For many people, a perfect day starts with a cup of hot coffee. Therefore, a good coffee maker is high on their list.
If you’re looking to buy your first ever coffee maker or you want to replace the one you have right now that doesn’t work for you, it’s important to understand that coffee makers aren’t created equal.
Knowing their advantages over the others and what they’re best suited for will help you decide which coffee maker is perfect for you.
Table Of Contents
The French Press
The French press is a combination of a beaker made from glass, plastic, metal, or ceramic and a plunger with metal filter. It may be the simplest of all coffee makers but many people swear that it makes the best coffee.
Brewing with French press creates coffee that tastes quite different compared to those prepared from other brewing methods. You can make a light or strong coffee depending on the amount of time you allow it to brew. The amount of water of coffee grounds you put in also affects the strength of your coffee.
One can argue that French press coffee is healthier. Unlike other coffee makers, it doesn’t use a paper filter. This kind of filter absorbs much of the oil, leaving your coffee less flavorful.
In contrast, the metal filter attached to a French press’ plunger allows the essential oils to spread. Not only does it make the flavor of your coffee richer, it also releases antioxidants and nutrients.
The word percolate means to filter slowly through a porous substance. And that’s exactly how a percolator pot prepares coffee.
At the bottom of the percolator is a chamber for water where a tube sticks out and runs the length of the pot. A grate for coffee grounds sits just below the tube’s top.
When the water in the pot boils, steam rises through the tube into the upper chamber. With continuous boiling, the pressure increases and the vapor condenses to liquid water. This in turn rains over the coffee grounds and seeps back to the lower chamber, infused with coffee. This process goes on until the desired strength is attained.
The coffee percolator is ideal to use when you need to make coffee for a group of people, but you don’t have enough time. It can brew a huge batch of coffee in an impressively short time.
The Moka Pot
A Moka Pot consists of three chambers. The bottom is filled with water and the middle with coffee grounds in a basket. The upper chamber is where the resulting blend accumulates.
Brewing with a moka pot is fairly straightforward. The steam produced from boiling the water increases the bottom chamber’s pressure. After about 6 minutes, the pressure will be enough to push the water through the coffee grounds and into the topmost chamber where rich coffee collects.
You can make the strongest coffee possible with a moka pot in your kitchen. It is inexpensive and versatile. It’s pretty much indestructible simply because it doesn’t have any moving parts.
Drip Coffee Makers
Modern drip coffee makers are a bit more complicated compared to the other devices described earlier. They have more parts and look more intricate. However, preparing your morning coffee is just as easy.
The water you pour into the drip coffee maker collects into an aluminum tube. When you turn on the switch, the heating element warms up this tube, causing the water to boil. Water rises up through a white pipe and is spread uniformly over the coffee grounds. The water seeps through the coffee on its way down the coffee pot.
A drip coffee brewer is easy to set up and you can control the taste simply by adjusting how much coffee grounds you use. Most have features that keep coffee warm for a longer period such as a thermal carafe or an actual heated surface that you can switch on or off.
These days, many drip coffee makers are programmable. This means that your coffee maker can start brewing even when you’re still in bed, as long as you’ve put in ground coffee, a filter, and water, and set the timer.
French Press vs Percolator vs Moka Pot vs Drip: Side-by-Side Comparison
The comparisons below will help you decide which type of coffee maker you should choose.
French Press vs Percolator
It takes an average of 5 minutes to brew coffee using a French press, provided you’ve already boiled your water and ground the coffee. The process is quite easy, but brewing multiple servings is not advisable.
Depending on the type of device you’re using, brewing with a percolator takes around 5 to 10 minutes. With that amount of time, you can make a large volume of coffee in one go. A 100-cup percolator is not an unusual thing. For that reason, it’s perfect for large families or gatherings.
Ease of Use
The French press is convenient although there are several variables you must consider when using it such as coffee grind and water temperature. You also have to take note of the steeping time, although it doesn’t require constant monitoring.
Percolator brewing is likewise simple and easy. However, you need to constantly check your pot to ensure it isn’t burning the coffee. You can’t leave it brewing unlike with a French press.
Any kind of roast is okay with either brewing device. But they should be coarse and evenly ground so your coffee wouldn’t be too strong. With a French press, you’ll find more sediments in your drink if you use fine powders.
The French press provides a strong, flavorful brew. It delivers all the classical taste that you expect from your coffee. Nutty and chocolatey flavors will be prominent. In addition, it will produce a thick brew due to the amount of sediment and oil that is not filtered out.
If you’re using a percolator, especially the electric version, don’t expect much from the flavor. Some stove-top percolators may produce a roasty brew but the flavor profile is still lacking. The best that you can get is merely a strong cup of coffee.
Ease of Clean Up
Some people find cleaning their press a bit finicky. For the percolator, cleaning up is simply dumping the grounds and rinsing out the urn.
French Press vs Moka Pot
You’ll need about 10 minutes to brew coffee using the moka pot, as long as you’ve prepared the grounds in advance. This is comparable to the brew time with a French press, considering that you still need to heat water separately.
Ease of Use
Moka pot is sometimes referred to as “The Cowboy Method” for making coffee. Unlike with a French press, you need to be exceptionally skilled or quite lucky in order to come up with a great-tasting cup. Even the experts admit that they can still improve their technique when brewing with a moka pot.
The brew basket that comes with your moka pot can be filled with any pre-ground coffee. You can choose whatever your favorite is because the basket is compatible with the standard grind setting.
If you’re grinding your beans, make sure that they’re not too fine. Both the French press and moka pot don’t work well with fine powder. If you use fine coffee grounds with the moka pot, it will be difficult for the water to pass through the grounds, leaving you with weak coffee.
The moka pot is commonly called a “stove-top espresso maker.” Similar to brewing espresso, it relies on pressure to make coffee. The difference is that coffee in a moka pot is extracted at a significantly lower pressure. Even so, it still produces coffee that is more concentrated than French press.
On the other hand, the oils in the roasted beans give the French press coffee its remarkable taste and nuanced flavor. The drawback is that it could leave the mouth feeling oily. Some people don’t like it, especially when the oil doesn’t necessarily provide additional flavor.
French Press vs Drip Coffee Makers
Both the French press and drip machine take around 10 minutes to prepare and actually brew coffee. Of course, if you have a programmable drip machine, brew time won’t matter. You can have a steamy cup of coffee right after you get out of bed.
Ease of Use
For first-time users, the French press might be a challenge. But for those who have figured out what works for them, they only have to follow the same process.
Manufacturers of drip coffee makers include detailed instructions, including the amount of ground coffee you have to use. You don’t have to experiment to find out what works best. Pop into the machine the right amount of coffee grounds and water. There’s no need to monitor the time. You can come back and find your coffee ready.
Both are reliable but the absence of mechanical parts in a French press makes it more so. If you break the beaker, replacing it is easy and inexpensive. On the other hand, fixing a broken heating element may be a bit more complicated or costly.
You can easily fit a small French press into your backpack so you can take it with you anywhere. Whether you’re camping at the beach or in the backcountry, you can rely on it. In contrast, a drip machine is only useful at home or the office where there’s supply of electricity.
While the French press needs a coarse grind so that water can thoroughly extract oils from the bean, the drip coffee maker requires a medium grind
Unlike French press, drip machines can’t make flavorful coffee. The filter paper removes much of the oils that hold the different flavors. Therefore, it produces a rather flat and muted coffee with uniform taste.
The French press gives you full control of the variables so you can be sure that your coffee is perfect for your taste. Although some drip machine models let you make minor adjustments, the resulting brew still can’t rival a French press coffee.
The Bottom Line
The French press is perfect for people who want rich and flavorful coffee and those who want to create a brew according to their taste.
Those who need to make a huge amount of coffee at once and don’t mind much the taste are best served by a percolator.
Moka pot is the right choice if you want your coffee to have near-espresso quality. Just remember that it requires skill and patience to make the perfect brew.
If you don’t want (or don’t have the time) to brew every time you want coffee, you should get a drip machine. It’s also favored by those who want to keep their coffee warm for an extended period of time.
Choosing a coffee maker that is best for you depends on what your priority is and what you want from your brew. It goes without saying that the perfect coffee maker for you may not be the one for another.