Can You Make Real Espresso with a French Press? Everything You Need To Know

The process of making espresso is a complex and precise one, requiring specialized equipment and technique. Typically, it involves forcing hot pressurized water through finely-ground coffee to produce a small, concentrated shot of coffee with a rich crema on top.

However, when it comes to making espresso with a French press, the process is quite different.

Firstly, it’s important to note that a French press doesn’t actually produce true espresso. Without the necessary pressure during extraction, the resulting coffee will lack some of the characteristics of real espresso such as flavor and intensity. However, you can still create a strong brew using a French press that resembles an espresso shot.

Follow the recipe below to prepare espresso using your French press.

The Process of Making Espresso With A French Press

Espresso in French Press
Espresso in French Press

Espresso is best when produced using a high-quality espresso machine. Nonetheless, French presses may be used to prepare espresso. Let’s have a look at the step-by-step procedure of creating espresso with the French press.

  • Step 1: Choose medium-ground coffee beans for the ideal flavor. Use half a cup of coffee grounds per cup of water to get a strong cup of espresso. More precisely, you need to maintain a 1:2 coffee-to-water ratio.
  • Step 2: Preheat the French press with hot water (200 to 205°F)
  • Step 3: Remove water that was used for the pre-heating purposes, and now add coffee grounds into the French press pitcher. Add a small amount of water just to soak the coffee grounds, stir, and wait for 30 seconds to “bloom” your coffee.
  • Step 4: Pour the remaining water, and let it steep for 4 minutes. If you want a stronger brew, you can steep it for 5-6 minutes.
  • Step 5: To create a layer of foam similar to the crema of an espresso shot, slowly push the plunger halfway down, pull it back up, and then plunge again. T
  • Step 6: Pour the espresso into a preheated cup and enjoy!

Using French presses to make espresso is not a very popular idea. But if you go through the above-mentioned steps, you may love the espresso made with your French press.


Espresso Prepared Using A French Press
Espresso Prepared Using A French Press

The resulting coffee concentrate will have a strong, rich flavor. But it will not have the same crema or intensity as a true espresso shot [1].

It can be used as a base for milk-based drinks like lattes or cappuccinos. Overall, it will not produce the same results as a true espresso shot in terms of flavor and texture.

You can use French Roast coffee for espresso methods, but the flavor won’t be quite as distinct. Espresso roasted coffee is prized for its robust flavor notes and more oily mouthfeel. French Roasts have toasted flavors, but still lean toward the milder side by comparison.

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It’s important to note that using a French press to make Espresso is not a true substitute for a dedicated espresso machine. It may produce a strong and flavorful coffee concentrate, but the same intensity or crema as a true espresso shot will be missed.

Additionally, the French press method is not as consistent as an espresso machine. So, when you make espresso with a French press, you may need to be careful. It may take some experimentation to get the brewing process just right.

Espresso with a French Press: Some Relevant Facts

Let’s discuss the relevant facts you should know when you make Espresso with French Press.

What Beans Are Best for Espresso in French Press?

While any coffee bean might be used in French presses, some beans are better suited. Better beans produce strong espresso. Look for beans labeled as espresso roast, which are typically darker and oilier than other roasts. These beans are designed to make a robust flavor that’s similar to espresso.

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Types of Grinders You Need to Make the Perfect Espresso

The type of grinder you use can make a significant difference in the taste and quality of your coffee. For espresso, you will need a burr grinder that produces a fine and consistent grind. Especially, a flat burr grinder might be helpful rather than the conical one.

Blade grinders can be an option too. But when it’s about producing the same consistency, blade gear might lack a lead against the burr grinders.

If you want to make espresso-style coffee in the French press you need a grinder that can produce medium to medium-coarse grind. Baratza encore is my go-to grinder, and I also recommend that to you.

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The Right Temperature & Coffee to Water Ratio for Maximum Taste

For the best taste, you need to use water at the right temperature and a coffee-to-water ratio that’s appropriate for your brewing method.

For a regular French press coffee, a ratio of about 1:15 should be fine in this case, or for every 1 gm of coffee, 15-gram water is perfect to be particular.

But for making espresso, the water temperature should be around 200~205°F, and the coffee-to-water ratio should be 1:2.

Head to Head comparison of Espresso from Espresso Machine & French Press Espresso

ParametersEspresso from MachineFrench Press Espresso
Way of MakingUse high pressure (8~9 bars) to force hot water through finely-ground coffee beans.Use gravity, and immersion methods.
Coffee-to-water ratio1:2 ~1:51:2 ~1:5
CreamA thick cream layer is visibleThe Crema layer is not consistent
Visual appearancesEspresso Prepared Using A French PressEspresso from a Machine
Taste & flavourStrong, and bold, but lacks a few specialties of espressoSuperb, strong, rich aroma, and delicious

Troubleshooting Tips If You Find That Brewing Espresso with a French Press Isn’t Working Out

To make a perfect French Press espresso, pay attention to the freshness of the coffee, grind size, steep time, and dosage.

Coffee loses flavor as it ages, so look for a roasted date on the bag and avoid stale coffee.

A coarser grind is ideal for regular French Press coffee [2], but for making espresso go for medium grind size. Freshly ground coffee is preferred over pre-ground coffee. Steeping for 3-6 minutes is common, but 4 minutes is recommended for a balanced taste.

Dosage is a personal choice, but a 1:2 ratio is a good starting point. If you find that is too intense you can always try any ratio up to 1:5.

Press the plunger down slowly to avoid coffee sediment. Otherwise, sediments may end up in your coffee cup.

Alternatives to Make Espresso

French press is a favorite way to make espresso without a machine. It produces excellent flavor and doesn’t require any special equipment. However, if you’re looking for other options, here are a few alternatives:

Manual espresso maker: This device is relatively inexpensive at just $66 and produces the best flavor among all non-machine options. The manual espresso maker is also portable and easy to use.

Aeropress: While cheaper than a manual espresso maker, the Aeropress does not provide as great of a taste. However, it’s still decent in a pinch and won’t break the bank.

Moka pot: For making espresso-like coffee, the Moka pot stands out as one of the best options available. It can also be used to make actual espresso if brewed correctly.

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Portable Espresso Maker


  • Delivers quality espresso in no time
  • Portable
  • Easy to operate

Moka Pot


  • One of the best for espresso.
  • Very simple operation.
  • Provide rich aroma



  • Super cool brewing
  • Ensures optimum extraction
  • Portable


To summarize, French press coffee and Espresso differ in their brewing methods, taste, and flavor profiles.

The experiment showed that an authentic espresso may need an espresso machine, it is not bad really to make it with French presses. The French press method requires a slightly different approach and may not produce the same crema layer.

However, the French press method can still be a handy option for those who are not in a condition to have an espresso machine.


Sujit Modak

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