French Press Versus Drip Coffee Maker

For some coffee lovers, nothing beats a freshly brewed cup made with a French press. On the other hand, the drip coffee maker has a large and diverse fan base. Here's a comparison of these two popular coffee brewing technologies.

French Press

A French press is a simple coffee brewing apparatus that consists of a pot and a screened plunger. Ground coffee is placed in the pot and allowed to steep for 3 to 4 minutes at a temperature of approximately 190°F to 205°F. The plunger is depressed, extracting additional flavor from the coarsely ground beans and allowing the coffee to be poured into a cup while leaving the grounds behind. Common pot sizes are 3, 4, 8, and 12 cups.

The French press is also known as a plunger pot, press pot, coffee press, French press coffeepot, coffee plunger, cafetiere, сafetière à piston. Some people also refer to a French press as a Bodum, one of the most popular brands sold today.

French press devices typically do not include a means of keeping the brewed coffee warm. You either need to drink it right away or pour it into a thermos. A warming plate is a standard feature on electric drip coffee makers.

Drip Coffee Maker

A drip coffee maker brews coffee by spraying heated water over ground coffee inside a filter basket. The water passes through the beans, through a filter and drips into a carafe placed below. The water only passes through the coffee grounds once.

Many drip coffee makers include useful features such as automatic timers to start the brewing process and a safety shutoff timer that turns off the heating element under the carafe after a set period of time. Press pots do not contain such features.

One disadvantage to these extra features is that there are more things that can break or fail over time, such as heating elements. With a French press, the main point of failure is breaking the glass pot (which happens more often than you might think).

Coffee Quality

Coffee made with a drip coffee maker is typically less robust tasting than French press coffee due to differences in the extraction process and because a filter, usually made from paper, is used when drip brewing. The filter reduces sediment but also imparts other flavors to the coffee, and prevents full extraction of the coffee oils.

Coarsely ground coffee is required with the French press, otherwise there will be excessive sediment in the coffee. For best results, a Burr coffee grinder is recommended. This needs to be factored into the decision to purchase a French press versus a drip coffee maker.


The drip coffee maker is found in most office environments due to its practicality in terms of ease-of-use and cleanup. Press pots are typically found in the home and coffee shops. French press coffee requires more time and labor then automatic drip coffee. The water has to be first brought to a boil, poured over the grounds and then allowed to steep for several minutes. Compare this to a drip coffee maker where you can set a timer before going to bed and have fresh brewed coffee waiting for you when you get up.


Due to the popularity and mass production of electric drip coffee makers, a basic but fully functional unit can be purchased with a minimal outlay of cash, often for less than a French press. For whatever reason, French press manufacturers tend to charge a hefty premium for the pots, especially the glass variety, that are used in these devices.