French Press Breakfast Chocolate

My French Press Breakfast Chocolate recipe is an easy method for making a thick, rich, frothed hot chocolate just like the Europeans enjoy! Drinkable chocolate is a great mid afternoon pick me up, or a decadent after dinner treat.

Try my French Press Breakfast Chocolate instead of coffee!

I’m taking a break from my daily coffee routine. I’m fixing myself a classic European breakfast chocolate. It’s incredibly rich and sophisticated thanks to the high cacao bittersweet chocolate I’m using, and incredibly thick and frothy thanks to my French press.

This is the kind of hot chocolate so thick and rich that you’d swear it was made with pure heavy cream. But it’s not. 

My oldest daughter and I have been on the quest for the secret to a thick homemade drinking chocolate for a couple of years now. If you’ve ever had drinking chocolate from one of those super fancy chocolate shops you’ll know what I’m talking about. Those drinks are chock full of fat and calories, but with this simple technique, you can even use low fat or skim milk!

The secret to thick rich hot chocolate

There are two keys to the puzzle. 

  • The first secret to getting  the decadent chocolate flavor you crave is to use actual chocolate, not cocoa powder. I discovered this technique when I used my food processor to chop chocolate for truffles. I let the machine run a little longer than necessary and I ended up with a fine powder. With the chocolate ground so fine it melts easily into the hot milk—no need for a saucepan on the stove. This process also allows you to store the chocolate in a convenient jar all ready to go for your next batch.

French press drinking chocolate!


  • The second secret to the unbelievable thickness of this hot chocolate is the frothing. The French press makes the perfect easy frother. The milk almost doubles in volume as you pump the press up and down vigorously for about a minute. Your arm will get a good workout and you’ll get impossibly thick luxurious cocoa. Maybe that’s how the French stay so svelte.

Pouring French Press Drinking Chocolate into a white mug

You’ll get plenty of antioxidants from the dark chocolate, and calcium from the milk. 

No added sugar, whipped cream, or marshmallows necessary. This is what Europeans have been drinking for breakfast for generations. It’s truly a wonderful way to start a January morning.

Grinding 10 oz of good quality dark chocolate will yield you a nice jar of ready to use instant hot chocolate mix. I layer mine with leftover vanilla bean pods for extra flavor. If you can’t quite give up your morning coffee, add a little espresso powder to the hot milk. If you want an even more decadent chocolate drink, add more chocolate.

French Press Drinking Chocolate in white mugs

Love hot chocolate? Check out these other recipes on the blog:

tvfgi recommends: a French Press Coffee Pot

A French Press coffee pot is always good to have around. It has saved our mornings on numerous occasions. It not only makes coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, you can use it for making easy mulled or spiced cider as well. In fact you can use it to make all sorts of quick infusions.

French Press Breakfast Chocolate in white cups
3.18 from 299 votes

French Press Breakfast Chocolate

French Press Breakfast Chocolate ~ this easy method makes a thick, rich, frothed hot chocolate just like the Europeans enjoy!  
Course beverage, Breakfast
Cuisine American
Yield 1 cup
Author Sue Moran


  • 10 oz good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate cut in rough chunks
  • leftover vanilla bean pods, optional
  • 1 cup 8 oz milk
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder, optional


  • Put the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Make sure the bowl is completely dry. Process until the chocolate is finely ground. You want a coarse granular texture. Stop if the chocolate starts to clump together and release its oil.
  • Let the chocolate dry at room temperature for several hours. Then process again briefly. The chocolate will have lightened in color.
  • Store the chocolate in a mason type jar with a tight fitting lid. If you are using the vanilla bean pods, layer them in as you fill the jar.
  • Put 4 Tbsp of the chocolate powder in the bottom of the French press. Add in the espresso powder, if using.
  • Put the milk in a quart sized Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, until it just comes to a boil. You can do this on the stove if you want to.
  • Pour the scalding hot milk over the chocolate and put the plunger top on the pot, but don't depress it yet.
  • Let the milk sit for 2 minutes.
  • Then plunge vigorously for 1 minute to froth the hot chocolate. It will increase in volume. Do this on a steady surface.
  • Pour into 1 large or 2 small cups and enjoy!
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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  • Reply
    Wayne Hanson
    July 25, 2020 at 11:40 am

    I’m so glad I came across this. Totally trying it tonight. Just a few questions. 1. I’m not sure if I’d use vanilla bean pods, but if I did, how many would you recommend for this recipe? 2. Am I understanding correctly that if someone were going to use vanilla bean pods, that they would actually layer them in the jar with chocolate? For instance, something like chocolate powder, 1 bean, chocolate powder, 1 bean, chocolate powder, etc. etc. etc.?

    Thanks again for sharing this.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    5 stars
    I was wondering if you do not like dark chocolate and someone would prefer Milk Chocolate. Would that be an option or affect any difference?

    • Reply
      July 4, 2020 at 5:25 am

      That would be just fine, switch it out to what you love.

  • Reply
    February 20, 2020 at 8:20 am

    5 stars
    This was easy and so fabulous!!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Can I make this breakfast chocolate out of cocoa powder,imitation vanilla extract and no expresso powder?

    • Reply
      January 26, 2020 at 8:43 am

      Yes, feel free to experiment and substitute.

  • Reply
    DE Foreman
    January 10, 2020 at 8:15 am

    There are different sizes of presses, I have a large 4 cup press. Does this factor into this recipe?

    • Reply
      January 10, 2020 at 8:31 am

      You can use any size you like, just make sure not to over fill it so you have room to pump the press.

  • Reply
    January 8, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    5 stars
    Hi , it’s looking so yummy!!
    By the way I love the cups with little birds ,
    May I ask where you got them from?

    • Reply
      January 8, 2020 at 5:54 pm

      I think i got them at Cost Plus/World Market Lou.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2020 at 4:20 am

    5 stars
    it works very well with almond milk, the hot chocolate is very creamy. I used dark chocolate with 80% cocoa in order to keep the sugar content low. Greetings from Switzerland 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah Beam
    January 2, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    5 stars
    YAAAAS!!!! I am SO pumped about this! The drinking chocolate bit is amazing, I tried it and am loving it (though I didn’t properly take the time to process my chocolate because I’m impatient, impulsive, and bad at planning) but the MILK FROTHING!!!!! My life has changed. Thank you.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I am going to try this! I’ve been looking for a sugar free hot chocolate recipe and this is definitely sugar free! Thanks!

    • Reply
      October 28, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Hey Laura ~ I just want to be clear that bittersweet chocolate does contain sugar. It’s less than other types of chocolate, but each brand will contain at least 10% sugar. Check your labels if going sugar free is important to you.

      • Reply
        January 1, 2020 at 9:33 am

        Actually, Lilly’s chocolate is made with stevia and is a great sugar free option, also there are baker’s unsweetened chocolate

        • Reply
          April 13, 2020 at 12:03 pm

          Baker’s unsweetened will have a very different taste! The Lilly’s with stevia would be a better option for SF for the taste of hot chocolate.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Hello and thanks for this recipe !
    Can you explain what you mean by espresso powder ?
    Is it instant coffee (the one you dissolve in water) or true coffee (the one you filter) ?
    Thanks a lot !

    • Reply
      September 10, 2019 at 10:38 am

      It’s instant coffee, in this case, instant espresso. You can usually find it in the coffee section of your supermarket, but you sometimes have to look for it.

  • Reply
    Mike Sullivan
    January 14, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Try using crushed peppermint sticks. Pretty tasty.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2019 at 9:28 am

      I can taste it now…yum 🙂

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    5 stars
    Oh yeah, a GREAT way to utilize chocolate that has gotten a bit stale. I usually make a hot cocoa powder mix, but putting straight chocolate into the french press is insanely delicious! THANKS for this tip!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Genius! Now I can actually use the french press that’s been sitting in my cabinet collecting dust. The cocoa is a little foamy for me, but would be quite nice poured on top of an espresso or classic cocoa.

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    November 10, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Sue this sounds wonderful! Who would t love this pure way of creating hot chocolate. I love it and can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply
    Giles Dawe
    August 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks. I’m wondering how thick this is? I remember in France they offered this for breakfast with a crossant or sugar bread to dip in…

    • Reply
      August 11, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      It’s not super thick since it doesn’t have any cornstarch, etc., in it. The frothing makes it seem thick, though.

  • Reply
    Linda Chudej
    October 12, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Off topic a bit but what is the name of the pattern on the plate in the picture? I really love it! The cups are pretty too. You’ve really helped me with this post because I bought a French Press a few months ago but really didn’t like the coffee I made using it so now I’ll try the hot chocolate recipe!

    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Hi Linda, I got the plate at a thrift store so I don’t know the name of the pattern, sorry!

  • Reply
    Martha Brown
    September 18, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Thank you for the easy & yummy recipe for your french press chocolate. I’m in love with your adorable little bird cups! Could you please tell me where you got them?


    • Reply
      September 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Those cups I think came from Cost Plus, Martha 🙂

  • Reply
    February 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Looks delicious! Do you think almond milk would produce the same result?

    • Reply
      February 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Not sure almond milk froths like dairy milk does but I think it’s worth a try, and it would be delicious.

  • Reply
    Amy L
    September 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I wish the weather would turn cooler so I could make some 🙂

  • Reply
    September 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I LOVE everything about this post! Simplicity, quality, flavor and even a gift idea! I adore Perugina cocoa, but it’s so hard to find in the US (at a reasonable price) so I often make cocoa with good quality chocolate, but love the idea of processing it to bits! Don’t know if you’ve ever had the super thick hot chocolate in Italian bars, but I posted a copycat recipe on my blog. Check it out, but you may want to wait until this heatwave dies off! Ugh!

  • Reply
    April 14, 2013 at 6:09 am

    thanks for share....

  • Reply
    February 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    mmmmmm….just made this for the second time in 2 days! It’s so good on a cold afternoon! btw….did you change your options for leaving a comment recently?

  • Reply
    Amanda Moonbeam
    February 7, 2013 at 4:09 am

    I will never make hot chocolate without a French press again! This is SUCH a great trick!!!

  • Reply
    Susan Lindquist
    February 3, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Oh … yum! This sounds just fantastic! I am not normally a fan of the French press, but …

  • Reply
    Judy @ Season of Sweets
    February 2, 2013 at 5:26 am

    I have always loved my french press and now I love it even more! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    shannon weber
    February 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    first, those are the prettiest bird cups on the face of the earth. i adore them. second, obviously i need a french press; it’s one of those things we’ve talked about getting, and then i just think it’ll take up too much room, and do i NEED it…well. now i need it, thanks to this. 🙂

  • Reply
    Hungry Dog
    February 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    What a great idea! We need to put our French press to use…perhaps this weekend we’ll give this a try. Thanks, Sue!

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    February 1, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Oh my goodness what a treat and so easy – thank you.

  • Reply
    Joy Bee
    January 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Wow. I don’t think I ever want to use store bought cocoa mix again. This sounds amazing and it’s so simple. I almost wish for cold weather to try this (not really though I love my Hawaiian climate, but when I go visit family on the mainland I will remember this recipe).

  • Reply
    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence
    January 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    That looks so rich and frothy – love it! I’ve never thought to use my French press for anything other than tea and coffee 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      I think you can also use it to froth milk for cappuccino, and I think I’ve read that the best milk for frothing is actually skimmed milk, which is nice to know!

  • Reply
    thyme Sarah
    January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    That really looks incredible. I remember going to Spain and anticipating the hot chocolate with the churros. We hit a cute but really bad spot. The hot chocolate was like pudding and really awful. I’ve always regretted not finding a place that served a better drink. I wonder if your method is what they do in France when they make hot chocolate. Oh, how I would love to have a taste…

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      One of my all time top foodie memories is dunking churros into thick hot chocolate. I think they thicken the chocolate with cornstarch, and I actually have a couple of other hot chocolate posts on the blog for thick hot chocolate. I can go either way, as long as the chocolate is good!

  • Reply
    From Beyond My Kitchen Window
    January 31, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I love the French press idea. I can almost taste the velvet chocolate.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2013 at 10:44 am

    What a great idea, Sue! Lately I’ve been drinking my Turkish coffees, so the French press hasn’t been getting much of a workout. Until now!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      So, of course you realize you’ve now inspired a new version of this, with some cardamom pods and a bit of Turkish coffee in with the chocolate! Can’t wait to try that.

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Wow, I would never have thought to use our French press for chocolate! What an interesting idea–and obviously one with a more-than-worthwhile result. 🙂

  • Reply
    l o v e l y t h i n g s
    January 31, 2013 at 3:23 am

    I can hardly wait to get to Trader Joe’s for the ingredients tomorrow morning…do you have a specific brand that you like? This looks so good I had to pin it to two boards.
    Your photos…GORGEOUS! Love the one as you are pouring it into the cup!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks Annie. I use different chocolates, I like trying new brands when I see them. This time I had a bar of Scharffen Berger, which was a splurge, but I think truly any dark chocolate would be fine. I know so many people who won’t use anything but TJs brand.

  • Reply
    My Little Bungalow
    January 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Oh, this sounds so decadent. Reminds me of the amazing hot chocolate I had in Paris several years ago. And your croissants in the background are the perfect accompaniment. Thanks for bringing back good memories and sharing a great recipe.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    January 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Best idea ever to dust off a french press for! I love hot chocolate and try to take a break from coffee and this would be a welcome break! And that froth…YES! love frothy drinks so much! The taste improves hugely on any drink with some foam and froth, I’m convinced! 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      It looks a lot lighter than it actually is due to all the froth. When you get down to the bottom of the cup you can see more of a deep rich chocolate. Yum, now I want another cup!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I have just added a French press to my list of things I must have!!!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:41 pm

      I just recently got one myself because our beloved Keurig coffee maker bit the dust and we still haven’t decided on our next coffee machine (these important decisions take time!)

  • Reply
    Mary Younkin
    January 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I have a french press just for frothing milk too. It works beautifully. I can’t believe that you drink this without any sugar at all. I’m going to give it a shot. I didn’t realize you could make reduce regular chocolate into a powder like that. I missed that in your truffle post!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Well, don’t forget that the dark chocolate has some sugar in it. It’s just not super sweet. I love what happens to the chocolate in the processor, it’s not quite a powder, but like little granules. Very cool. I’m going to let it go even further next time and see what happens…

  • Reply
    Amy @ Elephant Eats
    January 30, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I have a recipe for a super thick hot chocolate on my blog that you practically have to eat with a spoon. It’s AMAZING…but yours sounds a wee but healthier ;)Now if only I had a french press or milk frother! 🙁

  • Reply
    Linda A. Thompson-Ditch
    January 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Oh, I have to try this! It sounds so easy. And I love the idea of adding espresso powder. This just may be my new morning wake-up drink. Who wouldn’t look forward to a cup of chocolate to start the day!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      January 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      And if you make it with low fat milk and use good dark chocolate it should be a very healthy way to start the day too.

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