Pour over vs. French Press
by Paul Massard, Bean Hunter
I often get asked the question “What’s your favorite way to brew coffee?” To answer that you have to really define which coffee it is that you’re brewing. Some coffees perform fantastically well in a French press, for example, but don’t really stand up when brewed using the pourover method and vice versa.
So first, let’s talk about the French press. A French press is a full-immersion brew, meaning that the coffee grounds are in contact with the brew water for the entire brewing cycle. The press also uses a metal filter to separate the grounds from the water; and by using a metal filter we get what we call a muddier cup, meaning that all of the coffee oils as well as the fines (coffee dust produced by grinding) make it into your cup. To me this gives you an end product with a heavier body (viscous mouth feel) and a lot more coffee particulates. I personally prefer to brew naturally-processed coffees, semi-washed Indonesians and Brazilians using this method.
When we talk about a pourover, we’re talking about a method where water is run through a bed of coffee and that primarily uses a paper filter below that bed before it flows into a cup, carafe or other container. There are many different types of pourovers– including that auto-drip brewer that’s probably sitting on your kitchen counter right now. But, for this blog I would like to concentrate on the one that is currently most popular in the Specialty Coffee World (at least here in KC): the Hario V60 pourover. This pourover has a relatively large hole at the bottom (where the brewed coffee exits) this larger hole lets us use a slightly finer grind, which in turn gives us a slightly more complex end product (although it does make it slightly easier to mess up and over-extract). Since this method uses a paper filter, we have a much cleaner cup with no fines and a reduction of the coffee oils as they get caught in the filter. This method works very well with all washed coffees , be they from Africa, Central or South America.
So, in conclusion I would say that you really cannot have a favorite particular coffee brewing method, but you can have a favorite way that you brew a particular coffee.