, we find models of up to 1 liter of capacity; however, with the French press, we can prepare less coffee despite having more capacity. With the Moka pot, we always have to prepare the maximum that the coffee maker allows.
Cleaning of the coffee maker
In terms of cleaning, the Moka pot is easier to disassemble, discard the coffee, and wash than the French press.
With the French press, it is a little more difficult, although it is not excessively complex. It is more uncomfortable to remove the coffee residue in the container and then remove the different parts of the filter to ensure that no coffee beans remain.
Portability of the coffee maker
In terms of portability, the Moka pot is better than the French press; since it is made entirely of aluminum, we can transport it without fear of it breaking. Although it should be considered that it needs a heat source to make it work, this will be a small disadvantage.
With the French press, there is no possibility of portability since being made of glass is very fragile and could break if we keep it in a backpack or suitcase.
Ease of use
Although the two use different extraction methods, they are both very easy to use and are certainly the two easiest to use coffee makers on the market. Both coffee makers share the simplicity of not needing any special tools, not even for pouring water.
Although a grinder and a scale are always recommended to measure the quantities of coffee and water, in the case of not having a scale, the Moka pot is better since the amount of coffee is pre-defined by the filter basket.
Finding the correct grind requires trial and error to achieve the right degree with the coffee bean used.
Although in terms of ease of use, it seems that everything is positive in the Moka pot and negative in the French press, this is not the case. The French press offers more versatility, so the fact that it is not so easy to use can be explained by the fact that it offers more extraction possibilities.
Comparison of the taste of coffee prepared with the French press and the Moka pot
To compare the taste of the coffee, I have used the same coffee beans, although with different grinds, since each type of coffee maker uses a different grind.
As I have commented in other articles, the Moka pot produces a much more intense, concentrated coffee with less water for the same amount of coffee.
Note: To compare them, once I extract the coffee with the Moka pot, I dilute it a little with water until it reaches the same concentration as the French press. In this way, I can taste them as equals without being confused by the intensity, and I can feel the differences and similarities that can be found between both methods.
Comparing the two types of freshly extracted coffees
To compare both coffees, I had to wait for the temperature to drop to start tasting. With the first sips, I realized that they are quite similar. It is the same coffee, but the results are quite similar even with two very different extraction methods.
Both coffees have a moderate body, although the coffee from the Moka pot has a heavy and dense body. I can appreciate how the chocolate notes of the coffee stand out, but the other flavors are a bit cloudy, lacking clarity and brightness, and this is due to the metallic filter.
The filter of the Moka pot has quite large holes, letting more coffee particles through, which end up in the cup. It is very tasty, but I think it would benefit greatly to combine it with milk, making a cappuccino.
In the French press, it has a silky body, where the fruity notes stand out. It has more acidity, more sweetness, it has more clarity, and is a little more balanced. This is due to the technique we use in the French press, which is similar to the tasting process, where all the particles are allowed to settle at the bottom, producing more clarity in the cup.
The flavors of the coffee prepared with the French press present more brightness, showing a little more of its fruity side.
I recommend the Moka pot for those who enjoy milky beverages and those who like espresso coffee. Producing such an intense coffee is like having a more economical and accessible version of the traditional espresso maker.
I also recommend the Moka pot for those looking for something fast and practical, without having to weigh or measure and always obtain the same result. Also, for those who want to take the coffee maker on a camping trip, where you have access to a stove.
I recommend the French press for those who are looking for something basic and easy to use but versatile at the same time. The French press is ideal for those just starting in the world of coffee.
With French presses, we can prepare one and several cups by simply changing the amount of coffee we use but respecting the ratio. In addition, it does not require our attention during the process.