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How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

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How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

Making the perfect cup of espresso just might be the highlight of your day. And it’s definitely going to be a great way to start off your day. But what if you don’t have an espresso machine and you don’t really feel like buying one? Or maybe buying one is out of your budget for right now. Well then, you’ll need to know how to make your perfect cup of espresso without the machine.

Espresso Coffee 101

Espresso is a super-strong coffee with medium-to-coarse beans. It’s used for things like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos and Cuban coffee, as well as just being drunk plain. The pressure that is used to make it is really what gives the espresso its flavor, and that’s why it’s commonly made with a machine, but you don’t need to buy a strict espresso machine in order to make it. You can do it with much simpler components.

What Makes a Great Espresso

There are three main components that go together to make a perfect cup of espresso. These are the roast, the grind and the pressure that is applied. If you get one of these right your espresso will be okay. Get two right and it’s going to be pretty good but get all three right and you’re going to have an amazing cup of espresso that will have you wondering why you used to go to the coffee shop at all.

Espresso Roast

The roast that is used for espresso is a very dark one because the idea is to get a very strong flavor profile and the best way to do that is with a dark and well toasted bean. The darker the bean the more flavor you’re going to have the potential to get out of it and that means you’ll have a stronger espresso.

Keep in mind also that longer roasting for the beans means that they are more porous. That means they not only have a stronger flavor profile but they release it more quickly as well, which means that you get a great taste more quickly.

There are special espresso roasts that you can use or you could use a very dark roast of regular coffee beans.

Espresso Grind

The grind of your beans needs to be extremely fine. In fact, it needs a fine powder that will let the water move through slowly. The slower the water moves through the more pressure you need in order to force it through and that means a stronger cup of espresso.

But be careful about grinding your espresso beans too fine as they could then get caught in the coffee filter or they could even get through the filter and into your coffee. That’s definitely not going to be a good cup for the morning.

If you like to grind your own beans you can do it with a manual or electric grinder or you could buy pre-ground espresso beans. Just note that if you grind your own beans you are going to have a stronger and fresher taste, while buying already ground espresso beans means that they won’t be quite as potent.

Espresso Pressure

Finally, the pressure is possibly the most important part of the entire thing. That’s because pressure is what makes the espresso what it is.

You want to use nine bars or nine times atmospheric pressure to get the ideal flavor, but that’s going to be difficult to do without an espresso machine.

Instead, you’ll be able to get a similar pressurization process by using different methods and without using quite that much force to push the hot water through.

cup of espresso

3 Easy Ways to Make Espresso Without a Machine

Are you ready to start making that first cup of espresso? Well, you’re in luck, because there are three different methods that you can use without having to go out and buy an expensive espresso machine and without heading out to your local coffee shop.

French Press Method

The French press method of brewing your espresso is actually extremely simple and all you’ll need is the French Press, coffee beans, and hot water. Along with whatever toppings you may want for your finished product.

  1. Grind Your Beans. The best way to get a great flavor is to grind your own beans. With a French press keep in mind that you don’t want the same ultra-fine powder you would use in an espresso machine. You want a coarse ground powder that will steep longer without getting into the coffee itself. And you’ll want about 4 tablespoons of those grounds for a double shot of espresso.
  2. Boil Your Water. You want your water to be approximately 200◦F so that your coffee will be fully extracted. You also want to put some hot water (not your boiling water) into the French press to get it warmed up before you put the boiling water in. Dump out this water after you’ve warmed the French press.
  3. Add Your Coffee Grounds. This is where you want to put the coffee grounds into the French press. It should be warm and you will then be ready to pour in the hot water. Pour in a little at first and then pour in the rest and stir with a long-handled spoon. You want to make sure that you do this slowly to fully extract the flavor but not create a whirlpool effect.
  4. Steep Your Coffee. Once you’ve mixed everything you will want to steep your coffee for approximately five minutes. This will make sure that you get full extraction but that you’re not over-steeping, which can result in a sour flavor. You can choose to steep slightly longer or shorter to match your flavor preference.
  5. Press the Plunger. This is the part where you will press the plunger straight down in a smooth and steady fashion. You don’t want to push it down too fast as this will not give you the right flavor or remove all of the grounds before you pour it off.
  6. Pour Your Cup. Pour your cup of espresso quickly as this will make sure that the coffee does not continue to steep in the press. Make sure that you use a coffee filter to keep out any of the grounds that might otherwise get into the cup.

Moka Pot/Stovetop Method

The next option for brewing your espresso is to use a Moka pot or the stovetop. These pots are actually quite simple to use and will be quite inexpensive as well. All you need is the pot, coffee beans, a grinder, water and your stove.

  1. Grind Your Beans. The best way to get a great flavor is to grind your own beans. With a Moka Pot you want to make sure you have a super fine grind for your beans. Unlike the French Press, the Moka pot can handle those fine grounds and get you the flavor you’re looking for.
  2. Boil Your Water. Pour water into the bottom chamber of your Moka pot to heat up. You want to make sure that you only put enough water to fill the pot halfway and that you use fresh water so that you get the best possible flavor.
  3. Add Your Coffee Grounds. The next step is to fill up your filter basket with the grounds you want to use. Make sure to mound it slightly and then shake it down level but do not push down or pack the grounds. You want to get any loose grounds off the edges of the coffee basket and then put it into the bottom chamber.
  4. Assemble Your Moka Pot. Assemble the pot by screwing the top spout onto the bottom chamber but don’t tighten it down too much. It should be closed but not stuck.
  5. Heat on the Stove. Now you want to use a medium heat to bring your coffee to the right temperature. You want to make sure you keep the top lid open and keep the handle away from the heat so you will be able to lift it to pour your cup when the coffee is ready.
  6. Remove Your Pot from the Stove. Once you hear a light puffing sound and you notice that you have a light stream you will be ready to remove the pot and close the lid.
  7. Pour Your Cup. Pour out your first cup of coffee and enjoy.

AeroPress Method

Finally, you can use an AeroPress to brew your espresso. These are quite inexpensive and to brew you’ll only need the AeroPress, a grinder and grounds and water.

  1. Grind Your Beans. The best way to get a great flavor is to grind your own beans. With an AeroPress you want to make sure you have a super fine grind for your beans. Unlike the French Press, the AeroPress can handle those fine grounds and get you the flavor you’re looking for. You want approximately 2 tablespoons.
  2. Use a Filter. Put a filter into the lower basket of your AeroPress and pre-heat the brewer with a little bit of hot water. This will warm and wet the filter before your coffee goes through it as well as heating up your mug. Dump the water.
  3. Attach the Basket to the Bottom Chamber. Then add your coffee grounds and make sure that they settle but aren’t packed down. Add a second coffee filter onto the top of the grounds and apply a small amount of water to wet it.
  4. Push the Plunger. Press your plunger all the way down to pack the grounds firmly. You’ll want to then retract it so that you’re ready to add your water.
  5. Add Hot Water. Add your hot water, heated to approximately 200◦F, to the grounds, filling it to approximately the 2 level. Then press the plunger all the way down again.
  6. Move Slowly. Do not press the plunger down too hard as you could end up pushing some of the espresso out of the machine entirely. Instead, push down slowly and firmly to get the perfect cup.

What is So Special About Espresso?

So, why should you even care about espresso? What’s so special about it anyway? Well, the number one thing is that espresso gives you a very bold and rich flavor that you just can’t get with coffee. It’s extremely concentrated and it’s going to give you a lot of caffeine as well. That’s why some people prefer a shot of espresso in the morning (or a double).

You’ll get a light foam on the top of the shot as well, which creates a sort of crema that is associated with all good cups of espresso. Even better, there’s been some evidence that espresso can help prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s as well as overall cognitive decline. Not to mention you can make a number of great drinks with it from cappuccino to lattes.

Summary and Conclusion

There are plenty of great ways that you can enjoy a cup of espresso, but the number one thing you need to know is how to prepare it. By learning a few simple ways that you can do just that without having to buy an espresso machine you’re going to be better off than you might think. In fact, once you’ve tried out these methods you may never buy an espresso machine.

You can get the great flavor that you’re looking for and enjoy your next cup of espresso without spending a lot of money and without having to go to the coffee shop either. And, you can learn more about the different espresso based drinks that are out there and maybe even start brewing those for yourself as well.

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