3 Ways to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Machine

by | Mar 23, 2018 | Blogs, Coffee Education

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Once you’ve tried espresso, it’s hard to go back to regular coffee. But most people think that an espresso drink is only available at a coffee shop, with barista training, or by buying an expensive espresso machine. We are going to let you in on a little secret: You can make espresso without an espresso machine at home. In fact there are several ways to accomplish this, and without the need to use a fancy machine.

How To Make Espresso Without an Espresso Machine

Let us show you three ways you can make espresso from home with just a few simple supplies.


  • AeroPress
  • A Burr grinder
  • Espresso beans
  • Thermometer
  • Tamp
  • Scale
  • Kettle (or regular stove pot) for boiling water

Make Espresso with an AeroPress

An AeroPress is a plastic, easily portable device used for coffee and espresso making. It’s a manual device that uses air pressure to push the water through using a plunger.

Step 1: Grind Your Coffee Beans

The espresso grind is important. You want to go for a medium grind. It’s best to experiment with each grind to find the one that turns out better. You don’t want your grind to be too fine or too coarse.

Step 2: Rinse Your AeroPress Filter

After you’ve ground your coffee beans, unscrew the AeroPress screw cap and place a paper filter there. This helps to warm up the filter and helps you to avoid your coffee tasting like paper.

Also, you’ll want to rinse the entire Aeropress filter in warm water so that the coffee is not cold upon contact with the AeroPress.

Screw the cap back onto your AeroPress.

Step 3: Add Your Coffee Grounds

Add the grounds into your AeroPress, then add a little (not all) of your hot water in with the grounds to warm up the container. Wait for about 30 seconds.

Step 4: Tamp the Grounds

Take another filter and slightly moisten it. Place the filter at the bottom of the tamp. Gently press down on the tamp and begin to plunge the grounds.

Add the remainder of the hot water. 175 degrees F (80 degrees C) for medium dark roasts, and 185 degrees F (85 degrees C) for light roasts are recommended.

Step 5: Add the Remaining Hot Water

Next, add the remaining hot water into your AeroPress. You do not need to wait for your coffee to brew before extracting. Place the Aeropress over your coffee mug and use one hand to hold the AeroPress in place, and your other hand to plunge up and down.

Note: If it’s difficult to plunge, your coffee grounds may be too coarse. Don’t worry if this is your first time. You’ll get better with each attempt. Just note how your coffee grind turned out this time so you’ll know how to improve the next time around.

Step 6: Enjoy the Goodness

After you’ve finished extracting your espresso from the grounds, you’re good to go. You can add cream or anything else for added flavor.

2. Make Espresso with a French Press

While the French press is somewhat similar to the AeroPress, it is a bit different. The French press is a coffee pot with a plunger that segments the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot when the coffee is poured.

Step 1: Grind Your Coffee

Make sure you do not grind your coffee too fine, or your coffee may end up having a consistency closer to that of mud. You want your grind to be coarse.

As you probably know, your coffee and water measurements will directly impact how your espresso turns out. So keep this in mind: a good ratio for coffee to water is 1:10.

Step 2: Heat Your Water

You’ll want to make sure your water gets hot enough since this helps with the extraction. Bring the water to a boil, then let it cool for about 30 seconds.

Step 3: Add in the Grounds

Next, add the grounds into the press. Add a little bit of the hot water in with the grounds (until the mixture is about half full in the French press. This phase is called “blooming,” which allows gases to be released from the coffee as the hot water comes in contact with the coffee grinds.

Adding just that little bit of hot water at first (before adding all the hot water) allows espresso to have a stronger, richer taste. Blooming is the best way to begin the brewing process, so you do not want to skip this step!

Step 4: Pour in the Remaining Water

Fill the press with the remaining water and gently stir the water in with the grounds mixture that have been blooming in the press.

Step 5: Let the Coffee Steep

Consider this step the most important. Allow your coffee to steep for 4 minutes exactly, no more, no less. Allowing it to steep too long will result in a bitter tasting cup of espresso, and if it steeps for under 4 minutes, you won’t extract all the goodness from the grounds to give your espresso that rich flavor you know and love.

Just remember, 4 minutes is the golden number for coffee steeping. It may be helpful to set a kitchen timer or use one on your phone.

Also, do not press the plunger up and down during the 4-minute steeping process. Wait until you’ve reached 4 minutes before attempting to plunge.

Step 6: Press the Plunger

Once 4 minutes has gone by, it’s time to plunge. Press the plunger up and down gently in various motions.

Your espresso will taste better the faster you drink it (even though you probably don’t need to be told!). The longer you let it sit in the French press after brewing, the more bitter it will become. Therefore, it’s best to make only what you plan to drink at that time. If you want to make a little extra with plans of going for that second cup, pour it from the French press into a hot thermos.

And there you go! It really is that simple. Now go enjoy every sip of your French press espresso. Be sure to try out the other methods for making espresso the next time you need a coffee break.

3. How to Make Espresso with a Moka Pot

Moka pots are unique and quite different from the AeroPress and French press. The Moka pot has three chambers and can be used on either an electric or fire stove. The lower chamber contains the hot water, the middle chamber contains the coffee grinds, and the upper chamber holds the extracted coffee. When heated, the steam forces the water up past the middle chamber (holding the coffee grinds) through a spout and into the upper chamber that collects the product (your coffee!).

Step 1: Grind Your Coffee

Unlike the French press, you want your coffee grinds to be as fine as you can get them, which will help your espresso extract well.

Step 2: Fill the Moka Pot with Water

You can fill the pot with hot or cold water. Either way, the water will heat when you place the spot on the hot stove, so there really is no right way.

Be extremely careful to make sure the water you’re pouring in does not go past the valve on the side of the chamber.

Step 3: Put the Grounds in the Coffee Basket

Overfilling the coffee basket is a common mistake. You do not want to do this simply because it will not allow the water to pass through, which will result in your espresso being less strong.

Make sure the grounds in the basket are evenly dispersed, then place it into the bottom compartment of the Moka pot.

Step 4: Screw the Pot Together

Clean any excess coffee grounds before screwing the pot together. You want to avoid the pot not screwing together properly.

Screw on the top chamber to the bottom chamber.

Caution: If you poured hot water into the bottom chamber, be careful!

Step 5: Heat Your Moka Pot

It’s important that you don’t put the pot on high heat, as it will end up spilling all over your stove. Slow and steady is the best, so place it on low to medium heat.

If your coffee spills out of the spout too quickly, the heat is too high. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Step 6: Remove the Moka Pot from the Stove

After the brewing process (just before it starts to boil and simmer), take the Moka pot from the stove. If you leave the pot on the stove too much longer, your coffee will start to turn bitter quickly.

Step 7: Clean Your Pot and Enjoy Your Coffee

You can clean your Moka pot with hot water (do not put it into the dishwasher). Enjoy your hot espresso!

In Summary

Making espresso from home without an espresso machine isn’t as difficult as you thought, huh? Experiment to see which one of these methods work best for you. Brewing espresso that melts your taste buds is not like a simple math formula.

Practice will help you become more familiar with espresso-making best practices. So go for it! Try it out, learn to make espresso without an espresso machine and enjoy every cup of goodness along the way. Maybe even consider picking up some espresso tools in the future!

Christa Thomas


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