If you are a coffee lover looking to enhance your home brewing experience, you may wonder if a French press or moka pot is a good choice. While each brews a flavorful cup of coffee, there are differences between the two in both the flavor and the brewing method.
Find out the difference between a French press and a moka pot and how that affects your coffee experience.
In This Article
What’s the Biggest Difference Between French Press and Moka Pot?
A French press and a moka pot are both designed to brew intense, robust coffee brimming with flavor, but they differ in the brewing method.
A French press relies on steeping coarsely ground coffee in nearly boiling water to extract its flavor. A French press is typically made of glass. To use a French press, you do not need a stovetop (although you do need hot water). Brewed coffee from a French press is bold with an intense flavor.
A moka pot brews the coffee with steam. This aluminum or stainless-steel pot is divided into three chambers. One chamber holds the coffee grounds, another holds water, and the third chamber is reserved for steam. A moka pot is used on the stovetop and can be used with either propane or electric burners. Brewed coffee from a moka pot is bold and rich, resembling espresso.
What is a Moka pot?
A moka pot is an aluminum or stainless-steel pot used to steam coffee. It is hourglass-shaped with traditional hexagonal sides. It is divided into three chambers. The bottom chamber holds the water, the middle section holds the coffee grounds, and the top chamber is where the hot water and steam are forced upward through the coffee grounds to brew the coffee.
A moka pot is sometimes called a stovetop espresso maker. Brewing coffee in a moka pot is sometimes called “The Cowboy Method” because it is similar to the old percolators used over a campfire. Your grandparents likely used a similar coffee brewer and called it a percolator.
A moka pot makes an espresso-like coffee that is bold and intense.
How to Use a Moka Pot (10 Easy Steps)
- Fill the bottom of the moka pot (up to the point where the pot narrows) with boiling water.
- Add the coffee grounds to the filter basket. According to Gustos Coffee Company, you will need approximately five tablespoons of finely ground coffee for a 6-cup moka pot.
- Level the coffee grounds in the filter basket.
- Replace the top of the basket.
- Insert the filter basket into the moka pot.
- Put the cover on the pot.
- Place the moka pot on the stove over medium heat.
- Listen for the moka pot to begin bubbling. You will also see steam escaping from the top of the pot.
- Remove the moka pot from the heat.
- Allow the coffee to steep for a minute or two before pouring.
What is a French press?
A French press is a type of coffee maker that relies on steeping the coffee grounds in very hot (just shy of boiling) water to extract the flavor from the beans. It is typically a cylindrical glass vessel with a plunger used to compress and strain the ground coffee once it has been brewed.
A French press produces a strong, bold coffee, but the strength of the brew is all up to you. With a bit of tweaking of the amount of coffee grounds or the brewing time, you will soon learn to brew the perfect cup of coffee with no bitter aftertaste.
How to Use a French Press (8 Easy Steps)
A French press is easy to use and doesn’t require any special equipment or skills.
- Heat the water for your French press on the stove. The water should be just below the boiling point. If the pot boils, allow it to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before using it in your French press coffee maker.
- Pour ½ cup of fresh, medium-ground coffee per four cups of water into the bottom of the French press.
- Slowly pour the hot water over the ground coffee.
- Stir the coffee and water with a wooden spoon to ensure all the coffee grounds are saturated.
- Place the cover on the French press with the plunger extended all the way up to keep in the heat and steam.
- Allow the coffee to steep for 5 minutes.
- Press the plunger down slowly to strain and compact the coffee grounds before pouring the coffee.
- Enjoy your coffee black, or add creamer and sweetener to meet your tastes.
French Press vs Moka Pot: The Main Differences
A French press and moka pot are both relatively easy to use and make a great cup of coffee, but they function in different ways and have somewhat different flavors.
- Brews coffee by steeping the ground beans in hot water.
- Makes a rich, smooth-flavored coffee.
- The strength of the coffee can be adjusted either by adjusting the amount of coffee used in brewing or by adjusting the amount of time the pot is allowed to steep.
- Uses medium to coarsely ground coffee.
- Does not need a stovetop.
- Brews coffee via steam.
- Makes a dark, espresso-like coffee.
- The strength of the coffee is controlled by brewing time.
- It uses medium to fine-ground coffee.
- It is used on the stovetop (flame or flameless).
- The temperature must be monitored carefully to avoid burning the coffee, resulting in a bitter brew.
- Brewed coffee can be used in traditional espresso-based beverages.
Which Coffee Maker Should I Buy? French Press or Moka Pot?
If you enjoy making espresso-based drinks, like Caffe breves, lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas, but don’t have an espresso machine, a Moka pot might be the best solution for you, as it brews a strong espresso-like coffee. Likewise, coffee from a moka pot can be served as an espresso for a quick caffeine boost in the morning.
However, if you are looking to up your coffee game and want to brew a cup of coffee brimming with flavor, a French press is a good place to start. French press coffee can be enjoyed as a leisurely cup of morning coffee, either black or with cream and sugar.
What are the Best Moka Pot Coffee Makers?
According to experts, the top five are:
- Coffee Gator 6-cup Moka Pot
- Moka Express 3-cup Moka Pot
- GROSCHE Nilan Stovetop 6-cup Moka Pot
- Primula Stovetop Espresso and Coffee Maker Moka Pot
- Bialetti Express 6-cup Moka pot
What are the Best French press Coffee Makers?
Buyer’s Guides top five best French presses for 2023 include:
- Mueller French Press Double Insulated 304 Stainless Steel
- Café Du Chateau French Press Coffee Maker
- Bean Envy French Press Coffee Maker
- Secura French Press Coffee Maker
- BAYKA French Press Coffee Maker
Frequently Asked Questions
The first patented design of this style of coffee maker is credited to two French developers, Mayer and Delforge. Although the device’s style and function have evolved over the years, the basic design is called a French press because it originated in France, and a plunger is used to press the coffee grounds once the coffee is finished brewing.
Many people prefer to grind their own coffee beans when using them in a French press, as fresh ground beans retain more flavor. However, you can use regular ground coffee from the grocer in your French press. It is essential to use a medium to coarse grind as finely ground beans may produce a muddy cup of bitter coffee, while beans ground too coarsely may produce a weak cup of coffee lacking flavor.
A French press coffee maker ranges in price from around $10 to over $100. Most will do an adequate job at brewing a flavorful cup of coffee. However, Coffee Improved states that a high-quality French press in the price range of $25 to $35 lasts a long time and brews an excellent cup of coffee.
All French press coffee makers function in the same way. However, they may vary in size or material. Standard sizes are 3, 8, or 12 cups. The cylinder may be glass, stainless steel, aluminum, or insulated.
An 8-cup French press is the size most people buy because it makes enough coffee for two or three people. However, if you are making coffee for one, a 3-cup French press may be right for you. Likewise, if you have friends in for coffee often, consider a 12-cup French press.
A moka pot brews a strong espresso-like coffee. The effects of drinking coffee brewed in a moka pot are similar to those of drinking espresso. A moka pot may be a good choice for those looking for a quick caffeine boost in the morning.
You can use the coffee produced by a moka pot in recipes calling for espressos, like Latte, cappuccino, or Brevé.
Moka pots are relatively inexpensive and are a great alternative to more expensive espresso machines. They range in price from around $10 to $100 or more. However, a moka pot in the midrange of $40 to $50 typically brews great-tasting coffee and lasts a long time.
If you enjoy making a variety of drinks from espresso frequently, a moka pot is worth the investment. However, if you already own a French press or other favorite coffee maker and only dabble with making espresso-based drinks, you can always brew a strong cup of coffee in your current machine and use that instead of espresso.
Moka pots range in price from a little as about $10 to $100 or more. So if you are looking for a moka pot that brews good coffee and will last a long time, expect to pay somewhere between $40 and $50 for it.
All moka pots function the same, but you can find them in various colors with slight variations in style. Most have an hourglass shape with hexagon sides and are made from aluminum or stainless steel. Some feature a stainless-steel bottom with a glass top.
Traditional moka pots are used on the stovetop, but some electric moka pots are also available.
The 6-cup moka pot is the most popular size as it makes enough strong coffee for two people in the morning. However, moka pots come in a wide range of sizes, from a 3-cup pot suitable for one person, 8 and 10-cup pots ideal for a family of coffee drinkers, to 12- and 18-cup pots that make enough to serve the office or for using to make ice coffee in the summer.
Final Thoughts on French Press vs Moka Pot
A French press and a moka pot are two popular brewing methods for making bold, flavorful coffee. But they do have some significant differences. The French press brews coffee by steeping the beans, producing a rich, smooth coffee with an intense flavor. The moka pot brews coffee with steam and makes a dark, bold coffee similar to espresso.
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