Love espresso but don’t have a fancy machine? Enter the French press—a surprising hero in brewing espresso-style coffee at home.
You can easily make “Espresso-Styled” coffee in a French Press. While the French Press Espresso won’t be as concentrated as real espresso and won’t have a layer of crema over it, but I’m sure you’ll like the taste.
In this guide, I will show you how you can control brew time and grind size to pull rich and aromatic coffee shots with French Press.
How to Make Espresso in French Press
Before making French Press Espresso, let’s talk about the ideal coffee beans, grind size, and the coffee-to-water ratio.
Use Medium or dark Roasted Beans
For French press espresso, you’ll want to use a nice, dark roast bean.
These beans are roasted longer, making them perfect for extracting that intense, full-bodied taste in a French press.
The reason behind choosing darker roasts is their robustness. They can withstand the longer brewing time needed for a French press, extracting more oils and flavors without turning overly bitter.
This method highlights the beans’ deep, caramelized sugars, creating that quintessential espresso-like punch in your cup.
I personally love dark roasted beans from Lavazza
Use Medium Coarse Grind Size
When making espresso in a French press, you’ll want to use a medium-fine grind. This grind size is crucial for extracting the right flavor and concentration.
Generally, for preparing real espresso shots, a very fine grind size is used. As fine coffee grounds have a large surface area and extract more flavors in a short time.
However, in a French Press, you should leave the grounds coarse enough that the mesh filter can still plunge through without too much resistance or sludge. But it should also be fine enough to extract the oils and robust flavor you want in an espresso shot.
In short, You need a finer grind with a sand-like texture than a typical French press coarse size.
Coffee to water ratio for French Press Espresso
To make concentrated espresso-like coffee in a French Press, reduce the water to around 4 ounces per serving and use 20 grams of coffee grounds.
An ideal coffee-to-water ratio for a regular espresso shot is around 1:2 to 1:3, which means 1 gram of coffee for 2 or 3 grams of water. Generally, 7 to 10 grams of coffee grounds are used for a 1-1.25 oz espresso shot.
For Regular French Press coffee, the ideal coffee-to-water ratio is around 1:15. So, you can see French Press is very dilute compared to Espresso.
For making Espresso in French Press we have to increase the coffee ratio to achieve Espresso-like concentrated flavors.
1- Heat the Water
Heat 4 oz of water in an electric kettle or stove until it starts boiling and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
Remember the perfect temperature for brewing coffee is 195-205 degrees which is below the boiling temperature of water (212 degrees).
2- Grind the Beans
While the water is heating, grind 20 grams (4 tbsp) of coffee beans to medium fine settings.
You can use pre-ground coffee too but for the ultimate freshness, it is highly recommended to grind the beans yourself.
3- Add coffee and water to the French press
Add the coffee grounds to the French Press and pour half of the water over them, moving it in a circle to ensure the grounds are fully soaked. Gently stir the mixture for 10 to 20 seconds, pour the rest of the water over it and let it steep.
4- Press the Plunger
After the 4-6 minutes of steeping time, push the plunger down slowly and steadily to halfway then pull it back and then press it down fully. Repeat this step 3-4 times, this will create a thin Crema-like layer on the top of your French Press Espresso.
Always press the plunger very slowly otherwise the fine coffee particles will clog the screen and your French Press will get stuck.
5- Pour and Enjoy
Pour the freshly brewed espresso shot into a small cup, and it’s ready to be served!
You can use French Press Paper filters if you encounter too much sediments while using a finer grind size.
Now What to Do With French Press Espresso
Let me tell you – I’m not usually a fan of drinking a straight-up shot of that concentrated French press espresso on its own. I find it lacks the rich, syrupy mouthfeel and a touch of built-in sweetness you get from a traditional machine-pulled shot. It tends to be very strong and almost bitter if I just toss it back neat.
But here’s my secret for making that robust, extra-dark French press espresso into something really special – transform it into a creamy latte! I make a super-strong 4 oz shot in my French press, then pour over about 4 oz of frothed milk. The milk adds a sweet creaminess that perfectly tempers the intensity of the concentrated brew.
It’s like creating my own cafe-worthy latte right at home, and that? That hits just right!
Why you can’t make authentic Espresso in French Press?
French Press and Espresso are two different types of brewing methods. The French Press is an immersion brewing method that makes a regular cup of black coffee, while the Espresso is a pressurized brewing method that makes concentrated coffee shots.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the definition of Espresso is:
“Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”Speciality Coffee Association
In a French Press coffee maker, there is no way to generate a pressure of 9 to 10 bars, so you can’t brew real espresso.
By employing the method discussed above and carefully fine-tuning the grind size and brewing time, you can prepare French press coffee that approximates the taste of espresso. However, it will not be as rich and creamy as traditional espresso.
Some Other Ways to Make Espresso Without a Machine
Here are some other ways you can make Espresso without a machine.
A Moka pot is an Italian stovetop espresso maker that produces strong, concentrated coffee similar to espresso.
The Moka Pot has three parts: a bottom chamber for water, a middle chamber for ground coffee, and a top chamber for brewed coffee.
In a Moka pot, hot water is pushed through coarsely ground coffee, producing a coffee concentrate that is richer and stronger than regular drip coffee, but it lacks the same crema or full-bodied texture as espresso.
Also Read: Moka Pot vs French Press
Aeropress is a manual coffee brewing device that uses air pressure to extract flavors from coffee grounds.
The Aeropress is made up of two main parts: a plastic or glass cylinder and a plunger.
It is a really cheaper option for making an espresso-type coffee. All you’ll need to have is an Aeropress, hot water, and dark-roasted coffee.
Also Read: French Press vs Aeropress
Well, there you have it – everything you need to know to start making quality espresso drinks right from your trusty French press!
Once you nail the grind size, water temperature, and timing, you’ll be pulling decent shots without the fancy equipment.
Whether you take it straight up or use it as the base for lattes, americanos, or other milk-based drinks, the possibilities are endless with this simple hack.
Let me know in the comments how your French press espresso turns out! Share your brewing secrets or any twists on press pot drinks that your tastebuds love.
If you are looking for a portable machine that can brew Espresso shots on the go. Read our guide on Best Portable Espresso makers
Here are some other ways of making Espresso
Is French Press Coffee As Strong As Espresso?
No French Press coffee is not as strong and concentrated as Espresso. French press coffee has a smooth and rich taste with a full-bodied and slightly gritty texture.
It’s best to go with espresso if you enjoy robust shots and French Press if you prefer a smooth and more full-bodied coffee experience.
What happens if the French Press grind is too fine?
If the French press grind is too fine, it can result in over-extraction and a bitter taste in the coffee. The small coffee particles can clog the filter and make it difficult to press down. This can also result in a gritty texture due to the excess of small will escape the metal filters and end up in your drink.
French Press Espresso Recipe
- French Press Coffee Maker
- Coffee Grinder (Optional)
- Electric Kettle or stove
- 4 oz Filtered Water
- 20 grams Medium Coffee grounds (4 tbsp)
- Heat the Water: Start by Heating 4 oz of water (per serving) in an electric kettle or stove until it starts boiling and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
- Grind the coffee Beans: While the water is heating. Grind 20 grams of coffee beans to medium fine settings.
- Add coffee and water to the french press: Add the coffee grounds to the French Press and pour half of the water over them, moving it in a circle to ensure the grounds are fully soaked.
- Let it steep: Set a timer and Let the mixture steep for 4-6 minutes.
- Press the Plunger: After the steeping time, push the plunger down slowly and steadily to halfway then pull it back and then press it down fully. Repeat this step once again this will create a thin Crema-like layer on the top of your French Press Espresso.
- Pour and Enjoy: Pour the freshly brewed espresso shot into a small cup, and it’s ready to be served!Enjoy your thick and concentrated Espresso styled French Press coffee