If you love a good brew to get you going in the morning, you probably groan at having to stick with the instant coffee when you’re at home. Unless you have the luxury of an espresso coffee machine and your favorite beans, dreams of the perfect brew are saved for the coffee shop. If this sounds all too familiar, you don’t need to suffer in instant coffee hell for much longer.
Can you make espresso with ground coffee? If you grab a bag of your favorite beans, you can mimic espresso with nothing more than instant coffee and a dash of hot water. Naturally, it’s never going to be as perfect as coffee machine espresso, but beggars can’t be choosers here.
Throughout this article, we will tell you exactly what makes the perfect espresso and how to make them from the comfort of your kitchen.
What is Espresso Coffee?
We all think we know what an espresso is, it’s the strong shots of coffee we all know and love, right?
Despite thinking we’ve cracked this question, you’d be surprised to know that there isn’t exactly a fixed definition of an espresso. If you speak to coffee experts, you will never get a solid answer. In fact, you’re more likely to find agreement on what an espresso isn’t. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a set of guidelines that the experts can agree on.
To define an espresso, we can say that it’s a highly concentrated coffee drink containing only water and coffee. Typically, it’s made using a machine that pushes hot water through compact coffee grounds. Once an espresso is made, there is a foamy layer called crema. If you’re making espresso using a different method, this layer is difficult to achieve.
Although we have an agreed definition of what an espresso is when it comes to the specifics you will find much disagreement. For example, if you ask, “how much coffee for an espresso?”, while it’s agreed there’s a high ratio of coffee to water, you’ll never get a precise answer. Further, when it comes to how much pressure to use, you’ll find an agreed minimum of 130 psi - the exact pressure remains debated.
We now think we know what an espresso is, even if we can’t all agree on it. However, if you can pass a small amount of water through lots of coffee over a short period of time, you’re pretty close to having an espresso. With that in mind, we will now take a look at the different ways you can make espresso at home - without an espresso machine.
Can You Use Regular Coffee In an Espresso Machine?
If you’ve got an espresso machine but you’re out of beans, you may be tempted to use regular coffee. Technically, you can use regular coffee in your espresso machine in a pinch. However, espresso is designed to be made using finely ground coffee. Therefore, the process wouldn’t work as well as it should. Therefore, to avoid disappointment, try one of these alternative methods for making espresso.
Can Espresso Machines Make Regular Coffee
If you’ve got an espresso machine and wish to make regular coffee, you’re out of luck. The way that the two are made is completely different. However, if you have a dual coffee machine, you can make espresso and regular coffee. For the best results, decide which coffee you want to make and stick to it.
Making Espresso With Instant Coffee
If you’re sitting at home staring at your jar of instant coffee with dreams of espresso in your heart, look no further. Instant coffee is similar to instant espresso in that it’s just dehydrated pre-brewed coffee. If you’re feeling desperate, you can add a teaspoon of coffee into your mug and pour over a quarter cup of hot water. You will need to keep in mind that this won’t taste anywhere near as strong as espresso. In fact, the old expression comes to mind that “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should”.
Making Stovetop Espresso
All you need to make stovetop coffee is a pan or a Moka pot, with the latter providing the best results. With a Moka pot, which you can pick up for around $20, your coffee is brewed by forcing steam up through compact coffee. The pot comes in three compartments. The first one is filled with cold water, the second with compressed coffee grounds, and the third is empty. Once you’ve set the Moka pot up, you put it on the stove and wait for the water to boil and the magic to happen. You will know that the top chamber is full because the pot will begin to gurgle. The resulting drink will be just as strong as an espresso but will lack the identifiable crema.
If you want to make espresso at home, using a Moka pot is the cheapest choice and the closest method you will get to a regular espresso.
Making French Press Espresso
If you’re craving an espresso but all you have is a French press, you’re not going to have much luck. However, we can let you into a hack that will have you sipping on an espresso-esque beverage in no time. The technique you will use is called double brewing and the process is simple. You will need your French press maker, your choice of espresso beans, and a coffee grinder. Follow these steps:
- Take your beans and grind them in the same way you would for French press (coarse).
- Brew the coffee the same as you would for French press.
- Now, filter the coffee into a jug. You can use a filter or sieve.
- Make another French press brew straight away. Instead of using water, use the coffee you have just poured into the jug.
The resulting beverage will have a strong taste of espresso without the crema. Now, you can foam your milk and make your favorite milk-based coffee drinks.
Making Espresso With Aerobie AeroPress
If you’ve got an AeroPress kicking around your kitchen, you can use it to make espresso in a pinch. The AeroPress is perfect for regular travelers because it doesn’t use electricity and is portable. These devices make delicious coffee but aren’t that great for espresso through regular means. Luckily, you can tweak the method and enjoy an espresso on the go. You will need a double-filtered AeroPress, your chosen espresso beans, quality coffee grinder, tamp, kettle, cold water, and your warm mug. If you follow the instructions below, you will have a beverage that resembles an espresso:
- Add the filter to your AeroPress.
- Finely grind your chosen beans.
- Add coffee grinds to AeroPress and tamp.
- Add a second filter to the AeroPress.
- Pour in the hot water and get pressing.
This isn’t an easy method to master. However, if you’re out in the wilderness and need your espresso fix, you’ll be able to satisfy the need. Before you leave your kitchen, practice this method to make sure you know how to do it.
Top Espresso Brewing and Milk Foaming Tips
If you love espresso but you don’t have an espresso machine, or yours is broken, you can use any of the methods above if you’re desperate. The easiest, cheapest, and closest to an espresso method is to use the Moka pot. You will get the same great taste of espresso without the smooth crema. However, if you use the freshest coffee beans, you will see crema formed in the pot. Unfortunately, this crema won’t transfer to the cup. No matter which method you use, keep in mind the following tips:
- How many grams of coffee for espresso? As discussed, coffee experts will all disagree on this. However, as a general rule, use around 6 to 10 grams of finely ground coffee.
- For the best flavor, use dark roasted beans.
- Whole coffee beans stay fresher for longer, so make sure to grind just before you brew.
- Remember coffee and espresso are different beverages. Espresso is creamier, thicker, and has a much stronger taste.
- If you’re making milk-based coffee drinks, skimmed milk is preferred because it foams easier. If you need heavier milk, use whole or 2% milk.
- When you foam the milk, submerge the wand one-third into the jug of milk. Insert the foaming wand at an angle to heat the outside. Once warm, bring the foaming wand out and skim the top to foam the milk.
- A latte will have more milk and less foam. A cappuccino will have more foam and less milk.
There is a fine art to brewing coffee, foaming milk, and pouring the milk. Although there are general guidelines above, everyone’s taste is different. Take these guidelines and play in the kitchen.
For coffee lovers who want a strong boost, espresso is a perfect solution. However, if you don’t have an espresso machine, it can be difficult to achieve at home. However, with a little tinkering, you can take the above methods and make a passable espresso.