How To Make Espresso In A French Press? (An Easy Guide)

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how to make espresso in a french press

It’s easy to create an espresso replica at home in a French Press.

Like as easy as brewing a regular cup of coffee.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly how to make espresso in a French Press.

Plus, I’ll even give you some pointers on how you make it even better.

Let’s jump in!

Espresso and French Press: What You Should Know

espresso french press

Okay, look, I need to be honest with you:

You can’t make espresso in a French Press.

“But that’s what this whole article is about!” I hear you crying.

I know, I hear you.

The fact is, espresso is actually a specific type of coffee that is just impossible to make in a French Press.

What exactly is espresso?

It’s 2-4 oz of coffee made when water is forced through coffee grounds at around 9 bars of pressure.

One bar is the pressure you feel from the atmosphere while reading this. It’s our everyday pressure.

Nine bars is nine times that pressure.

That kind of pressure is simply impossible to create in a French Press. You would need an espresso machine for the real espresso shot.

But there’s still good news.

The good news is that you can create a similar-tasting cup of coffee to espresso actually super easily in a French Press.

It’s a lovely morning coffee that pairs really nicely with milk. Either straight or frothed milk.

An espresso-style coffee in a French Press will have a heavy mouthfeel. And depending on your grind size and how you pour, a gritty feel.

I actually prefer brewing this kind of strong espresso-style coffee in my French Press than anything else.

Key takeaways:

  • You need a special espresso machine to brew proper espresso
  • You can’t brew espresso coffee in a French Press
  • You can brew an espresso-style coffee in a French Press

A Guide For French Press Espresso

With all that out of the way, let me take you through how I make espresso-style coffee in my French Press.

It’s a really easy and simple recipe that you can play around with to find exactly what works best for you.

All The Equipment You Need

First of all, you’ll need a few things:

  • A French Press
  • A kettle
  • A grinder (if you have one)

And that’s it. Really.

The kettle doesn’t matter much. It can be an electric kettle or stovetop kettle. Even boiling water on the stove in a pot would do the trick.

Your hot water should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on what elevation you live at, that’s usually a little below boiling. Once the water is boiling, take it off the heat and let it sit for about 30 seconds.

The French Press is one of the world’s most common coffee brewing methods. Finding one if you don’t have one will be simple.

Most coffee shops carry French Presses. And every department store or home goods store sells them.

For an espresso-style brew, I would recommend getting the 1 cup French Press instead of the bigger 8-12 cup French Press. 

You’ll save a lot of time and coffee brewing espresso-style in a smaller French Press.

Beyond that, the French Press doesn’t matter much. Plastic vs glass and filter style is all personal preference.

Having a good grinder at home is always nice, but it’s not totally necessary.

You can always ask your barista to grind your beans for you in the shop. Or you can buy ground coffee from a grocery store.

However, grinding for a French Press is a little different from most other brewing methods. 

A French Press grind needs to be really coarse. That’s because you let the grounds sit in the water for minutes at a time.

Basically, the more surface area you get when grinding finer means your coffee brews quicker. And grinding coarser means you can brew slower and make sure you get an even extraction.

In a nutshell:

  • A smaller French Press is easier to brew espresso-style coffee
  • The kettle doesn’t matter too much
  • Grind the coffee bean coarser than you would for other brewing methods

My Favorite Ingredients

ground coffee

To start brewing, you really only need two ingredients:

Now, just because a bag of coffee beans says “espresso beans” on it doesn’t mean that’s all it’s good for. And it doesn’t mean that you can’t brew espresso with beans that don’t say “espresso.”

Every coffee can be brewed in any way. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

That said, there are a few general guidelines I like to follow when I pick out coffee for espresso-style French Press:

But really, any coffee that you enjoy will taste good using this method. It’s seriously all about personal taste.

Do you prefer a French roast coffee instead of a single-origin light roast? Perfect, that’ll work.

Do you only prefer coffee from a specific region in Costa Rica? Awesome, that’ll work.

You just have to try out a few different coffees until you find one that you really like and stick with it.

When it comes to water, there really isn’t much to say.

There’s a whole bunch of water science that you could get into. But for just your standard at-home brewing, tap water works just fine.

Let’s Actually Do This

Now it’s time to actually brew this espresso-style coffee!

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Grind your beans. (If this applies.) Make sure the coffee grind is pretty coarse. Too fine ground coffee beans, and you’ll end up with a gritty coffee.
  2. Add about 18 grams of coffee grounds. This is an approximation. What you’re really looking for is a water-to-coffee ratio of ~12:1
  3. Heat up the water. Either in an electric kettle, a stovetop kettle, or in a pot on the stove. Wait until the water reaches 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Add ~216 grams of hot water to the French Press. Again, you’re looking for about a 12:1 water to coffee ratio.
  5. Wait 4 minutes and plunge slowly. Four minutes is about how long to wait. But depending on your grind setting and how much water you use, you might need to wait a little longer or plunge a little sooner. Plunge slowly to make sure the coffee ground doesn’t get past the filter and into your cup.
  6. Enjoy! This is a pretty strong cup of coffee, so add milk and sugar to your desired flavor and consistency.

My Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that you can’t replicate a coffee shop espresso in a French Press coffee maker.

But you can make an espresso-style coffee very easily.

All you need to do is brew a stronger version of a French Press coffee, and you’re good to go!

Trust me, it’s easy, simple, and tastes great with any type of coffee.

Looking for another way to make espresso at home? Check out our article on how to use a Moka Pot!

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.