For coffee lovers, a perfect pot is the Holy Grail. The ideal way of brewing it, however, remains a source of debate.

Everyone has their favorite coffee maker that gives their morning cup its special magic, from old-school stove top percolators to hi-tech and higher-convenience Keurig machines. The most popular methods are the drip brew machine and the French press, each of which has their advantages and drawbacks.

Drip Brew Machines

When electric drip brew machines joined the scene in the 1970s, coffee fans raved about their efficiency and convenience. In that respect, this brewing technology has only gotten better with age. Not only can you still enjoy your favorite cup minutes after hitting the button, but now you can have a fresh pot waiting when your alarm goes. Automatic timers are a beautiful thing. If you feel like splurging, there are even machines that grind the beans right before brewing for ultimate freshness.

The drip system produces a lighter bodied cup because the coffee oils are trapped by the paper filter. Critics of drip-brewed coffee claim that this weakens the taste. For those who prefer a milder cup, this is not an issue. Fans of a more intense flavor can purchase a reusable mesh cone or basket that allows the oils to seep through and enrich the pot.

Another advantage of the drip brew method is that the coffee stays warm longer. Most machines have a warming plate under the pot, so the second cup is just as deliciously hot as the first.


French Press

The French press went mainstream in 1929 after gaining popularity in France. Its preparation method consists of pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee, letting it brew for two to four minutes, and then pressing a plunger down to separate the grinds from the coffee.

The French press produces a strong and robust coffee as compared to the clean and smooth cup that drip machines make. Aficionados enjoy the direct role they have to play in the coffee making process, which gives it a personal and even artisanal aspect. You can even take your French press with you to work or on vacation to enjoy the same taste experience wherever you may go.

The longer brewing time required by the French press can result in a cooler cup. In that instance, transferring the coffee to a thermos is recommended to preserve heat.

So, which is better?

The answer is: it depends! Drip brewing machines and French presses produce two very different taste experiences. One is mild and less intense and the other strong and slightly bitter. If you prefer one over the other, then it creates the best pot of coffee – for you.

Photo by Daniel Hoherd / CC by