How to Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine

Most beginner coffee lovers will ask how to you make espresso without an espresso machine.

Well, we strive to reply to all emails we receive about everything coffee makers, coffee beans, types of coffee, etc.

However, just recently, we received several questions that prompted us to compile a complete guide on how to make espresso without a machine.

Here are some of the questions we received that we will dwell on in this article.

  • What is espresso?
  • What’s the difference between espresso and coffee?
  • Can you make espresso with the French press?
  • How to make an espresso shot at home without a machine
  • How do you make espresso at home?
  • And many others

It’s simple.

Keep reading to learn more. You don’t need a fancy machine to brew espresso at home.

We also love espresso and we can assure you that the very first time you will drink a cup of espresso, you will love it. However, many coffee drinkers can’t pull an espresso shot without an espresso machine.

Well, you will be forgiven if you don’t have the option to buy an espresso machine to make espresso at home.

Don’t worry, in this article, we are going to share with you three methods to make espresso at home without an espresso machine.

So if you’ve been wondering how to make espresso without a machine at home, this article is for you.

What we ask from you is to read all of them carefully, pick the one you love and master it, then enjoy your homemade espresso.

What Is Espresso?

If you are a coffee lover getting into the world of espresso for the first time, you need to know some of the espresso terminologies you will find being thrown out left, right, and center.

They include Pulled, Shot, Lungo, Crema, and Demitasse

We are going to define for you all these phrases, but first, let’s understand what espresso is.

In simple terms, espresso is just strong coffee in that it is concentrated and is made by passing hot water (under high pressure) through finely ground espresso beans. With regular coffee, no pressure is required and can use medium-to-course grounds.

Espresso is concentrated, robust and can make other types of coffee including cappuccinos, Cuban coffee, lattes, and macchiatos.

If you are wondering what all these are, here is a breakdown of all.

Cuban coffee>>espresso with sugar

Lattes>>espresso combined with frothed milk without foam

Cappuccino>>espresso with frothed milk with foam

Macchiatos>>frothed milk with foam with a layer of espresso

Note that not all strong coffee is espresso. Perfect espresso must satisfy the following:

  • Water must be heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
  •  Pressure must reach 9 bars during extraction
  • The extraction must take 25-30 seconds

That being said, let’s take a look at each espresso terminology.

Pulled- An espresso is “pulled” but many will use the word brew although the process is pulling an espresso.

So you “pull” an espresso shot.

Lungo- An Italian word for long. In this case, you use more water on the same portions of coffee grounds. A “lungo shot” is much stronger and bitter than espresso and ristretto. Ristretto is also an Italian word for restrict.

Crema– This is the layer that forms on the surface of your espresso. A properly “pulled” espresso shot will have a rich and light brown crema. And this means:

  • You have used freshly roasted coffee beans
  • Your espresso machine is clean
  • You are an experienced barista and
  • You have used freshly ground beans.

Demitasse– Now that we have talked about “pulling” an espresso shot, that shot must be pulled into something, right?

The thing where you pull an espresso shot is called “Demitasse” in French, which means “half cup”. That’s because a demitasse cup can hold about 3 oz of drinks.

So we hope now you know what espresso is. Let’s proceed to the next topic.

What’s the Difference Between Coffee and Espresso?

Now that espresso is coffee that is concentrated, how is it different from coffee?

Here is the thing: Espresso uses finely ground beans. That means it has more caffeine than drip coffee.

Besides, an espresso shot takes 25-30 seconds to extract whereas drip coffee takes a bit longer than that to complete brewing.

Also, water used to pull espresso is hotter hence more caffeine is extracted from the finely ground beans.

Another thing that makes espresso different from drip coffee is the sweet foamy layer that collects on the surface of espresso shots.

To get a perfect espresso, you must use an espresso machine since the machine will maintain consistently high temperatures and pressure that allows a pulled espresso shot in just 25 to 30 seconds. However, you can make espresso without an espresso machine at home with a French press, AeroPress, or a Moka Pot.

How to Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine At Home (3 Easy Methods)

We assume you have your finely ground beans, but you can grind them before brewing.

1. Make Espresso with a French Press

How to brew espresso with French Press

Can you brew espresso with a French press? Yes, it’s possible and we will show you how.

Unless you are not a serious coffee drinker, you can’t miss a French press in your kitchen. It’s one of the affordable coffee makers out there. The price of a French press depends on the size. A bigger French press will have a different price tag than a small one.

What you’ll need

  • Measuring spoon
  • Finely ground beans
  • Stirring stick
  • Hot water
  • French press
  • A stovetop or electric gooseneck

How to make espresso with a French press

  1. Grind your beans finely. In this case, make sure you look for coffee labeled “espresso beans” or just “espresso” if you are grinding the beans yourself. Observe the ratio of 2 tablespoons on every 1 cup of water.
  2. Measure and add water on the kettle and boil it then let it sit for at least 30 seconds before using it
  3. Pour the finely ground beans into the machine. Make sure the grounds are more than you would use when brewing French press coffee.
  4. Gently add little amounts of hot water to the French press and then let it sit on the ground beans for a few seconds.
  5. Pour the remaining water inside the machine and don’t stir yet.
  6. Tighten the lid and don’t plunge. Let the coffee steep for around 5 minutes. For a stronger espresso, you can let the coffee steep a bit longer than that but not too long.
  7. Apply steady and slow pressure to press down the plunger halfway and raise the plunger back
  8. Empty your coffee into a serving pot and serve it.

Not that a French press is not suitable for making espresso. However, if you don’t have any other option, you can use it to brew a strong coffee.

2. Brew Espresso with an Aeropress

How to brew espresso coffee with AeroPress

To brew espresso with an Aeropress, you don’t need a stove. An AeroPress is more portable but it functions similar to a French press.

An AeroPress is cylindrical in its make and has a filter on the lower end. You just need to add coffee grounds at the bottom, add water, and then press the plunger.

What You’ll Need

  • Freshly roasted beans
  • A teaspoon or scale
  • A kettle
  • Coffee grinder
  • AeroPress

Got all your tools together? Let’s see how to make espresso without an espresso machine with an Aeropress.

Like in the case of the Moka pot, you need extremely fine grounds. If the grounds are too big, you won’t get an espresso, because the water will just flow freely through them. The size of the grounds is the most important aspect of brewing espresso, regardless of the machine/device you’re using.

How to make espresso with an Aeropress

  1. Grind your beans finely. Using large grounds won’t give you an espresso. Make sure you have at least 2 teaspoons of finely ground beans.
  2. Measure one cup of water or 8 oz and heat it to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Add the ground beans into the AeroPress but before that put a filter in the lower cap of the AeroPress then add some water to rinse the filter. This will help to clean any unpleasant taste.
  4. Add a second filter on the lower end of the plunger so that the coffee is stuck between the two filters.
  5. Measure the heated water and then add it into the AeroPress then stir immediately- we assume you’ve heated the water already.
  6. Allow the water to rest for around 30 seconds after stirring before you press the plunger. Apply a steady hand press on the plunger until you reach the bottom with the plunger and then retract depress the plunger fully.
  7. Take out the press from your cup, transfer your brewed espresso to a serving cup or mug and drink it.

An AeroPress is a convenient and powerful tool to make quick and tasty coffee. It’s the best tool to use for beginners who are learning how to make espresso without an espresso machine.

To clean your AeroPress, take out the drain cap from the tool, and place it close to a trash can, then press the plunger to remove the grounds. Use hot water to rinse every part of your AeroPress and keep it ready for the next brewing.

3. Make Espresso with a Moka Pot

How to make espresso coffee with a Moka Pot

A Moka Pot uses advanced technology than a French press. It also takes longer to brew espresso but the results are worth the wait.

You need to be careful not to over-extract or burn your espresso coffee using a Moka Pot though.

What You’ll Need

  • Freshly roasted ground espresso beans
  • Coffee grinder- a burr grinder would make the cut
  • Moka pot
  • A measuring scale or a teaspoon
  • A tool for stirring
  • A kettle

How to brew Espresso with a Moka Pot

  1. Grind your beans finely
  2. Add cold filtered water to the lower chamber of the Moka pot- You can heat the water before pouring it inside the tool.
  3. Add the fine espresso grounds in the filter basket and assemble the Moka pot
  4. Heat the water in the lower chamber until it starts to boil- that is if you didn’t use pre-boiled water. Don’t add more heat to the Moka pot as this will make pressure to build up fast.
  5. Take out the Moka pot from the heat before the coffee rises and gurgles. Pour your espresso in a cup or coffee mug and enjoy it.

Use hot water to clean the Moka pot. Don’t use the dishwasher as it may leave an unpleasant patina on your pot over time.

Which Tool is the Best for Brewing Espresso- French press, AeroPress or a Moka pot?

As we have said earlier, to make a great espresso, you need a lot of pressure. Although a French press and Moka pot can brew espresso, the two cannot create the kind of pressure required to make a great espresso.

Even though the Moka pot is costly than the two, it’s the best tool to make espresso at home if you don’t have an espresso machine. Besides, a Moka pot is made with stainless steel and this makes it last longer.

What Espresso is Great Espresso?

As a beginner, you may be deceived to think that having a great brewer is a sure bet to get the best espresso but that’s not true. Many things count when it comes to making great espresso. They include:

  • The beans– Buying ground beans from a coffee shop or supermarket is convenient, but they can’t give you similar taste you can get with beans you’ve ground some few minutes before brewing.
  • Great espresso requires nothing less than 9 bars of pressure. That’s why the Moka pot is the best tool in our list.
  • Water must be heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow for the release of all the essential oils and nutrients on the grounds that give your espresso a great taste. Note that extremely hot water will burn the grounds and your espresso will be bitter.
  • Choose a lighter roast if you don’t like strong espresso and darker roaster if you don’t like weak espresso.

Final Words

If you’ve been wondering how to make espresso without an espresso machine, this comprehensive tutorial will help you get things right from the start.

As you have seen, you don’t need an expensive espresso machine to make a great espresso. Making an amazing espresso is more about mastering the process than investing in an expensive machine. The good thing about the three tools we have mentioned above is that they are portable and fast when brewing espresso.


How do you make great espresso?

To brew coffee, hot water, and a filter are necessary, but these two aren’t enough to brew an espresso; pressure needs to be high (around 9 to 15 bars). An espresso machine drives hot water through the finely ground beans under high pressure hence strengthening the brew.

The beans are also crucial when it comes to making great espresso. Dark roasted grounds will give you stronger coffee while lighter roasts will give you weak coffee.

Can you make espresso without a machine?

Usually, espresso is better made with an espresso machine due to the high pressure required to make a greater drink. However, it’s not impossible to make espresso at home without an espresso maker. You can make tasty espresso with a French Press, an AeroPress, or a Moka Pot.

Is espresso stronger than coffee?

Espresso has more caffeine and a stronger flavor than drip coffee. Moreover, although espresso is more concentrated with caffeine, you must drink two shots to get fully caffeinated.

Is espresso healthier than drip coffee?

You don’t need a coffee filter when brewing espresso that’s why it is healthier brew than drip coffee. Besides, when making espresso, oils and other nutritious substances flow into the coffee.

Why is espresso more costly than drip coffee?

The espresso-making process isn’t as easy as drip coffee brewing. Besides, the equipment used to make great espresso is also costly. Making drip coffee is as easy as adding bean grounds and enough water in your drip machine, then leave the machine to do the rest of the brewing.

Can you brew espresso using regular coffee beans?

Yes, it’s possible, however, you will not get a similar flavor you could get with espresso beans. Besides, you could end up with a sour shot of espresso.

Is espresso good for health?

Espresso offers plenty of health benefits to the body such as:

  • Lower risks of stroke

Research suggests that drinking espresso lowers the risks of stroke, especially in women. During the study, several women were put to drink espresso and after some time those who drank more espresso had lower risks of suffering from stroke than those who drank very little. However, too much espresso drinking can also lead to health problems.

  • Healthy antioxidants

Coffee packs plenty of healthy antioxidants and since espresso is stronger coffee, it packs all those essential antioxidants in one delicious package. The antioxidants are helpful to fight diseases and cafestol.

Recommended reading

How to Choose the Best French Press Coffee Maker- Beginner’s Guide

There are plenty of types and models of French press coffee makers out there. Without enough information, you can get confused when choosing yours. Unfortunately, there are tons of websites with plenty of guides but not all are sufficient enough to educate a new person wanting to buy a coffee machine. This article shares everything you want to know when choosing the best French press maker.

What Are The Different Types Of Coffee Makers?

If you are new to the coffee maker market, you will be forgiven to think that all coffee makers are the same. However, there are different types of coffee makers as you will read in this article. Besides, they come with different features and functionality.

Sophia Green

Sophia is a long time coffee enthusiast and blogger, so the project started naturally five years ago. You can find useful information about coffee types, plantations, equipment and even tips and tricks or fun facts.

View all posts by Sophia Green →

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