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French Press vs Espresso Compared

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Brewing your own coffee can have many results, depending on how you go about it. From the tools used, amount of water, and types of beans used, there are so many different ways to make a good cup of coffee. For those new to the world of coffee, there are two cornerstone brewing methods that are used every day to keep most people going.

Those two key brewing styles are French Press and Espresso. While both brews have slight similarities in their results, the methods are quite different. Here, we’ll take a look at both the French Press and Espresso and place them head-to-head as we compare the two.

Comparing Two Classic Coffee Brewing Methods

No matter which one you go with, both French Press and Espresso offer a deep and complex flavor for those looking for a strong and effective black coffee. The French Press uses a glass pitcher with a few contraptions tucked inside.

Filling the pitcher with a mix of coffee grounds and water, you then press on the top handle of the pitcher, which lowers a wire mesh into the pitcher. This mesh allows the brew to rise while trapping the coffee grounds beneath it so that you’ll have a good and smooth cup ready to pour.

Espresso, on the other hand, requires a bit more intricate methods compared to the French Press. Unless you plan on brewing Espresso at home on a budget, the process in most cases will be handled by an Espresso Machine, which does almost all the work for you. 

This intricate machine uses steam pressure over finely-ground coffee beans to extract a more concentrated and flavorful blend. This is the stronger tasting of the two methods and a favorite of coffee lovers around the world.

French Press: Pros & Cons

One of the great conveniences of the French Press is its ease of use. Typically the components used are simple in making your coffee, and once you are finished, it’s quite easy to clean. Another great reason why the French Press is great for those constantly on the go is that they are, for the most part, portable. With portability and ease of use, there’s also the fact of being able to produce much more coffee compared to an Espresso Machine.

Despite being a go-to way for making a good cup of coffee, it can only really make a single type of brew compared to the many variations of Espresso that can be made. While a French Press uses a filter to only prevent larger grounds seeping through compared to an Espresso Machine, there are natural oils from the beans that seep through the filter that adds to the flavor but otherwise can be a bit unhealthy.

Espresso Machine: Pros & Cons

Through the intricate workings of an Espresso Machine, the resulting Espresso brew is a deep and concentrated source of caffeine compared to the French Press. Some coffee drinkers may find this mix a bit too strong for their tastes. 

An Espresso Machine is also much faster but at the same time more time consuming than a French Press machine. There are several steps you must go through in order to correctly make your coffee.

You will also need to set aside time to properly care for your Espresso Machine. This will mean taking the machine apart and managing both the temperature and calibration. On the other hand, the Espresso Machine can brew a cup much faster than a French Press.

What Are The Major Differences?

The first thing you’re going to notice is that one of the machines takes up more space than the other. French Press machines are around the size of a regular coffee maker and perfect for limited counter spaces. The Espresso Machine, on the other hand, can be quite large. Some Espresso Machines are only a bit smaller than your kitchen microwave, making them a bit unpleasant to have.

Next, you will notice that the coffee itself is quite different. The Espresso Machine will only work with fine grounds, while the French Press can use thicker coarse coffee. If you are making your own blend, you need to keep this in mind as the coffee will have to be ground down to a more dust like consistency.

Next, you will probably notice that each method takes a different amount of time to make your coffee. The French Press can take up to a few minutes to give you a warm cup of coffee, while the Espresso Machine will just take a few seconds to finish brewing. Once you taste your coffee, you will also notice an Espresso Machine makes fewer cups than a French Press can.

Cost-Effective Brew Methods

If you are budget conscious, then a French Press may be more of your type of machine. Sadly, Espresso Machines can cost hundreds of dollars for a quality appliance. French Press machines, on the other hand, usually cost under the hundred dollar range. Some French Press models can even be bought for less than a standard coffee maker

As for saving money on coffee, always keep your eyes out for sales, experiment with new brands, and try to find ways to get coupons to lower the cost. You can also choose to try and buy your beans from local stores. By buying in bulk and grinding your own coffee you can save a bit of money. Just make sure to never buy more than you can make before it expires.

French Press vs. Espresso: What’s Better?

This is a bit hard to answer, as everyone is going to be a bit different. Personally, I think Espresso takes much better, but I like coffee with a stronger taste. To begin with, Espresso comes in smaller quantities, is quicker to drink, and just seems to give me more energy. If you don’t really like the coffee take and prefer mixed drinks, though, then you may want to skip over Espresso.

If you are health conscious or dieting, then you may prefer the French Press. This coffee keeps more of the natural oils in, which are good for your body. On the flip side, though, it also doesn’t filter out Cafestol, which can be a horrible substance that can make your cholesterol levels increase. Additionally, this type of coffee generally has two calories per serving, while Espresso has three.

You should also keep in mind the huge price difference between the two machines. French Press coffee is much more suited to those who are budget-minded, while Espresso Machines may be more for people with lots of kitchen space and a love for strong coffee. Espresso Machines can also be more time-consuming in the long run as they need regular cleaning and maintenance.

An Espresso Machine, on the other hand, is quite easy to wash out, and some are even dishwasher friendly. You can make a plethora of drinks with both types of coffee, but the French Press machine generally won’t make shots that are as strong as the Espresso Machine. Another thing to keep in mind is your health.

While neither of these methods is drastically unhealthy, in some cases French Press may be better. This is because the machine keeps the natural oils in the coffee. An Espresso Machine, on the other hand, removes most of the oils, including substances that can cause your cholesterol to increase.

If you are a first-time coffee drinker, you are more likely to be drawn to the French Press. An Espresso Machine can be a bit intimidating, and the investment may scare away casual coffee lovers. If you are trying to save money by grinding your own beans, then you will also want to keep in mind that the Espresso can only use fine grounds. The French Press, on the other hand, can use coarse grounds.

How to Make Great French Press Coffee

To begin with, if you have never seen a French Press, then picture a drink pitcher with a plunger. You will need to figure out how much coffee you need to drink. If you want a couple of cups, then measuring will change a bit. After that, you can begin making your French Press coffee.

To begin, heat the water up to 205 degrees and prep the coffee as needed. You can use this time to grind the coffee and measure it out for the press. Make sure you are using coarse coffee and add it to the press and then pour in the hot water.

Now, you will need to wait for the coffee to go through a process called blooming. Blooming will look similar to a blooming flower as the coffee will slowly start to expand and bubble. After it has slowed down, you will want to stir your mixture thoroughly to make sure it’s evenly distributing flavor.

After this, wait five minutes and then press down on the plunger to lower it into the water. Make sure to do this slowly and not to aggressively force the ground to the bottom. This process will finish filtering the coffee, and afterward, your cup will be ready to pour.

How to Make Great Espresso

As you may have guessed from just looking at an Espresso Machine, making this type of coffee is a bit more complex. First, you are going to want to take out your beans or pre-made Espresso mix and measure it out. If your beans need grinding, then here is where you will need to grind them down into a fine dust like consistency. 

Next, tap the grounds to ensure that they are completely ready to put into the machine. You will want to make the grounds look like a hockey puck in shape as you tap. While you are doing this, you can begin to let your machine heat-up. Once the puck is made, place warm water on the dispenser and ready your portafilter. You will need to attach the portafilter with the puck of coffee to the machine.

Next, you will simply let the machine know that it’s time to make your shot. Keep in mind that if you’re new to Espresso, you should only make one shot at a time. Espresso is a strong drink and may catch some people off guard.

Popular Espresso-Based Drinks

Espresso is a fun drink to flavor. For me, I simply add in a bit of sugar-free vanilla flavoring and go about my day. There are tons of interesting ways to make Espresso drinks though. There are iced Espressos for people who hate hot beverages, and sugar and creme can be added in for taste much like with most any other type of coffee.

If you are a fan of chocolate, then there are a ton of recipes online for making a mocha Espresso while still being healthy. Espresso can even be used to make stronger frappuccinos and Cappuccinos. If you love your coffee with milk, you can heat up some and add it to your beverage.

For people who need a bit more caffeine in their routine, there are even double-shot espressos. To make the double shot taste a little easier, you can add in flavors such as mint, chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and even caramel. Almost any popular coffee drink can be made with Espresso, and experimenting can help you find your new favorite beverage.

Summary and Conclusion

The choice of which machine is right for you is mostly personal. You should choose the coffee appliance that fits into both your taste and budget. Keep in mind that the two drinks are similar in many ways, but Espresso is the stronger coffee of the two. Both can be used in tons of recipes and don’t take long to make. 

You should also remember that if you plan to grind your own beans, the Espresso Machine will need you to work a bit harder and will require more maintenance than the simple French Press. If you have never worked with either machine before follow the instructions closely to ensure proper use and cleaning.

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