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Making espresso at home without a machine may initially seem intimidating, but it is still achievable with the right tools and techniques. You'll learn what ingredients and tools you need, how to prepare each step of the process, and plenty of tips to ensure success.
What Is Espresso
Some things need to be clarified about what espresso really is. Espresso is a type of coffee brewing method that produces a strong, concentrated, and flavorful cup of coffee. This drink is popular due to its bold flavor and intense aroma.
Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans at high pressure, resulting in a rich shot of espresso with a thick layer of crema on top.
Espresso crema consists of microbubbles of carbon dioxide gas that are suspended in water. The bubbles attach to the natural oils and fats present in coffee, then rise to the top of your espresso shot.
This is what makes espresso stand out above all other brewing methods and is only really achieved with high pressure with a machine. This high pressure is around 9 bars or 130 pounds per square inch (psi).
We won't get this from any method except from an expensive espresso machine, but we can come close to the flavor and feel with the brewing methods we'll cover.
The coffee bean grind for these methods is essential, and it's actually more important than the beans you choose to use. You'll want to use a Burr grinder to get the fine espresso grind. If you'd like to dive deep into this subject, read more about Burr grinders.
Or you can skip this step by purchasing pre-ground coffee for espresso.
What Coffee Beans You Should Use
This is going to be up to you and the style and flavor you enjoy. There are no specific beans you need to use for espresso. As we mentioned above, the grind is more important. If you're looking for more caffeine, go with a light roast.
While not as strong tasting, a lighter roast has more caffeine than a darker roast.
Misconceptions About Espresso
To clear the air, the only real way you'll get espresso is through an expensive machine with a pump. (Those cheaper "Espresso Machines" without a pump are Moka pots in reality.)
Another common misconception is that espresso is just strong coffee. This is false.
You can get a cup of coffee just as strong as espresso with a French Press, but you won't have any crema.
Now that we've covered what it is and some misconceptions, let's explore some espresso brewing methods we can use at home!
This is our favorite method to use at home. It's sometimes called "dirty espresso" from its taste not being as clean as you'd get from a machine. That's fine; it's a unique flavor in its own way.
A Moka pot is a stove-top espresso maker that has been around since 1933. It's known for its unique design and simple yet effective process of brewing coffee. It's also incredibly affordable. With no moving parts, it will also last a lifetime.
How To Make Espresso With a Moka Pot
This is a simple process, but we need to do a few things to ensure our coffee comes out right.
Preheat water before adding it to your Moka pot. You don't want to add cold water to your Moka pot as this will heat up our coffee grind simultaneously and for too long. This can give an off taste, adding bitterness.
After boiling water and adding it to your Moka pot, add the grind to your filter basket. Unlike a machine, don't tamper with your grind. Moka pots don't pressure up enough if you press down on the coffee grounds. The water isn't going to push out through the beans; it's going to lift the relief valve instead, making a mess of boiling water on your stove. Just add the coffee grounds to the filter basket, leveling it off.
Screw on the kettle (the top part), and place it on your stove. It doesn't matter if it's gas or electric.
It will take around seven minutes to brew. Once you hear bubbling, remove it from the heat, and it's ready to serve!
In summary of how to make espresso with a Moka pot:
- Preheat water and add it to the boiler (bottom part)
- Level off your grind in the filter basket
- Screw on the kettle
- Brew until you hear it bubble
For more details, check out this guide on how to use a Moka pot. Overall it should only take around ten minutes for your dirty espresso!
Aeropress is the ultimate coffee brewing tool for those who want a quick and easy strong cup of coffee. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to make coffee at home, as it offers a simple yet effective way of making coffee with easy cleanup.
It combines a classic French press-style extraction process with pressure to extract intense flavor from your favorite roast.
How To Make Espresso With an Aeropress
There are a few methods to use an Aeropress, but we're going to cover our favorite. This is called the "inverted method" because the Aeropress sits upside down while extraction occurs.
For the grind, you'll want something finer than standard drip coffee grounds but a little courser than espresso. If you already have prepurchased espresso ground coffee, that's okay; you can always play around with your Aeropress and adjust later when you get a grinder.
Boil water to a temperature of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a thermometer, take the kettle off the heat for a minute after the water boils. The temperature will be around 200 degrees.
Insert the plunger into the Aeropress and set it on a stable flat surface, filter-side up. Add a scoop of coffee grounds. The Aeropress will come with a scoop that is about 2.5 tablespoons. Add the water, and stir the grounds inside with the backside of the scoop. Let sit for four minutes.
Add the filter to the cap and tighten it down with a quick turn.
Turn the Aeropress over a cup and press down. You don't have to press hard. It should take about 20 seconds to squeeze the coffee into the mug. Once you hear a hissing sound from the air, you're all done.
With this method, you'll make a strong cup of coffee, and you might want to dilute your brew by topping it off with some hot water.
In summary of how to make espresso with an Aeropress:
- Add fine coffee grounds while the water warms up
- Pour the hot water and stir the grounds
- Let brew for four minutes
- Press into the mug and add water to taste
There are a few different methods, but this is the best way we found to make consistent coffee.
Portable Espresso Maker
Portable Espresso Makers have become popular as a way of making a quick cup of espresso without expensive machines. As the name implies, they are portable, so they are perfect for small spaces and outdoors.
Unlike the other methods of making espresso we have covered, you'll get some crema, as these can build more pressure than is required for crema.
How To Make Espresso With a Portable Espresso Maker
Start by boiling water in a kettle. The same temperature is required for all coffee makers, 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Add your espresso grounds to the chamber as your water is warming up. With a portable, you'll have to tamper down on the grounds to pack it in.
Screw the ground chamber to the body of the espresso maker. Add the hot water to the boiler and close the top.
Start pumping down on the plunger with a cup under the espresso maker. It will only take about ten pumps to build the pressure to push the hot water through the grounds. Your result is fresh espresso with some crema on top!
In summary of how to make espresso with a Portable Espresso Maker:
- Bring the water up to temp for brewing
- Tamp grounds into chamber
- Add hot water to the boiler
- Build pressure by pumping the top
Overall this does an excellent job of getting close to the real thing from a machine. Mostly in part to building more pressure than the other methods we have covered.
French Press Espresso
All the other methods we've included produce some pressure to push water through coffee grounds. While the French Press doesn't, it should still be included as this will still make a strong cup of coffee that will satisfy your cravings.
We also love the simplicity of a French Press coffee maker. There are few parts, but they can still produce great-tasting coffee.
The secret is in its design. By using a French Press, you'll keep all the oils from the beans. Since there's no paper filter that will remove it, you'll enjoy those oils.
This is what gives French Press coffee its distinct taste!
How To Make Espresso With a French Press
Begin by boiling water to a temperature of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. While the water heats up, you can get the coffee grounds ready. For a French Press, your grounds will need to be a little courser than espresso. Since French Press coffee makers don't use a paper filter, we don't want any grounds to get past the metal mesh when pushing down the plunger.
Add two and a half tablespoons of ground coffee to every cup of water.
Pour the hot water over the grounds. Then, stir the grounds inside the carafe (body of the French Press). Use a wooden spoon to avoid scratching the glass. After brewing for four minutes, press the plunger knob down slowly. Now you're ready for a dark and smooth cup of coffee!
In summary of how to make espresso with a French Press:
- Heat water as you prepare your grounds
- Add 2.5 tablespoons of course grounds for every cup of water
- Pour water and stir with a wooden spoon
- Let the extraction process work for four minutes
If you've never had coffee made from a French Press, you're in for a treat. It might become your new favorite way of brewing in the morning!
Wrapping up Ways To Make Espresso
With the methods we covered of how to make espresso at home, you'll be able to create all the coffee drinks you love, from cappuccinos, lattes, and even Breve Coffee.
Experiment with different ratios of coffee and water and pressing times to find the perfect combination for your taste.
With this new knowledge, you can start making espresso like a pro at home and if you ever wanted to experiment with coffee and foods, you can also use it to make some pretty fantastic bbq coffee rubs which can be used in all your grilling as well.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks and written by Troy De Ville
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