Making Espresso in French Press

French Press Finesse: Making Espresso in French Press

By Coffeenated Stories | 10 min read

Updated On: JAN 23 2024

Disclaimer: CoffeenatedStories.com is a member of the Amazon Associates Program, and as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Welcome, coffee enthusiasts and curious brewers! If you've ever longed for the bold intensity of an espresso but found yourself without an espresso machine, you're in for a treat.

Today, we're diving into a world where creativity meets tradition in the realm of coffee brewing. This article is about getting one step closer to espresso with a tool you might already have in your kitchen – the French press.

Making Espresso in French Press
Making Espresso in French Press
Photo by Denys Gromov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-a-kettle-beside-a-coffee-press-4765856/

For many, the French press is a beloved method for its simplicity and the rich, full-bodied coffee it produces. But can it mimic the strong, concentrated essence of an espresso?

While we must admit that a French press can't fully replicate the high pressure and finesse of an espresso machine, don't underestimate its potential. With a few clever tweaks and a bit of coffee know-how, your French press can produce a cup of coffee that's as close to espresso as it gets – intense, robust, and deeply satisfying.

Pouring French Press Coffee
Pouring French Press Coffee
Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/poured-coffee-in-teacup-ASmyV3IHgAI

In this guide, we'll explore how to coax your French press into making a brew that stands toe-to-toe with espresso's strength and character. From the right grind size to the perfect water temperature, we'll cover all the essentials.

Whether you're a seasoned French press user or a curious newbie, get ready to push the boundaries of what your French press can do. So, grab your humble French press and a coffee grinder, and let's embark on this flavorful journey together!

Understanding Espresso and French Press

In the world of coffee, espresso and French press coffee stand as two distinct titans, each boasting its unique brewing style and flavor profile. To embark on crafting a rich brew with a French press, it's essential first to understand what sets these two methods apart and where they intersect.

The Essence of Espresso

Espresso is more than just a coffee drink; it's an art form. Brewed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee under high pressure, espresso is celebrated for its rich crema, full body, and intense flavor.

The espresso brewing process extracts the coffee's oils, flavors, and aromas in a concentrated form, delivering a small, potent shot that's the heart of many favorite coffee drinks.

Photo by James Kovin on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/white-ceramic-mug-on-silver-coffee-maker-H62cHzbS4Z8

The Charm of the French Press

On the other hand, the French press, also known as a cafetière, takes a more patient and gentle approach. It involves steeping coarsely ground coffee in hot water, allowing the brew to develop its flavors over a few minutes. The plunger and a mesh filter then separate the grounds from the brewed coffee.

The French press method is known for producing a full-bodied and richly flavored coffee, capturing the essence of the beans in a way that paper filters cannot.

French Press Coffee
French Press Coffee
Photo by Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash - URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-pouring-coffee-on-glass-cup-SMPe5xfbPT0

Where do They Meet?

While the French press can't achieve the high pressure of an espresso machine, it has its unique strengths. The key lies in its ability to fully immerse the coffee grounds in water, which allows for a thorough extraction of flavors.

When tweaked appropriately, the French press can produce a coffee that, while not an authentic espresso, shares some characteristics: a strong, concentrated brew with a depth of flavor that can rival the intensity of an espresso.

In this guide, we will discover how to leverage the French press's strengths to create a coffee that satisfies the craving for a bold, espresso-like experience. Understanding the nuances of these two methods will help us appreciate the French press's potential and guide us in manipulating its brewing process to inch closer to the espresso's boldness and richness.

The Key to a Stronger French Press Brew

As we delve into transforming your French press routine into a journey toward an espresso-like brew, we must focus on what makes the most significant difference: the coffee-to-water ratio and the grind size.

These two elements are instrumental in altering the strength and body of your coffee, bringing it closer to the robust nature of an espresso.

Coffee Lover's Delight

Mueller French Press

Mueller French Press is an exceptional choice that will exceed your expectations.

Mueller French Press
  • Triple-layered filter structure: This innovative design ensures that no sediment enters your cup while allowing the delicious coffee oils to pass through.
  • Matching travel canister: This convenient addition allows you to carry enough coffee beans or grounds for two whole batches, ensuring that you can enjoy your favorite brew even on the go.
  • Double-layered stainless steel: This coffee maker not only does it retain heat exceptionally well, keeping your coffee hot for a remarkable 60 minutes longer than thinner steel and glass models, but it is also drop-proof and rust-proof.
  • Versatile: It serves as a handy appliance for brewing tea, creating pleasant MCT oil coffee, indulging in hot chocolate, experimenting with cold brew, frothing milk to perfection, and even making infused beverages with almond milk, cashew milk, or fruit infusions.
  • Excellent gift choice: Whether it's a housewarming, wedding, birthday, or any celebration, this coffee maker will impress coffee and tea lovers alike.

Coffee-to-Water Ratio: The Starting Point

The heart of a strong French press brew lies in the coffee-to-water ratio. This ratio determines how concentrated your coffee will be. Typically, a French press ratio hovers around 1:15 (coffee to water), but to edge toward espresso territory, we're going to tip the scales a bit.

Aiming for a 1:7 or even a 1:6 ratio can lead to a more intense and concentrated brew, which is desirable when making espresso in French Press.

That means for every gram of coffee, you use 7 (or 6) grams of water. These ratios result in a more concentrated brew, echoing the intensity found in espresso shots.

Measuring with Precision

Precision is your ally here. Using a kitchen scale to measure your coffee and water ensures accuracy and consistency - critical factors in replicating your perfect brew each time.

Eyeballing measurements might be convenient, but it can lead to varied results.

Precision and Convenience

TIMEMORE Coffee Scale

The TIMEMORE Coffee Scale is a versatile, highly accurate digital scale explicitly designed for coffee enthusiasts. Its high-precision sensor delivers precise measurements ranging from 0.1g to 2kg.

TIMEMORE Coffee Scale
  • Crafted from high-quality acrylic, the TIMEMORE Coffee Scale offers durability in a compact and thin design. Including a silicone waterproof pad provides excellent heat insulation and waterproof protection and safeguards the surface of the scale.
  • The large backlit LCD screen prominently displays the weight in grams, ensuring clear visibility. The scale also features an automatic timing function, simplifying making and brewing coffee. That allows you to control the extraction time and weight without interference. The scale is well-suited for espresso and pour-over coffee preparation.
  • The scale is equipped with a built-in 1600mAh rechargeable lithium battery. With a battery life of up to 10 hours, you can rely on the scale for extended brewing sessions. The scale also includes an automatic shut-off feature that turns off the timer function after 3 minutes of inactivity, conserving power during standby periods.

Grind Size: Fine-Tuning for Strength

While the French press is known for requiring a medium-coarse to coarse grind, when aiming for a more potent brew, you should fine-tune this a bit.

A slightly finer grind than usual, medium to medium-fine (though not as fine as for espresso), increases the surface area in contact with water, enhancing the extraction of bold flavors.

However, be cautious – too fine, and you risk over-extraction and a gritty cup. The goal is a balanced grind that can extract more without overdoing it.

Grind Consistency is Key

Consistent grind size is crucial for a balanced brew. Inconsistent grinds, where some coffee particles are too coarse and others too fine, can lead to uneven extraction, making your coffee taste bad.

A quality burr grinder is a worthy investment for this reason, as it provides a more uniform grind compared to a blade grinder.

Our Favorite
Breville Smart Grinder Pro

Breville Smart Grinder Pro

Breville Smart Grinder Pro features stainless steel conical burrs and a range of 60 precise grind settings, from the finest espresso to the coarsest French Press grind.

Value for Money
OXO Brew - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

OXO Brew - Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

With 15 grind size settings and additional micro settings, OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder caters to your every coffee need. From fine grounds ideal for espresso to coarser grinds for French press or cold brew, you can easily fine-tune your coffee's taste to perfection.

Water Temperature: Extracting Richness

Water temperature in coffee brewing is like the temperature in cooking - it needs to be just right to extract the full spectrum of flavors.

For French press coffee, particularly when aiming for a stronger brew, the ideal temperature range is between 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C).

Water at this temperature is hot enough to extract the coffee's robust flavors effectively but not so hot that it causes over-extraction, leading to bitterness.

Precision, Style, and Convenience

Mecity Professional Electric Kettle

Designed with precision and elegance in mind, this 27oz (800ml) electric kettle allows you to select the ideal temperature from 100°F to 212°F (38°C to 100°C).

Mecity Professional Electric Kettle
  • With their advanced thermostat and 2.0-inch LCD display, you can easily monitor and control the real-time temperature, set temperature, hold time, and more.
  • The kettle has multiple protection features, including an anti-dry function and automatic shut-off mechanisms. The insulated handle and the heat-resistant lid ensure safe handling.
  • Made from BPA-free material and food-grade 304 stainless steel, you can enjoy pure-tasting water without worrying about harmful substances leaching into your beverages.

But how do you achieve this temperature without a thermometer? A simple trick is to bring the water to a boil and then let it sit for about 30 to 45 seconds. This brief waiting period typically brings it down to the desired range.

Steeping Time: Patience for Perfection

Finally, consider your steeping time. For a stronger brew, a longer steep might seem intuitive. However, the key is balance.

Steeping for too long can lead to bitterness, especially when brewing a finer grind, while too short a steep might under-extract. Start with 4 minutes and adjust according to the grind size and your taste preference.

By understanding and adjusting these key factors, you're well on your way to transforming your French press coffee into a beverage that's not just a morning routine but an adventurous journey into the depths of rich, bold flavors reminiscent of classic espresso.

Now that we've delved into the theories and nuances of creating an espresso-like brew using a French press, it's time to put theory into practice. In the next section, we'll walk through a detailed, practical, step-by-step guide to brewing your own rich and robust coffee in a French press.

Making espresso in French Press: Step-by-Step

With the groundwork of grind size, water temperature, and ratios laid, we now venture into the heart of the brewing process.

Follow these steps to transform your French press routine into a rich, espresso-like experience. Remember, while precision is vital, your personal touch is what makes each cup uniquely satisfying.

Step 1: Preheat Your French Press

Start by preheating your French press. Pour some hot water into the empty press, swirl it around, and discard the water. This step ensures that your brewing temperature remains consistent.

Step 2: Grind and Add Your Coffee

Measure, grind, and add your ground coffee to the French press. Add 1/3 Cup (about 30 to 35g) of ground coffee. Remember, we're using a slightly finer grind than usual for the French press and more of it.

Adding Coffee Grounds to French Press
Adding Coffee Grounds to French Press
Weighting the Coffee Grounds
Weighting the Coffee Grounds
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-person-holding-stainless-cup-pouring-ground-coffee-on-french-press-7488697/
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-french-press-on-top-of-weighing-scale-7488695/

A 1:6 to 1:7 coffee-to-water ratio is what we're aiming for to achieve that robust flavor, so slightly more than 3/4 of a Cup (180 to 190ml) of hot water is needed to achieve our ratio.

Step 3: The First Pour (Blooming)

Pour water just off the boil (roughly 195°F to 205°F or 90°C to 96°C) over the coffee grounds. Pour enough water to cover the grounds and let it sit for 30 seconds. This initial pour allows for the 'bloom' - where gases are released from the coffee, leading to a fuller extraction.

Adding a small amount of hot water (blooming)
Adding a Small Amount of Hot Water (blooming)
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-pouring-hot-water-on-french-press-7488706/

Step 4: Add the Remaining Water

After the bloom, add the remaining water. Pour in a slow and steady spiral to ensure even saturation. This consistency is key to a balanced extraction.

Adding the Rest of the Hot Water
Adding the Rest of the Hot Water
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-barista-pouring-hot-water-on-french-press-7488696/

Step 5: Let It Brew

Place the lid on your French press with the plunger pulled all the way up. Let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes. This time is crucial; too short, and you'll under-extract, too long, and you risk bitterness.

Brewing French Press Coffee
Brewing French Press Coffee
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-french-press-on-top-on-weighing-scale-7488710/

Step 6: The Plunge

After 4 minutes, it's time to plunge. Press the plunger down slowly and steadily. A rushed plunge can disturb the grounds, leading to a muddy cup.

Slowly Pressing the Plunger
Slowly Pressing the Plunger
Finished Plunging
Finished Plunging
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-barista-using-french-press-7488699/
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-woman-using-french-press-7488702/

Step 7: Serve Immediately

Pour the coffee immediately after plunging. Allowing it to sit in the French press can result in over-extraction and a bitter taste.

Serving French Press Coffee
Serving French Press Coffee
Photo by Los Muertos Crew: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-person-using-french-press-7488694/

Step 8: Enjoy and Adjust

Now, savor your brew. Pay attention to the flavors, strength, and body. Is it close to your desired espresso-like experience? If not, tweak the grind size, ratio, or brewing time in your next batch.

Through this detailed brewing process, you're not just making coffee but crafting an experience. Each step is an opportunity to refine and perfect your brew. So take your time, enjoy the process, and bask in the rich, bold flavors your French press can deliver.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

In pursuit of that perfect French press brew, especially one that approximates the richness of espresso, it's easy to encounter a few pitfalls along the way.

Being aware of these common mistakes can help you steer clear of them, ensuring your brewing process is smooth and your coffee is as delicious as possible.

Over-Grinding Your Beans

One of the easiest mistakes to make is over-grinding your coffee beans. For the French press, the grind should be coarse enough to be filtered out by the press but fine enough to enhance extraction.

A grind that's too fine can slip through the mesh, leaving you with a gritty cup. So, don't go too fine with grinding your beans.

Using Stale Coffee

The allure of pre-ground coffee can be tempting, but using stale coffee is a surefire way to a lackluster cup. Coffee starts to lose its vibrancy and flavor soon after grinding. For the best taste and a full-bodied brew, use freshly ground beans.

Incorrect Water Temperature

Another common error is using water that's either too hot or not hot enough. Boiling water can cause off flavors and bitterness, while water that is too cool will under-extract, leading to a weak brew. Aim for that sweet spot of 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C).

Inconsistent Ratios and Measurements

Eyeballing your coffee-to-water ratio can lead to inconsistent brews. Use a scale for precise measurements to ensure you get the same delightful experience with every brew.

Rushing the Plunge

Plunging too fast is a mistake that can disturb the brewing process. A gentle, steady plunge is vital to keeping the grounds at the bottom, ensuring a clean cup.

Letting the Coffee Sit After Plunging

Letting your coffee sit in the French press after plunging can cause it to continue brewing, which might lead to bitterness. Serve it immediately after plunging for the best taste.

By avoiding these common pitfalls, you're setting yourself up for success in your quest to brew a French press coffee that's as close to espresso as possible. And remember, every coffee enthusiast's journey is unique. Share your experiences, learn from fellow brewers, and continue to explore the vast and wonderful world of coffee. Happy brewing!

Read Next:

The Surprising Versatility of Your French Press: It’s Not Just for Coffee Anymore!
Choosing the Right French Press Size: A Guide for Coffee Lovers
Brewing Espresso With Darker and Lighter Roasts