How To Make Espresso – 4 Methods With and Without a Machine

Making espresso is a matter of extracting flavors from coffee grounds using water. Pretty much the same as any other coffee method. Making good espresso requires a little more.
Espresso Shots

As a former barista, I have had my fair share of making espresso based beverages. From pure espresso shots to lattes.

In this post, I’m going to discuss 4 different methods on how to make espresso with and without a machine.

Espresso Tips:

  • Coffee beans should be whole espresso or a dark roast.
  • Grind should be fine. Start with something a little bit finer than table salt.
    • Grind too coarse = Under extracted, sour tasting.
    • Grind too fine = Over extracted, bitter tasting.
  • Taste and adjust!

4 Ways to Make Espresso:

  1. Espresso Machine – The best, definitive way to make espresso.
Espresso Machine
  • Equipment Needed:
    • The Machine
    • Coffee Beans – Whole Espresso or Dark Roast
    • Burr Grinder or pre-ground coffee
    • Scale
  • Steps:
    • Measure out 13-15g of coffee beans.
    • Grind the coffee beans fine.
    • Fill the portafilter with grounds. Level the grounds with your finger.
    • Use the tamper and press down the grounds with even pressure.
    • Run the machine without the portafilter to purge the water nozzle.
    • Lock the portafilter into the machine and grab your glass or mug.
    • Pull the shot and use a timer.
      • It should take approximately 30 seconds to pull a doubleshot (approx. 2oz) of espresso.
    • Appearance should be a large volume of dark liquid with caramel colored crema on the top.
    • Enjoy!
  1. French Press – An inexpensive way to make espresso, but produces the weakest flavor.
French Press
  • Equipment Needed:
    • French Press
    • Coffee Beans – Whole Espresso or Dark Roast
    • Burr Grinder or pre-ground coffee
    • Water
    • Kettle
    • Thermometer
    • Scale
  • Steps:
    • Boil water to just below 200F.
    • Measure out 28g (2 tablespoons) of coffee beans.
    • Grind the coffee beans fine.
    • Place the grounds into the bottom of the French Press cylinder.
    • Bloom coffee by wetting all of the grounds.
    • Let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds.
    • Pour the rest of the water into the french press, filling it completely.
    • Put the lid on top of the french press cylinder. DO NOT press yet!
    • Allow the espresso to steep for about 4 minutes. Add 1 or 2 more minutes for a stronger brew.
    • Slowly press the plunger down with even pressure. Once it’s half way down, bring it back up and plunge it down again (1 + 1/2 plunge).
    • With the plunger fully plunged, pour espresso into a glass or mug.
    • Enjoy!
  1. AeroPress – Similar to French Press, but produces a stronger flavor.
Aero Press
  • Equipment Needed:
    • Aeropress and two filters
    • Coffee Beans – Whole Espresso or Dark roast
    • Burr Grinder or pre-ground coffee
    • Water
    • Kettle
    • Thermometer
    • Scale
  • Steps:
    • Boil water to just below 200F.
    • Rinse Aeropress filter and place it on the filter cap.
    • Place the Aeropress plunger about halfway inside the main chamber.
    • Measure and grind approximately 21g (1 and 1/2 tablespoons) of coffee.
    • Place the grounds into the Aeropress chamber.
    • Pour water slowly into the Aeropress.
    • Gently swirl the Aeropress for about 10 seconds to ensure all of the grounds are mixed.
    • Attach the filter cap and invert the Aeropress over a mug or glass.
    • Plunge the espresso quickly.
    • Enjoy!
  1. Moka Pot – Closest method to making authentic espresso!
Moka Pot
  • Anatomy of a Moka Pot:
    • Lower chamber – Holds the water.
    • Filter – Holds the grounds.
    • Inner funnel – Main passageway for water to move up to grounds into the Upper Chamber.
    • Upper chamber – Collects the coffee.
    • Lid – Covers the Moka Pot and traps heat. Can be removed.
  • Equipment Needed:
    • Moka Pot
    • Coffee Beans – Whole Espresso or Dark roast
    • Burr Grinder or pre-ground coffee
    • Water
    • Stovetop
    • Scale
  • Steps:
    • Fill the lower chamber with cold water, just under the valve.
    • Grind coffee beans fine and fill the moka pot filter.
    • Wipe away excess grounds on the edge of the funnel.
    • Screw the upper chamber onto the lower chamber.
    • Place the assembly on the stove and heat it slowly.
      • Ensure the flames do not come up the sides of the Moka Pot!
    • Wait for the water to boil within the Moka Pot until you hear a gurgling sound. This means that the water is traveling up the funnel into the upper chamber!
    • Look for foam at the funnel spout by lifting the Moka Pot lid with a spoon.
      • Be careful not to burn yourself!
    • When the upper chamber is full and you see foam coming out the funnel spout, the espresso brew is complete!
    • Remove the Moka Pot from the stove after seeing foam to ensure the espresso does not brew for too long.
    • Pour and Enjoy!

Making espresso elevates your coffee beverages to another level. With this, you can make anything from espresso shots to americanos to lattes. 

As discussed, there are 4 different methods you can start trying at home with or without a machine.

If you want to take your coffee journey to the next level, this is an amazing place to start. 

To get to the next level of your coffee journey, check out our guides on the best espresso machines!

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