Espresso vs French Press: Which One is Better?
There is a constant debate amongst coffee drinkers globally on which is the best coffee type. In the Espresso vs French Press comparison, a much more heated discussion is expected. So which one is better?
French press coffee tastes similar to the typical drip coffee you are likely familiar with. It is served in 8 oz cups. Espresso has a more intense taste and is the base for most coffee drinks such as lattes and Americanos. It is served in 1.5 oz shots. Which one is better depends on which taste you prefer, but espresso is more versatile.
Are you new to the world of coffee and confused by all the different drinks? Let’s break down the differences between espresso and French press coffee.
What is the difference between espresso and French press coffee?
The main difference between French press coffee and espresso is the density of solids dissolved into the water.
Espresso is denser, which makes it heavier and more viscous. It also gives it a more robust taste and a layer of creamy foam on the top.
“Flavor notes” are the distinct flavors that separate each type of coffee bean from the rest. Some notes include floral, fruity, nutty, and chocolaty.
The flavor notes are more intense in espresso, and you will really get the character of the coffee from a shot of espresso more than you would in a cup of French press coffee. However, the intense flavor is not for everybody, and many people prefer a simple cup of coffee.
What are the basics of French press coffee and espresso?
French press and espresso both create dark, strong brews. Yet, they are incredibly different from one another.
A French press is a narrow beaker or carafe typically made of stainless steel, plastic, or glass. It has a plunger that fits in it tightly with a handle on top.
The plunger attaches to a filter, usually made of nylon or wire mesh, which keeps your coffee grounds out of your coffee.
You put coffee grounds in the carafe’s bottom and add boiling water. After it steeps, you push the plunger down, which separates the grounds from your coffee.
French press coffee is usually served in 8 oz cups.
You can get your hands on a French Press at Barista Warrior.
On the other hand, espresso is the base of most coffee drinks.
It is a concentrated, strong black coffee that forces pressured steam through extremely fine coffee grounds. The steam goes through the grounds at roughly 200 degrees F, which draws out the flavor.
Espresso is usually served as a 1.5 oz shot.
A shot of espresso is an acquired taste, while French press coffee is what you are likely more familiar with coffee tasting like.
Espresso machines are relatively expensive, and you won’t find them in most homes. In contrast, a French press can be bought cheaply, and you can still make quality coffee.
How do you make the perfect French press coffee?
You can experiment with different beans and grinds to find what works best for you, but these are the basic instructions for using a French press.
First, preheat your French press and plunger using hot water. This helps extract the most flavor out of the coffee.
Grind your coffee beans with a burr grinder. Use a grind setting roughly the same size as coarse sea salt.
After 30 seconds, empty the hot water from your French press.
Add your coffee and water
Add the beans that you just ground to the bottom of the carafe. Shake it so that all the grounds are level.
Now add water of 200 degrees F. This is just off the boil. Add it in a circular motion to cover all the grounds.
Fill up about half of the carafe with water.
Let it Bloom
Let it sit for 30 seconds.
When your coffee Blooms, the grounds release gases which will let you extract a better taste when you add the remaining water.
After half a minute, your coffee will be bubbly and have a higher volume.
Gently push down the top of the coffee with a wooden spoon to disrupt the crust.
Add more water and brew
Pour more water to fill the rest of the carafe and add the lid.
Wait four minutes for your coffee to brew.
Plunge and pour
Now slowly and gently push the plunger down.
If you push the plunger too fast and hard, it may bother your coffee grounds and could cause a bitter flavor.
You should immediately pour your coffee into a mug or another container. Otherwise, it may get over-extracted, which causes bitterness.
How do you make the perfect espresso?
Making espresso is more complicated than making French press coffee and requires a particular machine.
Clean your portafilter
Before you dose the coffee to your portafilter, be sure that it is thoroughly clean. Leftover grounds and moisture can make your next round of espresso over-extracted.
If you’re using an on-demand grinder, all you have to do is push a button, and the grinder will dose to what you pre-set. But if you want to double-check, put it on a scale too.
Distribute your grounds in the portafilter
Your grinder will probably dose the grounds into a pyramid shape. This causes an uneven distribution, so part of the basket will have more grounds unless you distribute them before you tamp. If you distribute the grounds poorly, it can cause channeling.
There are also distribution tools that you can use to enhance consistency.
You tamp to get rid of any air pockets in the coffee puck and completely level it out. Tamp until the puck doesn’t go down any further.
Ensure the puck is level to avoid channeling and unevenness, under or over-extraction.
Rinse your group head
Before putting the portafilter into the group head, you should rinse off the group head to remove any old coffee.
This keeps your machine clean and ensures that your group head is properly heated.
Insert your group head and start brewing immediately
After you rinse off your group head, insert your portafilter and start brewing right away.
Suppose you don’t start brewing right away. In that case, the heat of the group head could create bitterness in the espresso because it will overheat the surface of the coffee grounds.
Be careful of the brew and yield time
Be careful of your brew time if you’re using a volumetric machine. If your extraction is too short (under-extraction) or too long (over-extraction), you should make a new espresso and check your dose and grind size.
If you’re using a manual machine, be careful of your yield. If it is running too quickly, it is being diluted and potentially over-extracted.
What drinks can you make from espresso?
Almost all drinks served at coffee shops use espresso as their base.
- Latte – A latte is made out of espresso and steamed milk with a layer of foam on top.
- Americano – An Americano is made out of espresso and hot water and can be made with one or two shots. Though ratios of water vary, it is usually 2:1.
- Macchiato – A macchiato is a shot of espresso topped with frothed milk.
- Cappuccino – A cappuccino is made out of espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam, all in equal parts.
- Cortado – A Cortado has an equal amount of espresso and steamed milk. Therefore, it has one double shot of espresso along with 2 oz of milk.