Does a French Press Make Coffee or Espresso?

The French Press is a popular coffee brewing method that has been around for centuries. It is known for its simplicity and ability to produce a strong and flavorful cup of coffee. However, there has been some debate over whether a French Press makes coffee or espresso. In this article, I will explore this topic and provide you with all the information you need to understand the differences and similarities between the two.

The French Press: A Brief Overview

The French Press, also known as a press pot or plunger pot, is a coffee brewing device that consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless steel jug, a plunger with a metal filter, and a lid. The process involves steeping coffee grounds in hot water, and then pressing down the plunger to separate the coffee grounds from the brewed coffee.

The French Press method allows for a longer extraction time, resulting in a full-bodied and robust cup of coffee. It is loved by many for its simplicity and the ability to control the brewing process.

What is Espresso?

Before we dive into whether a French Press makes coffee or espresso, let’s first understand what espresso is. Espresso is a brewing method that originated in Italy. It involves forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans under high pressure. The result is a concentrated and intense shot of coffee with a rich crema on top.

Espresso is typically served in small quantities, such as a single shot or a double shot, and is the foundation for various popular coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes.

The Differences between Coffee and Espresso

Now that we have a basic understanding of the French Press and espresso, let’s compare the differences between coffee and espresso.

1. Brewing Method

The primary difference between coffee and espresso lies in the brewing method. While coffee is generally brewed by steeping coarser grounds in water for a longer period, espresso is brewed by forcing hot water through fine grounds under high pressure.

2. Extraction Time

Another noticeable difference is the extraction time. Coffee brewed using a French Press requires a longer extraction time, typically 4-5 minutes. On the other hand, espresso is brewed in a matter of seconds, with the water passing through the coffee grounds quickly.

3. Coffee Grind Size

Coffee used in a French Press is ground to a coarser consistency, similar to the texture of sea salt. This allows the water to extract the flavors from the coffee grounds over a longer period. Espresso, however, requires a very fine grind, almost powdery in texture. The fine grind ensures proper extraction within the short brewing time.

4. Flavor and Strength

Due to the brewing method and extraction time, coffee brewed in a French Press usually has a fuller, heavier body with more pronounced flavors. It often has a higher caffeine content compared to espresso. On the other hand, espresso has a more intense and concentrated taste, with a thick crema and a bolder flavor profile.

So, Does a French Press Make Coffee or Espresso?

Based on the brewing method and the characteristics of the resulting beverage, a French Press is commonly used to make coffee, not espresso. The long extraction time, coarse grind size, and absence of high pressure are all factors that differentiate the French Press from traditional espresso brewing.

However, it is worth noting that you can still make a strong and concentrated cup of coffee with a French Press by using a higher coffee-to-water ratio and a longer steeping time. This can result in a cup of coffee that may share some similarities with espresso in terms of strength and flavor but falls short of being a true espresso.


In conclusion, a French Press is primarily used for making coffee rather than espresso. While it can produce a strong and full-bodied cup of coffee, it lacks the defining characteristics of espresso, such as the high pressure and fine grind size. Understanding the differences between these two brewing methods allows coffee enthusiasts to choose the method that best suits their taste preferences. So, if you’re looking for a rich and robust cup of coffee, reach for your French Press, but if you’re craving an intense shot with a thick crema, an espresso machine is your best bet!

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