Dennis Bell

Written by Dennis Bell

French press vs Espresso

French Press and espresso have an essential part in the brewing process. Both methods will produce a sharp, dark brew that will become the basis of different coffee-based blends that everyone loves. But their similarities end there. As a real coffee lover and enthusiast, you should know the difference between drip coffee and these methods. Right here, we will give you a run-through of French Press vs Espresso and everything you need to know about the two.

Brewing Coffee with a French Press

Now that you are interested in the pressing machine and how you can make your coffee out of it, you will find a lot of procedures that you can use to create your favorite blend. But right here are some of the best methods in brewing coffee with the best French Press.

If you are looking for the cheapest coffee brewing machine, a French press is the best alternative for you. Most coffee presses products cost less than $30. But the price changes along with the size of the product, which means the more significant the machine, the more it becomes expensive.

The look of the French Press is fundamental that you will never find trouble in using it. The main feature is a piston that goes through the lid and the center of the pot. A French press is a life-saver because of its efficient and straightforward technology. You can brew your delicious cup of coffee without stressing yourself. All you need to prepare is the heated water and your favorite brand of coffee grounds. These are the steps that will help you in producing an espresso coffee to complete your day.

Secura French Press Coffee Maker, Stainless Steel
  • Step # 1: Grind your coffee.

If you want to make two cups of coffee, you will need to prepare four tablespoons of coffee. When grinding your coffee, stick with a coarse grounds to avoid a muddy look with your coffee. Fine grounds of coffee can pass through the piston that is supposed to hold them at the bottom, and that will create a different look and taste of your blend.

  • Step # 2: Boil the water.

This step is the most critical stage of making your espresso coffee. You have to prepare heated water to achieve the best taste of your coffee grounds. Avoid using water that was boiled an hour prior because it cannot do the extraction of the coffee in the right way.

  • Step # 3: Add the grounds of coffee.

In this step, let your coffee ‘bloom’ before you add your desired amount of heated water. To do this, pour a small amount of hot water after putting the ground inside the French Press. After a few seconds, you will get to smell the beautiful aroma of your coffee grounds. You can choose to skip the blooming stage, but your coffee might not achieve its best taste. So, it is better to let your coffee grounds bloom first.

  • Step # 4: Pour the remaining water inside the Press.

Now that you have enjoyed the smell of your coffee, it’s time to pour the remaining heated water into the French Press. Opt to stir the ground gently and mix the coffee with the water.

  • Step # 5: Allow the coffee to steep for a few minutes.

You have to be careful in doing this step because it is a vital part of your coffee. If you fail to follow the right instructions, you end up wasting your time and money. To make a perfect espresso coffee, you have to allow your coffee grounds to steep for 4 minutes. Don’t make it 3 minutes or 5 minutes – it should be 4 minutes to avoid extracting a different taste of the grounds.

  • Step # 6: Pressing the piston.

Do the pressing as gently as possible, just like what you did when you were stirring. Never do it in a single motion, and if there is resistance while going down, take the plunger backward, and then you can continue plunging downwards. You need to retract the plunger as soon as you reach the bottom.

Different factors will influence the kind of flavor that you will get in using French press brewing process:

  • the type of coffee
  • the ratio of water to the coffee as you put into the carafe
  • the coarseness of the coffee grounds that you will use

Important tip: After all the steps, you must pour the espresso into a different cup right away to avoid a bitter taste. Now, you are ready to taste the first espresso you made with a French press.

Taking Espresso at a Cafe

A cafe is an excellent alternative if you are tired of making your espresso at home, but you need a kick for your body and mind. Most baristas in a cafe know how to make an espresso perfectly. With their espresso machines under 500$, they can prepare a shot in very minimal time. You don’t have to stress yourself with all the preparation and simply sit and wait for your favorite coffee to be served.

  • 1. French Press is simple, while espresso is complex.

Talking about the process of coffee brewing, the French Press is more simple than the espresso. While the French Press coffee  has only six steps, which include grinding your coffee and combining it with heated water, espresso will require you a few more steps while using it, making the process more complicated. But if you can establish a routine while using any of these machines, you will save some time and will taste your coffee sooner.

  • 2. Maintenance also matters.

The maintenance of the machine also contributes to its complexity. With espresso, you will need to clean every part of the machine and keep these parts in a calibrated temperature and pressure. If you failed to do the maintenance properly, your machine might fail to produce quality coffee. On the other hand, a French press coffee maker is effortless to clean, and you don’t have to worry about calibration.

  • 3. The time of preparation is faster with French Press than espresso.

In a typical setup, making  a cup of French Press coffee will take around 6 to 8 minutes, including the 4 minutes steeping time of the grounds. With an espresso, 20 to 30 seconds is enough to take a shot. Yet, you have to consider the pre-heating time of the machine, which will take around 15 to 20 minutes. Freshly ground beans, if you choose to use the machine, so that will also be part of your preparation time. You will need to spend more time to prepare your brew when you are using an espresso maker than when you are using the French Press coffee maker.

Timing is the main reason why the French machine is commonly used in parties and social gatherings. This machine can produce a volume of coffee blends, and many people can enjoy it without waiting too long.

  • 4. You will need a different kind of grounded coffee.

Using the French Press coffee maker will require you to use a medium-coarse ground coffee so that it will not pass through the piston, and it will make a muddy look for your coffee. But it is the opposite when it comes to espresso. With this machine, you will need a finely ground coffee to create the best shot of coffee for you or your guests. The brewed blend of espresso will give you a more bitter taste than the French Press coffee one, so prepare yourself.

  • 5. The French Press coffee is way cheaper than the espresso machine.

If you are considering your budget in deciding which machine to buy, then you have to know the cost of both products. As we have mentioned above, the French Press coffee maker is less expensive. With the price range of $15 to $30, you can get yourself a decent French press coffee machine that you can use at home or anywhere you wanted. But you have to remember that the price of French machine changes with the size. So, if you are planning to buy a bigger one, you should expect to pay for a higher price.

Compared to the price of the French Press coffee maker, espresso is more expensive, and it has a high end and low end. You can get a low-end one at a cost of $50 or even less. And if you go for a high end one, you might need to spend around $500. The kind of brewing method varies with the quality of the machine. With the smaller espresso, there is a big chance that you will end up with a poorer cup of coffee because you cannot adjust the temperature and water pressure while brewing. On the other hand, a high-end espresso machine can give you many options, and it will grind the coffee beans right away. You don’t have to do anything because it will automatically do its purpose.

  • 6. The French Press is more convenient when traveling.

If you are someone who loves and enjoys to travel or do outdoor activities like hiking, then you will love the portability of the French Press. It can easily fit inside a backpack, and you can use it whenever you want. But you have to be careful with packing your French Press since its cylinder is made of glass. 

On the contrary, you can bring your espresso machine while traveling, but it will never be feasible for those who want to hike. If you have a bigger machine, you will need a bigger space for it as well.

Can you Use a French Press to Make Espresso?

Yes! You can make your espresso with a French press. If you want to achieve a similar taste and consistency when you are using an espresso machine, then you have to read, understand, and follow these steps:

  • Step # 1 - Prepare your ingredients.

Gather all the necessary ingredients and tools that you will need with brewing, including:

  • the French press machine
  • the freshly and finely ground coffee beans
  • the measuring spoon
  • the stirring stick
  • the heated water
  • Step # 2 - It's time to heat the water.

You can use an automatic heater when making the hot water for your espresso. But it is more recommended that you use a safe stovetop kettle to do it. As soon as your water starts to get warm, swirl some hot water inside the glass container of your French Press, to make sure the glass does not crack from the sudden change of temperature when you add the boiling water.

  • Step # 3 - The challenge of grinding your beans.

The quality and size of your ground coffee will play a huge factor in achieving a blend that is similar to an espresso. When you choose to buy a ground beans, you have to find for an espresso grind in the market. But if you decide to grind your coffee, here are the tips that you need to know:

  • Though you chose to grind your coffee, you still need to find an espresso type coffee. 
  • Find a grinder that will give you an espresso grind. 
  • The ground coffee for an espresso is very fine. But this might be a problem since you will be using a French press. Choose a coarse to medium ground coffee to avoid the grounds from passing through the filter and mixing with the heated water. Be careful when grinding because it can affect the final taste of your espresso.
  • Step # 4 - Start adding the coffee grounds into the Press.

You may find this part tricky because of the size difference of the French Press and espresso machine. When you are using an espresso machine, you often use 16 t0 21 grams of grounds in every cup of water. Because the French Press is larger, you can double the proportions of the coffee grounds and hot water. You will end up having espresso leftovers, but that is not a big issue anyway.

  • Step # 5 - Add the hot water over the grounds.

Now that you put the coffee grounds in the Press, you can add the heated water as well. Start with a small portion of the water, and after a few seconds, pour the remainder of the two cups of water. Some things to remember is your water’s temperature must not exceed the 20-degree Fahrenheit. To get the ideal espresso, stay with the 195 degrees Fahrenheit heat level.

  • Step # 6 - Give your brew a quick stir.

After adding the grounds and hot water into your French Press, you must stir your brew quickly using a spoon with a long handle to avoid clumping. Doing this will also add a pleasant frothy consistency. Push the filter assembly downward until it rests on the water. But it’s not yet time to plunge down your filter. Wait for your coffee to steep first.

  • Step # 7 - Let your coffee steep.

The ideal time for steeping your brew is around 3-4 minutes. If you wait a little longer, it can create a darker and stronger coffee. But doing this does not mean that you are guaranteed to produce an espresso-like taste. You are doing an experiment when you are steeping. The steep time will control the extraction of the coffee. If you steep too soon, your coffee will taste sour. If you steep too long, the coffee will taste bitter. So trust your judgment in making the best espresso at home.

  • Step # 8 - Press down your brew.

The next thing that you need to do is hold the lid and steady it, and then slowly press the plunger down in a steady manner. Some people experiment in this part as well. If you want to create a thin layer of foam, bring it up and then plunge it down.

  • Step # 9 - Before pouring into your cup, let the coffee sit for a while.

Don’t get too excited about your espresso blend. You have to let it sit for a while before you pour it into your favorite cup. When doing this, you can use a coffee filter or a clean cloth to filter some very fine sediment of your brewed coffee. Avoid using paper filters because they can change the taste of the espresso.

There you go. Now, you are ready to enjoy a shot of espresso at home by using your French press machine.

Both the French Press and espresso are great machines to use in making your favorite coffee. When you are tight on budget but still wish to have one of these products at home, you have your options from the market. Just be precise with what you want with your coffee, and from there, you can decide which is better between French press VS espresso.

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