I'm a trained barista: here’s why the French press can be better than pour-over

French press or pour-over? Our expert insight into which method is best

French press vs pour over: Bodum Chambord French presses on a table with a cup of coffee in front of them
(Image credit: Bodum)

If you make specialty coffee at home, you'll either be team French press or team pour-over. Both of these have been used to make authentic, artisanal coffees for decades. They're a timeless investment, but which one is the best for you?

As a trained barista and coffee geek, I've tested both the best French presses and the best pour-over coffee makers on the market. Each has their own merits. French presses, for example, can be used to make more than just coffee. I've seen people use them to make cold brew coffee, sangria, infused oils, and more. However, recently, people have asked whether French press coffee is bad for us (it's fine, but might not be the one for you if you have high cholesterol). 

I'll talk you through the differences between French press and pour-over coffee as well as which ones you should buy if you want to make delicious coffee.

Head to head

OXO French Press on the countertop with a full carafe

(Image credit: Future)

For the sake of comparison, here's the top French press and pour-over coffee makers from our guides. 

On paper, there's little to separate them except the design. Both make a decent amount of coffee and are dishwasher-safe. However, the brewing process and flavor profile are very different. 

The Process

Bodum Pour-Over on countertop

(Image credit: Bodum)

WINNER: French Press

You can see above that there's little separating the two products. Both methods are straightforward and simple. 

Immersion, using a French Press, takes up to fifteen minutes. You will need to spoon ground coffee into your glass carafe. Then, pour hot water (around 200°F) over the grounds. Keep the coffee grounds immersed in the water for around three to eight minutes before pushing the plunger down through the water, straining out the coffee grounds. Between straining and pouring, leave the coffee to settle, so that you don’t end up with a gritty texture towards the end of your cup.

The pour-over method takes a similar amount of time to using a French press. It requires similar equipment, with the addition of a paper filter. Simply sit the filter in your carafe and place your coffee grounds inside the filter. Pour hot water over the grounds. As the water swirls through the coffee it infuses with all the flavors before filtering into the jug. 

For both methods, pour a small amount of water over the grinds and leave this to foam and bloom for 30 seconds. This will help to form a solid base for the rest of the coffee to infuse into.

The Taste

A cup of coffee in a white cup in front of the OXO French Press

(Image credit: Future)

WINNER: French press

Although it can be grainy towards the bottom of the carafe, the French press delivers strong and rich coffee. It brings a deep flavor that pour-over simply cannot match. This is because the immersion method extracts oils from the coffee beans and carries them into your cup, but it can be more acidic.

If you prefer a lighter flavor, the pour-over method is a better option. The taste is lighter because the filter paper stops a lot of the oils from infusing with your brew. It’s not nearly as rich and bold as the French press.

The Clean Up

Bodum Brazil French Press cleaning

(Image credit: Future)

WINNER: Pour-Over

Both of these are normally dishwasher safe. French presses might need a little attention around the fiddly plunger but are generally straightforward. The key is not to leave your plunger in the coffee grinds for a long time. The longer you leave it, the more embedded the coffee granules become. Using warm, soapy water, rinse and clean all parts of the carafe and plunger. If you need more tips, I've written a whole article on how to clean a French press coffee maker.

The pour-over coffee maker is simple. Empty the paper filter into the bin or compost. Rinse out the jug and you’re ready to start again.

Both of these easily fit into drawers and cupboards, so they'll neatly store away in smaller kitchens too.


OXO Brew Pour-Over on the countertop with the OXO Brew Pour-Over box in the background

(Image credit: Future)

WINNER: it’s a tie

These cost roughly the same price – much less than a bulky coffee machine. It’ll depend on the model, but you could expect them to sit between $20 and $150.

It’s worth noting that you’ll have an ongoing cost with your pour-over coffee machine because it requires single-use filter paper. However, the cost is much cheaper than an espresso machine. Neither of these methods require pods, or constant connection to water and electricity, which are all ongoing costs.

Best French press

Bodum Chambord French press

(Image credit: Future)

Bodum Chambord French Press

Chic, sleek and classic


Size: 12 oz, 17oz, 34oz, 51oz
Material: stainless steel and glass
Filter: double filter
Dishwasher safe: yes

Reasons to buy

Contemporary design
Easy to use
Double filter minimizes graininess

Reasons to avoid

Glass is thin and doesn't retain heat well

Even though the team judged it second in our roundup of the best French presses, this is my personal favorite. It is an affordable option that doesn’t skimp on any of the details. The design looks great but is compact enough to store away if you don’t want it out on your surface all the time. Bodum built it with a double filter to minimize the chance of stray coffee grains finding their way into your cup. It’s easy to use and dishwasher safe too.

This came second in our roundup because it isn’t as thorough at filtering and warming as the Espro. Bodum’s thinner glass carafe isn’t as insulating, but it is one of the reasons that I prefer Bodum’s design. Glass makes it much easier to check on your coffee and judge when is the right time to take the plunge.

You can find out more in my full review of the Bodum Chambord French Press.

Best Pour-Over

Bodum Pour-Over on countertop

(Image credit: Bodum)

Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker

An elegant entry point to pour-overs


Size: 17 oz.
Material: Borosililcate glass
Dishwasher safe: no
Height: 6.3 x 8.5 x 5.3 inches

Reasons to buy

Permanent filter
Budget friendly
Environmentally friendly (no paper products)

Reasons to avoid

Water moved quickly through the filter, affecting the taste

This is an unusual example of pour-overs because it uses a stainless steel filter rather than a paper one. From a sustainability and cost perspective, this is great. It puts this in a great position to directly compare to a French press. The Bodum is dishwasher safe (aside from the removable cuffs) and, I was pleased to find, it very budget-friendly. It can cater to larger groups of three to four, too.

Although I love the built-in filter, it doesn’t produce the same light and smooth taste that you would normally expect from a paper filter pour-over. Other users commented on the spout’s shape making it easy for spillages. Although I didn’t struggle with this, it’s easy to see that others might, especially if you have mobility issues.

You can find out more in my full review of the Bodum Pour-Over.

Which should I buy?

Melitta pour over coffee maker set

(Image credit: Future)

This is something for you to decide. It really comes down to flavor; if you prefer bold and rich coffee, go for a French press. If you are new to coffee or used to filter coffee, start with a pour-over coffee maker.  


Should I buy a French press or pour-over coffee maker?

You can trust Homes & Gardens. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, helping you choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

These are both great coffee makers for those who are short on space. They can store away easily and are much more subtle on the countertop. They don’t make the noise that an espresso machine might and are more portable, because you don’t need to plug your coffee maker into electricity and water. 

Do I need coffee pods for a French press or pour-over?

No. This is one of the bonuses of these coffee makers. You won’t ever use or need to buy coffee pods. 

What is the difference in taste between French press and pour-over coffee?

The French press gives a stronger, richer flavor. The pour-over will taste lighter and more like standard filter coffee. 

Do I need to grind my coffee differently for a French press and pour-over coffee?

Both French press and our-over need a medium grind. You can buy ground coffee in the grocery store, or you can buy coffee grinders to do it yourself. The best coffee grinder is the Fellow Ode Grinder, which makes perfect ground coffee for pour-over.

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.  

With contributions from