Which coffee brewing method is best for you? Fortunately, this question is pretty easily figured out. Here’s the rub. Roasted coffee is made up of more than 100 different molecules. Each of those molecules has a different flavor. Each brewing method will extract different molecules and thus different flavors. So, which brewing method is best for you? Let’s start with three of the easiest methods to prepare and are also the most popular, which would be French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress. My name is Russell Volz, Proprietor of Lake City Coffee and I’m going to help you to decide which brewing method is best for you.
What’s Your Idea Of Great Coffee?
How do you like your coffee? Do you love your coffee bold and strong or smooth and flavorful, or somewhere in between? Regardless of what you’re looking for there’s a coffee brewing method that is made specifically for your tastes.
Some brewing methods will produce exactly what you like and others will make you want to gag. That’s why, before picking a brewing method, it’s helpful to know what you like. Some folks like sweet and others savory. Some prefer earthy and others floral. If you don’t know what you like that’s perfectly OK. By not knowing what you like, you get to experiment and try lots of different coffee. Hey, in this search, you might even change your mind. So, keep your likes in mind as we discuss which is best for you French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress.
Why Compare French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress?
During the coffee making process, you’re typically doing a balancing act. You’re balancing between creating a bitter, burnt, and strong cup of coffee vs a smooth (non-bitter), mellow, and subtle flavored cup of coffee. Or you’re making a cup of coffee that’s somewhere in between.
That’s why we’ve chosen these three brewing processes. They represent both ends of the spectrum and one that’s right in the middle. More specifically, the Moka Pot brews an in-your-face strong as hell cup of coffee. The AeroPress on the other hand, is smooth as silk, allowing you to taste several subtle flavors like chocolate, citrus, nut, etc. Lastly, the French Press is right in the middle of those two, producing a more flavorful and yet relatively strong cup of coffee.
Brewing Technique is Key
Regardless of the brewing method that you choose, you will learn over time how to perfect that brewing method based on your likes and dislikes. There are numerous variables that affect the taste of your coffee.
- Water Temperature
- Water Temperature
- Fineness of coffee grounds
- Amount of coffee grounds
- Final coffee temperature
The important thing to remember is to experiment. This is especially true for the novice coffee maker and drinker. It’s not all that though. Most people find something they like after three or four tries. Don’t get discouraged, you’ll find what you like. And the fun part is that you’ll perfect your brewing method over time. So, experiment and have fun.
AeroPress – Smooth As Silk Coffee
The AeroPress is renowned for creating a very smooth (non-bitter) cup of coffee. Granted, if you start with crappy beans, or beans that have had the snot burned out of them, or beans that have been sitting in a warehouse of on store shelves for months if not years (as is most coffee sold in the US), then, even with the AeroPress, you’re still going to end up with bitter coffee. It’ll just be less bitter with the AeroPress than nearly any other type of brewing system.
On the other hand, if you start out with very high-quality smooth beans, that have been roasted low-n-slow to a medium or barely dark color, and you’re using super fresh roasted beans (roasted less than two weeks ago), then the AeroPress is going to capitalize on those smooth attributes and make one awesome cup of super smooth coffee.
Here’s what is going to surprise you. A cup of coffee made with an AeroPress will be so smooth that, if you pay attention, you’re going to notice a few non-coffee subtle flavors, flavors like chocolate, citrus, nut, bark, earthy, floral, etc. The AeroPress has been my go-to brewing system for years. Saving the best for last, the AeroPress is 100% Made In USA.
Moka Pot – The Espresso Wannabe
Keep in mind that the Moka Pot was invented in Italy as the poor-man’s espresso. Espresso machines brew notoriously thick, bitter, slap-you-in-the-face coffee. Up until recently, I wasn’t a fan of either the espresso or Moka Pot.
Then one day, not long ago, I was at my good buddy Eric’s house, drinking wine and talking guns. I looked in the corner of his kitchen and there was an espresso machine, a real nice looking one. This thing just reeked of money. I squealed like a little girl, “Holy crap Batman. That’s an espresso machine!” Eric said, “Yep, want one?” “Hell ya”, I choaked. I had never had an espresso with my own beans. “Give it to me straight up, just like the Italians. As he handed it to me, in a tiny cup, I steeled myself for a nasty culinary experience, knowing I’d be scarred for life.
After one sip, I froze. Thinking, “What the hell just happened?” It wasn’t bitter. The coffee was strong as hell, but it was still smooth. How could that be? Not trusting my judgement, I took another sip and frowned. After the third sip, I had a shit-eating-grin from ear to ear. Eric said, “Another?” “Hell ya!” I retorted.
Moka Pot Conclusion
The Moka Pot may not taste as good as a great shot of espresso, but it does a fairly decent job. I’ve been experimenting with the Moka Pot and have produced some acceptable brew. But Hey! For $30-$60 it’s pretty darn good, especially if you’re not up to paying $500 – $2,000 for a good espresso machine. Additionally, pulling a perfect shot from any espresso machine is a work of art that takes time to learn. On the other hand, a good Moka Pot shot/small cup can be made by any 6 year old kid the first time. The Moka Pot is really a no-brainer and definitely on my kitchen counter.
Though you can’t find a Moka Pot Made In USA, one of the most popular Moka Pots is Bialetti, ($35) which is 100% made in Italy.
French Press – Honest Unadulterated Coffee For The Purist
Where was the “French Press” invented? We’d think “France”, right? But we’d be wrong. It was actually invented in Milan Italy by a gentleman named Callimani. The French Press has change very little since it’s invention in the late 1800’s. Some minor tweeks were incorporated by Faleiro Bondanini. Looking for a manufacturer, Bondanini found the Danish company Bodum interested in his ideas. Bodum ($33) 100% Made In Portugal.
Where the AeroPress produces super smooth coffee and the Moka Pot makes pretty strong and bitter coffee, the French press has a sweet spot picked out right between the other two. I love smooth coffee, that’s why, as I stated earlier, the AeroPress has been my go-to brewing system. After just purchasing an Alessi French Press ($200), 100% Made In Italy, I’m now switching back and forth between the AeroPress and French Press.
Best Beans For French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress
You can use whatever beans you like for any brewing system. Contrary to popular belief and Wall Street Marketers, no bean is best suited for one best brewing system. Drink what you like. That being said, I personally prefer smooth (non-bitter) coffee, therefore I select beans that are smooth. Generally speaking, the smoothest beans generally come from Central America. One of the smoothest beans in Central America come from Costa Rica. And beans from the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica is world renowned for not only being super smooth but also having prominent notes of chocolate and nut.
Honestly, if you’re into smooth, then it doesn’t matter what bean you put into the AeroPress. The Moka Pot on the other hand tends to produce a very strong and bitter flavor. To smooth that out a bit, I’d go with a smoother bean. And the French Press, being as honest as it is for producing a cup of coffee that typifies the beans used, then I’d pick a darn good, expensive, and flavorful bean. Don’t go cheap on beans that will be going into a French Press.
Best Roast For French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress
I loath over roasted beans. French Roast, Italian Roast, Viennese Roast, European Roast, City Roast are nothing more than different shades of “burnt”. If you like bitter and burnt beans, then you have a choice. You can run down to Charbucks and find plenty of industrial bitter and burnt beans. I suggest that you save your money and just buy a bag of Kingsford Charcoal.
On the other hand, if you want to actually taste the subtle flavors that God put into those beans, then I suggest a medium roast will give you the most flavor. If by chance you like your coffee with flavor and a bit of burnt flavor, then go with a dark roast that’s dark brown, definitely not black. Black beans are for those folks that love “bad” coffee.
Best Grind For French Press vs Moka Pot vs AeroPress
The coffee grind that you use is one of the most important variables in brewing coffee. Keep this rule in mind. The finer the grind, the more flavor you get, but also the more bitter the coffee. The courser the grind, the smoother the coffee, but also the less flavor imparted into your coffee cup.
That being said, let’s start with the French Press. Because the french press uses a screen to filter out the grounds, most Americans use a course grind. That’s because Americans don’t like silt in the bottom of their cup of coffee, yet the rest of the world’s coffee drinkers have no issue with a little silt. As for the Moka Pot, since most Moka Pot users are trying to make something close to an espresso, they use a fine grind. Lastly, the AeroPress, as one of my customers said about the AeroPress, “The AeroPress is so good, that it’d make dirt taste good.”
That being said, I personally use the same grind for all three brewing methods. That way I can compare the three methods more methodically (pun intended).
How To Make Moka Pot Coffee Smoother
So, why am I highlighting how to make the Moka Pot smoother? I think it’s because it’s my least favorite brewing method. Yet, Alisha (my wife, business partner, and best friend), she likes the Moka Pot. She likes taking it with her when she travels. So, here are some of her thoughts.
- Beans – Trust me, if you’re not into chewing on charcoal, then find a smooth bean. As said above, beans from the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica are about as smooth and flavorful bean as you’re likely to find.
- Roast – If strong and bitter is your thing, then go with a dark roast. If mellow and smooth is you passion, then medium roast is the way to go. You might consider making your own blend of 80% dark and 20% White coffee. Now that’s a real treat with a slight hint of peanut butter taste.
- Grinding – As I said above, the courser the grind the smoother the coffee, but you also give up a little flavor. I think that the Moka Pot makes such strong coffee, that I’d go with the courser grind and not worry about loosing a little flavor.
- Brewing – Honestly, with a Moka Pot, you put it on the stove and when it starts purring like a cat, it’s done. There’s not a lot that you can do to affect the brewing other than the grind setting on your grinder.
Which of These Coffee Brewing Methods are Best?
I use all three; AeroPress, French Press, and Moka Pot. Why do I switch back and forth? Well, when I’m in a mellow mood for a cup of super smooth coffee, I go with the AeroPress. There are times when I’m in my Bohemian mood, which is when I want lots of flavor. At those times, I’ll go with the French Press. And if I’m in a really “pissy” mood, then I garb my Moka Pot, telling the world “Watch Out! Russell’s On The War Path!”
Lake City Coffee
Here at Lake City Coffee we specialize in coffee that’s smooth as silk with a robust balanced flavor. We do that by taste testing over two dozen beans from
Additionally, we roast and ship the same day. Heck, the beans are still warm when I put them in the shipping box. Often the boxes are still warm when I get to the post office. What that means is you’re getting the freshest roasted coffee that you’re likely to find anywhere, which equates to a cup of coffee like you’ve never experienced. No brag. Just fact.