An espresso shot, with its perfect balance of sweetness, body, and acidity, remains one of the most popular ways people choose to get their caffeine hit. This is because the versatility of an espresso extends beyond the small concentrated wake-up call beverage.
Mixing the espresso with water or various amounts of steamed milk and the espresso-based beverage is bound to satisfy the taste buds of any coffee drinker.
The problem is, espresso machines are expensive. A basic commercial espresso machine can cost you around $2,000 USD and you might need to spend around $10,000 USD on a more advanced machine. Not everyone who desires to taste homemade espresso is willing to make such an investment.
While there are plenty of affordable manual brewing methods available, such as Chemex, Hario V60, or Kalita Wave, to prepare a cup of drip coffee, the question remains of how to make espresso at home, if you don’t own an espresso machine?
This article will cover 3 ways of how you can make espresso without machine at home.
What Is an Espresso?
The first espresso machine was invented in Italy by a Milanese man, Luigi Bezzera, and patented in 1901.
Espresso is defined as a coffee made by pushing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans at a minimum of 9 bars of pressure, resulting in a strong concentrated 30ml coffee beverage that is brewed in around 30 seconds.
How Does Espresso Coffee Taste?
This brewing process results in a coffee that is dark, rich, strong, and powerful and comes with a signature crema on top. While the brewing process is quick, there are a lot of things that need to go right to make the perfect espresso shot. Factors to focus on when brewing espresso is to use the correct grind, dark roast, and enough pressure together with the precisely measured coffee to water ratio, and adequate brewing time. The resulting shot of coffee has a balanced sweetness, acidity, and body, without being too bitter.
This concentrated coffee shot can then be mixed with hot water or steamed milk to make a satisfying espresso-based beverage. But with the high prices of espresso machines, what is the best way to make espresso shots at home?
How To Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine?
There are our three favorite ways to make espresso at home with other brewing tools and at a fraction of the price.
1. Moka Pot
Moka pot, also known as stovetop, Moka Express, or Bialetti Express, was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and its iconic design, which has become the symbol of Italian coffee, hasn’t changed since.
Coffee brewed with a Moka Pot is made by passing boiling water pressurized by steam and shares the key characteristics of an espresso. It is a small highly concentrated beverage that tastes very strong and can be then mixed with more water, milk, or cream.
While it is brewed at pressure, it can only generate around 1-2 bars, compared to 9 bars produced by an espresso machine, and won’t have the same amount of crema when poured. But this Italian traditional coffee brewing method is affordable, easy to use with a strong taste that will remind you of an espresso shot.
Brewing an Espresso With a Moka Pot
- For a 3-cup Moka pot, grind around 25g of beans to a fine grind, similar to an espresso. You can experiment with the grind depending on your taste.
- Fill the lower chamber to the valve with around 175ml of water.
- Fill the coffee basket on top with the grounds. Make sure not to overfill.
- Tamp the coffee gently to flatten the surface.
- Place the brewer on the stove at low to medium heat (do not use high heat, this would make the water heat up too quickly and ruin your coffee).
- Let the rich brown stream of coffee brew until the liquid gets yellow and finally stops.
- Remove the Moka pot from heat to prevent the coffee from getting bitter.
This new kid on the block is one of the latest manual brewing methods, invented in 2005 by Alan Alder. In a short time, it has acquired a large fanbase all around the world.
The main thing that makes this manual brewer special is its incredible versatility. While you can make a coffee similar to a pour over, by adjusting the brewing time, grind, coffee to water ratio, and the method, you can brew a concentrated beverage similar to an espresso. The combination of its versatility and passionate AeroPress lovers has resulted in hundreds of recipes online, enabling you to brew coffee perfected to your taste.
To brew a coffee with an AeroPress, you add the filter and the coffee to the bottom of the brewer and then push the plunger through to create pressure. Compared to an espresso machine, an AeroPress will only generate around 0.3-0.75 bars of pressure but will succeed in brewing a concentrated beverage similar to espresso without machine.
Brewing an Espresso With an AeroPress
- Grind around 17 grams of coffee to a fine setting.
- Add the filter to the lower cap of the brewer and rinse with hot water.
- Put the ground into the tube and put a second filter on top. Tamp the coffee to make sure it’s tightly packed, just like it would be in an espresso machine.
- Add around 55 grams of hot water, or up to the “2” mark on your AeroPress.
- Press the plunger hard and fast to generate pressure.
- Dilute with milk or hot water and enjoy.
3. French Press
French press, also known as cafeteria or plunger, is an accessible brewing method that can be found in many households and mainstream stores.
While the first design for this style of the brewer was patented by the Frenchmen Henri-Otto Mayer and Jacques-Victor Delforge in 1852, and the first patent of the French Press that resembles what we use today was invented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1933.
The French Press brewer is easy to use, beginner-friendly, and doesn’t require any additional equipment or filters. Although you would normally brew a coffee similar to a filter brew with the French Press, by adjusting the brewing method you can get a more concentrated beverage. In our opinion, it is not as effective as the other two options, but it is a good method to have up your sleeve when you have no other equipment available and feel like drinking espresso at home.
Brewing an Espresso With a French Press
- Grind around 25 grams of coffee to a fine setting (we are adjusting the brewing method by using twice as much coffee and a fine setting instead of the usual coarse grind to get a stronger brew).
- Add around 50ml of water and let it bloom for around 30 seconds for the flavors to develop.
- Steep coffee for around 4 minutes.
- Push the plunger down halfway, then raise the plunger to the top before plunging it all the way down.
- Enjoy the concentrated coffee made with the French press.
How to Make Espresso Shots At Home?
Espresso is a small concentrated shot of strong coffee loved all over the world for its versatility and delicious taste. It can be enjoyed on its own but it is more widely consumed mixed with hot water or steamed milk.
While the espresso made without a machine doesn’t taste exactly the same, these three methods will produce a similar result.
Using a Moka pot, an espresso recipe with an AeroPress, or adjusting the brewing method you use with your French Press, are the most effective ways how to make espresso without machine at home.