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How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

How to Make Espresso Without a Machine... in 4 Different Ways

November 18, 2020

If you want to sip an espresso that tastes and looks just like the one you tried during your Italian holiday, you need an espresso machine. Not ready to invest in one? Would you rather drink it on the go? To get as close as possible to brewing an espresso without a machine and enjoy that special energy kick, here are our favorite methods: let’s see which one works best for you!

4 ways to make espresso without an espresso machine 

By definition, an espresso is brewed at 9 bars of pressure. Because machines are the only ones that allow you to reach them, the coffee brewed with most of these methods won’t technically classify as espresso. However, it’s as close as you can get to the real thing… and it tastes damn good.

Brewing espresso with a moka pot 

Brewing espresso with a moka pot

You can’t go wrong with the favorite method of the country that invented espresso in the first place! Most Italian households own at least one of these bad boys.

Also known as stovetop espresso makers, moka pots are very easy to use, and can reach between 1 and 2 bars of pressure.

Just add water to the bottom chamber (always below the valve), fill up the filter with 20-22 grams of fine/medium-fine coffee grounds, reassemble the moka pot, and place it on your stovetop. When you hear the coffee gurgle, wait for around half of it to gush through, and remove it from the heat to avoid over-extraction. Find out more about it in our moka pot guide.

Making espresso with the AeroPress

Making espresso with the AeroPress

What better way to enjoy the stunning view in the middle of a hike than with a strong cup of coffee in your hands? This revolutionary coffee maker is famous for its black coffee, but a small tweak to the standard AeroPress recipe can allow you to reward yourself with a shot of espresso no matter where you are in the world.

Use finer grounds, add a second filter on top of them inside the brewing chamber, and tamp them. Pour less water (around 55 grams), and aim between 200 and 208°F. Easy, strong, and travel-friendly!

Using portable hand espresso machines

How to make espresso without an espresso machine

If you’re intrigued by the portability of the AeroPress but want to drink the real thing, you’ll be glad to know that some portable coffee makers such as the Wacaco Nanopresso focus on espresso specifically.

The procedure varies depending on your chosen coffee maker, but it usually relies on tamping the fine coffee grounds, adding hot water, and pumping a piston to build pressure inside the chamber. This system allows you to achieve the required 9 bars—or higher!—and even the coveted top-layer of crema.

Brewing espresso with a French press

Making espresso with a French press

We’ll be honest: this is the least effective option, but if you want an espresso-style coffee right now and this is the only coffee maker of this list that you own… what other choice have you got? 

Brew French press coffee as you normally would, except for these small changes: use fine grounds instead of coarse, and add a cup of water for every 20 grams of coffee. Moving the plunger up and down—very fast—a few times can even create a mock-crema.

Can’t stand a few sediments in your cups? Try this method instead: use coarse grounds as usual, and, once you’ve brewed them, re-use that coffee instead of the hot water to brew a second batch. This double-brew method will result in a much stronger, concentrated cup tasting more like espresso than traditional coffee.

Which method are you going to use? Now that you know how to make espresso without a machine, grab yourself a bag of our Backdraft Espresso blend, and start experimenting!

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