French Press vs Espresso Machine: Brewing a Better Cup

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Coffee lovers, young and old, adore a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, regardless if it was made using a coffee drip, a French press or an espresso machine. These three machines are but some of the mainstays of a caffeine addict’s kitchen, someone who would know the difference between French press vs espresso machine.

Drip machines use filters to separate the solid from the liquid by letting the ground coffee steep in hot water and letting gravity do all the work. This takes more minutes than necessary, and the strength of the coffee is not always consistent, which affects the taste, therefore modifying the whole drinking experience.

Coffee makers, like French presses and espresso machines, take coffee making into the next level as they not only produce high-quality and better-tasting coffee in a matter of minutes, but they ensure that everything remains consistent, from texture and strength to the depth of its flavor.

What Are French Press and Espresso Machine?

Here is a somewhat definitive differentiation between the two most popular coffee makers, French press vs espresso machine.

Espresso Machine

A common misnomer is calling the machine an espresso whereas the actual espresso is the coffee that it produces, although tagging the machine as such has stuck over the years. In barista terms, an espresso is your basic black coffee with its signature strength and strong, silky notes.

The espresso machine was invented and patented in the 1800s, and the idea was to force hot water through the ground coffee and a filter to produce strong black coffee. Different designs have been made over the last century where the concept went from automatic to manual, with steam, pump, piston, and air pumps serving as the driving mechanism forcing hot water through the coffee grounds.

Short Pressing an Espresso

The perfect espresso is made when coffee beans are finely ground and then tamped down into discs, or pucks as baristas call it, before subjecting it to near-boiling, pressurized water to extract highly concentrated coffee. Steam-driven espresso machines subject the pucks into high-temperature steam that can go as hot as 200 degrees Fahrenheit to extract the oils and essences of coffee.

Most espresso machines are highly calibrated to produce the same quality of coffee every time, complemented with that dense foam that espresso coffee is also known for. The grounds needed for the puck though need to be finely ground and consistent that special grinders were crafted to meet this need.

French Press

A French press is a cylindrical cup that is usually made of clear glass or BPA-free plastic which is fitted with a lid and plunger that fits snugly inside the cylinder. A wire mesh is often found at the end of the plunger, and it keeps the grounds from passing through. A nylon mesh filter also works, but a wire mesh is preferable.

The essences and oils are extracted strongly using a French press which is why some coffee lovers would prefer having a paper filter that can absorb the oil and keep the coffee flavor fresh and solid. Paper filters, like those found in drip machines, keep the grounds and oils out of the resulting liquid but being produced by a French press means the flavor would be fuller, and it can even be varied if spices are added during the process.

What Are TheirMajor Differences? 

French presses and espresso machines both offer strong coffee flavors and a fuller texture as compared to a regular drip machine. These two, however, have their sets of differences that make each coffee maker unique.

  • Ground Size

One of the main differences is the size of the grounds that both use. French presses require a coarse grind while espresso machines need super fine grounds to extract the right notes effectively.

  • Brew Time

While both machines can make coffee in a pinch, there is still the matter of the time needed to make a cup. Espresso machines require about five seconds to brew a cup while a French press may take up to a minute, this does not include the time needed to heat your water.

  • Coffee Quality

A single puck of fine grinds can make one cup while French presses are better known for producing more than just one cup of coffee.

  • Machine Size

For the amount of coffee that it produces, espressos can be as large as an oven while French presses are generally the size of a thermos or coffee pitcher.

How Are Their Brewing Procedures Done?

Using an Espresso Machine

As previously mentioned, the grounds used for an espresso machine need to be super fine to get the maximum flavor off the extracts. Brewing espresso is easy, but you need to take extreme care as you are dealing with scalding temperatures, especially with steam-driven machines.

Here are the steps in brewing an espresso:

Step 1: Finely grind your coffee bean of choice.

Step 2: Compress it into the coffee grind receptacle of your machine.

Step 3: Thump the coffee to form a puck.

Step 4: Attach the puck receptacle and then turn the machine on.

Step 5: Add milk to taste.

Step 6: Use a steam wand to froth the milk to form the signature espresso foam.

Using a French Press

French presses can often produce larger quantities of coffee, so it is important that you know how to proportion your grinds to the number of cups you would want to brew. As a general rule, a 32-ounce batch of coffee coursed through a French press needs about seven scoops of coarsely ground coffee.

Here are the steps to brewing coffee using a French press:

Step 1: Place your coffee grinds at the bottom of the press.

Step 2: Heat your water, but do not let it boil. Try aiming for an average temperature of 76-degrees Celsius. The reason why boiling water is not recommended is that it can heat up and scorch the coffee grind. This results in a bitter brew and very few people like it bitter.

Step 3: Pour the water into the press and over the grounds.

Step 4: Place the French press plunger inside the cylinder and let it sit.

Step 5: After a couple of minutes, press the plunger down and wait for half a minute before pouring your coffee into a mug

Step 6: Add milk and sugar to taste.

French Press vs Espresso Machine: Which Is the Better Choice?

Coffee lovers are torn between the French press, and the espresso machine as both of them have their set of advantages and disadvantages. It requires your own taste to determine which one would be better for you. Of course, you can take into consideration how much coffee you want to produce in a single batch.

In reality, advanced coffee machines include both an espresso maker and a French press to be more versatile in a commercial setting. For the home kitchen, either machine can work, as they are both great additions, and modern design has allowed them to blend in with the rest of your kitchen gadgets.

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