French Press vs Espresso Machine: Which Is Best for You?

French Press vs Espresso Machine Which Is Best for You

French press vs espresso machine – which one should you choose?

Both brewing methods have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

It really depends on your preferences as to what kind of coffee drink you want to make.

I’ve had both types of coffee makers and one thing I’ll say is that both methods produce strong, dark, and flavorful coffee.

And that’s the only similarity between the two.

Let’s take a closer look at each brewing method to help you decide which one is best for you.

French Press vs Espresso Machine: Breville Espresso machine on top of a kitchen counter

French Press Brewing Method

The French press is a coffee brewing method that was patented in 1852 by two French inventors, Mayer and Delforge.

It’s also known as a coffee plunger, press pot, coffee press,  cafetière à piston, or caffettiera.

The components of a French press coffee maker include a cylindrical carafe (made of glass, stoneware, stainless steel, or plastic), a filter screen (usually made of mesh or nylon), a plunger with a piston, and a lid.

Two ceramic mugs beside a French press with a black and white background

To brew coffee using a French press, you’ll need coarsely ground coffee beans, hot water, and a teaspoon (for scooping the coffee grounds).

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to make French press coffee:

  1. Add the coffee grounds to the French press.
  2. Pour hot water over the coffee grounds, filling the press about three-quarters full.
  3. Stir the coffee and water.
  4. Place the plunger on top of the press pot, making sure that the rubber seal is touching the water.
  5. Push the plunger down slowly, exerting even pressure.
  6. Pour the coffee into your mug and enjoy!

French press coffee is often described as rich, full-bodied, and flavorful. That’s because the brewing process allows all the natural oils and flavors from the coffee beans to be extracted.

So if you’re looking for a coffee that has a strong taste, then the French press is definitely for you.

A closed book beside a French Press and a white printed coffee mug

French presses only make regular coffee – there’s no such thing as espresso from a French press coffee maker. However, you can customize your coffee by adding milk, sugar, spices, or flavored syrups.

Also, just so you know, coffee made in a Moka pot is sometimes mistakenly called espresso. But it’s not espresso because the brewing process is different.

Since today we’re talking about French press vs espresso machine, please check my other article to learn the difference between Moka coffee and espresso.

So, if you’re looking for a more complex coffee drink like a cappuccino or latte, then you’ll need an espresso machine (more on that later).

The French coffee press brewing method is the best alternative to drip coffee makers, pour-overs, and instant coffee.

It’s also much simpler and less expensive than an espresso machine.

I should also mention that French press coffee machines come in a variety of sizes, so you can make as much or as little coffee as you want.

I’ve even seen portable French press machines that are perfect for making coffee on the go.

Pros of French Press Coffee Makers

  • Easy to use and clean.
  • It’s very affordable. You can find good quality for under $50.
  • Available in a variety of sizes.
  • You can make large batches of coffee at a time.
  • Zero maintenance is required.
  • Makes strong, full-flavored coffee.

Cons of French Press Coffee Makers

  • The coffee grounds can sometimes slip through the filter and end up in your coffee.
  • Only brews one type of coffee – regular coffee.
  • Takes longer to brew coffee than an espresso machine (about 4 minutes).

Espresso Machines

An espresso machine is a coffee brewing device that forces hot water under high pressure (9 bars of pressure) through very finely ground coffee beans.

The result is a small amount of very strong and concentrated coffee.

An espresso machine filling a white mug with a brown liquid

Espresso machines come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have four basic components: a water tank, a boiler, a filter holder, and a portafilter.

  1. The water tank stores the water that’s heated in the boiler and used to brew espresso.
  2. The boiler is responsible for heating the water to brewing temperature (around 200 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. The filter holder holds the espresso grounds in a metal or paper filter.
  4. The portafilter is a handle that attaches to the filter holder and holds the espresso grounds. It’s also where the espresso is dispensed.

These days, espresso machines come with all sorts of bells and whistles. But at its core, the espresso machine is a device that does one thing – brew espresso.

Espresso is the base for most mixed coffee drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and mochas.

And if you’re looking to make any of these drinks, then you’ll need an espresso maker.

The caffeine content in espresso is also much higher than in most coffee beverages.

However, since espresso is usually served in small quantities (a shot or two), the overall caffeine content is usually not much higher than regular coffee.

Pros of Espresso Machines

  • Makes multiple types of coffee drinks.
  • Brewing espresso is a relatively quick process (about 30 seconds).
  • Espresso machines come in a wide range of features.
  • You can create latte art with espresso.

Cons of Espresso Machines

  • Espresso machines are more expensive than French press coffee makers.
  • They require more maintenance and care.
  • They serve coffee in small quantities.
  • The learning curve is steeper than with a French press.
  • It can be difficult to make a perfect espresso since there are so many variables involved.

French Press vs Espresso Machine: The Differences

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of each coffee brewing method, let’s take a more in-depth look at the differences between the French press coffee maker and espresso coffee machine.

I’ll cover the following topics:

  • The brewing process
  • Coffee beans
  • The grind
  • Brewing time
  • Yield
  • Cost
People inside a coffee shop

The Brewing Process

One of the biggest differences between the two classic coffee brewing methods is the brewing process.

With a French press, you simply add coffee grounds and hot water to the pot, stir, wait four minutes, and then press down on the plunger to filter out the coffee grounds.

An espresso, on the other hand, is brewed by forcing hot water under high pressure through very finely ground coffee beans.

The result is a small amount of very strong and concentrated coffee. The espresso brewing process is much more involved than the French press method.

To make a good espresso, you need to have fresh, perfectly ground coffee beans, the right water temperature, and the right amount of pressure.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t make espresso without an espresso machine. So if you’re looking to brew espresso at home, you’ll need to invest in an espresso machine.

Coffee Beans

Another difference between the two brewing methods is the type of coffee beans that are used.

For the French press, you need medium to coarse ground coffee beans.

This is because the coffee grounds need to be large enough so that they don’t pass through the filter.

If the grounds are too fine, you’ll end up with a muddy cup of coffee.

Roasted coffee beans and a white mug

On the other hand, espresso is made with very finely ground coffee beans. In fact, the grind is so fine that it’s almost powdery.

The reason for this is that the water needs to be able to extract all of the flavors from the coffee beans in such a short amount of time.

If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow through the grounds too quickly and you’ll end up with a weak and watery espresso.

Brewing Time

Another key difference between the two brewing methods is the brewing time.

As I mentioned earlier, it takes about 4 minutes to brew a cup of coffee using the French press method.

On the other hand, preparing coffee using an espresso machine is a much quicker process.

It usually takes about 30 seconds to brew a shot of espresso.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the espresso brewing process involves more effort than the French press method.

A man and a woman talking while brewing coffee using a professional coffee machine

So while it may only take 30 seconds to brew the coffee, it takes some practice and experience to get the perfect espresso.

Yield

The yield is how much coffee you get from each brewing method. A French press yields large quantities of coffee. In fact, a French press can yield up to eight cups of coffee.

So if you’re looking to brew coffee for a large group of people (or a lot for yourself), the French press is the way to go.

On the other hand, espresso machines produce small quantities of coffee.

A typical espresso shot is only one or two ounces (29.57-59.14 milliliters). This means if you have a large group of people, you’ll need to brew a lot of espresso shots.

Cost

Finally, let’s talk about cost.

Espresso machines are much more expensive than French presses. But keep in mind that an espresso machine can last a long time if you take care of it.

A French press, on the other hand, is a more affordable option. However, you may have to replace your French press more often.


The Final Verdict: Which One Is Right for You?

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit biased when it comes to this topic.

I’ve been using a French press for years and I’ve never had any problems with it.

It’s simple to use, it makes a great cup of coffee, and it’s affordable.

However, I know that espresso machines have a lot of fans. And I can see why.

Brewing coffee using an espresso machine is a bit of an art form.

A coffe mug near a French press on a table in a countryside house

It takes practice and experience to get the perfect espresso. But when you do, it’s a truly magical experience.

Personally, I think the French press is the way to go especially if you have a large group of people to brew coffee for.

However, if you’re looking for a challenge and you’re willing to invest in an espresso machine, go for it!

At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference. So choose the brewing method that’s right for you.

Did you find this article helpful? Which brewing method do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!


FAQs

Is French Press Different From Espresso?

Yes, espresso is made with very fine grounds while the French press uses coarser grounds. The espresso is also brewed under pressure while the French press is not.

When You Shouldn’t Use a French Press?

There are a few reasons why you might not want to use a French press. You shouldn’t use a French press if:
You want a quick cup of coffee: French press coffee takes about four minutes to brew. So if you’re in a hurry, it’s not the best brewing method.
You want espresso: Espresso is made with very finely ground coffee grounds and pressurized water. A French press can’t produce espresso.
You want to avoid sediment: French press coffee often has sediment at the bottom of the cup. If you don’t like this, you might want to consider another brewing method.

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