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French Press vs Moka Pot: Which One is Better?

Those who aren’t into automatic drip coffee makers often find themselves trying to decide between two popular non-automated models:

The French Press and the Moka Pot

Both can make an incredible cup of coffee, but there are significant differences between the two.

The French press has developed a reputation for being the choice of gourmet coffee lovers.

While the Moka pot — also known as the stovetop espresso maker — is known for being a favorite of those who crave coffee with a super bold and concentrated flavor.

If you’re wondering which option is best for you, here’s a comparison of the two.

Using Each Method​

italian moka pot

Simply put, there’s more margin for error when you make coffee with French press. Yes, there are plenty of people who will say that you must use coarsely ground coffee, or you must let it bloom, or you must do this or that.

The truth is that you can use the same coffee that you would in an automatic drip machine and still turn out an excellent cup of brew.

Yes, it will taste even better if you use freshly roasted beans that have been coarsely ground just before brewing, but using a French press doesn’t have to be so finicky.

Once you nail down the ratio of coffee to water that suits your taste buds, making coffee in a French press is just about foolproof.

On the other hand, Moka pots are trickier and you’ll need some practice to get it right.

First, it’s important to understand just what you’re dealing with when you use a Moka pot. It has three chambers — one for water, another for the coffee grounds, and one where the finished drink is collected — and each is important to the brewing process.

The stovetop espresso maker uses pressure to produce coffee, and how well the brewing goes will heavily depend on the reliability and performance of your stove and how well you’re watching over the pot.​

The Resulting Brew

french press pouring

With a French press you have tons of control over the finished coffee, but control is reduced with a Moka pot.

Boiling water is poured over coffee grounds with a French press, and from there you can precisely time how long it steeps.

Moka pots require more skill to create great coffee each time, and if you take the steeping too far you’ll end up with a literal mess or coffee that’s extremely sharp tasting.

Using a Moka pot isn’t rocket science, but it’s more of a challenge than working with a press.

Both methods have the potential to produce delicious coffee with a bold and pronounced flavor.

French press coffee tends to be very full bodied and rich, and sometimes it contains sediment — to reduce the chances of that, stick with coarsely ground beans.

Coffee made in a Stovetop Espresso Maker is strong, sharper, and definitely satisfying if you like the full-on taste of coffee.

Those who love espresso but don’t want to invest in a pricey machine would do well to consider getting a Moka pot instead.​

The Buying Experience

Both Moka pots and French presses are fairly affordable and can be found for less than $20.

If you’re basing your decision on cost alone, know that both pieces of equipment fall in the same price range.

There are small presses and Moka pots that cost less than $10, ultra-fancy artisan models that cost well over $100, and everything in between.

Final Verdict

If you don’t like sharp tasting coffee or espresso, but you want something more flavorful than standard automatic drip, go for a French press.

Those who prefer coffee with absolutely no sediment and a brew that’s more akin to espresso typically enjoy having a Moka pot.

Of course, there’s no rule saying you’re limited to owning either a French press or a Moka pot — you’ll find plenty of coffee aficionados who will proudly admit having one of each.