How to Brew Espresso with a French Press

Randolf Fredric

If you’re looking to kickstart your day with a rich and aromatic cup of espresso but don’t want to invest in a pricey espresso machine, fear not! You can achieve that perfect brew right at home with a French press. Yes, that trusty and versatile coffee maker can do more than just make a regular cup of joe. With a few simple steps and a little bit of patience, you’ll be sipping on a smooth and velvety espresso that rivals your favorite café in no time. So, let’s dive right in and learn how to master the art of making espresso with a French press in a laid-back and fuss-free way.


Welcome to this comprehensive guide on how to make espresso with a French press. If you are a coffee lover and appreciate the rich, full-bodied taste of espresso, then this method is perfect for you. In this article, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of brewing espresso using a French press, and also provide you with some helpful tips and techniques to enhance your brewing experience.

What is a French Press?

A French press, also known as a press pot or plunger pot, is a simple and versatile coffee brewing device. It consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless steel container, a plunger with a mesh screen, and a lid. The beauty of a French press lies in its ability to extract the full flavor and aroma of coffee, producing a strong and rich cup of espresso-like coffee without the need for expensive espresso machines.

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How Does a French Press Work?

The mechanism of a French press is quite straightforward. Here’s how it works:

  1. Add coarsely ground coffee to the bottom of the French press.
  2. Pour hot water over the coffee, ensuring that all grounds are fully saturated.
  3. Allow the coffee to steep for a few minutes to extract the desired flavor.
  4. Push the plunger slowly downward. The mesh screen will separate the brewed coffee from the grounds.
  5. Pour and enjoy your freshly brewed espresso-like coffee!

Why Use a French Press for Espresso?

There are several reasons why using a French press for making espresso is a popular choice among coffee enthusiasts:

Full Control over the Brewing Process

With a French press, you have complete control over the water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio, steeping time, and agitation. This level of control allows you to customize your espresso to your specific taste preferences.


Compared to expensive espresso machines, a French press is a cost-effective way to brew espresso-like coffee at home. It is a one-time investment without the need for electricity or special capsules.

Rich and Full-bodied Flavor

The French press method allows for full extraction of the coffee’s flavors and oils, resulting in a robust and flavorful cup of coffee that closely resembles espresso. The metal mesh filter in the plunger also allows some coffee oils to pass through, adding to the overall complexity of the taste.


A French press is lightweight, compact, and easy to carry, making it a great companion for travelers, campers, or anyone who wants to enjoy a quality espresso-like coffee on the go.

How to Make Espresso with a French Press

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making espresso with a French press:

Step 1: Gather Your Equipment

Before you begin, make sure you have the following items:

  • A French press
  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • A coffee grinder
  • A kettle
  • Hot water (195-205°F or 90-96°C)
  • A timer
  • A stirring utensil
  • A mug or espresso cup

Step 2: Grind Your Coffee Beans

To achieve the best flavor, it is recommended to use whole beans and grind them just before brewing. For a French press, a coarse grind is ideal. This ensures proper extraction and prevents fine coffee particles from leaking through the mesh screen.

Set your coffee grinder to a coarse setting and grind the desired amount of coffee beans. As a general guideline, use a ratio of 1:15, meaning 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. You can adjust this ratio according to your taste preference.

Step 3: Preheat the French Press and Mug

Preheating helps maintain the brewing temperature and ensures the coffee doesn’t cool down too quickly. Fill the French press and mug with hot water, let them sit for a minute, then discard the water.

Step 4: Add Coffee and Water

Add the coarsely ground coffee to the bottom of the French press. Use a scale to measure the correct amount of coffee based on your desired ratio. Gently shake the French press to level the coffee bed.

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Next, start the water boiling process on the kettle. Once the water reaches the recommended temperature, slowly pour it over the coffee grounds, ensuring all the grounds are fully saturated. Start the timer immediately.

Step 5: Steep and Agitate

After pouring the water, place the lid on the French press, but do not plunge yet. Let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes. During this time, occasional agitation or stirring can help enhance the extraction process. Use a spoon or stirring utensil to gently stir the coffee grounds.

Step 6: Plunge and Pour

Once the timer reaches 4 minutes, slowly push the plunger downward. Apply gentle and steady pressure to avoid any grounds escaping into the brew. When the plunger reaches the bottom, pour the freshly brewed espresso-like coffee into your mug or espresso cup.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Making Espresso with a French Press


Using a French press to make espresso-like coffee offers the following advantages:

  • Control over the brewing process allows for customization
  • Affordable alternative to expensive espresso machines
  • Produces a rich and full-bodied flavor
  • Portable and suitable for travel or outdoor use
  • Simple and easy-to-use brewing method


While the French press is a fantastic brewing method, it does have a few limitations:

  • Requires coarser grounds, resulting in a slightly different taste compared to traditional espresso
  • Might not achieve the same level of crema as an espresso machine
  • Requires manual effort and attention during the brewing process
  • Can potentially produce sediment in the final cup

Tips for Making the Perfect French Press Espresso

Tip 1: Use High-Quality Coffee Beans

For the best flavor, always start with freshly roasted whole beans. Look for beans that are specifically labeled for espresso or dark-roasted to enhance the intensity. Experiment with different origins and blends to find your favorite.

Tip 2: Grind the Coffee to the Correct Coarseness

The grind size plays a crucial role in the extraction process. Too fine, and the coffee might become over-extracted and bitter. Too coarse, and the flavors might be weak. Aim for a coarse grind, similar to sea salt, to maximize the extraction and flavor.

Tip 3: Control the Water Temperature

Water temperature significantly affects the flavor extraction. Keep the water temperature between 195-205°F or 90-96°C. Boiling water can scorch the coffee grounds, resulting in a burnt taste, while water that is too cold can lead to under-extraction.

Tip 4: Master the Steeping Time

The recommended steeping time for a French press is around 4 minutes. However, you can adjust the time slightly depending on your taste preferences. Longer steeping times can result in a stronger and bolder flavor, while shorter times may produce a milder cup.

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Tip 5: Pour and Enjoy Immediately

French press coffee is best enjoyed immediately after brewing. Leaving the coffee in contact with the grounds for too long can result in an over-extracted and bitter taste. Pour the freshly brewed espresso-like coffee into your cup, savor the aroma, and take the first sip while it’s still hot.

Comparison Table: French Press vs. Espresso Machine

French Press Espresso Machine
Cost Relatively low cost Expensive
Control High control over the brewing process Varying levels of control depending on the machine
Flavor Rich and full-bodied Intense and concentrated
Crema No crema Potential for a thick layer of crema
Portability Highly portable Not portable


In conclusion, making espresso with a French press is a rewarding and enjoyable process. It allows you to create a rich and full-bodied cup of coffee that closely resembles espresso, without the need for expensive equipment.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and experimenting with different variables such as coffee-to-water ratio, grind size, and steeping time, you can fine-tune your brewing technique to achieve the perfect cup of espresso-like coffee.

Remember, the French press method provides you with control, affordability, and portability, making it an excellent choice for all coffee enthusiasts. So go ahead, grab your French press, some high-quality coffee beans, and start brewing your own delicious espresso at home!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1: Can I use regular ground coffee instead of espresso beans in a French press?

Yes, you can use regular ground coffee instead of espresso beans in a French press. While espresso beans are specifically roasted and ground to be used in espresso machines, you can still achieve a rich and flavorful brew by using regular ground coffee in a French press. However, keep in mind that the taste may differ slightly, as espresso beans are typically roasted darker and have a finer grind.

Question 2: Do I need to preheat the French press before brewing espresso?

Preheating the French press is not mandatory, but it is recommended as it helps to maintain a consistent temperature. To preheat your French press, simply fill it with warm water and let it sit for a minute. Then, discard the water and start the brewing process.

Question 3: How long should I let the coffee steep in the French press?

The ideal steeping time for making espresso in a French press is around four minutes. This allows enough time for the coffee grounds to release their flavors and oils into the water, resulting in a bold and aromatic brew. However, you can adjust the steeping time to your preference. A longer steeping time will result in a stronger, more intense flavor, while a shorter time will produce a milder brew.

Question 4: Can I make multiple servings of espresso in a French press?

Yes, you can make multiple servings of espresso in a French press. The capacity of a French press can vary, but most models can hold enough water and coffee grounds to make multiple cups of espresso. Simply adjust the ratio of coffee to water according to the number of servings you want to make. For example, for two servings, you can use double the amount of coffee and water mentioned in the recipe.

Question 5: Is there a specific grind size I should use for making espresso in a French press?

Yes, the grind size is crucial for a successful espresso extraction in a French press. For a French press, a coarse grind is preferred as it allows the water to flow evenly through the coffee grounds and reduces the chances of over-extraction. Using a fine grind, similar to what is used for espresso machines, can result in an overly strong and bitter brew. Aim for a consistency similar to kosher salt or breadcrumbs when grinding your coffee beans for a French press.

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Randolf Fredric

Randolf Fredric

A young brewmaster of words, crafting captivating tales over coffee's rhythmic symphony, stirring minds with each blog post.


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