Can you make espresso at home? If you’re like most regular coffee drinkers, this is a question you’ve asked yourself a dozen times. It’s especially likely to come up when you realize how much of your monthly budget is going into the coffers of chain or independent coffee shops each month.
No matter why the question comes up, we have good news for you. The answer to the question ‘Can you make espresso at home?’ is a resounding ‘yes.’ In fact, once you see all the different ways you can make your own delicious espresso, you’ll be asking yourself which method to choose.
Before we dig into these methods, let’s have a quick look at the difference between espresso and regular coffee. Once you understand this distinction, you’ll have a much easier time making your espresso at home.
Espresso vs Regular Coffee
The first thing you need to understand is that espresso is actually a variety of coffee, not some different kind of drink altogether. However, drinking a cup of drip coffee is a very different experience than downing a shot of espresso. So in what does this difference consist?
The difference lies in two distinct areas: 1) the coffee beans you use, and 2) the methods you use to prepare the two drinks. But remember: the method of preparation you use is much more important than the difference in beans.
Here’s a quick summary of the most important differences between espresso and regular coffee:
- The bean you use goes a long way toward determining the taste of both coffee and espresso
- You can use beans that are intended for espresso to make drip coffee
- It’s also possible to use a darker roasted coffee bean to create espresso
- The key to doing the above is grinding the beans properly and using the right equipment
- True baristas make espresso by extracting the coffee from finely ground beans
- In order to do this, you have to force water through grounds that are packed tightly
From this summary, you can glean why the process is more important than the type of bean. Yes, the type of bean matters, but it’s the process you use that makes the real difference. It’s the equipment you use that contributes most to this difference, but we’ll cover that in the remaining sections.
Crafting a Decent Espresso Without a High-Tech Machine
So, you’ve already learned that people drank espresso long before a gourmet coffee shop graced every street corner in the world. But you might find it even more surprising to know that the ancients from before the 1990’s drank it without high-tech machines.
You might be wondering how in the world this could happen. Well, the answer begins with the fact that there are ways you can make espresso manually. Seriously, you can make espresso without plugging anything into the wall. Don’t believe us? Fortunately, we have proof.
There are many ways you can make espresso without a futuristic machine. Here, we’ll be focusing on three of the easiest and most popular:
- AeroPress Method
- Using a French Press
- The aptly named Moka Pot Method
We’ll summarize each of these methods each in their turn
Here’s the vast list of items you’ll need to make espresso with the AeroPress Method:
- Hot water (heated to about 200 degrees)
- Coffee grounds
- An inexpensive AeroPress canister
If you still have the energy after contemplating the previous list, here are the steps you need to take for a delicious AeroPress espresso:
- Prepare the Aeropress by placing the appropriate filter over drain cap and putting the cap back on the canister.
- Place the AeroPress over whatever receptacle you’re using to drink the espresso
- Put two tbsp of finely ground coffee into the AeroPress and add ½ cup hot water
- Press the plunger down firmly but slowly, stopping when the espresso is completely pushed out
- Drink to your heart’s content
Le French Press
Fine, we don’t need the Franglais here, but still. THE French Press Method is about as simple as the AeroPress. Unfortunately, a French Press lacks the pressure necessary for truly perfect shot espresso, but it will do in a pinch.
Start with a French Press, hot water (~200 degrees), and two tablespoons of ground coffee. After that, here are the complexities involved in making (sort of) espresso using Le French Press:
- Place the ground coffee into the French Press
- Add 2-3 oz of hot water over the grounds
- Stir this mix together for five seconds, making sure to use the French style of stirring
- Pour the rest of the water in and stir again
- Wait 4-5 minutes, depending on how tired you are
- Push the plunger down very slowy
- Drink immediately, depending on how tired you are
Voila, bon appetit, etc.
Using a Moka Pot
Last but not least, we have the Moka Pot method. For this one, you’ll need an extra piece of equipment: a stove. You’ll also need to know that the Moka Pot has three different parts:
- The base, or bottom chamber (this has a notch that marks where you stop filling with water)
- The top chamber (which looks like a steel pitcher)
- The tube and basket (if it’s not one of the above, you’re in business)
Here are the steps to take when making espresso in a Moka Pot
- Pour warm water into the bottom chamber up to the notch
- Carefully dump the espresso into the tube and basket part, using enough grounds to fill it completely
- Attach the tube thing inside the bottom chamber and put the top chamber, well, on top of it
- Put on the stove top over highish heat until you hear something of a gurgling sound
- Wait a minute or so, pour as appropriate, and drink up
When full, most will make about 3-4 shots of espresso. Most importantly, a Moka Pot is really cool-looking and makes you seem 20% classier than you actually are. Here’s how to learn more about home espressos.
Can You Make an Espresso at Home? Short (and long) answer: Yep.
So there you have it. You’ve just learned three neat ways to make espresso at home. Any one of them will deliver a decent cup of espresso, but don’t expect the same experience you’ll get from your favorite barista. You might get there someday, but it’ll take practice.
Lastly, for those of you don’t want to put in this kind of work– or just really enjoy plugging things in– there are some very fancy home espresso machines out there. To find the one that’s right for you, it’s important to do your own research, but here are three of our favorites:
- The Sowtech 3.5 Bar 4 Cup Espresso Maker
- The DeLonghi EC 155 Espresso Maker
- The Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
All three of these come equipped with the milk frother you need to make things like lattes, cafe mochas, and cappuccinos. You can find dedicated home espresso machines, but we thought you’d enjoy the versatility of these machines. Either way, now you can do more than answer the question ‘Can you make espresso at home?’ You can actually put this answer into your belly.