Moka Pot vs French Press: What Are the Differences and Which One Is the Right Option for You?

When you consider the value of a single cup of coffee, it’s quite clear to see why so many people invest in a high-quality machine. When it comes to choosing the type of manual coffee maker, there are two classic options: the Moka Pot and the French Press. Each method has a certain set of features that swear by aesthetic qualities and simplicity. However, with such different methods, which coffee style would suit your lifestyle? Down below, we’ll break down the 8 differences between Moka Pot and French Press which will help you make a much more informed decision.

Moka pots require a heat source and a careful watch while a French Press does not require these. Moka pot coffee tastes more like espresso while French press brewed coffee tastes like regular coffee and is more watery. A french press is also more portable than a Moka pot since it is compact and does not require a heat source.

About a Moka Pot

Moka pots are an essential part of Italian coffee culture. They’re versatile, practical, and easy to use. The word Moka comes from the Bambara language (spoken in Mali), and means “a place where desire is fulfilled”. We will be discussing the ceramic-lined Moka pot here as it is the most common type.

Moka pots were invented in the early 19th century by Alfonso Bialetti. His wife was having trouble brewing coffee using a stove-top espresso maker and so he tried to resolve the problem. Originally called a ‘manual espresso maker’, Bialetti patented his invention in 1933.

Parts of a Moka Pot

Moka Pots have a few parts that need to be assembled securely before you begin to brew your coffee:

  1. The Boiler: It is where the water boils.
  2. Filter basket: It holds coffee grounds on top of the boiler.
  3. Gasket: It is a silicone ring used to seal in the pressure and water.
  4. Filter lid: It keeps the coffee grounds from mixing in the water.
  5. The Collector: It is the topmost part of the pot inside which coffee is collected through the nozzle situated in the middle of it.
Stainless steel Moka pot in hand

About a French Press

The French Press coffee machine was invented by two Frenchmen, Henri Otto Mayer, and Jacques Victor Delforge, in 1852. However, the model we use today came from the patent by Italians Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. The French press is still very popular today because of its ease of use and its cheap price compared to other brewing methods. However, it does require some skill to make a good cup of coffee using this method.

Parts of a French Press

French Press coffee machines consist of four simple pieces that help create your choice of brew.

  1. Carafe: It is the main body of a French Press and is usually cylindrical. It is available in glass, plastic, and metal finishes. There is also a spout and a handle molded in the carafe.
  2. Plunger: It is the rod attached to the lid, all the way down to a filter, which allows you to strain either your coffee grounds or tea leaves.
  3. Filter Screen: This is a mesh metal screen through which the brew passes to strain the ground and leaves before being poured into a mug.
  4. Structure Disc: It is the metal plate that is connected to the bottom of the plunger while keeping the filter screen in place.
French Press with brewed coffee in it

French Press vs Moka Pot Differences

Now that we have taken a brief look at the history of a Moka Pot and a French Press and the parts which come together to assemble the machines respectively, let’s go through the differences between a French Press and a Moka Pot.  The two methods are different in terms of their mechanism, the materials involved, and the kind of coffee they produce. In total, we have summarized the 8 major differences between a Moka Pot and a French Press.

Brewing Method

While comparing the ease of use between a Moka Pot and a French Press, Moka Pot coffee requires a watchful eye because if you let the coffee steep for too long, you will end up with a bitter-tasting drink (unless that’s your preference). If, however, you pour the coffee too soon you might have a thin, watery coffee. The brewing time for Moka Pot might be anywhere from 8 minutes to 10 minutes depending on whether you prepare the coffee grounds beforehand.

On the other hand, if you are using a French Press, you can easily time how long to steep and then pressurize the coffee grounds. It also requires less skill once you figure out the amount of coffee grounds to the volume of water according to your taste. However, since you cannot prepare anything ahead of time, the brewing time might take 10 minutes to 15 minutes.

Taste

Moka Pots are also known as stovetop espresso makers because they tend to create a thick, strong, and bitter-tasting coffee. Due to this reason, additional milk or water is necessary to make it potable. Recipes that use Moka Pot include a lot more sugar than usual coffee beverages as well as a range of ingredients to infuse the taste.

French Press coffees taste a lot more flavorful and can be consumed black. However, as it is not as syrupy as Moka Pot coffee, you will not be able to try out espresso-based recipes such as Latte, Americano, and Cortado.

café latte photo

Sensory Experience

Another noticeable difference between French Press and Moka Pot is that since it hails from a French background, French Press machines tend to be visually chic.

While Moka Pots may look plain with their octagon body, they provide the consumers with an auditory experience. Moka Pot emits a whistling sound when the coffee grounds are steeped and the coffee is ready to be poured into the collecting chamber.

Build Material

Moka Pots are mainly available in aluminum and stainless-steel finishes. This, in turn, makes them a more durable and long-lasting addition to your household.

French Press coffee machines come in a range of finishes such as glass, plastic, and stainless steel. However, for the sake of aesthetics, many people tend to choose glass which in turn makes them prone to breakage and in need of careful handling.

Coffee Serving

When making coffee using a Moka Pot, you have to make the amount it holds. This means that if it is a three-cup serving pot, you will not be able to brew a single serving.

Although, in a French Press, you can easily reduce or increase the number of coffee servings depending on the machine size. This means that if you have a six-serving French Press machine, you will still be able to make a delicious single cup of coffee.

Portability

Since a Moka Pot requires a stovetop to evenly and constantly boil the water to steep the coffee grounds, it isn’t the most travel-friendly option for coffee enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, a French Press can be easily taken along with you on journeys so that your routine of waking up with a homemade coffee continues. Here is a list of travel-friendly options that can easily be portable, whether you are flying off somewhere or even camping.

Ease of Cleaning

To maintain hygiene and have the freshest tasting coffee, cleaning a French Press vs a Moka Pot is easier since its parts can be detached easily and are dishwashing machine safe as well.

Moka Pot, however, tends to be more difficult and requires more time in cleaning since it has difficulty reaching spots such as the spout and can be hand-washed only.

A Moka pot with an empty glass cup.

Price

Finally, it all boils down to the price difference between a Moka Pot and a French Press. Moka Pots tend to be more affordable since they are mainly available in aluminum finishes. This is also a bang for your buck when considering the durability factor. On the other hand, a French Press can be an expensive purchase depending on which finish you choose and the serving amount size.

Now, just to make the pot a bit sweeter (pun intended!) Bialetti Moka Pots are considered to be the first and foremost choice mainly because it is named after Alfonso Bialetti himself. 

For the French Press coffee machines, after extensive research, we have found that like Bialetti, Bodum is well known for its range of premium French Presses. However, for a few different options, we would like to suggest this article by the New York Times which includes everything from a budget-friendly option to a luxurious one and everything in between.

Suggested Reading – Kopi Luwak Coffee Recipe, Benefits, and Drawbacks.

Differences Between a Moka Pot and a French Press
FactorsFrench PressMoka Pot
Brewing MethodEasy to LearnRequires time to learn
Time10-15 mins8-10 mins
TasteLight and FlavorfulThick and Strong
Sensory ExperienceVisually pleasingAuditory Experience
Build MaterialGlass, Plastic, Aluminum, and Stainless SteelAluminum and Stainless steel only
DurabilityNoYes
Coffee ServingFlexible servingCan only make the size of the pot
PortabilityTravel friendlyNot Travel friendly
Ease of CleaningYesNo
PriceExpensiveAffordable

Conclusion

The Moka pot and the French press are two different ways of brewing coffee. If you are looking to compare the two, this is a simple guide for you. As you can see, there are a few differences between the two coffee makers. The French Press uses a plunger to filter the grounds while the Moka Pot has an inbuilt filter, each with its pros and cons. But ultimately, it’s up to consumers to decide which style of coffee they want to start their day with and what brewing machine they would prefer.

Related – How To Use Coffee Capsules Without Machine? 4 Tested Ways

Bilal Ahmad

Bilal Ahmad

A coffee enthusiast on his way to exploring more about coffee while helping others solve all their Coffee Queries!