Of all the ways to brew coffee — and there are many — my favorites are French press and espresso. Espresso is deliciously dark and rich, and my French press produces wonderfully flavored coffee without much effort. Each method creates a great cup of joe but here’s why French press coffee wins the top spot for me: it’s less complicated and so much less expensive.
Go shopping for a top espresso machine, and you’ll find that they all cost at least $500. Can you find a good espresso machine for less than that? Yes. Do some of the single-cup brewers have espresso pods? Yes. But do either of those make really good authentic espresso? No. I’ve tried several espresso makers under $500, and most of them made coffee that tasted drinkable, but definitely not better than what I can make with my French press. The one time I did use an espresso machine that cost $500 it made excellent espresso, but my enjoyment of it was only temporary as it was while I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law. Once I got back home I momentarily thought of buying the same model they have, but I ended up simply spending $12 on good coffee beans to use in the French press as opposed to shelling out a lot of money for an espresso machine.
I also thought of the fact that while my brother-in-law raved over how awesome it was to have espresso every morning, he isn’t the one making it. Absent a stay at home wife like my sister, who was going to make my espresso each morning? It surely couldn’t be me. In the morning, I need to get up, get dressed, make my coffee quickly, and head out the door. Espresso is a nice way to start the day when I don’t have to make it or can pick up some from a coffee shop. But the tamping, frothing, and whatnot that’s involved in making espresso at home just doesn’t fit into my average weekday. I could surely do it on the weekend, but if I’m spending hundreds of dollars for a machine I want to be able to use it every day with no hassles.
My French press cost about $30 and I use it like clockwork every morning at 6:35am. Sometimes I microwave the water for brewing, other times I’ll use a small pot or kettle, but making my coffee this way doesn’t require any babysitting. Let me tell you all a little secret: French presses aren’t nearly as fussy as many so-called coffee experts claim. I put my grounds in, pour over the water, check my email for a few minutes, and then I plunge to get my coffee. No elaborate stirring methods or rituals are required to make great tasting French press coffee at home.
And while I treat myself to freshly ground beans several times a month, most of the time I just use my favorite finely ground coffee in my French press. Not once have I had a problem with over-extracting — it’s common sense to simply cut the brew time if you’re using anything that’s not coarsely ground — and I’ve never seen even a bit of grit in my cup. Simply store your ground coffee in the freezer to preserve its taste, whip it out when you’re making French press coffee, and you’ll have a satisfying cup in mere minutes. If you can spare the time and the cash to make espresso at home, go for it. But if you want quality coffee without spending a fortune or taking a lot of time to brew it, I recommend using a French press.