How to make espresso without an espresso machine?

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How to make espresso
without an espresso machine

Let’s talk espresso! The origin of all coffee styles. For me, it all starts with espresso as a wonderful base. The Italian technique of forcing nearly boiling water under pressure through finely grounded coffee beans is simply amazing. The phases of making this concentrated taste of the beverage are easy with the right equipment, but since the price tag of an espresso machine can make your jaw drop, I have a few tips for you to make an espresso at home.

So to achieve a strong, powerful, and dark espresso coffee, you need to understand the process of making it. Once you understand it, there is no need for spending all your money on coffee at the local café.


First thing first. Your coffee needs to be roasted to a very dark and fine coffee. Espresso is a very strong coffee, so be sure to buy the right espresso beans, and freshly ground them into very fine coffee powder. If you’re still not sure which coffee bean works the best. Check out the options below, selected for an espresso coffee, or go check out my article about the different beans.

So go get your coffee grinder and I don’t want to hear “I don’t have one”… (do you even love coffee if you don’t?). BUT if you actually dare not to have one, you can easily find a good quality one, for under a fortune. It is possible to grind by hand and achieve the wanted texture, but it takes a lot of effort.

And if you still think “why should I grind it myself when I can buy beans that are already ground?”. The flavor of course! If you want to do it properly, then I suggest you act that way. It’ll be worth it and a coffee grinder lasts for years.

To make your espresso without an espresso machine, you need to understand the process of making it.
An espresso machine forces near boiling point water, through a “puck” of ground coffee and a filter, to produce a thick, concentrated coffee taste called espresso.

That pressure is important in the process of making an espresso yourself.

Method One: The French Press

The first method I’m gonna show you will be one of the cheapest methods of making espresso. It’s the French Press! You can buy one for, under 30$, it all depends on the size, and you can get them anywhere. They’re super handy and makes delicious coffee. Check out my go-to guide in how to use a French press probably.

Step one: Grind your beans

Use that beautiful grinder of yours and set it to coarse. You need to coarse ground it, since setting it to fine will make your coffee muddy.

The recipe that I always go after is 4 tbsp of coffee to 2 cups of espresso.

Step Two: Boil your water

But make sure it doesn’t get too hot or your espresso will taste like s***.
A tip I always go after: Make your water boil, and then let it cool off for 30-40 seconds.

Step Three: Let it bloom

While the water cools off, you can add the coffee grounds into the press.
When the water has cooled off a bit, you can add some water to the press. Just a little bit and remember notice the smell taking place in the room.
This is why we are addicted to coffee, and why we are okay with it. When the water hits the coffee and you let it bloom, your espresso will taste even richer in flavour and all the hard work for one cup will be worth it!

Step Four: Let it steep

Fill the press with the rest of the water and stir it around a bit. This process is vital for the taste. Don’t skip this step, since you want to get the most out of the flavour of the beans. Let it steep for 4 minutes exactly.
If you let it steep for more than 4 minutes your espresso will turn bitter.

Step Five: Finish the job

Now press your plunger halfway down, and do it slowly! If you do it too fast, you’ll mess up the magic you’ve just created. Some like to take it all the way down, but I like to leave it there. Pressing your plunger halfway down is just enough to leave a rich coffee. Pressing it all the way down, you more often just mess up the mix in the press. Now pour it into your mug and enjoy your coffee.

Method Two: The Aero Press

The Aero Press is the cousin to French Press. It’s the same concept where you press water through a filter. The Aero Press came into this world in 2005, so it’s a newer method than the French Press.

Step one: Grind your beans

Compared to using a French Press, here you need to grind your coffee very finely. If the grounds are too big the water will go right through them. So the size of your ground is the most important step by making espresso with an Aero Press.

Step two: get ready

Stack your Aero Press, by placing a filter into the lower cap. Slightly pour water over the filter before you place it, to make sure the filter won’t add any bad taste to your espresso.

Step three: add coffee

Add 2 tablespoons of coffee and place another filter, so the coffee is between two filters. That way you slow down the process of forcing the water through the plunger. Now press it all the way down and retract it all the way up again. If the coffee looks like a hockey puck, then you’ve done perfectly.

Step four: go get that espresso cup!

Get your cup and put the Aero Press on top of it. Get your nearly boiling water and put as much as your Aero Press recommends. Press your plunger again, but this time slowly. And voila… Enjoy your espresso.

Method Three: The Moka Pot

The Moka Pot is probably one of the most underrated methods.  I get it, it looks funny and it can be really hard to make good coffee with them. It can easily turn bitter, but when you understand it’s magic, you can create some really delicious coffee with this thing. 

Step one: Grind your beans

Once again you need to grind your beans and once again this has a huge meaning for the bitterness of your espresso. Compared to the finely grounded texture an espresso normally had, you need to grind it a bit more coarse. As always we recommend 2 tablespoons of coffee beans to add into your grinder. 

Step two: Fill your pot

Fill your pot with the coffee, but don’t stamp it. Make sure your Moka Pot is completely clean. Old coffee stains or just an unclean pot has bad bacteria that will affect the taste of your coffee.

Step three: Fill your pot - with water

Add about 3,5 ounces of hot water to the bottom. If you use cold, you will end up heating the coffee too much, which will make it more bitter. Now screw your Moka Pot together, but not too tight, and not too loose. If you screw it together too tight, you’re gonna add extra pressure to the process.

Step four: It's stove time

Pretty quickly after you’ve screwed everything together, you put the pot onto the stove set to medium heat. Just like with tea (or popcorn) you need to listen. When the brewing process has started and the coffee runs freely, see if you can listen to the different sound it makes, when the foam starts to come out. When you hear (or see) that, take your pot off the heat and run cold water over the bottom of the pot. Then you make sure your coffee won’t get too hot and become bitter.


Now pour that beautiful espresso into your mug and enjoy!