Tips & Tricks

How To Make Espresso without a Machine (Plus, Other Espresso Tips)

Espresso is a strong type of coffee that is enjoyed either as a shot on its own or as the base of most of coffee house drinks. Many people find it way too strong as a drink on its own, others enjoy the bitterness and intense taste of it.

How Is Espresso Made?

Traditionally, Espresso is made using a high pressure espresso machine. The pump of the machine forces water through very fine coffee grounds to create a shot of this highly concentrated coffee drink.

That said, to make Espresso, you NEED an espresso machine.

What if you want to make espresso at home but don’t want to invest in an espresso machine? Are there any alternative ways to make espresso without the use of a machine?

The short answer is – no. If you’re looking for an authentic shot of espresso, like what you’d get at a cafe, it cannot be done without a machine. However, if you’re looking to make coffee that is similar to espresso, let’s call it ‘coffee concentrate’, then there are some ways to do it.

The Easiest Way to Make Espresso at Home (Using a Machine):

I know I said I’ll find you alternatives to make espresso at home. But here’s one thing before getting to those:

Espresso machines can be intimidating to a lot of people. They require a lot of work and practice until you can get a handle of them. They also require regular clean up and maintenance.

If those are reasons you don’t want to buy an espresso machine, then you can consider a single-serve espresso maker like Nespesso. Using pre-measured coffee capsules and a single push of a button, you’ll get your Espresso fix at no time, with no special skills and certainly no clean up required.

There are many Nespresso models to choose from. They can also be bundled with an electric milk frother that will heat and froth milk to create delicious coffee drinks.

Read more about Nespresso machines and how they work here.

Not looking to buy an espresso machine? Read on for your best alternative for espresso-like drinks:

How To Make Espresso without a Machine:

How To Make Espresso Using a French Press:

I’ve used a french press for years before finally switching to other coffee brewing methods (I hated cleaning it with a passion). A French Press, or as some simply call it press coffee, is an immersion coffee brewing method where the coffee grounds soaks in the hot water for a few minutes before pressing the filter down to stop the brewing process and filter the coffee.

It’s a manual brewing method, so there’s no way for it to make an authentic shot of espresso. French press using coarse grounds of coffee, as opposed to espresso that uses fine ground.

Bodum 1928-16US4 Chambord French Press Coffee Maker, 1 Liter, 34 Ounce, Chrome
  • French press: Chambord French press brews a premium cup of Coffee in just 4 minutes, simply add course ground Coffee, hot water and press
  • Stainless steel: 3-part stainless steel plunger has a mesh filter that helps extract your coffee's aromatic oils and subtle flavors instead of being absorbed by a paper filter. Made of plastic
  • Durable design: Coffee press features Bodum Patented safety lid to keep contents from spilling and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
  • Maximum flavor: pressed Coffee extracts the perfect amount of essentials oils and acids from the Coffee bean for maximum flavor; the preferred method for brewing for Coffee enthusiasts everywhere
  • Servings: premium French press Coffee maker makes 8 cups of Coffee, 4 oz each

So, what can you do here to make “espresso” using a french press?

You can make a few changes to make something close to a shot of espresso:

  • Pick an espresso coffee blend. This usually means that the coffee is a darker roast so it will give you a richer brew.
  • DO NOT change your coffee grind. You can’t use fine ground coffee in a french press, it will be hard to press down, your coffee brew will turn out muddy and quite bitter.
  • Use less water to create a stronger brew, and brew as usual.

This method works usually best when you want to make a coffee concentrate to mix with milk. You can use it to make iced coffee (let it cool first, obviously), or to make a cappuccino or latte – and you’ll have to froth milk for these drinks.

The Difference Between Espresso Coffee and French Press Coffee:

Espresso is a concentrated coffee shot that is made using a high pressure machine. For espresso, you use very fine, dark roasted coffee grounds. Medium coffee blends can be used to taste, too. Espresso shots are short, drank in a 1.3 oz cup for a single shot. A single shot is extracted in 20 to 30 seconds time.

French Press on the other hand, is used to make a filtered cup of coffee. It’s close to drip coffee made by a coffee maker, but a french press is a manual method perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to use a machine. To make a pot of french press coffee you will use coarsely ground coffee which will immerse in hot water for 4 minutes. After plunging down the filter, you’ll get a clean yet bold brew of coffee.

Why You Can’t Use Espresso Finely Ground Coffee in a French Press:

How you grind your coffee correlates directly to your brewing method. As a rule:

  • Coarsely ground coffee produces less bitter coffee, but takes longer to brew.
  • Finely ground coffee can produce a bitter cup, but it brews rather quickly.

When using a French Press, the coffee immerses in water for a few minutes to slowly release the flavor from the ground before pressing it down to stop the brewing process. Since coarse ground make larger coffee particles, it makes them easier to plunge down with the filter (water goes through them easier).

On the other hand, finely ground coffee, they longer it stays in the water, the muddier the brew gets. The result would be a cloudy and bitter cup of coffee.

How To Make Espresso Using a Stovetop Moka Pot:

Although moka pots are known as ‘stovetop espresso makers’, they still don’t make a real shot of espresso, but a concentrated cup of coffee that is just as strong.

Moka pots use fine ground just like espresso machines, so you can expect a brew that’s just as intense. However, it lacks the crema which is usually produced from the force of an espresso machine. It’s also usually drank in a larger volume than espresso.

You can read all about Moka pots, how they work and which is best to buy in these posts:

What Is Espresso Roast? Do I Have To Use It To Make Espresso?

You’ve probably come across the term ‘Espresso Roast’ when shopping for coffee beans. What does that mean exactly? And is it necessary for making espresso? Or can you use anything you like?

To start, all coffee beans are the same and will work for any brewing method. What’s going to be different is the coffee grind for each method.

Espresso roast usually refers to the fact that the coffee beans have been roasted for a longer period of time to create a dark and less acidic coffee, which works best for espresso brewing method. Does that mean you can’t use different roasts or blends for espresso? No, you’re free to use whatever blend or roast you like, as long as you grind it correctly.

Can I Make a Shot of Espresso Without an Espresso Machine?

Cuisinox Espresso Cup and Saucer

Despite being a really strong and somewhat ‘an acquired taste’ of a drink, Espresso remains to be a very popular coffee drink. Why? Because Espresso is the base of every popular coffee drink: Cappuccino, Latte, Machiatto and every hot or cold coffee drink out there.

Espresso is made by using a really high-pressure machine that forces boiling water through the finely ground coffee beans. The result is a shot of coffee with a thick layer on top known as Crema. Espresso can be enjoyed on its own or with milk which creates a variation of drinks like latte, cappuccino or more.

Can Espresso Be Made Without a Machine?



As espresso makers can be relatively expensive, many people wonder if it’s possible to make espresso without an espresso maker. Truth is, no, it is NOT possible to make an authentic shot of espresso without an espresso machine. Actually, the name ‘Espresso’ refers to the fact that the coffee has been made using high-pressure (i.e: an espresso machine). Espresso has to be made using a high-pressure pump espresso machine.

Espresso can be tricky to make. Whether you’re using a home machine or a commercial one, it requires some training to get the ratio right. However, luckily, there are many options of a decent quick and easy espresso at home (you’ll still need a machine).

Espresso At Home On a Budget:

We’ve already mentioned that espresso can be somewhat tricky to make in an authentic way and it requires some practice. If you’re an aspiring home barista and you want to learn the process of making great espresso, you’ll need a manual espresso maker, which luckily is available for every budget. If you’re someone who wants a quick shot of espresso without the work, a single-serve espresso maker would be a great choice for you.

Capresso 118.05 EC Pro Espresso Machine

For the Barista Wanna-Be: If you prefer to make your espresso shot manually, you’ll be happy to know that there are many affordable manual machines to choose from. Now to be perfectly honest, these are not the greatest machines as you won’t be able to control many aspects of your espresso shot like temperature, pressure and other aspects that an expensive espresso machine will allow you to do. But they are a good product to start learning your espresso making and milk frothing skills.

There are many machines we covered, so refer to these lists according to your budget:

Nespresso Inissia Red Bundle

By using a single-serve espresso maker like Nespresso, a shot of espresso is only a click away. Nespresso uses pods that have pre-measured coffee ground in it, insert the pod, hit the espresso button and the machine will do everything for you automatically. Some Nespresso makers include a milk frother (or you can purchase one separately) which will allow you to create a variety of coffee drinks. The milk frother will also create a delicious froth automatically.

The downside of using a single-serve espresso maker (Nespresso or others) is that the pods soon become an expensive habit. But the great news about Nespresso is that there is a big variety of non-official Nespresso compatible pods to choose from that are not expensive. There are also refillable Nespresso pods you can use to brew your favorite coffee and save on pods.

Alternatives To Espresso:

If you like a short coffee with a strong flavor, there are alternatives to espresso:

Vev-Vigano Vespress Oro 4-cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker
For example, you can use a stovetop Moka maker. This is a popular coffee brewing method, especially among Italians who are serious about their Espresso. a Moka stovetop maker is commonly known as a ‘stovetop espresso maker’, but the produced coffee is not really espresso. However, it is very strong and is consumed in small cups, just like Espresso.

AeroPress Coffee Maker

An Aeropress is also a great way to make a short cup of coffee. Using an Aeropress, you can brew finely ground coffee using a small amount of water to brew a short espresso-like shot (still doesn’t make it a real espresso though).

The Best Ways To Make Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home Using Espresso/Nespresso or K-Cups

Pumpkin Spice Latte[photo source]

Pumpkin Spice Latte is a popular seasonal drink from Starbucks that they usually start serving at the start of Fall. Delicious as it may be, many fans of the coffee drink don’t realize that they actually can make their Pumpkin Spice Latte at home, and it can turn out to be even BETTER than Starbucks’. Making your own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home will save you a lot of Dollars as well as calories as you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your drink. And the best part is, you’ll be able to do it any time of the year whenever you crave it!

Since Pumpkin Spice Latte is authentically made with an espresso, you will need an espresso machine to make it. However, if you don’t own an espresso machine, there are some other ways to get the same flavor using coffee. Read on…

How To Make Pumpkin Spice Latte With an Espresso or Nespresso Machine:

If you’ve owned an espresso machine for a while (traditional or single-serve like Nespresso) you probably know how to make a latte by now. If you don’t, it’s basically a shot of espresso with steamed milk. Now it’s only the matter of adding the right ingredients to turn your latte into Pumpkin Spice Latte. And there are a few ways to do it:

Using Pumpkin Pie Spice:

Frontier Pumpkin Pie Spice Salt-Free Blend

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What you’ll need is:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 teaspoons of honey

– Mix the pumpkin pie spice with the honey until fully blended.

– Froth your hot milk using your steam, electric or handheld frother. Make sure to use a latte whisk so you don’t end up with a lot of froth like you would with a Cappuccino.

– Prepare a shot of Espresso.

– Pour the espresso shot with the honey/spice mix into a cup and mix them together. Add the steamed milk.

– Optional: Top the drink with whipped cream and caramel.

This method has the least artificial flavoring and less calories than other method (not counting the whipped cream and caramel that you might add).

Using a Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

Amoretti Premium Syrup, Pumpkin Pie

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This will only require you to get a bottle of Pumpkin Spice coffee syrup, we highly recommend Amoretti’s Pumpkin Pie Syrup for its high reviews from many customers. What you’ll do is:

– Add one pump of Pumpkin Spice Syrup to your latte glass.

– Prepare latte as usual: pour in the hot steamed milk and shot of espresso.

– Top with Whipped cream and sauce if desired.

Using Pumpkin Spice Sauce:

Torani Pumpkin Pie Sauce

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If you’d prefer to use a sauce instead, what you’ll need to do is:

– Steam your milk for the latte.

– Mix in the sauce with the steamed milk.

– Then add a shot of espresso.

Mixing the sauce with the milk ensures you get the best flavor.

Still Don’t Have an Espresso Machine? Here Are a Few Suggestions:

How To Make Pumpkin Spice Latte With a Keurig K-Cup Brewer:

If you have a Keurig K-Cup brewer at home, you have a few options to create your Pumpkin Spice coffee:

You can buy Pumpkin Spice flavored Coffee and Cappuccino, which are all already flavored and ready for you to enjoy…

Grove Square Cappuccino, Pumpkin Spice

This is a single-serve of Pumpkin Spice flavored Cappuccino by Grove Square. The K-Cup already contains everything you need, you’ll simply hit the brew button on it and enjoy.

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Green Mountain Coffee K-Cup for Keurig Brewers, Pumpkin Spice

This K-Cup by Green Mountain is Pumpkin Spice Coffee (as in brewed black coffee). You can simply add milk to it and you’ll get something very close to a PSL.

Buy From Amazon

How To Make Pumpkin Spice Latte Without An Espresso Machine:

If you don’t own an espresso machine, you’re left with the option of making Pumpkin Spice Cafe Au Lait (coffee with milk). It doesn’t taste exactly like a PSL, but it’s just as delicious. This method will only require you to have a regular coffee maker, as well as any of the ingredients we listed at the beginning of the post.

  • Prepare your cup of coffee.
  • Heat your milk and lightly whisk it using a handled frother.
  • Mix in your Pumpkin Spice flavor using any of the methods we mentioned: using pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin spice syrup or pumpkin spice sauce.

Here are a few recipes you can follow that use actual Pumpkin in it:

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