Only some have an expensive espresso machine, but if you’re craving espresso but need the means to make it at home, there is a way you can do it: using your French press.
Ok, French press espresso won’t be precisely the same as an espresso machine coffee, but it does the trick when that’s all you’ve got.
This article will teach you how to make espresso-like coffee using your French press.
How to Make Espresso in A French Press: What You’ll Need
There are many coffee recipes for making espresso with a French press. Here’s our take on things you’ll need for an excellent coffee.
Besides the French press, you’ll need a few things to get your espresso-like coffee just right. Here’s what you’ll need:
The proper coffee: making French press espresso will still require espresso coffee. This is important if you want a typical espresso flavor with the right bitterness.
The espresso roast should comprise medium-finely ground coffee beans. Espresso coffee grounds are typically very fine, but when used to make a French press espresso, you’ll find this leaves sediment that’s difficult to strain through the mesh filter.
As such, it’s better to use a medium-fine grind size.
What Are the Best Coffee Beans to Use?
If you’re making the coffee from scratch and grinding your beans, choosing dark roast beans specifically for espresso use is best. Espresso roasts are darker and have a more robust flavor profile.
Coffee beans designed for a dedicated espresso machine can withstand a higher coffee-to-water ratio.
They usually carry the label ‘espresso’ or ‘Italian roast.’ Espresso or espresso beans are typically a mix of different coffee varieties to create a full-bodied and complex flavorful cup.
Freshly roasted coffee beans will always be a great choice – we always look for a roast date on the bag and try to use them up within a few weeks of the roast date. This ensures optimal taste and freshness.
Grind Your Beans
After selecting the right coffee beans for your French press espresso, you’ll need to grind them to the right coffee grind size for this method.
You’d use finely ground coffee when you make espresso using a fancy machine. However, this causes problems in a French press as it becomes challenging to plunge and separate the coffee grounds from the brew.
As such, you should use a medium-fine grind size to compensate. This will be a finer grind than making standard coffee in a French press.
Not Grinding the Beans Yourself? Instead, Use Espresso Roast Medium-Fine Ground Coffee.
Only some people with a French press have their own coffee grinder. As such, you should buy ground coffee that suits this way of making espresso (or an espresso-style coffee).
As mentioned above, ground coffee designed for espresso machines will be too fine.
So instead, looking for an espresso roast that’s a medium-fine grind size would be best. If that’s difficult to find, choose an Italian or dark roast.
Making Your French Press Espresso
Now that you’ve sorted your coffee, it’s time to start brewing. Here are the steps to take.
Heat Your French Press.
When you heat your French press before you start brewing coffee, you help ensure it stays at the optimal temperature while brewing.
If you pour warm water straight into the French press onto the ground coffee, you’ll lose some heat as it heats the glass container. This can affect the result of your brew.
It’s easy to preheat the French press. First, fill it with hot water from your electric kettle, then let it rest for a few minutes to warm up the glass.
Then, discard the water to begin your brew and ensure more boiling water is ready.
Put the Coffee Grounds Into the Preheated French Press.
Forget what you’ve been told about the coffee-to-water ratio for a French press! For French press espresso, you’ll need to double it.
If you’re using a tablespoon measuring, this equates to two tablespoons for every cup of water.
Allow the Coffee to Bloom with The Lid On
When you’ve measured your ground coffee, add a small amount of water to the grounds. Then, before putting on the lid (to retain the heat), stir briefly to ensure all grounds are saturated.
Then, wait up to one minute. When you stir and allow the coffee to bloom, it releases gas stored in the ground coffee to produce delicious espresso aromas and release its natural oils.
Pour in The Rest of The Hot Water.
After allowing the coffee beans to bloom, pour in the remaining water.
Remember that you’re not making French press coffee, so you won’t need as much water. It would be best if you didn’t stir the mix at this point either, as this might cause the grounds to fall, which can alter its extraction.
Put the lid on and wait the required time (3-4 minutes)
Plunge Your French Press Espresso.
After the brewing has finished, slowly press the plunger halfway. Then, pull the coffee plunger back before plunging to the bottom.
This will help create a small amount of foam. Though this won’t be like a proper espresso machine crema, it will be the best you’ll get.
Once you’ve plunged your French press espresso, serve immediately. If you like to drink a hot espresso, preheat your cups like you did the French press by adding some boiling water for a minute or two, then discarding them.
How Long Should You Steep Espresso in A French Press?
Typically, espresso is brewed quickly under high pressure. This allows the full flavor to be extracted differently than brewing coffee through immersion.
You should steep the coffee for 3 to 4 minutes for French press espresso. As with all coffee brewing methods, the ideal steeping time can vary depending on several variables. These include:
- Personal preference and taste
- The grind size of the coffee beans
- The type of coffee beans being used
Other Ways to Make Espresso Without A Machine
If you try making French press espresso and aren’t impressed, there are other ways to make espresso without a machine.
This is a manual coffee maker that uses both immersion and pressure to extract the coffee. To make espresso-style coffee with an AeroPress, here are the steps:
- Use finely ground coffee.
- Use a high coffee-to-water ratio.
- Add the coffee and hot water to the AeroPress.
- Allow it to steep for a short period.
- Press the plunger down to extract the coffee under pressure.
- Pour into your cup.
Related: Check out the Aeropress on Amazon
The Moka Pot
The Moka Pot is one of the most popular methods for brewing coffee, particularly in Italy, where it was invented. However, this is a simple way to make strong coffee compared to the fancy machines in coffee shops.
This method uses pressure to extract an espresso-style coffee. To use it, here are the steps:
- Fill the bottom chamber with cold water.
- Add your coffee to the filter basket.
- Place the pot on the stove and wait for it to boil.
The stove heat will make the water boil, which causes steam. The steam rises through the chamber and up through the ground coffee before condensing as brewed coffee in the upper chamber.
When the coffee has finished, pour it immediately into a cup. Espresso is a drink commonly drunk without milk, but if you like milk in your cup of coffee, go ahead!
Related: Check out the Bialetti Moka Express on Amazon
Bitter Espresso from A French Press?
If your coffee tastes bitter, there are a few things you can adjust to try to improve the flavor.
Firstly, adjust the grind size. You could have a bitter-tasting brew if the ground coffee beans are too fine. Try making your coffee with a slightly coarser grind size to see if it improves its taste.
Next, shorted the steeping time. It might taste bitter if you steep espresso in a French press for too long. A good starting point is 3 to 4 minutes.
Another thing to try is to adjust the coffee-to-water ratio. You can have a bitter cup of coffee if you have too much coffee grounds and insufficient water.
The quality of the beans can also affect your brew. If you have bitter coffee despite making alterations, it could be down to the quality of the French press coffee beans you’re using. If this is something you suspect, use high-quality, fresh coffee beans.
Finally, make sure your water is at the right temperature. When pouring over the grounds, the ideal brewing temperature is between 195 °F and 205 °F (90-96 °C). Also, preheating the French press will make a difference.
Remember that brewing coffee with French presses is a process of trial and error. Therefore, you should experiment with different ways to brew espresso in a French press before you find your perfect combination.
Final Thoughts: Why It’s Impossible to Make an Authentic Espresso in A French Press
Traditional espresso shots are made with 9 bars of pressure or more and are extracted in less than a minute. For reference, one bar of pressure is the air pressure at sea level.
As such, it’s tough to replicate this exact flavor with other coffee recipes and methods.
You can still make the best coffee with other methods too! Milk or no milk, your coffee is as individual as you are.