Many people around the world view coffee as a basic necessity of life. We’re not here to debate the facts – we all know that coffee is the veritable nectar of the gods – so let’s move on to the practicalities: how to brew a cup of joe that will make you feel like you’ve really have reached the pinnacle of your coffee-making capabilities. Or, specifically, whether you should use a Keurig or a French press for whipping up your daily fix.
French Press vs. Keurig: There’s a Big Difference
The Keurig is a highly popular, electrically powered appliance that found its way out of offices and into homes in the early 2000’s. It works like this: fresh coffee grounds are sealed up in a small plastic cup with a foil lid. When this cup is fitted into the machine, the foil seal is pierced by a spray nozzle, which lets loose a flood of hot water into the coffee grounds. The water filters through the coffee, out a discharge nozzle pierced into the plastic base of the cup, and into your mug.
The French press, on the other hand, has been around for nearly a century. The very first version popped up in France in 1929. Using it couldn’t be more straightforward: you spoon some grounds into the bottom of the press and pour boiling water over. Leave to brew for up to six minutes, then fit the lid and push the press down. Pour and enjoy!
If you see to your daily coffee needs at home (a wise choice – it’s way more time- and pocket-friendly than stopping at Starbucks every time you need your caffeine fix), it will benefit you dramatically to know whether you’ve got the right contraption working for you. This is the article to end all wars: French press or Keurig, which coffee maker should you be using?
French Press vs Keurig: The Facts
We’re going to examine the evidence, analyze aspects like expense, environmental impact, convenience and that all-important flavor, and draw some hardcore conclusions.
It’s not hard to guess which machine is cheaper.
Keurigs are electronic appliances with multiple working parts that start at around $60. French presses are simple jugs made of plastic and glass, or metal, with a basic filtered press attached to the lid. You can pick a perfectly reliable model for around $12 (you can come by some gorgeous lookers if you’re willing to cough up a little more).
The coffee used in a French press is cheaper, too.
A bag of coffee grounds can work out to around half the price per serving of the K-cups the Keurig uses. The price per cup of French press coffee can drop even further if you buy beans and churn out fresh grounds every day (something we recommend).
K-cups are becoming increasingly infamous over the amount of foil and plastic they are contributing to landfills… because 95% of K-cups can’t be recycled. Let’s get real here, friends… loads of coffee drinkers drinking loads of Keurig coffee = crazy tons of un-recyclable K-cup waste. In fact, we’re talking over a million kilometers’ worth of K-cups if they were placed side by side… by as far back as 2014.
Happily, the newest K-cups are mostly recyclable. You still have to pick though each (dirty) cup and separate the materials into your bins. Here’s how.
Keurig machines themselves can also be recycled… but definitely not into your household waste system. You’ll have to drop them off at the nearest e-waste center.
French presses, on the other hand, are highly recyclable. In fact, this French press is 75% recycled materials. And if your French press breaks, you can drop it into the recycling bin – or recycle it yourself. You can recycle your beans or grounds packaging, too, if you buy your coffee in tins, plastic containers, or paper bags.
Easy use is a big deal when it comes to everyday coffee brewing. After all, coffee is the elixir of the exhausted, over-worked, and temporarily world-weary. There are a few aspects to consider in the convenience department, so we’re going to list each one.
Storage or Counter Space
The average Keurig, as an appliance, is a lot larger than milk-jug-sized French presses. Even the tiniest Keurigs have a larger countertop footprint than a French press… plus they have a cord, and need to be handled and stored with care.
On the other hand, you’ll need a kettle if you’re going to use a French press. So while you can use a kettle for a ton of uses besides coffee making, storage and countertop space for a French press is not as minimal as the jug itself.
Ease and Number of Steps
Assuming that your Keurig is plugged in and stocked up with water, making a cup of coffee can essentially be broken down into 4 super simple steps.
- Take out a pod.
- Slot it into the machine.
- Take out and position your mug.
- Press the appropriate button.
The French press takes a few more steps at 7.
- Switch on the kettle.
- Take out coffee, press and spoon (I like to keep a small tablespoon in my bag of grounds.)
- Measure out coffee into the press.
- Pour in boiling water.
- Press the coffee.
And you can make it eight if, like me, you prefer to preheat your French press.
A Keurig takes around 2-3 minutes to heat up and spout out your coffee. After the hot water is in your French press, you’ll need to wait 4-6 minutes to pour out your brew.
However, this begs the question… is brewing your coffee really a process that ought to be rushed?
You may wait longer and execute several more steps when using a French press. But you may also be whipping up that delicious brew for up to eight people (the size of an average French press has a 34 ounce capacity – apparently enough to serve over half a dozen people.) Most Keurigs offer single servings, so you’d have to repeat the process for every cup. And if you’re a roomful of people and you all want to drink together… like have a coffee toast, or something (why is that not a thing)… well, it gets complicated.
You don’t have to clean a Keurig after every use. However, you will have to descale it eventually, and change that icky filter.
Cleaning a French press is as simple as emptying the grounds and swishing a bit of warm, soapy water around the parts. You don’t even need to wash it after every use. You also won’t have to worry about wetting any temperamental electronics.
Being able to offer the most delectable end result, the best quality cuppa, is the trump card in the game of Keurig vs. French press. Because this really is where the stakes are highest. And here’s a spoiler: there’s a clear winner.
The Keurig falls short in several ways when during the brewing process. Firstly, the water it spouts out is lower than optimal coffee-making temperature: it tops at 192 degrees Fahrenheit, while the best cups of Joe are produced between 195 and 205 degrees. Secondly, one of its biggest selling points – fast coffee – is also kind of its downfall: the grounds have too little contact with the hot water to really bring out the best in terms of flavor and health benefits. And the same sized pod is used for every serving size, so you can’t use your favorite giant mug and expect a really decent cuppa. Keurigs are known to produce a weak, watery and light drink… which is letting the world’s favorite beverage down.
With the French press, you’ll be using a kettle to heat your water. Many electric kettles produce water that’s up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and stovetop kettles go even hotter. And you can decide how long you want to brew your coffee for. You can even leave it overnight. The resulting flavor is pristine: it’s like you can taste each fragrant molecule of coffee.
One flavor bonus of the Keurig is the crazy assortment of flavor options available. While these aren’t your traditional cup of coffee, they can help to balance out the watery flavor of a Keurig brew. There are some truly superb flavored gourmet grounds on the market… they’re just not as varied or exciting, in general, as the K-cup flavors.
But who needs bacon-banana-salted-peanut-butter coffee when your ordinary cup is mind-blowingly delicious… am I right?
French Press vs Keurig: We Hope There’s No Doubt Left in Your Mind
If you don’t own a French press yet… man, you just gotta. Next time you’re browsing for a fast and convenient coffee making contraption, save your pocket a world of pain and opt for a French press.