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Looking down on a shot of espresso in a tiny mason glass with froth on top.

French Press Espresso

Quick, easy, and affordable. A French press is a great way to win yourself a small coffeehouse moment at home. This recipe makes two double shots of espresso. But it's the ratio of grounds to water and attention to detail that create a great espresso at home.  

  • Total Time: 35 minute
  • Yield: 2 Double Shots of Espresso 1x


  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (18 grams) of dark roast coffee, medium-fine grind
  • ½ cup of near-boiling water (about 195° F to 205° F)
  • 4 to 6 ounces of whole or reduced-fat milk for caffè latte or cappuccino, optional 


  1. Heat the water. Bring the water to just below the boiling point in a pot, kettle, or microwave. If you own a probe thermometer, aim for a temperature of 197° F to 205° F. Otherwise, watch for tiny bubbles constantly breaching the top of the water. Pre-warm the French press and glasses with hot tap water for a few minutes to prevent a fast-cooling espresso (pour the water out before adding the coffee). 
  2. Grind and measure the beans. While the water heats up, grind whole beans to a medium-fine grind. Too small and the granules will escape through the plunger filter when you press down. Measure and add your ground coffee to the French press. Weigh out the grounds or be as precise as possible with a measuring cup and tablespoon spoon.
  3. Pour half the hot water over the grinds. As soon as the water is hot enough, measure the correct amount into a heat-proof measuring glass. Then pour about half of it into the French press in a circular motion to moisten all of the grounds.
  4. Seal the pot and steep for one minute. Place the lid on the French press to trap the heat, but don't press the plunger down yet.
  5. Add the remaining water. Remove the lid and add the remaining half of the measured water. Seal the press again (but don't plunge) and let the espresso steep for two or three more minutes depending on your preferred strength (a longer steep equals a stronger drink).
  6. Pump to create crema. Pump the plunger several times against the top of the espresso in the press to create froth (the crema). Then press the plunger all the way down to trap the grounds. 
  7. Serve. Pour the espresso into warm glasses and serve immediately.

For Cappuccino or Caffè Latte

  1. Heat the milk. Heat the milk on the stove or in a microwave-safe measuring glass to almost simmering. Or just measure the milk into an electric frother and choose the correct setting for your chosen drink. For a double-shot cappuccino, measure out four ounces of milk for each drink (traditional cappuccinos call for one part espresso, one part milk, and one part milk foam). Lattès call for two parts wet foam and one part espresso. 
  2. Create the foam. Attach the lid to a manual frother or with a frothing stick aerate the warm milk until it foams and increases in volume. If cappuccino is what you're after, create as much dry foam as as possible with your tool. 
  3. Pour over hot espresso. Pour the milk into the hot espresso using a spoon to hold back the foam for cappuccinos. Then spoon the milk on top of the drinks and serve. 


On the Ratio

Depending on how strong and bitter you prefer your espresso, you may want to add more water or more coffee grounds. This recipe as listed makes for a traditionally-strong double shot. For a lighter one, dial back the coffee by a tablespoon. Or for even stronger espressos, measure in up to 20 grams for every half cup of water. 

Chef's Tips

  • Measure the water after you heat it. The key to a balanced, just-bitter-enough shot of espresso is steeping the correct weight of grounds in the right amount of water. And since water evaporates as it heats up, you could end up with less than the ideal volume of water if you measure beforehand. So I recommend placing a measuring glass near the stove to portion out the water once it's hot.
  • Preheat your cups and the French press. Pouring hot espresso into a cold glass will lead to a quick-cooling, lukewarm espresso drink. Likewise for the French press. So warm the French press and your glasses with hot water before brewing and serving the espresso. The hottest water your tap will give gets the job done.
  • Author: Chef Christina
  • Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1-2 minutes
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: French Press
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: french press espresso, how to make espresso at home, how to make espresso without a machine