Is A French press A Cheap Way To Make Coffee? Methods Compared


We all like good coffee but sometimes you have to save money. Your daily cup is an easy target to save a bit of cash every day. Is a French press a good way to brew coffee without costing too much?

A French press is a cheap way to brew good coffee. The necessary equipment doesn’t cost much and lasts long. A French press needs a bit more coffee grounds than drip coffee but this is offset by the fact that a French press has a reusable metal filter while a drip coffee maker uses paper filters.

If you’re wondering how the most popular brewing methods stack up to a French press, keep reading down below.

What makes a French press cheap to make coffee?

Let’s see why a French press is an affordable way to make coffee. There are a few factors that decide how much a cup of coffee costs and they vary a little bit between brewing methods. Let’s go over what it costs to make a cup of coffee in a French press and then compare it to other brewing methods.

What you need

Let’s put all the costs together to see what brewing coffee in a French press will cost you and compare it to other brewing methods.

  • French press: A good French press costs $25 to $35. Click here for more information on French press pricing.
  • Grinder: You need a coarser grind for a French press than other methods. That means pre-ground coffee is usually not suitable and you’ll either want to get your own grinder or get your coffee ground at a local coffee shop. Having your own grinder is better since you can do it fresh every day. You can buy a decent hand grinder for $40.
  • Coffee: The previous two things will last for a long time. Over time their costs will average out to very little per day. The coffee grounds you use are going to be a bigger component of the price of your cup of coffee.  Let’s take a little deeper look at the approximate cost of coffee grounds.

Amount of coffee in French press

You can brew coffee with different amounts of grounds to change the strength. So how much grounds you use per cup of coffee can change. However, that’s also the case with other types of brewing so let’s take the average ratio for a French press and for the other brewing methods so we can compare.

For a French press, a ratio of grounds to water of about 1:15 is what most people enjoy. That means for a 340 ml/12oz serving, you use 22.6 grams of coffee grounds.

Suggested: Why is my French Press coffee bitter?

How much that costs really depends on which coffee you use and where you buy it so just putting an average cost here isn’t all that useful. It’s better to compare it to other brewing methods and see how much they use for an average serving size.

Espresso

Making espresso at home is a pretty expensive way of making coffee. A decent espresso machine costs quite a bit of money, you’ll need a higher grade coffee grinder to get the grind size right and it takes quite a bit of practice and skill to get a really good espresso.

If you’ve already got the equipment, you want to use it of course but for comparisons sake let’s see how much coffee grounds go into a typical serving of espresso compared to a French press and drip coffee.

Espresso isn’t served in 12oz. mugs because it’s much stronger and concentrated than the other types. Espresso is usually served in 60ml servings. For a that the ratio of coffee for an espresso is usually 1:2. That means you use a whopping 30 grams of coffee grounds for one 60 ml serving of espresso.

Suggested: Does a moka pot make espresso?

So it’s clear that a normal serving of espresso is more expensive to brew than a normal serving of French press or drip coffee.

Drip coffee

The most common way of making coffee is drip coffee. How does it compare to espresso and a French press?

Most people use a little less coffee grounds for drip coffee than for a French press. Most people use about 60 grams per liter/ 20 grams per 333 ml. That means 20.4 grams for a 340 ml/12oz serving. This is a little bit less than the average in a French press but the difference isn’t that big.

22.6 grams in a French press compared to 20.4 grams for drip means a difference of 2.2 grams per serving. At one cup a day that’s a difference of 783 grams/27.6 oz. per year. It’s a difference but not a huge one.

Also, take into account with a drip method you’ll have to take the paper filters into account. A 32 oz. bag of decent (not specialty) coffee will cost about the same as one paper filter a day for a year. Both are about $16 so even if without taking the filters into account, the difference is quite small.

So in the end, the price difference per cup for a French press compared to drip coffee is pretty much non-existent.

Is Brewing in a French press expensive?

On average, brewing coffee in a French press uses a bit more coffee grounds than using a drip method although it’s not a huge difference. For a drip brewer you have to take the paper filter into account while a French press uses a reusable metal screen. So in the end, the difference in cost between making drip coffee and filter coffee is very minimal.

That doesn’t include the cost to buy the equipment though. That’s because while French presses are pretty close in price, for drip coffee there can be huge differences.

A single serving drip brewer like a V60 is cheaper than the average French press. However, if you look at drip machines, prices vary wildly.

Both a French press and V60 will last you for a long time. (And most automatic coffee makers will last quite a few years as well) So in the end the cost of the coffee you put into them is going to be a much bigger part of the cost of your cup of coffee.

When taking equipment out of the equation, French press and drip coffee really don’t differ much in cost so it comes down to personal preference. Use what you like best. That more enjoyable cup of coffee is surely worth the $0.01 cent difference a day.

Favorite French Press Brewing Tools

Here are some things that help you brew better coffee:

  • French press: This beautiful stainless steel Meuller French press (Amazon) is high quality yet affordable and the double filtration system means less sediment in your cup.
  • Grinder: Fresh beans have to be ground. A hand grinder like the Hario Slim (Amazon) is affordable yet effective hand grinder that will improve your cold brew.
  • Scale: The amount of grounds you use makes a big impact on what your cold brew tastes like. A simple set of scales will makes your brews more consistent. I’ve been using this one (Amazon) for over a year with great success. Not the most aesthetic but effective.

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