At first glance, the Moka pot and the French press look a lot alike. They both brew strong coffee. Sitting at roughly the same height with a similar design, they look like you could use them for the same purpose.
Outside the few similarities and the fact that they are both manual brewers, they have vastly different purposes. I put together this comparison review to help you coffee lovers see how you use these two products. Then you can determine which will be a better fit for you and your home.
Let’s get started!
Moka Pot Overview
Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka pot, named after the town of Mocha in Yemen. This device consists of a coffee maker that sits on the stovetop and brews by boiling water through a pressurized system, almost like a manual espresso machine. It produces steam pressure that expands the coffee grounds and infuses them into the water, resulting in a strongly brewed cup of coffee.
As time went on and the public’s needs changed, an electric version of the Moka pot came into existence. This development took away the need for the stovetop and allowed consumers to transport the device more easily. Today both varieties are available on the market.
I want to note that the Moka pot creates a potent form of coffee similar to espresso – but it is not espresso. Many people confuse the two products, but the brew method for them is very different.
Another name commonly associated with the Moka pot is “stovetop espresso maker.” This name is due to the coffee’s striking resemblance to espresso, as stated above. Another name famous in the United States is stovetop percolator.
French Press Overview
A French press goes by several names throughout the world. The different monikers include:
- Press Pot
- Cafetière à piston
- Coffee Press
- Caffettiera a stantuffo
- Coffee Plunger
You can use a French press for robust coffee, tea, and other infused drinks. It was first introduced in 1923 by Italian Designer Ugo Paolini in Italy. He analyzed how a tomato separator worked for making tomato paste and then transferred the method over to coffee making.
As with the Moka pot, people often mistake the French press’s coffee for espresso. Still, the potent brew it produces from coffee beans can be an excellent substitute in specialty drinks like lattes, mochas, and americanos with very little difference in taste.
How Do They Work?
While the brewing methods are different, making beverages in both the Moka pot and the French press can be pretty straightforward. However, as you gain experience with the devices, you can tweak certain variables like the hot water temperature, grind size, and brewing time to create an even higher quality shot of coffee.
Using a Moka Pot
Before operating a Moka pot, it is best to learn about the various components and their interaction in making the delicious result. The manual coffee maker consists of three separate chambers: the water chamber on the bottom, the middle chamber for the ground beans, and the upper chamber for the finished coffee. Moka pots are also usually made of stainless steel or aluminum.
The bottom chamber of the Moka pot is where you pour the water. On top of that, you place your pre-ground coffee into the filter basket in the middle section. After you assemble these items, you will put the included lid on the top of the device and place it over an open flame on the stove.
As the Moka pot heats up, steam begins to form. The steam will push up through the coffee grounds, expanding them and creating an infusion. As the pot continues to heat, the moisture will push water through, which will make the delicious coffee that sits in the top chamber of the coffee maker.
Using a French Press
A French press essentially has two separate components. The first is the vase, the pitcher that houses the materials, which include the freshly ground coffee and water, inside. The second is the piston rod or plunger, which also has an attached lid to hold in the heat and water.
Brewing coffee with a French press is a hands-on process. To brew the coffee, you use the plunger to infuse the ingredients and then push it down to complete extraction and allow the liquid to separate from the grounds.
For example, if you are making coffee, you place the ground coffee at the bottom of the press. Following this, you fill the pitcher to the correct water level with hot or cold water, depending on the coffee type. You then allow the beverage time to complete the steeping process.
When the time comes to enjoy your drink, you push the plunger down, the filtering process separates the grounds from the liquid, which is now delicious french press brew coffee. The lid also acts as a filter for the liquid coming out, which will pour out just like a pitcher or coffee pot would.
What Drinks Can You Make?
Both the Moka pot and the French press primarily make coffee, but you can use them for other beverages as well. The Moka pot can create several unique espresso-style coffee and tea-based drinks. However, the French press can produce many beverages (including cocktails!), and you can even use the device for household purposes.
Moka Pot Drinks
With the Moka pot, you can easily create various specialty espresso-like drinks without a need for a fancy machine. Some of the most popular drink options created with a Moka pot are:
- Straight up Moka pot coffee (similar to an espresso shot)
- Americano (an intense coffee and water mix)
- Irish coffee/flavored coffee
To create these awesome coffee drinks, you use the Moka pot coffee in the same way that you would infuse an espresso shot into the beverage. For example, to make an americano, you would mix water and Moka pot coffee 50/50. Additionally, to make a latte, you would heat and froth milk and add it to a shot of Moka pot java.
French Press Drinks
As we mentioned above, the French press can make a variety of beverages and serve many purposes throughout the home. Like the Moka pot, the product that comes from this coffee brewer can resemble a strong espresso depending on the brewing process. Therefore, you can substitute it for espresso in specialty drinks.
Other uses for the French press include:
- Making whipped cream (using the plunger)
- Juicing (often for topping drinks)
- Steeping soup stocks (and draining)
- Preparing cold brew
- Frothing milk (using the plunger)
- Re-hydrating foods
- Rinsing rice, quinoa, and beans
- Making cocktails (both hot and cold)
- Making and serving creamer
- Loose-leaf tea
- Chai Tea
- Lattes (as an espresso additive)
- Mochas (as an espresso additive)
- Infusing oils and water
- Preserving herbs
- Adding extra hops into beer
Coffee aficionados use the French press’s coffee to replace espresso in recipes. However, you can also use it for a variety of other beverages, and to help preserve herbs and keep them lasting longer!
Who Is the Moka Pot Suited For?
In our Moka pot vs. French press debate, one device isn’t necessarily better than the other. Instead, it is more a matter of personal taste and caffeination preferences.
Both the Moka pot and the French press create a robust, concentrated brew. However, the Moka pot offers a more potent coffee cup than the French press. When selecting an option based on the strength of each beverage, it boils down to personal preference and what you desire in your drink.
- Makes strong cups of coffee and tea
- Simple technique
- Can only make limited beverages
Who Is the French Press Suited for?
On the other hand, it can be beneficial to have the ability to utilize one device for several purposes. For avid coffee drinkers that want to do more than just brew concentrated coffee and tea, the French press is likely a better option. You can make a greater variety of hot and cold drinks with the French press than you can with the Moka pot.
If diversity and versatility are must-haves, the French press is the route you should take. Alternatively, if your sole purpose is to create a strong cup of bold and full-flavor coffee, then the Moka pot is likely a better option.
- Makes a variety of beverages
- Makes a strong cup of coffee
- Useful for things other than drinks
- May be challenging to clean
There are many brands and models of both the Moka pot and the French press coffee maker on the market with a wide price range. Additional features vary, such as materials and design. However, the common elements remain the same.
Although the Moka pot and the French press may look very similar, the elements that make up each product and the methods of brewing coffee are key differences.
Knowing which option is best for you comes down to how strong you like your coffee, as well as what purposes you want your coffee maker to fulfill. If you only aspire to make a full-bodied brew and nothing else, the Moka pot is all you will need.
However, suppose you want to incorporate a new device into the household for other reasons, such as cocktails, frothing, herb storage, among many others. In that case, the manual method French press can be your new best friend
Hopefully, this comparison review helps you see the unique ways that the two products can be used and determine which will be a better fit for you and your home.