French Presses are used all across the globe to make strong and tasty coffee that also has those wonderfully complex flavors we love so much. You get all that without excessive effort or cost on your end, too. Typically, you would use normal coffee grounds inside a French press, but sometimes we want coffee, and life decides that the only beans you're getting today are of the espresso variety. Can you safely use espresso beans in a French press? Or are you doomed to ruin your coffee, and possibly even your French press?
Can you use espresso beans in a French press? Yes, you can use espresso beans in a French press. While it does make really strong coffee, it won't magically make espresso, unfortunately. Making espresso requires a lot of pressure that a French press just isn't capable of doing.
French Presses can make a wide variety of coffee types, all of which we cover here in this article. Read on to learn more about the French presses' many capabilities and if espresso beans have a place here.
Can you use espresso beans in a French Press?
Let's say that you're in the mood for some delicious coffee, made fresh in your fancy French press. However, upon closer inspection, the coffee beans that you picked out are labeled as “espresso” beans. Yikes!
Cursing your own hubris, you then turn to wonder if you could feasibly get away with using these espresso beans in your French press anyway. After all no fancy bean name is going to get between you and your coffee.
Before you dive right into a potentially disgusting mess you decide to see if it's even possible… To answer that burning question tugging away at your mind: yes, you can use espresso beans in a French press. But you may not want to. Let's look deeper into this.
Espresso beans are probably completely fine to use in any French press, so long as you also know how to properly use a French press in the first place. The only thing you that you should have to worry about is if you're using the pre-ground coffee or espresso beans. In some cases, some French presses might not be able to filter the extra small grounds completely. I will cover the topic of what the perfect grind size for a French press is later on in this article.
So, if they can be used interchangeably in a French press, why are some beans labeled “espresso” and others aren't? Glad you asked!
What makes espresso beans different from coffee beans?
A quick search for coffee beans online or at your local beanery might bring up an interesting trend: blends, either light medium or dark roasted, seem to be separated by “espresso” and “coffee” styles. This can confuse a lot of people, and make them think that they can only use these beans as specified, or their coffee may turn out gross.
I'll let you in on a little secret: the difference between an espresso bean and your average kind? Not a whole lot.
Before you go and preach to anyone who will listen about the useless nature of coffee blends being specifically labeled as “espresso” and “coffee”, let me explain why these labels are there in the first place. There is an actual reason, though maybe not the one you first imagined.
Since using espresso beans in a drip brewer or French press and vice versa isn't actually going to collapse reality as we all know it, it may seem like a waste of print and effort to separate the two. In reality, however, the label is there to inform you that this is the preferred brewing method for this particular type of roast. It's not just tossed on there willy-nilly though. These brewing recommendations come straight from the roaster, and using them in that specific way might help to bring out the most flavors.
Simply put, the difference in labels is less of a rule and more of a suggestion. If one bag says “espresso”, that just means that this kind will probably turn out best when used in an espresso machine.
However, if it says espresso grind, that may be referring to the size of the grounds, rather than the preferred brewing method. Espresso grounds are usually really fine, like sand, rather than a courser grind size, like the kind you would use for cold brew.
Will espresso beans in a French press taste the same as regular espresso?
Espresso won't taste the same if it's made in a French press. This is primarily because French presses can't actually make real espresso. But why can't they?
It all has to do with how espresso is made. Espresso isn't made using specific beans or roast types. However, those do help to make it taste better. Espresso is actually made by using lots of pressure to force the hot water through the very fine espresso grounds.
Since French presses aren't using nearly enough pressure to pass hot water through the grounds in the same way, the coffee that comes out of a French press can't technically be classified as espresso. Not even if you were to use espresso beans and the espresso ground size.
However! Even though French presses can't make espresso, they do still have the capability to make a really strong cup of coffee, and in much larger quantities than an espresso machine can.
So, if you're a fan of a nice strong cup of espresso, you should definitely try out the coffee that comes out of a French Press as well!
Related Article: CAN YOU USE INSTANT COFFEE IN A FRENCH PRESS?
Does the grind size matter for coffee in a French press?
Let me start out by saying that every French press is going to be different, so I can't tell you about your specific brand. But for the most part, the perfect grind size for a French press is going to be an evenly ground, medium to course kind of grind.
That's not to say that you can't use a finer grind size and still have great tasting coffee. It's just that if you use medium to course grounds, you're probably going to get much better flavor potential. It's all about the way the French press works.
How does using courser grounds in a French press make better coffee than if you were to use finer grounds? It's the same reason you use very coarse grounds if you're making cold brew. French presses benefit from medium to coarse grounds because the extraction process involves a lot of water mingling with the grounds for several minutes. It's not a fast process.
If you want to find out whether the grounds you've been using are too coarse or too fine, you just have to pay attention to how easy or hard it is to push the grounds down with the plunger. If you have to apply a significant amount of pressure to press the plunger down, then your grounds may be too fine. If you can press the plunger down really easily, then your grounds may be too coarse.
While it is possible to use any grind size in a French press, you should also keep in mind that the finer your grind size is, the shorter the extraction time should be.
For the best flavor potential, it's recommended to use fresh coffee beans, and grind them up yourself with a fancy burr grinder. However, nothing is stopping you from doing it another way! It's totally cool to experiment with espresso bean grinds and your French press.
Does water temp matter for espresso in a French press?
Like with any type of coffee-making method, the temperature of your water can affect the flavor outcome of the coffee in a surprisingly drastic way.
For French presses specifically, you'll want to use hot water instead of cold or warm, but the temperature shouldn't be too hot or you'll risk burning the coffee. The best temperature for a French press is approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit (or 93 degrees Celsius). Yes, even though French presses only need to steep for a few minutes, you can still run the risk of burning the coffee with water that's much too hot.
French presses are widely renowned for the coffee they make on behalf of not only how easy it is, but also how flavorful and how many options there are to choose from. French presses also don't need anything to function properly; just so long as you have hot water, coffee grounds, and the French press itself, you're well on your way to making a delectable cup of coffee.
Are there special French presses for espresso?
Unfortunately, there aren't any French presses available right now that are capable of making real espresso. This is mainly due to the fact that the force required to make real espresso just isn't physically possible for a French press to do. However, there are many types of French presses and coffee beans out there to try out that can give an espresso-like taste and strength.
Are there different roasts of espresso beans for use in a French press?
For French presses the roast type doesn't really matter too much. Any roast type can be used in a French press and come out tasting great. Since it doesn't matter what kind of bean or roast type you use, French presses are amazing for relatively quick, low-tech, and easy coffee, all without sacrificing the flavor potential.
Related Article: HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE FRENCH PRESS FILTER?