Maybe you’ve tried a cup of espresso in some coffee shop and you fell in love with the taste. You want more, more of that magical flavor that left you fascinated and satisfied, you loved the aroma and the look of the espresso cup and you decided you want more of that joy. But for some reason or another, you can’t or you don’t want to buy an espresso machine, maybe it’s too expensive, maybe it’s too complicated and overwhelming, or for any other reason you have decided not to use an espresso machine and you now wonder: how to make espresso without a machine.
Well, it is sad to disappoint you but there is no way you could make espresso without an espresso machine. Basically, espresso is extracting coffee through pressure, and without that pressure you can’t have an espresso, it is not possible, but…
If your goal is to make tasty milk drinks at home there is hope that you achieve your goal.
Using a french press, an AeroPress, or a Moka pot you can make a pretty good approximation to the espresso cup of coffee you used to drink in the coffee shop, and when you add milk to it you get nearly identical results. So what is the secret and how to use these equipment to make your favorite cup of coffee at home without a machine? That’s what we’re going to find out.
What Makes Espresso an Espresso
Espresso isn’t a coffee, espresso is actually a way of extracting flavor out of ground coffee, so it is a way of preparation, extraction, or you could even call it a way of cooking. That way of extraction results in a strong, concentrated cup of coffee that is full of flavor and taste, so how does this process work to result in this fantastic taste?
There are three main elements in espresso and these are the roast, the grind, and the pressure used to brew coffee.
For espresso you want your coffee beans to be roasted to a very dark finish, this gives espresso a much stronger, more potent flavor than drip coffee. Everything you love about espresso and all the tasty solubles are easier to extract from dark roasted beans than their less toasty counterparts.
Why this happens is because longer toasting makes the coffee beans more porous, increasing the ability to extract the flavor compounds more quickly once the beans are ground.
For the grind you want your coffee to be finely ground, this slows down the water penetration and increases the pressure necessary to push the water through the filter and create a good shot of espresso. But be careful though because if the grind is too fine it can block the coffee filter and ruin your coffee.
When it comes to grinding coffee you have two options: you can hand-grind your beans, or you can use a coffee grinder. You will choose hand-grinding either because you love the process of grinding the coffee beans yourself, or because you don’t have the equipment yet, or that you don’t want to buy a grinder for some reason. If this is your choice I just want you to know that consistency will be a challenge for you, the results you will get won’t be as predictable as using a grinder, and it would take more time to hand-grind coffee beans than to grind them using a machine.
The final part of the puzzle is pressure and it is the hardest part to obtain without using a machine, to make espresso you need a pressure ranging from 7 to 15 BARs, which is roughly twice the pressure in your average truck tire. That amount of pressure can’t be generated by hand without specialized equipment.
How to Make an Espresso-Like Coffee with a French Press
If you’ve decided to use a french press to prepare your espresso-like cup of coffee you should know that this will produce the weakest coffee of all the three, french press coffee is strong but not quite as strong as an AeroPress or a Moka pot, so if this is the only choice you currently have or if you don’t care how strong and concentrated your coffee is then go ahead and use this method.
What you are Going to Need
You’re going to need the following components to prepare a coffee with a french press:
- A french press
- Dark roasted coffee beans
- A grinder
- A kettle
- One cup of water
- A coffee mug
- A thermometer
- The first step is to finely grind the coffee beans, but make sure not to grind it too much or the whole process is going to get ruined
- Heat the water using the kettle
- Add two tablespoons of the ground coffee into your french press after removing the lid
- Make sure that the water is below 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour a little amount of hot water onto the coffee grounds in the press, this will start a process called blooming where the ground coffee start realizing its oils
- Let the coffee bloom for thirty seconds then pour the remaining amount of water into the french press
- Seal the french press cylinder using the lid with the plunger all the way up
- Let the coffee steep for four minutes to get as much of the coffee oils and solubles extracted as possible, you can leave for one to two extra minutes if you want it stronger.
- Slowly push the plunger down with even pressure to the halfway of the cylinder then pull the plunger back to the top and plunge again all the way down to the bottom
- With the plunger at the bottom position, pour your espresso into your favorite mug
How to Make an Espresso-Like Coffee with an AeroPress
Another way to make an espresso-like coffee without an espresso machine is using an AeroPress. AeroPress will generate a rich and intense flavor of coffee that you can enjoy.
The AeroPress works in a similar way to the french press, it generates pressure using a plunger. The difference between the AeroPress and the french press though is in the design. An AeroPress looks like a large plastic syringe with a filter of coffee at the end.
You may need to purchase additional filters if you run out of filters so just keep that in mind.
The supplies for this method are almost the same as for the french press.
What you are Going to Need is the Following:
- An AeroPress
- Dark roast coffee
- Coffee grinder
- A kettle
- A mug
- A thermometer
And the Steps for Making an Espresso-Like Coffee with an AeroPress are:
- Rinse the AeroPress filter and place it on the filter cap. You want your filter clean so it doesn’t ruin the taste of your coffee.
- Make the Aeropress plunger at halfway inside the main chamber
- Heat two ounces of water using the kettle until it reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Let the water take its time to heat in the kettle and during that time grind your coffee beans to a fine consistency with the grinder.
- Place one and a half tablespoons of ground coffee into the AeroPress chamber
- Check to see that your water is at the right temperature
- Pour hot water into the AeroPress slowly
- Mix up the water and grounds by gently swirling the AeroPress for about 5 seconds
- Attach the filter cap and invert the AeroPress over a mug
- Plunge the coffee through the filter quickly
And now you can enjoy your cup.
How to Make an Espresso-Like Coffee with a Moka Pot
Of the three, the Moka pot is the best option you could choose to make an espresso-like coffee. The Moka pot will produce a cup of coffee that is half as strong as an espresso, and that is the farthest thing you could go without an espresso machine.
Moka pots are an Italian stovetop coffee mechanism that uses steam pressure to make concentrated coffee.
What makes the Moka pot different and stronger than the earlier methods is that it uses steam to generate pressure, it doesn’t generate pressure by hand as in the french press or the AeroPress. And thus, steam provides the strongest amount of pressure which results in the strongest cup of coffee of the three methods.
The supplies are also nearly the same as the previous methods.
You will need:
- A Moka pot
- Dark roast coffee beans
- A grinder
And Here are the Steps:
- Fill the lower chamber with cold water just below the valve
- Grind coffee beans into a fine consistency, you will need enough to fill the Moka pot filter
- Place the funnel into the Moka pot and add your ground coffee to the filter
- Wipe any excess grounds on the edge of the funnel
- Carefully screw the upper chamber into the lower chamber
- Place the Moka pot on a small stove burner and heat slowly
- Let the water boil within the Moka pot and wait until you hear a gurgling sound. This means that the water is traveling up the funnel and into the upper chamber
- Check for foam at the funnel spout by gently prying the Moka pot lid up with a spoon
- When the upper chamber is full of coffee and foam comes out of the funnel spout the espresso is finished. Remove the Moka pot from the stove soon after you see foam to ensure it does not brew too long
- Pour the coffee into a cup and enjoy
So these were the ways to make a close replica of espresso without an espresso machine. The idea behind espresso is simple, you get dark roast coffee beans that make extraction of flavor easy and you grind it fine and you use pressure to push water through the ground coffee to extract the most amount of flavor with the least amount of water.
The idea is it is hard to generate that pressure without the right tools, so what you may have available at your disposal is a french press, an AeroPress, or a Moka pot.
The french press and the AeroPress use the hand to generate pressure, you simply push the plunger to prepare your coffee. A Moka pot uses steam to generate pressure and this is the most powerful method so the coffee generated by a Moka pot is the strongest.