Ah, Espresso, one of the best ways to make coffee, how loved this drink is. Maybe all the prominent brands that manufacture coffee machines have their own espresso makers and some companies have grown out of espresso only, like Nespresso, the incredibly famous capsule brand. But espresso is not so easy to make as regular drip coffee, the pressurized water is not as easy to get, you generally need specialized equipment.
In this article, we will cover what to do when you don’t have access to an Espresso machine but still crave that amazing liquid gold. Of course, you can buy a Nespresso for a fast and simple espresso, but if you don’t have the budget for that, continue reading the article.
First, a brief introduction to this fantastic drink.
A Brief Espresso Introduction
Espresso is a coffee beverage that comes from Italy, it is the result of a pressurized process. Making water flow at high temperature and pressure extracts all the flavors and aromas other methods just can’t. Espresso is well known to have more caffeine per drop than regular coffee, therefore making it stronger. But how can this process be made without an actual espresso machine?
Well, technology brings a few ways to get around this. Several pieces of equipment have been developed to cover this demand for this drink without the need for an espresso coffee machine.
Remember the desired qualities for making proper espresso:
Grind: Very fine powder is desired for proper extraction.
Roast: Traditionally a dark roast is what’s desired.
Pressure: A high amount of pressure is needed for making espresso and extracting the ground coffee’s aromas and taste adequately.
Now we will showcase the most popular methods to get espresso without a proper espresso machine, or at least something that gets close enough to the desired result.
The AeroPress Method
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The Aeropress is a piece of equipment that perhaps makes the best espresso without a machine, and I honestly like it the most. It just feels nice to use this gadget, and it works for other types of coffee as well.
Easy to carry and to store, the Aeropress definitely deserves a place in any coffee aficionado’s kitchen.
- The Aeropress
- Fine ground coffee (28 grams or 2 tablespoons)
- Tablespoon for measuring purposes
- Half a cup of water (120 ml) close to boiling point (90ºC or 195ºF)
- Coffee container resistant to physical pressure
- Place and Soak the Filter – Put a filter into the drain cap and prepare it with some hot water.
- Place the Drain cap – Now place the drain cap correctly and prepare the Aeropress by placing it onto the vessel.
- Prepare the coffee – one tablespoon equals one dose of espresso, so measure accordingly. You can usually make a double shot from these measures, if you want just a single shot, just cut the water and coffee quantities in half.
- Apply Pressure – Put some pressure on the coffee grounds, making sure they are compressed. For this, you can use any cylindrical item that fits into the Aeropress, even a glass or something like that.
- Prepare the Water – Prepare the water accordingly, use only half (60ml) of what you heated if you are using a single tablespoon of coffee, or use it all for a double dose, pour it in, and mix it a little bit.
- Wait – Wait for the coffee to hydrate properly (takes around 20 seconds but you can wait up to 40) then press with just enough to make the plunger go down, applying enough pressure according to the resistance you feel.
- Pour – After it goes all the way down, you can now simply pour the coffee and have your espresso ready to go.
Here is our more detailed guide about making AeroPress Espresso for more elaborated steps.
The Moka Pot Method
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Now before having any misconceptions, the Moka pot does not make espresso perse, but it gets really close to it. It’s pretty much the next best thing if you are an espresso aficionado, and this one can compete with the AeroPress without any issues.
- A nice Moka Pot
- Coffee grounds
- A heat source, stove, or fire
- Measure around 20 grams of coffee, this is the same as 4 teaspoons.
- Add enough water to the bottom boiler of the pot, it should have a fill line so don’t go above it to avoid any alteration in flavor.
- Now feel free to add the coffee to the basket above the reservoir, and assemble the rest of the pot.
- Place the pot onto the heat source you will use, make sure that the heat is not too high, as this can rush things and ruin the final product, but also make sure it has enough to get the water boiling.
- How the Moka pot works is that it send the steam up generating pressure and extracting the ground coffee goodness and infusing the water with those fantastic aromas and tastes. So just give it time, it will start making a “hiss.”
- The best indicator that tells you the coffee is ready is when a brown foam appears, this foam will show a few seconds (15 seconds give or take) before the product is prepared. Make sure to check the top of the pot and see if it’s up with coffee. At this point, just remove it from the heat source, be careful as things tend to get warm up here.
- Make sure to stir the coffee before serving, this will make sure that everything is mixed properly.
The French Press Method
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The French press is quite common, and many of the coffee aficionados use it daily. But do you know that you can actually make espresso with it. It’s not as easy as the previous methods, and may not be as perfect, but it is still a good alternative nonetheless. You can explore one for yourself with our guide to the Best French Press Coffee Makers.
- A big enough french press, around 8 cup capacity.
- Coffee grounds (28 grams/2 tablespoons per cup of water)
- Heat the water up to boiling point, afterward let it settle for a minute.
- Add the coffee to the press; usually, this method takes double the amount of coffee you would normally use for a typical french press extraction.
- Hydrate the coffee by adding just a little bit of water and allow it to rest for another minute or so. This is what we call blooming.
- Now add the rest of the water, but don’t do it aggressively and do not stir. You want the grounds to stay suspended in the water, which is perfect for proper extraction.
- Put the cap with the plunger on the press but do not press it just yet. To get an appropriate espresso you need a strong flavor, so let it rest for at least 3 minutes, and you can wait up to 6 or even 7 minutes for a stronger flavor, but this is risky as it can lead to a bitter taste from over-extracting the coffee.
- Now you can press the French press (pun intended) slowly but evenly. A proper technique is to plunge it halfway down, then up, then halfway again, then up again, and finally all the way down. This usually makes the extraction even better.
- Make sure to serve right away to avoid more extraction and keep the flavor untouched.
The Portable Espresso Maker Method
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Technology is here, and this method is perhaps the most effective. The pressure is achieved with a built-in pump that you will have to use a few times, but it will build enough pressure for a proper espresso. It also is extremely convenient, all you need is hot water (and obviously coffee) and you are golden. These modern gadgets are in our opinion a really nice alternative, and they are worth mentioning because, while the traditional coffee lovers may hate them, that doesn’t mean they are not great. Some even have milk foam functions!
- A Portable Espresso Pump
- Hot water
- Ground coffee
The instructions vary from device to device, but usually, it is pretty straightforward. Check the instructions manual of your device for accurate instructions, but these are just the generic ones.
- Fill the coffee container with your coffee grounds.
- Fill the water reservoir with hot water
- Use the pump the number of times needed to generate pressure (again varies from device to device).
- Serve the finished product.
The Final Verdict
Making Espresso without a proper espresso machine might not be the best idea for most of us, but it is definitely possible with the above methods. Let’s have a quick round-up of our favorite methods covered above.
- The Best One: The Aeropress is perhaps the best idea when trying to reach that espresso point, it is easy to use, easy to clean, and get’s a great product into your cup.
- The Great One: The Moka Pot doesn’t quite make espresso, but it gets incredibly close to it, easy to use, and extremely easy to clean, this method is popular for a reason.
- The Travel Method: The Portable Espresso Maker is fantastic, and it makes incredible espresso, but it can be a bit harder to clean than other methods. Therefore, some people don’t like to use it daily, but, this is extremely good for traveling or work.
- The Worthy Mention: The French Press struggles to reach the quality and the other methods, but it is still straightforward to use. For those who don’t have any of the previous, the French Press stays as a strong contender.
- One more Suggestion – Though we tried to cover the most used methods, we have not included the Ibrik or the Turkish coffee pot. It is another simple piece of equipment that can help you make something close to espresso, but still, the above methods are better when compared.