How to make Espresso without a machine (4 Easy ways!)

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Johny Morrisson


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♡ Written by Humans for Humans

While nothing fully matches the pumping power of a traditional espresso machine, you can come surprisingly close to replicating an authentic shot at home.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to make Espresso without a machine but with humble kitchen items to coax out as much espresso magic as possible.

With quality beans and a few clever tricks, you can rival your local cafe right from your home kitchen.

How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

4 ways To Make Espresso Without A Machine

For brewing a top-class shot of Espresso you definitely have to invest in expensive Espresso machines.

But you can also brew a fairly good shot of Espresso using inexpensive devices with these four methods.

1) Make Espresso with A Moka Pot

The classic Moka pot’s strength and richness already mimic espresso, but a few adjustments can make an even more powerful, concentrated brew.

And I must say if you are a fan of Americano which is a less concentrated Espresso drink you are gonna love it.

Espresso with Moka pot

1) Use Dark roasted coffee beans and grind them to fine or medium fine settings. Use three tablespoons or 20-22 grams of coffee grounds per serving.

Never use too fine coffee grounds as they can clog the Moka pot.

2) Add coffee grounds to the filter basket and properly level off the surface.

3) Fill the lower chamber with 3 to 4 ounces of filtered water and screw the head of the Moka pot tightly with the bottom section.

4) Place the Moka pot at medium to low heat and let the water boil.

Never use high heat while using Moka Pot.

5) Now wait and listen to the gurgling sound as the water boils and the steam passes from the lower chamber to the upper chamber through the filter basket.

6) Let the coffee brew for 5-7 minutes and remove the Moka pot from the heat source as soon as you hear the large gurgling sound. This will stop the brewing process and prevent burnt flavors.

7) Now pour the Espresso slowly into your cup and Enjoy!

Also Read Moka pot vs Espresso machines

2) Make Espresso with Aero Press

AeroPress is a portable and user-friendly device that allows you to brew a coffee that captures the essence of espresso’s strength and flavor.

I must say it is the best travel companion, even if you have a good Espresso machine at home you can buy this manual machine for traveling purposes.

Espresso with Aeropress

1) Insert an AeroPress stainless steel filter into the flow control filter cap. Then attach the assembled cap and filter to the AeroPress chamber.

2) Add 1 heaping scoop or 18-22 grams of fine coffee grounds in the basket.

3) Now pour 80-100 mL hot water over it and let the mixture bloom for 30 to 40 seconds.

4) Now insert the plunger to the top and press it slowly. Don’t apply too much force and do it very slowly so that the whole pushing will take 30 to 40 seconds.

3) Make Espresso with Wacao Portable Espresso Machine

Like the Aeropress, Wacao Handheld Espresso is popular among outdoor coffee enthusiasts.

The good thing about this manual machine is that it can create pressure of up to 9-10 bars which is required for brewing Espresso.

So unlike other methods discussed above you will get a thick and rich shot of Espresso with a nice layer of crema with these Portable Espresso machines

I won’t lie the espresso shots will not be as good as the traditional Espresso machine. But I must say it’s the best method to make espresso without a machine or while you are on a camping or hiking trip.

The bad thing about Wacao is you have to apply a lot of force manually. (That too for just one small shot of coffee!)

Espresso with Wacao

Step Involved

1) Remove the cup from the bottom of the machine and unscrew the portafilter head

2) Fill the filter basket with finely ground coffee beans or insert your coffee capsule.

3) Tamp the coffee grounds in the filter basket to make the surface even and flat. You can use to bottom of the scoop as a tamper.

4) Tightly screw the portafilter to the machine.

5) Now fill the water tank with hot water and screw the water tank to the machine

6) Unlock the piston by twisting it counterclockwise. Now put the device upside down and start pumping. You will see coffee coming out after 5-6 pumps and after about 25-30 pumps your espresso will be fully extracted.

7) Your Espresso drink is ready with a rich and thick layer of crema over it.

If you are looking to buy manual and Portable Espresso makers. Check out the list of the 10 Best Portable Espresso makers

4) Make Espresso with French Press

While the French press is no espresso machine, this simple brewer can produce a concentrated, robust cup reminiscent of espresso with the right technique.

Espresso in French press

Here’s how to coax an intense espresso-styled coffee from your French press

1) Gather 30 grams (4 tbsp) of dark-roasted beans

You can use any roast but dark roast works perfectly for Espresso

2) Start by grinding beans to Medium or Medium-fine settings. The medium particles are key for extracting strength.

Don’t use extra fine coffee grounds (same as Espresso) it will clog the mesh filter of your coffee maker.

3) Boil 250 mL water in an electric kettle or at the stove and then let it cool for 30 seconds. 

4) Now add coffee grounds to the French Press Jar and pour a splash of hot over it. Coffee starts to bloom as soon as hot water comes into contact with beans, releasing an aromatic and delightful aroma. Let the coffee soak flavors for thirty seconds.

4) Now pour the remaining water and let the water steep flavors for 4 minutes. If you prefer strong Espresso then give it an extra 1 to 2 minutes.

Don’t go beyond 6 minutes as it will make your drink overly bitter.

5) Now push the plunger halfway and raise it again to the top. And then push the plunger all the way down.

6) Here you go Your espresso is Ready! Now pour the freshly brewed espresso into your cups slowly and ENJOY!

The taste of this coffee will be too strong it is best enjoyed with the addition of milk or creamers

Read a Guide on French Press Espresso

can you make espresso without a machine?

The simple answer is no! You can’t make authentic Espresso with a rich layer of Crema over it without an Espresso machine.

The definition of real Espresso

According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the definition of Espresso is:

Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”

Speciality Coffee Association

You can’t achieve the consistent pressure of 9 bars without a machine that’s why it’s very difficult to make Espresso manually.

Maintaining and withstanding the high pressure and temperature require high quality and sophisticated material. That’s the primary reason why Espresso machines are very expensive.

But the methods mentioned in this article will certainly serve you a drink very close to Espresso.

Key considerations when making Espresso without machine

Here are some key considerations when attempting to make espresso-like coffee without a machine.

1) Prefer dark roasted coffee beans

Using dark-roasted coffee beans are always preferred for espresso because of their bold flavor and crema-forming properties.

The lower acidity, increased soluble material, and robust roasted flavors of darker beans allow more complete extraction under lower pressure conditions.

Their properties aid in bringing out the appropriate intensity, body, and crema (somewhat) for an authentic espresso experience using simple tools.

2) Use freshly roasted whole-bean Coffee

The freshness of coffee beans is paramount when making espresso without equipment.

Firstly, fresh beans retain more CO2 which helps produce crema when brewed under any amount of pressure. The natural carbon dioxide content in recently roasted beans stabilizes the microform.

Secondly, newer beans have more aromatic compounds intact leading to a more complex, nuanced flavor.

Finally, you can adjust the grind size which is also very important as discussed below.

3) Grind Size

To brew a perfect shot of Espresso grind SIZE MATTERS! Finely ground coffee is best for making Espresso.

Why?

Because we know that the contact time between the coffee grounds and water is very little while making Espresso.

As we reduce the size of coffee grounds the rate of extraction increases and water can easily extract most of the flavourful coffee oils in very little time.

Final Thoughts

While no simple homebrew method recreates rich and dense cafe-styled Espresso shots, we’ve seen how it’s possible to achieve surprisingly close results with very inexpensive tools.

Out of the 4 methods of making Espresso without machine, I personally like the Nanopresso method and the Moka Pot method. In terms of taste, it will be fairly similar to espresso.   

These concentrated brewing methods are also well-suited for crafting milk-based coffee drinks similar to cappuccinos and lattes.

We’d love to hear about your experiences and variations in the comments below. Share your thoughts, tips, and any other methods you’ve explored on your espresso-making journey. Happy brewing!

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Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About, bringing passion and expertise to the world of coffee.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.