There’s nothing quite like kickstarting your day with a rich shot of espresso. Luckily, you don’t need an expensive or dedicated machine. You can make a delicious espresso using a brewer you probably already own: a French press.
Whether you’re looking to please an espresso-loving guest or whip up a delicious affogato, you’re only a few short steps from a great shot (or three) of espresso. Keep reading to find out how you can easily brew espresso using a French press.
Traditional espresso is made by pushing hot water through tightly packed, finely ground coffee using at least nine bars of pressure, which is nine times the atmospheric pressure present at sea level. You won’t be able to exert that kind of pressure using a French press, so you won’t be producing a fully authentic shot of espresso. Don’t worry, though: your French press espresso will come out strong, dark, and smooth.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
Start by taking the lid and filter out of your French press. You’ll want the filter pushed up to the lid.
Put the water on to boil. You want it to be just below boiling temperature, around 195° F, when you add it to the French press. To easily achieve this, you can let the water boil and then take it off the heat to cool for a few seconds.
While the water is boiling, you may want to pre-warm your French press so that the glass doesn’t crack. Glass doesn’t conduct heat well, so sudden temperature changes can cause even tempered, heat-resistant glass to crack or shatter. Pour warm to hot water into the glass container and let it sit for a few minutes.
To brew traditional French press coffee, you want a medium grind that won’t get stuck in or come through the metal filter. Classic espresso is made with finely ground beans. To brew espresso in a French press, you’ll want a grind level between these two. Too coarse and your espresso will be weak. Too fine and your filter will get stuck or your espresso will come out very silty. Grind your beans to a medium-fine consistency.
For espresso-strength French press coffee, you’ll want to double the ratio of coffee grounds to water. This will be about 2 tablespoons of grounds for each cup of water.
Pour a little hot water onto your beans, moving in a circle. Wait a few seconds to allow them to bloom, releasing their delicious oils and aromas.
Pour in the rest of the water. Keep in mind that a shot of espresso is only one ounce, so you won’t need as much water as you would when brewing typical French press coffee. Don’t stir, as this can cause your grounds to fall out of suspension and alter the extraction.
Rest the lid and filter on top of the French press. Make sure the filter is above the grounds and water. Leave the espresso to brew for three or four minutes. If you want it even stronger, you can leave it to brew for longer, but don’t leave it too long, or it may become over-extracted and bitter.
When your espresso has finished brewing, plunge the filter down halfway. Then pull it back to the top and plunge it to the bottom. This will create a small layer of foam on the top of the espresso, approximating the crema found on a traditional espresso shot. Pour it into an espresso cup and drink it right away.
If you prefer less mouthfeel, you can pour your espresso through a paper or cloth filter, but keep in mind that this may alter the flavor.
Did you know that you can also brew espresso using a drip coffee machine? Learn how with our quick guide.
Concentrated, creamy, and rich, a shot of espresso is a great way to start your day. But if you don’t want to buy an expensive, complicated espresso machine, don’t worry. Using just a French press, you can easily brew a shot of rich, flavorful espresso. We hope this guide helps you to brew great espresso at home, even if you don’t have a dedicated espresso machine.
By Kate MacDonnell
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