Espresso is known for its Italian origins, distinctive brewing technique, and of course, the fact that it is an “expressed” form of coffee-making, whereby a small amount of near-boiling water is forced under intense pressure through finely-ground coffee beans.
The result is a dark, intense coffee that is rich, aromatic, and served in a small cup, usually with a thin layer of crema forming on the surface – if the coffee has been extracted to the right degree – in other words, if the barista has hit the sweet spot.
You may have had an espresso (also known as expresso) in your favorite specialty coffee shop or in the form of a cappuccino or latte which also uses espresso coffee.
Let’s face it though, a daily trip to Starbucks can set you back quite a few bucks. On the other hand, not everyone can afford a fancy espresso machine, nor has the counter space for one.
But who said you need an espresso machine to enjoy the luxuriously cultivated taste of the espresso?
There is actually a range of ways to make espresso without an espresso machine, and not all of these are expensive or space-consuming, either. If you’re curious about how to enjoy the mysterious and aromatic pleasures of the espresso from the comfort of your own home, keep reading – we’ll show you how.
Method #1 – The Moka Pot
The Moka Pot was invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and is named after the Yemeni city of Mocha. It resembles a small kettle, which is heated on the stove to pass boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee.
Today the Moka pot is commonly used across Europe as well as Latin America.
These traditionally aluminum pots are available to purchase online and will make you an espresso that is concentrated and intense in flavor, though not quite as creamy as from a machine.
What you’ll need: fresh, whole espresso beans, a Moka Pot, grinder, tablespoon, cold water, and a mug.
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How to make espresso in a Moka Pot
- Grind and measure your coffee beans – you’ll want about 2 tablespoons. If you’re using coffee that’s already ground, you need to make sure the grind is somewhere between the coarse grind you’d use for filter coffee, and the fine grind used for espresso.
- Next, pour 3.5 ounces of water into the bottom part of the Moka pot, then add the ground coffee to the filter, and pat it down or shake it to ensure it’s tightly packed.
- Replace the top of the Moka pot and begin to heat it over a burner on medium heat – be careful not to have the heat too high, as this can result in the coffee overflowing.
- As the pressurized water transforms into steam and extracts the coffee, it’ll start making its way into the upper chamber of the Moka pot – once it’s done, you can switch off the burner and pour yourself a freshly made espresso.
Method #2 – The Aeropress
In comparison to the other age-old coffee brewing techniques, this method is relatively new to the scene but can make a massive difference for coffee lovers who need a brewing method that is simple, portable, and above all downright effective.
The Aeropress is used by coffee lovers around the world and uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process that leaves you with coffee that is smooth and full-flavored with low acidity.
The Aeropress brews coffee under what it calls ‘ideal conditions’ – that means using the proper temperature, total immersion, and rapid filtering – and can brew 1 to 3 cups in under a minute.
While the Aeropress will only achieve a fraction of the pressure an espresso machine is capable of, it will still produce a rich, espresso-style coffee without the bitterness of other long-steep methods such as the french press.
What you’ll need: Freshly roasted coffee beans, Aeropress, coffee grinder, scale/tablespoon, kettle, mug.
This AeroPress avoids the bitterness and high acidity created by the long steep time required by the French press. Plus, the AeroPress paper Microfilter eliminates grit and means clean-up takes seconds.
Makes 1 to 3 cups of American coffee per pressing in about a minute.
How to make espresso in an Aeropress
- First up, boil the kettle. You’ll need enough for 1 cup of water (8 oz or 234 ml) heated to around 185°F (85°C).
- Now it’s time to grind your beans. Allow enough for 2 tablespoons (1 oz or 28.3 grams), and they’ll need to be a fine consistency.
- Put a filter in the AeroPress drain cap and rinse it with hot water.
- Next, replace the drain cap on the Aeropress and then put it directly into your mug.
- Transfer your ground coffee beans into the Aeropress, tamping the grounds down to make sure they’re packed in and tight. You can use an espresso tamp to do this, or if you don’t have one, any cylindrical item will do.
- Measure out ½ cup (4 fl oz or 120 ml) of heated water, then pour this into the AeroPress and stir.
- Allow 30 seconds after stirring, then plunge the Aeropress with the weight of your hand. You’ll feel resistance – but keep pushing. Once it’s fully pressed down, you can remove the press from your mug, and viola – your Aeropress espresso is complete.
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Method #3 – The French Press
The French Press, like the Moka Pot, is an older brewing technique, first officially patented back in 1924 by a Frenchman.
This method is still widely used in Europe and is loved for its simplicity and the rich aroma it creates by steeping coffee grounds in hot water for several minutes to draw out flavor-enhancing oils.
Usually, coarse coffee grounds are used for this device, making it the least effective for espresso brewing, however, with a few little tweaks you can still enjoy a delicious espresso-style coffee with the aid of the trusty French Press.
What you’ll need: 8-cup French Press, freshly roasted coffee beans (dark roast or espresso), grinder, scale or tablespoon, kettle, coffee pot (for serving), mug.
The best little brewer for your morning cup of coffee; Easy brewing, exceptional filtration, quick clean-up, and sleek design all combine to give you everything you want in your french press; Perfect to make espresso or cold brew.
How to make espresso in a French Press
- Grind your coffee to a very fine consistency, using dark roast or espresso beans. Allow 2 tablespoons (1 oz or 28.3 grams) of beans for every 1 cup of water.
- Boil the kettle, then set this aside for 30 seconds before brewing.
- Add the coffee to the French Press. You’ll be using roughly double the amount you’d normally use, to give your coffee that rich, espresso taste.
- Add a few splashes of water from the kettle to the French press and let the coffee grounds soak it up for a few minutes. This releases all of the aromatic flavors and oils which enhance the overall taste.
- Next, add the rest of the hot water to the press, but don’t stir it, as this will cause the grounds to fall out of suspension and could jeopardize your coffee extraction.
- Close the lid, but don’t plunge yet! Allow the coffee to steep in the water for about 4 minutes (or up to 6 if you like it strong) – but don’t let it steep for too long as this can result in a bitter taste.
- Now the fun part: slowly press down the plunger, trying to keep the pressure even and steady. Plunge halfway, then raise it back to the top before plunging all the way down.
- Serve in a coffee pot before pouring into your mug – this will preserve the flavors more.
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This free cheat sheet will improve your coffee brew by providing quick information on brew ratio, grind size, optimal brewing time, and more!
What is espresso?
What is espresso? Espresso is a full-bodied shot of coffee brewed by forcing almost boiling water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans.
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