How to Make Espresso Without A Machine? (Brewing Espresso At Home)

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By: Tom Valenti


Can you make espresso without a machine? Yes, you can. So how to make espresso without a machine? There are four different ways to go about it, which include AeroPress, French Press, Moka Pot, and a portable espresso maker. So you see how there are surprisingly various types of methods for preparing your intense shot of espresso, even without a fancy espresso machine.

One important thing to note here is that you should be choosing medium to dark roast coffee to make the perfect espresso. Only then will factors like lower acidity and rich, bold flavors stand out, so your espresso can shine through. After all, you don’t want to mess with the robust, full body and the combination of pleasant complexity and sweetness of the espresso!

Plus, darker coffee roasts have more oils, which offer a creamier and thicker (i.e. more desirable) texture than lighter roasts.

What Is An Espresso Shot?

Concentrated coffee, now that’s what an espresso shot contains. Finely ground, tamped coffee beans are subjected to high-pressure brewing for making espresso. And this coffee concentrate is served in the form of “shots.”

What Is Espresso Crema?

The foam that you see at the top of freshly brewed espresso? That’s the crema!

Crema in espresso is golden-brown and this rich, foamy layer is produced as a result of tiny air bubbles released during the brewing process.

Perfect crema is essential when it comes to achieving the desirable espresso smoothness and flavor.

How to Make Espresso Without A Machine

1. Using AeroPress

How to Make Espresso Without A Machine - Using AeroPress

Not the most ideal choice for preparing espresso, the AeroPress method is a good alternative if you don’t own an espresso coffee maker. An AeroPress, unlike the espresso machine, is portable, inexpensive, and also easier to clean. So these would be the pros!

As for the cons, using AeroPress to make espresso will compromise the strong flavor and maybe also add more bitterness. Regardless, if you have no other choice and want to know how to make espresso with AeroPress, just follow the instructions below.

What you need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • Scale or tablespoon
  • AeroPress

The process:

  • Place a paper filter inside the AeroPress’s drain cap. Using more than a single filter will slow down the water flow when pressing, so it’s all up to you if you want to do that or not.
  • Moving on, slightly wet the filter and now position that drain cap with the filter into the AeroPress. Then mount the AeroPress onto your mug or cup.
  • Time to grind the coffee beans – achieve a very fine grind consistency, salt-like.
  • Add the freshly ground coffee into the filter, around 2 tablespoons. You can drop more coffee in the filter if you desire a highly concentrated shot.
  • How much water to pour after that? 3.5 fluid ounces, which should be heated to approximately 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stir the water with the coffee and then press down hard.

2. Using French Press

How to Make Espresso Without A Machine - Using French Press

Don’t have an expensive espresso machine? Never mind! The next best thing is the French Press. It preserves the intense espresso flavor even though the foamy crema is a lost cause.

Compared to an AeroPress, a French Press comes closer to producing authentic espresso flavor. That’s why the latter is very commonly used to make espresso-based coffee drinks and even affogato.

How to make espresso with French Press? Simply follow these basic, step-by-step instructions.

What you need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • Scale or tablespoon
  • French Press

The process:

  • Start by grinding 2 tablespoons of coffee beans. The optimal grind size for espresso is fine. If you add more coffee, which is not such a bad idea, it will increase the flavor richness.
  • Now add the ground coffee to the coffee maker. Then pour a little bit of hot water (just under 200 degrees Fahrenheit) over the grinds and let them soak or “bloom” for about half a minute.
  • Add the remaining water before you shut the lid of the French Press. Let it steep for 3–4 minutes.
  • After that, slowly and steadily press down the plunger halfway. Raise it back up and then once again plunge it down, all the way down this time, with the same slow, steady pressure.

3. Using Moka Pot

How to Make Espresso Without A Machine - Using Moka Pot

Another excellent way to prepare espresso involves the use of a Moka Pot. It gives perfectly rich-flavored, dark coffee, which tastes very much like espresso and even Americano.

Preparing coffee using Moka Pot is actually quite popular in America and Europe. You obviously don’t get the rich flavor and cream of original espresso, but the strong flavor of espresso is not compromised, especially if you choose dark roast coffee.

So here’s how to make espresso with Moka Pot.

What you need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • Scale or tablespoon
  • Moka Pot

The process:

  • Around 2 tablespoons of coffee beans should be ground to achieve a fine-textured consistency.
  • Into the base of the Moka Pot, pour 3.5 ounces of water heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add your freshly ground coffee into the filter compartment. Don’t forget to shake and settle those grounds.
  • Place the spouted top of the coffee maker at the top and tightly secure the hold before you position the Moka Pot onto your stovetop on medium heat.
  • You’ll soon see delicious liquid gold erupting into the upper level, with rich foam.

4. Portable Espresso Maker

How to Make Espresso Without A Machine - Portable Espresso Maker

This is a manual coffee maker that’s portable and the easiest to use. Perfect for when you’re on the go! The rich crema and tasty flavor of espresso may not be the highlight of the show but at least you don’t have to rely on a fancy espresso machine for your espresso!

Whichever portable espresso maker you have, check its packaging for proper brewing instructions. The guidelines are pretty basic.

  • Prepare hot water.
  • Grind the coffee beans.
  • Assemble the espresso maker.
  • Add water and coffee grounds.
  • Tamp the coffee.
  • Attach the filter, then brew.
  • Extract the espresso and then enjoy your espresso!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Make Espresso Without A Machine?

You can use an AeroPress, French Press, Moka Pot, and also a portable espresso maker for preparing your shot of espresso. As long as you know what equipment to use and the right technique to follow, you’re all set. So no need for an expensive espresso machine!

What Type of Coffee to Choose for Espresso?

First of all, high-quality, fresh coffee beans. Secondly, espresso-specific beans, meaning dark roasts since they have an oilier surface that produces a thicker, creamier texture (espresso crema indeed).

What Type of Grind Size to Choose for Espresso?

A very fine grind size is the most suitable for brewing espresso. Its consistency should be more or less like that of powdered sugar or salt.

The best thing to do at such times is to use a burr coffee grinder as this gives you a very consistent and even grind. But even if you’re using a blade grinder, select the finest grind setting.


Many coffee enthusiasts want to know how much caffeine is in a shot of espresso. Another commonly asked question is how to make espresso without a machine. So you see, there are plenty of espresso-related questions on the internet that need to be answered.

But preparing espresso doesn’t have to be such a complicated process, even when you don’t have a full-blown espresso machine!

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Tom Valenti

Chef/Owner of both Ouest and ‘Cesca, and the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Alison on Dominick, and Butterfield 81.

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