French press

French Press vs Espresso - Which One Suits You?

John Nygren

Are you tired of the same old coffee routine? Do you find yourself yearning for a change in your morning brew?

It was also the case with me. Until I figured out my two favorite brewing methods, French Press and Espresso.

I have been making French Press coffee and espresso as a barista for almost ten years now.

Thus based on my experience, I will talk about the most important aspects of these two methods here and help you make an informed decision from these two methods.

So keep reading to find out more.

A Quick Overview

1) Beans

French Press uses medium and dark roast beans. On the other side, espresso uses medium to medium dark roasted beans.

2) Grind

French Press makes use of the coarser ground beans. While espresso yields the best coffee using finely ground beans.

3) Brewing time

French press takes almost 3-5 minutes depending on the grind While espresso is quick enough and just takes 2 minutes for a perfect shot.

4) Taste

When it comes to taste, French Press is rich and aromatic while espresso is strong, concentrated, and bold in taste.

5) Strength

The strength of the French press is medium to light. On the other side, espresso is strong enough.

6) Portability

French Press is very portable which makes it a top-notch choice. While espresso is not very portable.

7) Caffeine

French Press has 13.4 mg of caffeine per ounce. While espresso has just 64 mg per ounce.

8) Ease of use

French press is easy to use which makes it user-friendly. In contrast, espresso has a little learning curve and requires certain practice.

9) Price

French Press is comparatively budget-friendly. While espresso is very expensive, so people with low budgets can't afford it.

10) Best for

French press is perfect for those who like an enjoyable, easy cup of coffee. While espresso is for those who want to put in a bit more effort for a more customizable and intense coffee experience.

Read: Benefits of using French Press to Brew Coffee

French Press vs Espresso - The Comparison

French Press - Easy & Delicious

The French Press is also known as a press pot or plunger pot. It is a classic and straightforward coffee brewing method. It involves steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in hot water which results in a full-bodied, flavorful cup.

Here are some key aspects of French Press coffee:

1) Beans

For the French Press, you must use medium to coarse ground beans. The coarser the grind, the longer you need to steep the coffee.

The beans can be medium to dark roast depending on your taste. If you are planning to add milk to your coffee, go for a darker roast since that will complement the deeper flavor of the dark roast.

2) Brewing process

In a French press, coffee grounds are mixed with hot water and left to steep for a few minutes. The coarser the grind, the longer you must let it sit. Between 3 and 5 minutes works well here.

After steeping, you must press down it with a metal or plastic plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid.

Your water temperature must be somewhere between boiling hot and warm. A tip is to boil your water and let it cool down for about 30-60 seconds before steeping your coffee.

3) Coffee flavor

French press coffee tends to be rich, full-bodied, and slightly gritty due to the presence of coffee grounds.

It captures the full range of flavors and aromas, which makes it a favorite among those who appreciate a robust cup.

Some people complain about the bitter or acidic taste of French Press coffee. This is due to over-extraction that happens when you steep your grind for too long.

To avoid this keep an eye on the time you let the coffee sit. Try starting at a shorter time of about 3 minutes and work yourself up from there.

4) Flexibility

With a French press, you have more control over the brewing time and can adjust it to your taste. Longer steeping times result in a stronger brew, but as mentioned avoid letting the coffee get over-extracted.

You are also quite flexible when it comes to grind size. Based on your taste preference you can use anything between a medium to a very coarse grind as long as you adjust the process.

You can even use your French Press to make a flavorful cold brew by putting it in the fridge overnight.

5) Portability

A sometimes overlooked aspect of the French press which I think is very important is how easy it is to travel with.

Whether you are an avid camper or just want a coffee maker in your office the French Press makes it super easy.

As long as you have access to boiling water you can make a cup of coffee anywhere!

6) Ease of use

The ease of use of the French Press is unmatched, you just add your coffee grind into the jar and pour boiled water over it. (a very simple explanation of course)

This makes it a great introduction to coffee making for a lot of people.

7) Affordability

In the world of affordable coffee makers (under 50 US dollars) the French Press delivers great coffee.

Whilst a decent espresso machine starts somewhere between 100-200 dollars you can get away with a decent French Press for as low as 20 bucks.

Espresso - The power shot

Espresso is a concentrated coffee brewed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans.

This method is known for its bold and intense flavor profile.

Let's explore some key aspects of espresso:

1) Beans

For espresso, you need very finely ground beans. Because the water passes through the grind very fast in espresso you need a fine grind to ensure good extraction.

According to Italian tradition, the beans should be medium or medium dark. The dark roast has also become popular lately for those who enjoy a slightly more bitter taste.

Read more: Best coffee beans for espresso

2) Brewing process

Espresso machines force hot water through finely-ground coffee beans at high pressure.

The process is quick and results in a small, potent shot of coffee.

Unless you go for a fully automatic espresso machine, there is somewhat of a learning curve to the espresso-making process.

I remember struggling a bit with that in the beginning.

The upside to this is that once you get the hang of it you can easily customize both the beans and the process to fit your needs and tastes.

(A side note is that no coffee maker delivers the same feeling as using a high-end espresso machine)

3) Coffee flavor

Espresso is known for its bold and intense flavor, often described as nutty, caramel-like, or even slightly bitter.

To be honest, though the flavor profile comes down to the choice of beans and grind size as well as the person making it.

But there is no getting around that compared to the French Press, the espresso will have a more intense taste.

4) Flexibility

The flexibility with espresso comes mostly from the choice of roast. As mentioned based on how long you roast the beans the taste will differ greatly.

5) Portability

A traditional espresso requires a traditional espresso machine. Since they tend to be quite heavy the portability of espresso is low.

The exception to this rule would be products like the Wacaco Nanopress although you will have to decide for yourself how useful they are.

6) Coffee recipes

Although you can make coffee drinks with the French Press the espresso is the unchallenged king of coffee drinks.

It's the base for various coffee drinks, like lattes, cappuccinos, and Americanos. So if you enjoy any of the popular coffee drinks then espresso is the way to go!

7) Concentration

Espresso is highly concentrated and contains less water than other brewing methods even the French press. It's served in small, 1-2 ounce servings due to its potent nature.

8) Ease of Use

As mentioned above there is a slight learning curve to making espresso. The upside is that when you know the process it is very simple and requires little clean-up time.

After some experience, you will be able to make an espresso in under 2 min.

9) Affordability

This is where the main downside of the espresso is, the need for more expensive equipment.

As previously mentioned, making a French Press doesn't require any investment at all.

However, for brewing espresso, you need an espresso machine. However, if you are a beginner, you can find a manual espresso machine that will do the job.

I would also recommend getting a grinder when purchasing an espresso machine.

Even though you can buy pre-ground beans you lose some of that customizability.

The downside to this is that the grinder will cost some money.

Final Thoughts

The main difference between French Presses and espresso lies in the brewing method and the final flavor profile.

French press produces a full-bodied and rich coffee, while espresso is a concentrated and intense shot with a thick layer of crema.

That's all for this article. I hope now you can pick the one based on your preferences.

I would say that French Presses are best for people who like strong cups of regular coffee, and espresso is best for espresso-based drinks.

So enough reading, now it's time for you to pick your preferred method and get brewing.


John Nygren

Team TAB
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Hey I'm John, I have been in the game of blending and brewing for many years. I have worked in coffee shops and smoothie bars all over the world and I now run a website called Blendbrewenjoy where I talk about everything related to coffee and smoothi ...