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.

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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.