Moka Pot vs French Press: What are The Differences?

Moka pot vs French press

It’s 7 am, and you are ready for a warm cup of coffee or two. You see two popular brewing products side-by-side in your kitchen: the Moka pot vs the French press. 

Which one and how to choose? This is not an easy decision. No wonder coffee lovers have strong views and emotions when it comes to these two iconic coffee makers. They even developed a cult following all around the globe. We use both the stove top and the french press to brew amazing cups of coffee.

In this comparison, we will explain the differences & how to choose the best device for your needs.

The Moka Pot

Bialetti Moka pot

The Moka pot is also known as “Bialetti” or “stovetop espresso maker.” It was invented by an Italian engineer and metalworker, Alfonso Bialetti, in 1933 as an easy and affordable way to prepare coffee at home. His creation, the Moka Express is “by far the most common moka pot sold today and the most recognizable.”

A Moka pot is a compact, eight-sided, metal stovetop brewer that usually consists of three parts. The bottom piece stores the water and will be heated. The filter basket is for the coffee grounds. The top section holds the brewed coffee, and it also contains a spout to release steam.

As the water starts to boil, the steam pressure pushes the water up and through the coffee grounds. The extracted coffee is then sent up through a spout and sprayed into the top of the pot for finished coffee.

The resulting cup is robust and hearty, and it can even taste slightly burnt. The Moka pot creates a thick and intense brew with a long aftertaste depending on the beans. To many, this could be your stovetop espresso maker, to brew espresso-style coffee at home without the need for a large and expensive machine.

Some people who have used a Moka pot started to explore newer innovations, such as the AeroPress, which can also make a concentrated cup of coffee whether you fancy a hip flat white or a cortado Yet, no other coffee maker can match the nostalgia and the sheer ritualistic simplicity offered by the Moka Pot.

The French Press 

French press

You might know the French Press as “coffee press” or “cafetiére.” There have been many patents from different countries for this popular brewing device. But the very first French press that resembles what we use today was patented in the 1920s.

The French press is a simple brewing tool: It’s a carafe and a tightly fit plunger inside the carafe. The plunger consists of four pieces to enable the flow of coffee during the brewing process.

When you are ready to brew, add the coffee grounds and boiling water to the carafe. Let it steep for four to five minutes, then plunge with a slow-motion to push the coffee grounds down to the bottom of the carafe. 

The French press coffee has a richer, heavier taste compared to drip coffees, and you will most likely find them in any artisan coffee shop you visit. It is suitable for coffee enthusiasts who prefer delicious coffee and are looking for a simple brewing method. The French press is so simple that you can even choose portable models for your outdoor adventures.

Moka Pot vs French Press: Which is Better for You? 

After a brief introduction to both devices, we are ready to compare the main features of the French press & the Moka pot. We are going to focus on the top priorities that could help you with your decision.

Brew Time

Brewing and preparation time is an important consideration, especially when coffee is part of your daily routine. If you are looking for efficiency, you need the least amount of time spent on prep to get the best possible coffee. 

The Moka pot is quicker because you only need the water to heat up. The total prep time is one or two minutes; then, we add the brewing time of five minutes to that. How do you know when it is ready? Well, you need to wait for an unmistakable gurgling sound when the top chamber is filled up with coffee and is ready to be served. You can even leave it unattended until you hear that sound. 

An open Moka pot before serving coffee

In comparison to the Moka pot, the French press requires a bit more prep work. You will need to heat the water separately and prepare fresh coffee grounds. Then the whole process of steeping and plunging will add four more minutes to this. So, you are looking at around ten to fifteen minutes in total for the entire process.

Advantage: Moka pot – Quicker to prepare.

The Grind

The Moka pot is equipped with a brew basket that you can fill with the coffee grounds. We recommend using freshly ground beans, but it is also available to use with your preferred pre-ground coffee, and the standard grind setting will work well for this. 

Moka pot filled with coffee grounds

One tip to avoid a weak extraction is to make sure you do not use extra-fine grounds, and the standard ground size works perfectly here.

The French press will limit your ability to use most pre-ground coffees sold unless specifically made for the French press. You will need coarse coffee grounds for the steeping process to work its magic. 

Using the larger ground surface is a must when it comes to steeping the grounds in water. Standard grind size and French press are not mixing well. The most common mistake that people make with the French press is using a grind that is too fine.

You either need to find a suitable French Press style pre-ground or invest in your own grinder, then you will let you get the best quality brew from very coarsely ground coffee beans.

Advantage: Moka Pot – works well with all standard-sized pre-ground beans, even if you don’t have a grinder.

Ease of Brewing

Sure, Bialettis need some practice when you are starting out. You will need to do the tamping lightly so the water can run through the beans. Still, it is very uncomplicated to use with little room for error. 

As long as you do not leave it on the stove for too long and burn the coffee, there is not much that can go wrong. It is simple equipment capable of brewing great coffee. Please always use a standard (average) coffee ground size, nothing too fine or coarse.

French press coffee served

The French Press also requires a bit of skill, and you need to follow the steps laid out and always make sure to use coarse grounds for a strong cup. Similar to Moka pots, there is always room for improving your technique, but there is nothing complicated about it. 

Advantage: It’s a tie. As long as you follow a few simple steps and use the correct ground size, then you are good to go.

Volume

The Moka pot can be ordered in different sizes; A Bialetti Moka express is available in various sizes, from a single cup to 18 cups. A Bialetti cup size refers to an espresso cup which is approximately 1 OZ (30ml). So, there is a possibility if you use their largest product to make 18 OZ of stovetop espresso in your home. This is awesome, isn’t it!? 

But, one of the most significant drawbacks of the Moka pot is that if you buy a specific product size, you will have to always use that total volume capacity without the possibility of downsizing or upsizing. This might be less of an issue if you have a smaller group of coffee lovers and could go with a fixed size that suits.

Pouring coffee from a French press

Volume flexibility is a pro when it comes to the French press. A stylish Bodum French Press comes in various sizes, between 12 OZ (0.35L) and 50 OZ (1.5l). The largest 50 OZ French press is going to give you about eight cups of delicious coffee.

Regardless of the size of French press you are using, you will be able to prepare any quantity up to the maximum size. It is great because you can downsize a larger product if you only want to make a cup or two without compromising quality. So, if you need a brewing method that can help you prepare varying amounts of coffee occasionally, then the French press will be suitable for you.

Advantage: French Press – more flexible with the volume and the number of cups you need to make.

Taste Comparison

The two coffees using a stovetop and a French press could not be more different from each other. 

The Moka pot brews a robust and energizing cup similar to espresso and is more concentrated than a French press or a drip coffee. Think Lavazza Crema beans and a good old Bialetti, and you can get some sweet crema in a Moka pot brew. 

Pouring coffee from a moka pot

This is a great bold drink to enjoy on its own, and it could be easily dressed up with milk and used as a basis for a cappuccino, latte, cortado, and more.

The French press brews a coffee that is more about nuanced flavors and texture rather than sheer power and will contain less caffeine by volume. It will give you more room to experiment with different tasting profiles while enjoying a full-bodied mouthfeel.

Advantage: Tie – It’s a matter of personal preference. Moka pot for a punchy ‘Italian’ espresso-based drink. French press if you prefer a smooth and aromatic blend with complex tasting notes.

The Verdict

Moka pot has a bit of a learning curve initially, but so does the French press. They are both easy to brew with, and once you go through some simple steps, you will be a pro in no time. Both can make delicious coffee when using high-quality beans.

In this comparison, the Moka pot comes out one notch ahead of the French press. It gives you a shorter preparation time and the simplicity to use it with almost any pre-ground coffee beans off the shelves if needed. 

Both products are very affordable, and their prices are similar. The best brewing method for you is the one that suits your taste buds and other requirements. We hope that this review helped you to find out which tool is best for your coffee needs!


Featured image: Bialetti Moka Pot and a Bodum French Press

RELATED READS: