French Press Vs Espresso is an iconic battle between two classic brewing techniques. The principal difference between a French press coffee and a shot of espresso is the brewing method.
An espresso shot produces a distinctive strong concentrated coffee by using very fine and compact coffee grounds and forcing hot water through them under pressure, usually 9 bars (130 PSI) and in around 25 to 30 seconds brewing time, you have a shot of the most famous black coffee in the world.
A French press coffee uses a coarse, even grind and a 4-min to 5-min long steeping extraction process. The result is a full-bodied, more aromatic coffee.
Both produce a great cup of coffee that is very enjoyable. Keep reading as we dig down and detail these two famous coffee brewing methods.
French Press VS Espresso
As a coffee fan, and die hard coffee enthusiast, I have simply one confession to make, in the name of full disclosure – I love both the French press brewing process and the aroma, and taste of freshly-brewed coffee with this technique.
I also love a well-made cup of espresso, typically a double shot, or a doppio as it is known. As a coffee lover it’s a different coffee for different reasons. I aim to be impartial and leave you to decide which you prefer – the objective here in the French Press Vs Espresso comparison is to provide you with the information you need when comparing these two methods and leave you better informed.
The difference between both coffees is really when you use each brewing method and why.
The core difference between both coffees produced is how they are brewed. The French press will take you about 5 mins to produce a rich coffee that is full-bodied and more aromatic. This brewing technique is a very manual method of brewing coffee that gives you full control of all the variables that affect the flavor of your coffee.
With great beans and with good technique, you will make an amazing coffee.
An espresso is a semi-automatic way of brewing a stronger coffee in terms of taste and flavor. It produces a very different coffee that is short, sharp and very versatile, as an espresso shot forms the base for all kinds of coffee like a cappuccino, mocha, macchiato, cortado, flat white, affogato and so on.
If it is a wake-up call that you are looking for, the average espresso shot has less caffeine than a French press coffee – I’ll get in that a little later as there is as “but” thing to deal with.
One thing that is for sure, the two techniques produce two coffee drinks that have different flavor profiles.
Read: Cold Brew Vs Espresso
What Is A French Press?
The French press is my preferred brewing method when I am trying out single origin coffee beans or specialty coffee beans. The ability to control all the factors and variables that influence the flavor of my coffee is what makes a French press stand out.
The extraction technique is the full immersion of your coffee grounds in hot water of 195F to 205F (or 92C To 96C) for between 4 min to 5 mins. I advise taste testing after 3 mins and each minute after that to ensure you get the exact flavor that you want.
Your French press, also known as plunger coffee, is one that you must decant to a thermal container as any excess coffee will continue to extract and overbrew your coffee.
When Is Using A French Press Your Best Option?
If and when you are a regular drinker of espresso or any other coffee drink like a pour over, Chemex, siphon, or drip coffee machine, a French press coffee is a great alternative.
It will produce a strong, bold, cup of coffee that is full of flavor and very enjoyable. It is much better than a regular coffee and a mixed coffee drink with an espresso base.
The entire process of brewing a coffee using the French press will take around 8 to 10 minutes at most and, notably, much longer than a shot of espresso.
If you are looking to brew coffee in a greater quantity, then a French press is a good choice. They come in various sizes, ranging from 12 ounces (360 ml) up to 48 ounces (1.5L).
Prices range from US$20 to US$40 for a good quality one. Price ranges are based on brand and size. A good quality one will last you years. Get the best possible one that you can.
By far, the best reason and the most common reason for getting and using a French press is to get the best taste out of your expensive specialty coffee beans.
What Is An Espresso?
An espresso is a small shot of concentrated, and focused coffee that is brewed by forcing hot water through very finely ground and compact coffee grounds at a pressure of 9 bars (130 PSI). The use of fresh coffee grounds and water pressure produces the thick crema on top of the espresso shot.
The brewing time is typically between 25 seconds to 30 seconds.
Espresso are popular, and easily the most brewed coffee in the world by far. Espresso is the base for many milk-based coffee drinks like an affogato, doppio, lungo, cortado, latte, mocha, macchiato, flat white, cappuccino, and many more.
When Is An Espresso Your Best Option?
A shot of espresso on its own, and its shorter and stronger little brother is a delicious, tasty and highly caffeinated coffee. Due to the strong taste, it can cut through the flavor of milk or cream easily.
Which is why you can still get a good notable coffee taste through the milk in your latte. A well-brewed espresso shot is usually very bold in taste.
You are limited to brewing from one to four shots of espresso at a time with most professional machines and just one or two with most home espresso machines as they usually only have one grouphead which means making espresso base drinks at a dinner party for family and friends can be quite time-consuming.
A home espresso machine is notably much more expensive than a French press. They also need a lot more taking care of and maintenance.
Even though you can use any coffee beans with your espresso machine, if the roast is less than a medium-dark roast, you are not likely to get great results as you will see a reduction in the crema quantity and quality. Also, the lighter flavors will not cut through the creaminess of the milk or crema.
An espresso machine is excellent for your top quality medium and dark roasted coffee beans.
What Type Of Coffee Drink Do You Want To Brew?
The very first thing that you should think about when you are considering buying a French press coffee or an espresso machine is what type of coffee are you likely to brew most often.
If you are more likely to make lattes, cortados, macchiatos, mochas, cappuccinos and, of course, shots of espresso, you are more likely to be better off with an espresso machine.
if you are likely to enjoy, really enjoy, your specialty coffee beans and enjoy a good-sized cup of coffee either with or without milk then a French press is going to be your best choice.
French Press Vs Espresso Caffeine Content
Back to that caffeine question from earlier.
A French press coffee has more caffeine than a single shot of espresso. This is clear when we measure the total amount of caffeine. A shot of espresso has 75 milligrams of caffeine, and a 12 ounce serving of French press coffee has an average of 120 mg to 200 mg.
Clearly the total caffeine amount is greater in a cup of French press coffee.
And here comes that “but”….
On a per ounce (or ml) basis, a single shot of espresso has more caffeine. A single shot of espresso is typically 1 ounce – 75 mg x 12 ounces is a nerve trembling 900 milligrams of caffeine, more than double the 400 mg daily recommended limit.
French Press Vs Espresso Strength
In terms of strength of flavor, this is really a hard one to call as you do get a really good full-bodied coffee with both brewing methods.
I am almost tempted to give this one to the French press as your brew is REALLY good, I mean, really, perfect when you are brewing single origin beans.
But great beans, and well-made espresso edges it,
The strength in terms of caffeine content – see the section above.
French Press Vs Espresso: Brew Time
Some people will make a song and dance about the brew times, but honestly there is not a lot in it. Yes, speed wise it is much quicker to brew an Espresso and an espresso based drink such a latte than you would brew a French press.
A French press will take you between 8 and 10 mins to brew compared to approximately 2 to 3 minutes total preparing time for an espresso.
French Press Espresso – Is It Even Possible?
You can certainly try and, as they say, there is no harm in trying. I’ll warn you in advance – you simply cannot produce the pressure needed to produce a true shot of espresso with a French press.
It is not at all possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About French Press Vs Espresso
What Is So Special About A French Press?
Above all, it brews amazing coffee and gives you full control over all the variables that can influence the flavor of your coffee. A French press is one of the oldest brewing methods and is still very popular for a reason.
The great coffee!
Is French Press Coffee Cheaper?
a French press, which is known by a number of other names such as plunger coffee, press pot and coffee press to name a few, is much cheaper to own than many other coffee brewing techniques. They are considerably cheaper than an espresso machine.
What Kind Of Coffee Goes In A French Press?
The best coffee to use in a French press is good quality single-origin coffee beans of any roast profile. The French press, through the full immersion technique, and full control that you have over all the variables of coffee brewing, gives you complete control of how your coffee will end up.
Some experts will insist that medium and dark roast are better. You can also extract the full flavor from light roasted coffee beans, too.
Is French Press Coffee Like Espresso?
No, French press coffee is very different from espresso. The two brewing methods are different and produce different tasting cups of coffee. An espresso is more intense, stronger and has a heavier mouthfeel.
French press is a great coffee and more enjoyable due to the brewing process and having full control over all the variables and get it exactly as you love it and want it to be.
Why Is French Press Coffee So Much Better?
A French press allows you full control over the variables associated with the brewing process including temperature, brew time, grind size and uses the full immersion technique. The fact that no paper filter is used, and it has its own built-in metal filter means you get all the coffee oils into your final beverage which results in a full-bodied and more flavorsome brew.
Do Baristas Use French Press?
Yes, a French press is a device that you will see in good quality coffee shops as a specific option for coffee lovers. It is genuinely only coffee shops that are owned and run by coffee lovers where coffee aficionados hang out that have French press and other brewing options for their clients.
Is French Press Coffee Weaker Than Espresso?
Yes, the concentration of caffeine in an espresso is much stronger than a French press coffee. An espresso has 75 mg of caffeine in total and per ounce (per 30 ml). While a French press does have more caffeine in total with typically 120 mg per 8 ounce (240 ml) serving which is 15 mg per ounce (15 mg per 30 ml).
Why Do People Love French Press Coffee?
The answer is simple, a French press brews great coffee. Seriously, that is the reason it is so popular! It’s much loved because you have full control over all the variables associated with coffee brewing meaning, with a degree of skill you can predict how your coffee will turn out and make predictably great coffee with a French press.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – French Press Vs Espresso
In the age-old debate of French press vs Espresso, it is not particularly a battle of one or the other if you are able to afford an espresso machine – an extra US$20 or US$40 for a French press is easily affordable.
If you need to pick one, you need to give consideration to which type of coffee you are going to make most often. Master the technique with both machines as you will not be disappointed with the results. Both produce an excellent cup of coffee.
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