How to Make Espresso Without a Machine? | 5 Best Recipe

Espresso is a unique and delicious specialty coffee that has become increasingly popular over the years. It’s smooth, creamy texture and full-bodied flavor make it an excellent cup of coffee for any occasion. However, having access to an espresso machine is not always feasible—which can be frustrating if you’re craving your favorite brewed beverage. Good news though; making espresso without a machine doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With this guide, we’ll walk you through exactly how to make espresso without a machine. So read on and learn the secrets to creating rich, tasty espressos at home—no dicey contraptions required.

What is the espresso?

Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee beverage that is prepared by using specially roasted beans and an espresso machine. The process involves packing finely ground beans into a portafilter, which is then secured in the base of the espresso machine. Water is then forced through the tightly-packed grounds at very high pressure, resulting in the extraction of one to two ounces of creamy and thick espresso shots.

Overview the espresso
Overview the espresso

History of espresso

The espresso, a renowned coffee recipe, originated in Italy approximately 100 years ago and is credited to Luigi Bezzera from Milan. Bezzera introduced the steam-pressure brewing method, resulting in a remarkably strong and quick cup of coffee. In fact, “caffé espresso” translates to “pressed out coffee,” denoting the high-pressure extraction of water through finely ground coffee. By the 1940s, the espresso-making process had been refined, leading to the widespread adoption of espresso worldwide.

What is the science behind espresso?

The science behind espresso centers around meticulously controlling the variables associated with espresso extraction to achieve a harmonious blend of flavors, aromas, and texture. Key variables, such as water temperature, pressure, and extraction time, require precise regulation to attain the desired outcome. Furthermore, the size and distribution of coffee grounds, as well as the freshness and roast profile of the beans, also significantly contribute to the final product.

Can you make espresso without machine?

Espresso can indeed be made without a machine. If you prefer a stronger coffee than the average drip, espresso is an excellent choice. It is a highly concentrated coffee drink that packs flavor and caffeine into a small shot. While you could purchase espresso at a coffee shop or invest in an expensive machine for home use, there are three relatively inexpensive alternatives: a French press, an AeroPress, and a moka pot.

Choosing beans & grind types to make espresso without machine

To make espresso without a machine, it is important to choose the right beans and grind types.

Choosing coffee beans & grind types to make espresso without machine
Choosing coffee beans & grind types to make espresso without machine

When making espresso using stovetop espresso makers or moka pots, it is recommended to use a fine coffee grind. The grind should be similar in size and feel to sugar, slightly coarser than what is used for a regular espresso maker.

Using a fine grind is crucial because of the short brew time and the pressure buildup in the espresso maker, which forces water through the coffee grounds. This ensures proper extraction of flavors from the beans and a delicious cup of espresso.

Remember, when it comes to espresso, the grind size plays a critical role in the taste of the coffee. Even a slight difference in grind size can have a significant impact on the overall flavor. Therefore, always use fine coffee grinds when brewing espresso using a stovetop espresso maker or a moka pot.

Equipment & Ingredients needed for homemade espresso


  • Kettle.
  • Small glass cup.
  • Coffee grinder or ground coffee.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer.


  • 3 tablespoons of medium fine ground coffee beans* (I recommend Arabica beans with a medium roast).
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of hot water (use 1/3 cup if using in a smaller mug).

How hot should the water be for an espresso?

The water temperature for producing high-quality espresso should fall within an ideal range of 92°C to 96°C (197°F to 205°F), as recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association. Maintaining stable temperature throughout extraction is crucial for achieving even and consistent results. As espresso machine technology advances, there is a growing emphasis on simplifying water temperature control, particularly for home baristas aiming to extract the perfect shot. To gain further insights into thermal stability in espresso machines, I consulted Carles González, the Coffee Competence Manager for Rancilio Group, and Christina Lee, the Director of R&D for Round K Coffee. Discover what they shared with me in the following sections.

Methods on how to make espresso without a machine

Methods for how to make espresso without a machine:

  • AeroPress: Suitable for on-the-go coffee drinkers.
  • French Press.
  • Moka Pot.
  • Portable Espresso Maker.

How to make espresso with an AeroPress?

How to make espresso with an AeroPress but with an AeroPress, follow these steps:

  1. Boil water and let it cool for about a minute to reach a temperature of around 175°F to prevent over-extraction and excessive bitterness.
  2. Grind about 3 tablespoons of espresso coffee beans to a fine grind.
  3. Place a paper filter inside the AeroPress cap or basket and rinse it with hot water to eliminate any papery taste and preheat the device.
  4. Attach the cap to the brewing chamber and place it on top of your coffee cup to catch the brewed espresso.
  5. Add the finely ground coffee to the chamber, tapping the grounds down lightly for an even press.
  6. Pour a small amount of hot water into the AeroPress, enough to wet the coffee grounds. Wait for 30 to 45 seconds for the water to soak in, then stir the mixture a few times for even saturation.
  7. Add hot water to the AeroPress cylinder between the 1.5 to 2-inch mark. Insert the plunger on top but do not press down. Let the coffee grounds steep for 1 to 2 minutes for desired flavor and intensity.
  8. After steeping, steadily and gently press the plunger into the AeroPress chamber.
  9. Once the espresso is extracted, remove the AeroPress, unscrew the cap, and release any grounds into a compost or garbage bin. Then, enjoy your espresso.

How to make espresso with French Press?

Grinding the coffee beans to a medium-fine consistency, preheat the French press by rinsing it with hot water. Add about 1 tablespoon of grounds for every 4 ounces of water to the French press. Boil water until it reaches around 200°F, and pour it into the French Press carafe until it’s half full. Gently stir the grounds and water to ensure they’re fully saturated. Place the metal plunger on top without pressing it. Let the coffee grounds steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Afterward, slowly press down the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid. Pour the concentrated coffee into an espresso cup and enjoy your homemade French press espresso.

How to make espresso with the Moka Pot?

To make espresso using a Moka Pot, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Grind your chosen coffee beans into medium-fine grounds.
  2. Remove the top chamber of the Moka Pot. Fill the lower chamber with hot (not boiling) water up to the safety valve.
  3. Insert the filter basket into the lower chamber securely, as this is where the coffee grounds will go.
  4. Add the coffee grounds into the filter basket without packing them down. Screw the top chamber of the Moka Pot tightly to ensure a proper seal.
  5. Place the Moka Pot on a stovetop burner over medium heat. The heat will create steam, and the pressure from the steam will force hot water through the coffee grounds to extract flavor.
  6. When you start to hear a gurgling or hissing sound, turn off the heat and remove the Moka Pot from the stove. This indicates that the coffee has finished brewing, which usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Place the Moka Pot on a cool surface or run the bottom chamber under cold water to avoid spills.
  8. Allow the Moka Pot to sit for a moment to release any residual pressure.
  9. Carefully unscrew the top chamber, and pour the brewed coffee into espresso cups. Enjoy the concentrated coffee that closely resembles espresso with friends or save it for later.

Note: The Moka Pot utilizes steam pressure to extract bold flavors and intense aromas, making it a great substitute for espresso brewing at home.

Ways to make espresso with the Moka Pot
Ways to make espresso with the Moka Pot

Steps to make espresso with Portable Espresso Maker

  1. Check if the infusion button is up before pumping the hand press.
  2. Release the pump and twist the handle slightly.
  3. Monitor the pressure gauge and continue pumping until it reaches 16 bar. Make sure to hold the handpresso with both hands while pumping.
  4. After pressurizing the device, turn it over, rotate the machine, and remove the filter.
  5. Grind the coffee beans and fill the coffee ground holder with the finely ground coffee. Approximately 7 grams is the recommended amount.
  6. Use a spoon to tamp the grounds properly.
  7. Fill the machine reservoir with boiled water.
  8. Insert the ground holder into the device and securely attach the filter holder.
  9. Flip the machine over and place it above a cup.
  10. Push the button to apply pressure in the reservoir, filling the cup with espresso.
  11. After making the espresso, gently remove the coffee adapter. Be cautious as hot water may still be present in the reservoir.
  12. Press the mesh filter to remove the used coffee grounds. Rinse the ground coffee adapter with plain water, preparing for the next cup.

How to make espresso with Instant Coffee espresso?

To make espresso with instant coffee, add 2 teaspoons of NESCAFÉ® instant coffee granules to 30ml (2 tablespoons) of water. Stir the mixture until the coffee granules are dissolved, and your espresso base is ready. Adjust the amount of water according to your preference to create a perfect cup of black coffee from this base.

How to make espresso with stovetop?

To make espresso with a stovetop Moka pot, follow these steps:

  1. Add water to the lower chamber: Pour warm or hot water into the lower chamber, filling it just below the safety valve. Avoid covering the safety valve, as it releases pressure to prevent the pot from exploding. Filtered or spring water is recommended.
  2. Grind the coffee: Grind coffee beans to a slightly coarser consistency than espresso, but still finer than drip coffee. The grind should be in between espresso and hand drip.
  3. Add coffee grounds to the filter: Fill the filter basket with the freshly ground coffee. Gently apply pressure to level the coffee in the basket. Avoid tamping or applying excessive pressure, as it can increase steam pressure. It’s preferable to fill the filter basket before placing it in the lower chamber. Optionally, you can place a round paper filter on top of the grounds for clearer coffee.
  4. Assemble the Moka pot: Place the filter basket in the lower chamber and screw on the top compartment. Ensure that the rim is clean to maintain pressure during brewing. Don’t forget to place the gasket before screwing the two pieces together.
  5. Start brewing: Place the Moka pot on medium heat over an electric hot plate or gas stove (if using a gas stove, you might need a trivet). Turn the handle away from the heat source. If using an electric stove, use a heat diffuser to control temperature spikes. As steam pressure builds, the water will pass through the coffee and collect in the top chamber.
  6. Stop brewing: Once the top chamber is full, remove the Moka pot from the heat and pour the brewed espresso into a pre-heated cup of your choice. You’ll know that brewing is complete when you hear a gurgling sound, indicating that all the water has passed into the top chamber. Stop the heat as soon as possible to prevent the coffee from becoming too bitter.
  7. Cool off the pot: After removing it from the heat, place the Moka pot under running cold tap water to cool it down.

Tips & Tricks for making espresso without a machine perfectly

  • Before measuring coffee grounds into your cup, pre-warm it by rinsing with hot water.
  • To avoid a bitter burnt taste, allow the boiled water to cool for 15-30 seconds.
  • When pouring water into the grounds, swirl the cup in slow circles to help form a nice foam on top and soak all the coffee grounds.
  • While the espresso steeps, you can cover it with a glass saucer or lid to retain heat.
  • Use it as a replacement for a double shot of espresso in a recipe.
  • That concludes this guide to making a homemade espresso without a machine. Feel free to share your experience and plans for using it in the comments.

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FAQs: making espresso without machine

Can I make best espresso without machine?

A French press is an excellent alternative for making espresso without a machine. If you already own one, it’s the perfect option. It’s our top recommendation for making espresso without an espresso-specific tool, as the flavor is quite comparable to the real thing.

Can I make espresso with regular coffee without machine?

To make espresso with regular coffee without a machine, follow these steps: First, grind ½ cup of dark roast coffee beans to a medium fine consistency. Then, heat ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons of water to a hot but not boiling temperature (200 to 205°F). Next, add the medium fine ground coffee to a French press and top it with the hot water. Stir the mixture and let it sit for 4 minutes.

6 thoughts on “How to Make Espresso Without a Machine? | 5 Best Recipe”

  1. Thank you for this straight to the point post. No bells and whistles, just useful information! Thanks a million!

  2. To make true espresso, you will need to to get some sort of pressure generated during the brewing process in order to extract the oils that form the “crema” layer that real espresso is known for. A stove top espresso pot can be found online for under $20, and this is how many people brewed their own real espresso for decades before the corporate coffee giants moved in.

  3. A moka pot doesn’t produce enough pressure to make “espresso”, although done properly it does make good, strong coffee. I think a moka pot tops out at about 1.5–2 bars.

  4. I traveled extensively through Italy in the 1970s. When someone invited you into their home for espresso, they made it in a Moka pot. The original espresso machine only produced 1.5 bars. This 7–9 bar stuff is only 21st cent. snobbery.

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