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To Press or To Pour? That is the Question!

When it comes to preparing that first cup of coffee in the morning, most coffee lovers have a preferred method that fits their lifestyle and personal taste. Lately, manual coffee brewing is going through a renaissance, finding new popularity as students, at-home professionals, and traditionalists enjoy coffee preparation as an art, in addition to being a less expensive and more ecologically friendly option compared to current machinery on the market.

The two most popular types of manual brewing involve the pour-over and the French press. Both methods have their merits and disadvantages, and in the end, it comes down to personal taste and preference. 

Preliminary Preparation 

For pour-over and French press, it is essential to use clean, fresh drinking water, filtered if necessary, and an excellent quality coffee bean, like Hawaii's Kona Gold. Water should be heated to between one hundred and ninety-five to two hundred and five degrees, just before the boil.

Invest in a decent coffee grinder to ensure that grounds are as uniform as possible and that 'fines,' or tiny bits, are avoided. These fines can release an unwanted bitterness to the brew. 

The Pour-Over Method

The pour-over method requires using a filter and filter holder, usually cone-shaped. Ground coffee beans ground to a consistency of coarse sugar are added, and hot water is then poured over the coffee grounds to saturate them. This slow, gentle process repeats in stages until ready. 

Pour-Over Pros and Cons

Pour-over can take trial and error to get the perfect blend of water, coffee grounds, and ground coarseness. It is easy and inexpensive, without any residual grit. The resulting coffee can suffer from less intense flavor until perfecting the magic mix. Cleanup is fast and easy, and storage is minimal.

The French Press

The French press is both brewer and pitcher in one, comprising three parts, including the cylindrical-shaped carafe, topped by a plunger containing stainless steel or a similar-type filter. It is simple to set up and use.

Unlike the pour over method, coffee grounds are added directly to the carafe. Hot water is then added, and the plunger with an attached filter is placed on top like a lid. The mixture of water and grounds is steeped for as long as the maker prefers and then plunged. The plunger mechanism separates the coffee from the grounds for pouring.

French Press Pros and Cons

The press method produces a much richer tasting coffee as the oils drawn from the grounds are allowed to steep. Grind size is entirely up to the maker. The press comes in various sizes and is relatively easy to clean. 

Since the French press lacks a paper filter, there is a potential for grit. In 2020,  Food Research International did a study involving unfiltered coffee focusing on diterpenes found in bean oil, linked to increased cholesterol that can increase the risk of heart disease. As with all things, moderation is key and relies on an excellent press that ensures proper filtration.

Trying to decide which manual method, the pour-over or the French press, is ultimately dependent on how you enjoy the taste of your coffee. Both can provide a great brew, and starting with a high-quality bean like Kona Gold is your first step to making that ultimate cup of coffee.