Moka pot Vs. French Press – What Are The Differences And Which One Makes Better Coffee?

Suppose you are looking for a manual coffee maker or getting your caffeine addictive friend a coffee gift. In that case, you probably need to choose between these two popular coffee makers: Moka pot and French press.

Let’s dive into these two famous and classical coffee makers and find out which one should be your choice.

Moka Pot Vs. French Press – An In-depth Comparison

Before comparing the differences between these two coffee makers, let’s take a glance at them.  

What is a Moka Pot

Moka pot, also known as a stovetop espresso maker, was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 in Italy. The most iconic product is the Bialetti Moka Express. Besides this classical Italian Moka pot, there are many Moka pot products with a more modern design that you can choose from in the market.  

Moka pot uses pressure to brew coffee, which works like a pressure cooker. There are three parts, the water chamber, the filter basket, and the upper container. Here is how it works. You first add the water to the bottom chamber, fully fill the filter basket with finely ground beans, and assemble the three parts together. Place the Moka pot to the heat source, and the steam builds up as the water boils. The steam pushes the water upward through the coffee grounds and the filter funnel all the way to the spout. The coffee ends up in the upper chamber.

In this brewing method, you’ll get a strong, concentrated coffee, similar to espresso. This ‘stovetop espresso maker’ is a great invention for espresso coffee aficionado, just cost 1/10 of the entry-level espresso machines, you can enjoy ‘espresso’ at home.

moka pot on a stove

What is French Press:

The French press is also an iconic product in the coffee world. This traditional manual brewing method lets the coffee grounds steep in hot water to extract the coffee.

It comes with a cylindrical chamber, a plunger with a mesh metal filter. You need to fill in the coffee grounds and hot water, wait for about 4 to 5 minutes, then press the filter down to separate the coffee and the grounds. Then you can pour the coffee into the carafe or your mug to enjoy a great cup of joe.  

You’ll get full-bodied and flavorful coffee, a little stronger than the traditional drip coffee, while it’s more balanced and smoother than the espresso.

frenchpress-steeping

Facts: Moka pot Vs. French Press

ComparisonMoka PotFrench Press
First patented19331929
Brew MethodPressureSteeping
Grind SizeFine to Medium FineMedium Coarse
Brew Time5-7 minutes5-10 minutes
TasteIntense and strongFull-bodied
Ease of brewRequired some skillsEasy for everyone
MaterialsAluminum, Stainless SteelGlass, Stainless steel, Ceramic, plastic
Size1-12 cups (each cup 60 mL / 2 fl. oz.)12, 17, 34, 51 ounce
BrandsBialetti, Grosche, Delonghi, Alessi, Cuisinox Roma etc.,Bodum, Espro, KONA, Nueller, Secura, Veken etc.,
Price Range$15-$100$20-$100
Caffeine100ml Approx. 219 mg [1]300ml Approx. 223 mg [1]

Comparison between Moka Pot and French Press

Before making the buying decision, here are something that you need to know.

Coffee Taste

These two different coffee brewers produce different types of coffee. We can’t simply judge which one makes better coffee since they have a very distinct taste.

Moka pot uses the pressurized brewing method, which is similar to espresso. However, the pressure is much lower than the 9 bar espresso standard. It produces a very concentrated strong coffee with thin crema that looks and tastes like espresso. It also works great with darker roasted coffee beans.

moka pot coffee

The French press uses an immersion brewing method giving you a full-bodied coffee. Due to the nature of immersion, you’ll get complete saturation of the coffee, oils, and all the aromatic flavors of the roasted coffee beans. The coffee to water ratio is much higher than the Moka pot, which tastes smoother and milder but stronger and more textured than the drip machine. Sure, if you lower the brewing ratio, use more coffee and less water, you can also get a strong flavor profile, but not as intense as the kind of coffee you get from a Moka pot.

serving french press coffee

If you like espresso, Moka pot is your choice. If you are not the espresso fans and want a more balanced coffee, the French press is the one for you.

Ease of brewing

Both coffee brewers are not rocket science.

Brewing with a Moka pot, make sure fill the water right below the safety valve, fully fill the filter basket with properly ground coffee, and take the Moka pot away from the heat source once you heard the gurgling sounds to avoid over-extraction. But it takes a few more steps during the brewing. You need to assemble the bottom chamber, filter funnel and top chamber.

While brewing coffee in a French press is relatively more straightforward. It takes fewer manual actions if you follow the standard brewing instructions. Add water, stir it, then you can leave and do other stuff. Come back after 5 minutes and press the plunger. However, you need to do some experiments to figure out the grind size, brew ratio, water temperature, and brewing time to get a perfect cup of coffee that meets your expectation.

Brew Time

How long does it take to make a good cup of coffee for both Moka pot and French press? Since they are not the electronic machine that can serve you the drink by pressing the ‘Start’ button. Both of them require some patience and take about 5-10 minutes for the whole brewing process.

Moka pot – You’ll spend most of the brewing time on heating the water. If you use cold water to start the brewing, it usually takes 4 minutes or more before the coffee comes out of the funnel. And you’d better not to leave the stove during the whole process for safety and prevent over-extracted. To save some time, you can use the hot water just off the boil. Check out this stovetop espresso instruction >>

French Press – You’ll spend most of the time waiting. The good news is, you can leave it there and come back later. If you follow the basic brew guide, let it sit for 5 minutes. If you follow this French Press instruction, it will take 10 minutes, but it is worth the waiting.

Grind Size

Moka Pot and French press use different grind sizes.

A Moka Pot requires a finer grind size, which is a little bit coarser than espresso grinds but finer than the pour-over. If the coffee grounds go too fine, it will be too strong and bitter. What’s worse, it will clog the filter cause some problems with the pressure. If the grounds are too coarse, there’s not enough pressure, and the water can go through the coffee grounds quickly and give you a weaker taste. The good thing is, most of the standard pre-ground coffee you can get from the supermarket works just well in Moka pot.  

fill coffee ground to filter

The French press lets coffee grounds steep in the water for a longer time. People prefer coarser grinds, so the sediment can be filtered when you press down the plunger. However, if the grind is too coarse, you’ll get a weaker flavor, too fine, you’ll get a bitter and muddy cup of coffee.

You’ll also need a grinder to produce uniform coarsely ground coffee to get a clean and well-extracted coffee. However, it’s not easy to get consistent particles using the coarse grind settings in the entry-level coffee grinders. Extra fine particles will easily go through the mesh filter and get into your cup, ending up with a muddy cup of coffee. And due to the long contact time with water, finer grounds will be over-extracted and cause unpleasant flavor and extra bitterness.

level the coffee in French Press

More people like to use a medium grind setting in recent years instead of the traditional coarseness for the French press. It’s easier to get more consistent medium grounds for many coffee grinders. To solve the silty coffee problem, many manufacturers upgraded the filter. Or you can follow this brewing guide to use medium grind size.

Durability

Moka pots are usually made of aluminum or stainless steel, which are more sturdy and last longer. You can see a vintage style Moka pot sitting on the countertop in many household’s kitchens. If you maintain them well, they can serve you for many years.

While many of the French Press coffee makers are made of glass, that means if you drop them on the ground, you’ll need to buy a new one. Some models are made of stainless steel and ceramic. However, I still prefer the glass ones, which are more classical.

Ease of Cleaning   

Both Moka pot and French press are easy to clean. However, the Moka pot may need more attention and maintenance if you use the aluminum material.

It’s recommended to clean the Moka pot every time you brew the coffee. Simply use the warm water and a soft cloth to wipe the leftover coffee oils on the chamber wall, then you can dry it thoroughly for the next brew. The rubber seal attached to a top chamber with a filter may store some residues that affect the coffee flavor. Don’t forget to clean them regularly. Aluminum Moka pots are not dishwasher safe, and don’t use dish soap to clean them.

It’s easier to clean a French press. Just rinse it using warm water and wipe out the oils. You can put the plunger in, press, and pull the plunger a few times to clean it out. Most French presses are dishwasher safe (always good to read the manual to make sure). You can put them on the top shelf of the dishwasher.

Portability

Both of them are small in size and suitable for traveling or camping with you. Moka pots are not easy to break, but you need an appropriate heat source to use them. You can put a Moka pot directly on the campfire, which makes it very suitable for camping. In comparison, you just need the coffee and hot water to use a French press wherever you are. Only pay attention to the storage and don’t break it.

mokapot-camping

Budget

Both French press and Moka pot are very affordable. Usually, they won’t cost you more than $100. You can enjoy a great coffee or sending a decent gift that will definitely make a coffee lover happy without breaking the bank.

Caffeine in French Press and Moka Pot

Most government health websites suggest we consume no more than 400mg of caffeine in a day.

Crema Coffee Garage and the University of Newcastle conducted a white paper about caffeine content in a different type of coffee. They found that 100 ml of stovetop espresso (Moka pot coffee) contains approximately 219 mg of caffeine, while 100 ml of French press includes 74 mg of caffeine.

At a glance, French Press contains more caffeine. However, you probably won’t measure the exact weight of the caffeine drinks you consume every day. We usually drink a whole mug of French Press coffee, but we serve the Moka pot coffee in a smaller Italian espresso cup.

Suppose we defined the ‘Normal serving size’, 30 ml for a single-serve of stovetop espresso, and 100 ml for French Press. You can drink 5 cups of stovetop espresso (30 ml x 5) and 5 cups of French Press (100ml x 5) per day before you hit the 400 mg caffeine.      

Caffeine Infographic

Source from the The University of Newcastle, Australia [1]

The Verdict – Neither coffee maker is actually better or worse

It’s fun to have a debate between Moka Pot vs. French Press. Both Moka pot and the French press have their important position in the coffee world. They are the most popular brewing methods of all time.

Moka pot requires more skills, but you can master it after a few experiments and attempts, while the French press is more forgiving and easier to brew. What’s more, they both have a very affordable price tag.

Which one to choose depends on your own flavor preference. If you like espresso-style and robust coffee, Moka pot is the coffee maker that suits you the best. If you want a simple coffee maker that gets your caffeine kick without hassles, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of a French press.

If you are choosing a coffee gift for friends, but you have no idea about their preference, a French press is a safer bet.

Or you can have them both, use the Moka pot to make the ‘espresso’ and a French press to froth the milk, then you can try to make Latte at home.

References:

[1] ‘Study reveals which cup of coffee delivers the biggest caffeine kick’ – The University of Newcastle, Australia https://www.newcastle.edu.au/newsroom/featured/study-reveals-which-cup-of-coffee-delivers-the-biggest-caffeine-kick