If it’s 3 am and you desperately need strong coffee, keep reading. If you just want to make espresso at home… also keep reading. Coffee accounts for more than half the liquids I drink, which means two things: I am wildly dehydrated at all times, and I know a lot about coffee, espresso included.
One thing I love is that you don’t need a fancy machine to make good coffee. I don’t own any fancy machines, I don’t even own a coffee maker, but I still manage to make some awesome coffee with my French press and Moka Pot. Both of these things are much cheaper than any fancy espresso maker. So here’s how to make espresso without a fancy machine.
What is espresso?
Let’s start with the basics. Espresso is basically just really strong coffee. Espresso is made by forcing pressurized, hot water through finely ground coffee beans, whereas regular coffee doesn’t require any pressure and uses medium-to-course ground beans. With espresso you can make lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and Cuban coffee. That’s a lot, I know. If you don’t know what any of those are here’s a breakdown:
Latte = espresso + frothed milk (no foam)
Cappuccino = espresso + frothed milk with foam
Macchiato = frothed milk with foam + espresso poured on top
Cuban coffee (colada/cafecito) = espresso with sugar
Cuban coffee (cortadito) = espresso with sugar + frothed milk (no foam)
If you want to learn more, here’s a more technical breakdown of espresso drinks.
Usually espresso is made with a machine because it requires pressure, but you can make espresso at home without an expensive machine. You can make espresso at home with an AeroPress, a Moka Pot, or a French press. Here’s how!
How to make espresso with an AeroPress
An AeroPress is a great device for making espresso because you don’t even need a stove to make it. All you need is the grinds, the AeroPress, and hot water.
1. Start by heating up the water to about 185-205 degrees, or boil a pot of water and let it sit for 30 seconds. That should bring it to the right temperature.
2. Set up the AeroPress. Put a filter in the drain cap and then put the drain cap on the AeroPress. Put the AeroPress on top of whichever cup or container you want your espresso in. Make sure it’s sturdy because you’ll be putting pressure on it.
3. Fill the AeroPress with 2 tablespoons of espresso ground coffee beans and pour half a cup of hot water into the AeroPress. Mix with a spoon and let it sit for 30 seconds.
4. Press down on the plunger slowly until you have pushed out all of the espresso.
How to make espresso with a Moka Pot
I call this machine a Cafetera, but the internet calls it a Moka Pot or espresso maker. This is a European espresso maker that you do need a stove for; it makes delicious coffee in just minutes. It comes in three pieces and makes about four shots of espresso.
1. Fill the bottom chamber up with water up until the notch. On mine it’s the gold one you see in the picture.
2. Fill the tube and basket with espresso grinds.
3. Place the tube and basket inside of the bottom chamber and then add on the top chamber. Place on the stove at medium to high heat.
4. Wait. The espresso will brew into the top chamber and you’ll know it’s done when you hear a bubbling sound because there’s no more water to boil.
How to make espresso with a French press.
Making espresso with a French press is probably the least effective because it doesn’t give the necessary pressure to make a good shot of espresso, and French presses are meant to be used with coffee that’s course ground rather than fine. That being said, if you want espresso and all you have is a French press, it still works.
1. Put 2 tablespoons of coffee grinds into your French press.
2. Heat up one cup of water to 185-205 degrees, or just really hot.
3. Pour a little bit of the water into the French press and stir for a few seconds. Then pour in the rest and stir.
4. Wait four minutes and then press down slowly on the plunger. Like I said before, French presses are meant for course ground coffee, which means it’ll be a little harder to press down with these grinds. It helps if you lift the plunger a little and then press down again.
Now that you know how to make espresso on your own, you don’t need to spend all that extra money on lattes and Cuban coffee unless you want to. You do you. Either way, knowing how to make espresso at home is great because you never know when you’ll need espresso to keep you up for another six hours.