For many coffee lovers, espresso is the essence of the brew. Combining that intense, rich flavor with the distinctive jolt of caffeine, it's an invigorating pick-me-up at any time of day. However, there's a problem: if you'd like to make espresso at home, you probably won't want to invest in one of the steam-hissing monster machines found in a typical coffeehouse.
But all's not lost. While only a dedicated machine can produce true espresso in the coffeehouse way, there are several options for making a very respectable alternative to enjoy at home.
The Roast and Grind
Whichever method you use to make espresso at home you'll need to choose the right beans for the job. Espresso beans are roasted for longer than a regular roast, giving that vital rich, dark flavor and aroma to the final brew.
The beans are also traditionally ground to a much finer powder than for filter coffee, and while it's possible to do this at home, it'll save a lot of effort to buy ready-ground beans. If you're looking to take your home espresso experience to even higher levels, consider investing in a quality coffee grinder. Many coffee drinkers don't realize the importance of the grind, and a good coffee grinder or coffee sifter will have hugely impact the quality of your espresso.
It's important to choose wisely when buying coffee beans for espresso – thanks to the intensity of the brewing process it's easy for the results to head toward bitterness, so it pays to choose a quality brand.
There are then three main methods for making your own espresso without a machine.
What Coffee Makers should I Use to Make Espresso at Home
Method #1: The French Press
The simple French press is an ideal way of dipping your toe into self-made espresso – if you're a coffee lover, you probably already own one. Making espresso in a French press is basically the same as brewing regular coffee, but using roughly double the quantity of fine-ground espresso beans at around two tablespoons per cup of water.
Leaving the brew to steep for between four and six minutes will give an authentically strong coffee, although without the characteristic creamy head of a true espresso. Leave for much longer, however, and you risk an unpleasantly acrid bitterness.
While the French press method is fine for the occasional brew, if you decide you want home-made espresso to become a regular habit, the next method gives a far more satisfactory result.
The AeroPress is an extremely popular, low-cost device for coffee enthusiasts thanks to its flexibility, ease of use, and the quality of the brew it produces. While it's most often used to make regular filter coffee, it can also be pressed into service for a delicious espresso-like brew.
With an AeroPress, around two tablespoons of coffee grounds to half a cup of hot water will produce a satisfyingly strong brew that's very close to the double-espresso experience, although without the ‘crema' head.
The Moka Pot
However, for the closest you'll get to an authentic espresso without an expensive Italian machine, the humble moka pot is the ideal choice.
This simple device is a mainstay of every Italian kitchen, usually placed on the stove within minutes of waking or whenever a visitor walks through the door. It consists of a lower chamber for boiling the water, a middle filter section for the compacted coffee grounds, and an upper chamber to collect the brew after it's been forced through the grounds under steam pressure.
It's this final point that makes this such a successful method – while the pressure is nowhere near as strong as that of a dedicated machine, it makes a noticeable difference to the final coffee quality. You'll still struggle to get a full, long-lasting crema, but the texture will be thicker than any filter coffee, with a taste that's as close to authentic as you could wish for.
Although designer moka pots are available, there's really no need to spend a fortune in order to make espresso at home. In Italy, they're an everyday utility and can be picked up for a few dollars. Of course, depending on your location you may need to pay a little more than that, but whatever you pay, it's important to buy a sturdy model that can withstand the pressures of daily use.
There's little needed to compete with great coffeehouse espresso, but there's no need to buy a fancy machine to make a highly respectable version at home. You might not get the full crema, but you'll definitely get the rich, dark coffee hit – always on hand and at a fraction of the price.
After reading these options, you may have decided that you want an exact replica of coffeehouse espresso with its quintessential crema and all. If this is you and you don't want to spend a literal fortune on making that happen, you might consider investing in Jura refurbished espresso machine. Espresso machines of this caliber are by nature built to last and most importantly, they are backed by a manufacturer's warranty. In my opinion, this is a must if you are going to go the refurbished route. A Jura refurbished espresso machine may be the perfect investment to get everything you want at a drastically reduced cost.