Java Joyride

Best Coffee Maker for Students? Aeropress vs. French Press

University life can get hectic. Your dorm room is like a Tetris game of textbooks, street signs, and other relics, your budget is tighter than Luke Skywalker’s margin of error when he needed to destroy the Death Star, and your timetable is a mess of coloured block trying to fit your back-to-back classes, last-minute cram sessions, and limited opportunity for social interaction into a day that never seems to have enough hours. Through all this chaos, however, we all find time to sit down and enjoy a glorious cup of coffee (or incinerate our mouths while chugging it on our walk/jogs to class).

For the keeners who want to take a few extra minutes to brew a better cup of coffee, I’ll be comparing two coffee makers that, in my eyes, are best suited to the time, space, and budget constraints students are faced with. I’m comparing the two based on seven factors: brew time, capacity, cost, coffee quality, versatility, and, as a bonus, environmental impact to see which coffee maker is best for students.

Ultimately, the “best” coffee maker comes down to personal preference. Both coffee makers are immersion-style brewers that produce drastically different coffee – something I’ll get into later. Having used both of these brewers, I’ve found them both to be very beginner-friendly and they can both produce fantastic results based on how you use them. As a bonus, they are both affordable and can fit in small spaces – perfect for student living.

Brew Time

Winner: Aeropress

Aeropress

Credit: Detour Coffee

Brew Time: <2 Minutes

The Aeropress is FAST. While its brew methods tend to require a bit more attention than a french press, you can make a cup of coffee in almost half the time – perfect when you start making coffee at 8:29 am before your 8:30 am lecture. 

Here’s a very simple Aeropress recipe from Detour Coffee.

French Press

Credit: Majesty Coffee

Brew Time: 4 Minutes

The French Press may take slightly longer, but its mostly a “set it and forget it” brew – perfect if you want to get your ducks in order while your coffee steeps. The French press really doesn’t need to be micromanaged.

Here’s a very simple French Press recipe from Detour Coffee.

Capacity

Winner: French Press

Aeropress

Credit: bikepacking.com

Capacity: 8oz, 10oz, 20oz

The first iteration of the Aeropress had a capacity of 10oz. While it was a huge commercial success, many enthusiasts complained about the brewer not being big enough to make more than a single cup of coffee at a time (which was why the inventor created it in the first place, read more). AeroPress inc responded to these complaints by releasing the Aeropress Go, an even smaller Aeropress that could only hold 8oz. More recently, Aeropress was bought out by Tiny Capital that has finally addressed this issue by releasing the Aeropress XL, doubling the original’s capacity. 

French Press

Credit: Chef's Paradise

Capacity: 12oz, 15oz, 34oz, 51oz

Unlike the Aeropress, the French Press is a product as opposed to a brand. Therefore, while there are some standard sizes for french presses (outlined above), sizes will vary from brand to brand and if you look hard enough, I’m sure you can find one off production runs of unconventional sizes. Because of the wider range of sizes available, french press takes the crown on capacity.

Cost

Winner: French Press

Aeropress

Cost of original size: CA$49

French Press

Cost of Bodum 12oz: CA$33

In terms of affordability, it’s hard to top the french press. $33 is the retail price on Bodum’s website, but they currently have it on sale for 40% off. If you’re willing to look around, you can easily find better prices.

Coffee Quality

Winner: Aeropress

This one is really just a personal preference, but my personal pick for coffee quality is hands down the Aeropress. The paper filter creates a clean, grit-free cup of coffee. The metal filter in the French Press often leaves behind fines in the coffee which can lead to a gritty final few sips.

Versatility

Winner: Aeropress

The Aeropress is an undisputed winner here in my eyes. The amount of variables within the brewer give you plenty of options to play around with to create your perfect brew. I haven’t even mentioned all the add-on products like the PUCKPUCK or the Prismo that allow you to take your brewer even further. The Aeropress has amassed such a cult following that there’s an entire website dedicated to Aeropress lovers sharing their own unique recipes. Check it out at https://aeroprecipe.com/

Bonus: Environmental Impact

Winner: French Press

I’m not factoring this criteria into the final decision, but I thought I’d have it here for those to whom this is important. Straight out of the box, the French Press doesn’t require any additional paper filters, whereas the Aeropress does. This can easily be fixed by picking up a reusable stainless steel filter for your Aeropress like this one, however, it didn’t feel fair to count this as its an additional purchase.

Winner: Aeropress

If I was dropped on a deserted island today and could only bring one item, it would be my Aeropress – I love it that much. The brewer’s speed, versatility, and quality of end product is hard to match. I’ve used a variety of brewers over the years, but I always come back to my Aeropress. It gotten me through my morning classes, staying up late to study for exams, and I take it with me on every trip I go on. For anyone looking to get into coffee, I can’t recommend this brewer enough.

All the opinions expressed in this article are my own and I am not endorsed by any of the linked companies. These are just (mostly) Canadian suppliers I’ve purchased from over the years and had great experiences with.

 

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