You’re certainly not alone if you’re a coffee lover who’s wondering ‘How do I make espresso at home?’ In fact, it’s actually a question i hear all the time. That’s why I’ve dedicated an entire article to it.
Here are the topics I’ll cover to answer the question ‘How do I make espresso at home:
- The type of coffee you need to brew espresso
- How you should grind your espresso for the best texture and flavor
- The equipment you’ll need for the actual brewing process
- The techniques required for the different ways of making espresso
We’ll cover each of the subjects in the following sections.
But before all that, you have to make sure the coffee you use is in top condition. Check out the guys at TightVac for your coffee storage needs. Making a good espresso requires fresh and well-stored coffee.
The Type of Coffee You’ll Need
This is an area of great confusion for many coffee drinkers. This confusion is quite understandable, however, because people simply don’t understand the difference between regular coffee and espresso beans. In fact, the average coffee drinker often thinks they’re an entirely different kind of bean.
In a sense, it’s actually quite simple– there is no fundamental difference between espresso beans and coffee beans. This is not the place for a detailed explanation of the confusion between the two. But the following facts will give you more than enough to go on:
- The word‘ espresso’ does not refer to a different variety of bean
- When you see the word espresso, it refers to the coffee’s preparation
- Beans that are intended for espresso are roasted longer than drip coffee beans
- Espresso beans are ground much more finely as well
- Espresso requires significantly more water pressure to prepare.
This is all you need to know to answer this part of ‘How do I make espresso at home?’ Oddly enough, you can use any type of coffee bean to make a good espresso. As long as you grind the bean fine enough and use the proper type of extraction, you can enjoy the rich flavor of espresso at home.
There is one caveat to the above. If you want the intense flavor you’re accustomed to tasting at your favorite coffee shop, we recommend that you go with dark roasted beans.
How To Grind Your Beans for The Best Espresso
Grinding your coffee beans properly is a critical part of making good espresso. The main thing to remember is that espresso tastes best when it’s freshly ground. In other words, buy your own grinder to use at home for the best results. Only brew as much as you need for a particular batch.
If you’re using a burr grinder, use the fine or superfine settings for the best extraction and flavor. If you’re using a hand grinder (push button or manual), be sure not to overfill. Only run the blades 2-3 seconds at a time to avoid overheating. Typically, you should cease running the grinder after a total of 15-20 seconds.
Here’s how to test whether or not your grind is appropriate for espresso:
- Unplug the machine and check for coffee chips that are obviously too big
- If you find these oversized chips, grind the beans for another 3-second cycle
- Take a small pinch of the coffee grounds between your thumb and forefinger
- The grounds should stick to your fingertips
- If they fall off, grind more until you get the proper results
The choice of grinder is up to you, but here are three of our favorites:
- OXO Conical Burr Grinder
- Breville’s BCG600SIL Dose Control Grinder
- Cuisinart DBM-8 Automatic Burr Mill
Other Equipment and Techniques
You can make espresso at home with or without a high-tech machine. In fact, you can actually make decent espresso with the equipment you don’t need to the plugin. We’ll cover some of these methods in the following sections.
Semi-Automated Espresso Machines
There is a wide variety of high-quality espresso machines available these days. The right choice depends on you budget and the quality of espresso drinks you need. Here are great machines that are also equipped with a frother:
The Moka pot is undoubtedly the best device for making espresso. In order to make this brew, you need a lot of pressure – the kind of pressure you cannot create physically (somewhere around nine bars). There are other ways to brew espresso without an expensive machine, but none are equal to the Moka pot.
- Nespresso by De’Longhi ENV155BAE
- Caphalon BVCLECMP1 Temp iQ Espresso Machine
- Sowtech 3.5 Bar 4 Cup Espresso Machine
How Do I Make Espresso At Home Without a Machine
Two great ways to make espresso without a high tech machine are by using a French Press or a Moka Pot.
If you don’t already know, a French press is a thermos-like container with a piston that runs through the lid and the middle of the pot. That’s all there is to it: straightforward and efficient technology. Brewing a delicious shot of espresso doesn’t really get any easier than this.
All you need is coffee grounds and hot water. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow when using a French press to make your espresso.
- Boil water – this is probably the most important step, and it does not limit its application to brewing with a French press only. If the water isn’t hot enough, your espresso will have a horrible taste.
- Add the coffee grounds – stir the grounds gently so they mix with the water. Don’t stir too energetically; the purpose is not to make a vortex in the press. You just need to stir the grounds a little bit so the water can start the extracting process.
- Let the coffee steep – this is absolutely vital and not respecting this step here is a waste of money and good coffee grounds. For the perfect espresso, the grounds have to steep for 4 minutes. Not 3, not 5 – precisely 4 minutes. If it steeps more than that, it will be bitter. One more thing: do not press the plunger as the coffee grounds are steeping. After 4 minutes have elapsed, you’re ready for the final stage of espresso-making with the French press.
- Press the piston/plunger – do not do it in one motion. Again, do it gently. If you meet any resistance as the plunger goes downwards, take it backward just a little bit and then resume plunging towards the bottom. Retract it once you’ve reached the lowest point. One more important thing: pour your espresso right away, to avoid bitterness. And that’s it! You’ve just brewed your first espresso with a French press!
Using a Moka Pot
The technology in a Moka pot is considerably more “advanced” than the one in a French Press, and it takes more time to brew an espresso. But believe me: it’s worth the wait. Knowing this means we should get down to business without beating around the bush.
We mentioned that a French Press is not that efficient in making espressos. Why? Because a good espresso is made when hot water passes through the grounds with large amounts of pressure. The French press isn’t able to generate that kind of pressure, but the Moka pot is. Here’s how you make your espresso with this device. You can find detailed instructions for using a Moka pot here.
The Moka pot is undoubtedly the best device for making espresso. In order to make this brew, you need a lot of pressure – the kind of pressure you cannot create physically (somewhere around nine bars). There are other ways to brew espresso without an expensive machine, but none are equal to the Moka pot. Learn more about home espressos.
Q: How do I make espresso at home? A: With lots of practice
Hopefully, you now have the knowledge you need to answer the question ‘How do I make espresso at home?’ Unfortunately, however, you’ll still need lots of practice. There are many variables that contribute to the quality of your espresso. This holds true regardless of what method you use. Now that you have the right information in hand, all you need is practice.