French Press vs Moka Pot: Which one should I get?

by Mama Loves A Drink

French Press vs Moka Pot: our guide to helping you choose the best coffee making appliance for your home by distinguishing between popular coffee making techniques.

Having a coffee maker at home is one of life’s little luxuries, isn’t it?

There’s something so lovely and welcoming about walking into a kitchen that smells of freshly brewed coffee; it sets you up for whatever the day is about to throw at you.

The smell is so enticing it’s a trick realtors and estate agents use to help you sell your property!

Coffee makers are convenient, efficient and very cost-effective if you use them regularly. Plus, they look very swanky on your countertop or stove, and it’s nice to be able to offer your guests something more exciting than a regular instant coffee or tea.

People often worry that coffee makers are expensive – and if you buy a bells and whistles espresso machine – they can be. But don’t worry, there are definitely coffee makers out there that are more affordable and still make an excellent brew.

Like any household purchase, if you’re going to buy a coffee maker for home, you need to see it as an investment; make sure you buy the one that is right for the needs of your family or home.

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A close up of a french press with coffee beans

Coffee makers for home

Almost everybody starts out with instant coffee but quickly realises there are just much tastier options out there.

Since most of us can’t factor in going out for a coffee shop every morning for our caffeine fix, we usually decide to try out a stovetop or at-home coffee maker.

We know we want great coffee, but the choice of makers and machines can be mindblowing at first. Add into that all the different coffee beans, blends and grounds we can choose from, and it can all feel a little bit intimidating! 

Let’s help take a bit of the confusion away and answer some of your burning coffee-at-home questions by looking at the two most popular non-electronic coffee makers; the Moka Pot and the French Press.

Moka Pot vs French Press

In this article, we’re going to have a look at the similarities and differences between the Moka Pot and the French Press.

We’re going to look in detail at how they work because, let’s face it, nobody wants to have a coffee machine which is so tricky to use it makes life even more stressful!

We are all living busy lives these days, aren’t we?

Your coffee maker should make life simpler and more joyful.

We’ll look at the quality of the coffee they produce, how long it takes to set up, the brewing time and finally, we’ll suss out how easy they are to clean. This one is so so important to us all, isn’t it? Life is too short to spend it cleaning coffee machines for any longer than is strictly necessary!

French Press vs Moka Pot chart

Moka PotFrench Press
Brewing methodPressureSteeping
Brewing time5-10 mins5 mins
Control over the brewMediumHigh
Type of coffee drinkSharp/espresso style coffeeFull-bodied / brew
Yield2-12 cupsUp to 36oz/ 1L

French Press vs Moka Pot: the similarities and the differences

French Presses and Moka Pots are two low tech ways to produce an authentic, delicious cup of coffee without investing in a costly fancy coffee machine.

Once purchased, the only outlay will be your coffee beans or fresh coffee grounds (if you don’t have a grinder).

They are easy to use, clean and store and use a fraction of the space of a countertop appliance.

The similarities, however, tend to end here. The differences between a French Press and a Moka pot are significant in terms of origin, use and the coffee experience they offer in terms of taste.

French Press and Moka Pot origins

The first difference between the two is where they originate from.

No prizes for guessing that the French Press comes from France! The French are rumoured to have been using them since the 19th century, so they’ve had time to really perfect the device.

The Moka Pot is an Italian invention designed and produced in the 1930s.

The creator of the original Italian Moka pot is Bialetti, which is still a household name when it comes to Italian coffee appliances. Its creation is called Italian Moka or also percolator.

Since we all know Italians are famed for their fabulous coffees, we can assume we’re in safe hands here.

How they make coffee

A Moka Pot uses pressure, whilst a French Press uses steeping, so there’s a big difference in technique.

But does that result in a big difference in the taste? Let’s find out…

The Moka Pot is a stovetop espresso maker and makes strong, robust-tasting coffee which you serve in small espresso cups.

The French Press lacks the pressure needed to create an espresso shot but produces a lovely tasting brew perfect for those who love their coffee in a large cup.

French Presses come in a variety of sizes, meaning you can make up to 12 cups with a large press, Moka Pots tend to be smaller making only one or two cups at a time.

However, you can find Moka pots that make coffee for up to six people or more so unless you are brewing coffee for a very large group, the Moka can be a good option.

How a Moka Pot Works

A Moka Pot is so simple to use.

The result is the same every time so, once you have found the coffee you like most and you know how to assemble your Moka, you are guaranteed a perfect cup every time.

The Moka Pot uses steam pressure pushed through coffee grounds from water boiling on a stove – hence also referred to as a stove-top espresso maker.

A mocha pot in pieces so you can see the coffee grinds

Here’s exactly how your Moka Pot makes the perfect brew:

  • There are two chambers in the pot, separated by a basket container for the coffee grounds.
  • Fill the lower chamber with water right up to the pressure release valve.
  • Place the basket on your water chamber
  • Grind your beans quite finely and fill them to the top of the basket. Don’t overfill.
  • Screw the empty top chamber on top and place the whole pot over medium heat on your stove or hob.
  • Keep a watchful eye on your brew; when it starts to bubble and splutter, your coffee is ready.
  • Use a small spoon to mix your freshely made coffee while still in the moka for the smoother finish
  • Now you can enjoy not only your drink but the gorgeous smell permeating your kitchen!

Although technically you can use a Moka Pot on an electric stove, this can heat the water too fast and you lack control. You’re best using a Moka Pot with a gas stove where you can control the heat.

In both cases, you want to use low heat and remove the Moka from the hob as soon as your coffee is fully out.

Leaving your Moka on the heat once the water has left the lower chamber will make the internal gasket of your Moka burn: this is a hazard and will also give a terrible brunt taste to your coffee.

Should this happen, you will need to replace the gasket but no panic! If disaster strikes, they are available online and easy to replace.

How a French Press Works

The French Press, unlike espresso-style coffee makers, works on immersion:

  • Place your pot on a stable, flat surface. Hold the handle firmly, then pull out the plunger.
  • Add a heaped tablespoon (7-8 grams) of coffee grounds to the pot per 200 ml (6.7 oz) of water.
  • Pour hot water from a kettle into the pot, and gently stir.
  • Reinsert the plunger into the pot, stop just above the water and ground coffee (resist the urge to plunge just yet!), and leave to stand for 3-5 minutes ( Which gives you time to pick your accompanying snack, right?)
  • Press the plunger down slowly.
  • Your coffee is ready to pour!
French Press being used

Like the Moka Pot, the French Press is simple to use but getting the exact brew time correct, so it’s not under-extracted and a little sour, or over extracted and a little bitter, is the challenge.

Do note, if you’re pouring more than one cup and leave your coffee in the French Press, some extraction continues to occur. You should move any remaining coffee to an insulated flask if you want more to enjoy later.

Now you know how to use both coffee makers: it’s time to choose – Which will you decide on in the battle of the Moka Pot vs French Press?

French Press v Moka Pot

Ok, let’s weigh up the pros and cons of both in terms of cleaning, coffee strength and brewing time:

Cleaning: Both coffee makers are easy to clean. Both require a good wash in hot water after each use and this should be done under the tap.

You do not want to use soap on a Moka pot and you should never place it in a dishwasher.

French Presses can take soap and it is actually recommended to periodically give to the main glass container a proper wash to get rid of the oily residues from coffee powder.

Not all French Presses are dishwasher safe: check care instructions carefully and avoid putting the plunger in the dishwasher unless clearly specified in the user manual.

More often than not, they do not come out well!

Strenght of coffee: it is easy to think that a moka and its espresso-style cup have more caffeine than a cup of French coffee but this is not always the case.

Espresso contains more caffeine per unit of volume but you normally drink smaller quantities of it. A 1.5oz espresso shot has 77mg of caffeine while the average 8oz brew cup has up to 107.5mg.

Brewing time: This one is a bit of a draw; there’s not much to choose between the two.

The bonus of the French Press is that you don’t need to keep an eye on it while it heats up in the way you do with the Moka Pot. Both are feasible options for making your first coffee of the day without risking being late for work. Bonus!

Availability of coffee beans / powder: Italian Mokas and French Presses use different types of coffee, not always as easy as each other to get in your local shop.

Before committing to one coffee maker over the other, it is a good idea to check what you can easily grab during your regular shop.

The type of machine the coffee is suitable for is usually clearly marked on the packaging.

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Our Favourite French Presses

All French Presses work in a similar manner so it really comes down to style and aesthetic when choosing the right French Press for your home. If you will be regularly entertaining, go with something larger.

Our Favourite Moka Pots

When choosing the right sort of Moka Pot for your home, you will want to consider both capacity and aesthetics.

Most people will think of a Moka Pot as a very small aluminum pot, but the range of colours these days is far more impressive, and you’re not restricted to just single serves. The number of “cups” is how many espresso shots.

If you are looking for something that will last, we recommend investing in a stainless steel Moka Pot.

We hope this has helped you on your home shopping journey. Moka Pot or French Press, often confused but two very different styles of coffee making at home. Both though are very affordable, low fuss and quick ways to make a brew.

If you prefer your milky espresso drinks, you may still prefer to invest in an electric coffee maker, we share our favourites for latte and milk-coffee drinkers over here.

If you’ll be drinking your coffee on the go, we look at great options for camper coffee makers over here.

Learn more about all our favourite brews and get help with deciphering coffee jargon over on the Coffee Connoisseurs section of our website – happy brewing mamas!

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