The yearning for an espresso cup goes all the way to start making your own if you don’t want the local barista to be fond of you. However, as you cut the cost of buying coffee, you look at the coffee machines available, and the prices start making you think otherwise.
As you think if they are worth buying, what if I showed you how to make espresso with a coffee maker that will not dig deeper into your pockets? You see, the art of making an espresso must hold its meaning. If you ask the pros, they will tell you that you need at least 9 bars of pressure to get the most out of the coffee grounds.
The methods that I’m going to deploy here may not reach that pressure level, but they always give something outstanding. Since you are on a budget, you will learn the best ways to improvise that don’t sound extravagant. Are you going for the Moka pot or the drip coffee maker? Keep reading to know how you can enjoy a hot cup of espresso right from your home.
Preparing for Espresso
Since the invention of the espresso machine back in 1884, people have been going for the dark brew ever since to wake their brains. For you to master how to make espresso, you need to understand the three crucial specifications. They include roasting, grinding and the pressure required to brew.
Once you know how to go about the three, it will be easier to make it without the Italian machines.
Roasting The Coffee Beans
There is a debate among the coffee enthusiasts on whether you really need the dark roast. I’ll say it depends on how you like to make your espresso. Some of us have done it perfectly with medium roasts.
The traditional method dictates having the dark version which contains more flavor. It is easier to use the dark roasted beans compared to the medium or light substitutes. Why? When coffee roasts for a longer time, it becomes more porous which makes it easier to get the flavors out after grinding.
Getting The Espresso Grounds
After roasting, it’s time to get the grinder. You coffee grounds need to be fine and not finer. The latter makes it difficult for water to penetrate hence the need to build up the pressure. That way, the water needed to mix with the coffee grounds is pushed through the filtration to bring out the dark brown liquid.
Too fine (like the Turkish coffee) is bound to block the filter, and you will also struggle when it’s time to clean up. Now back to grinding. It’s better when you invest in a burr grinder if you want the espresso grade.
Some of us have the manual grinder which also does the job. The only issue here is that you need a lot of energy and more grinding time to achieve a fine consistency. The results from hand cranking are not the same as the automated conical burr grinder. The prior gives you inconsistent grinds.
Achieving Espresso Pressure
This is where it gets tricky. If you look at dedicated espresso machines, they input at least 9 bars of pressure on the coffee grounds that we just made in the section above. The known standard is 15 bars which you can compare to 15 times the atmospheric pressure.
Can you achieve that on your grounds? No, unless you have the machine or some powers from Superman. That does not mean you can’t imitate what the high pressure delivers to create a commendable cup.
Making Espresso with a Coffee Maker
After having the grinds ready, let’s see how you can go about using some cheap coffee makers.
1. Using a Drip Coffee Maker (The Easy Way)
It’s sad that you don’t have the machine to deliver the needed pressure, but a drip coffee maker can get you there if used wisely. Here is the easy way to do it.
Start by Ignoring the Machine’s Water Tank
Most traditional drip coffee makers have a tank that holds water. You fill it, add the grounds, turn the machine on, and coffee drips through the filter into a coffee pot. This won’t work when you’re making espresso since the speed is too slow. So, to make a good cup of espresso, you need to ignore the water tank. This is the first step.
Measure Your Coffee Grounds and Water Accurately
After that, you’ll need to place a regular coffee filter in your machine and add the coffee grounds. Espresso is traditionally a dark, caffeine-filled roast that can sometimes, but not always, be a little on the bitter side.
You can use store-bought beans for espresso, as long as they fit the bill. Once you’ve chosen your beans, you’ll need to measure them out. You want two ounces of hot water for every two tablespoons of coffee grounds.
Since you aren’t using the machine to heat the water, you’ll need to do this on the stove. You want the water to be near the point of boiling, but not boiling.
Place Your Coffee Mug under the Filter
You’re very close to solving the riddle! Pour a little bit of the hot water onto the coffee grounds (note that the lid of your coffee maker should be open the entire time so that you can access everything correctly) and let it sit for 30 seconds. This releases some of the oils within the beans.
Next, pour in the rest of the water as quickly as possible. Your cup will catch the espresso on the other side. Although this isn’t “true” espresso (i.e., from an espresso machine) it’s as close as you can get with this type of machine.
It’s entirely possible to enjoy an espresso at home without having to spend a fortune on an expensive, state of the art, automatic espresso machine. The method described here is a little tricky, and there’s some skill involved to not spill coffee all over your counter (getting the cup in the right place on the machine is required). On the other hand, once you’ve mastered it, you’re good to go.
2. Using a Moka Pot
You will find it in most Latin America and European homes. It is not designed to give you an espresso, but it has been around to provide you with a good result of the steam and mix.
If you already have a Moka pot, here is the answer that gives something closer to the best.
Once you have the grinds ready, follow the steps below:
- Get about four teaspoons of the finely ground coffee.
- Add water to the Moka pot until it reaches the fill line. If you pour more than that, your coffee will be diluted, and that’s the last thing you want.
- Go to the filter basket and add the coffee grounds you measured in step 1.
- Place the top on the Moka and place the assembled set up on the stove. Use medium heat.
- What happens is the lower chamber is that the water heats up building up steam pressure. That pushes the coffee through the filter to the upper part of the pot.
- Pay attention to the hissing sound. When you see some brown foam appearing shortly before the whole coffee making process is over, it’s time to put the stove off.
- You, however, need to let the top part fill with coffee. When filled, remove the pot.
- Stir the coffee in the upper part with a spoon and pour it in the cups.
3. Using an AeroPress
I mostly use the AeroPress for a double shot but if you need a single one, just cut the inputs into half and still get the same flavor results. In addition to the grinding process, you also need a kettle to heat the water.
Do you have that ready? Here is how you get espresso out of an AeroPress.
- Heat about one cup of water using the kettle until it reaches between 85-96 degrees Celsius. That’s the best temperature for espresso extraction.
- Get two tablespoons of ground coffee. Next, place a filter in the drain cap (in AeroPress) and rinse using some of the hot water from step 1.
- With the drain cap on the Aero, put it directly on a large mug or something useful to collect the coffee.
- Put the measured coffee in step 2 in the Press.
- Tamper the grounds to achieve firm packing. It’s better if you have a tamper or something cylindrical enough to apply the needed pressure.
- Put about ½ a cup of the heated water into the AeroPress and stir quickly.
- Wait for ½ a minute before you start plunging using your hand. There is some resistance at first but keep pushing.
- After getting a full plunge depression, get the Press out of the receiving mug or whatever you used.
- Transfer the collected coffee to a cup and enjoy the drink.
Cleaning the AeroPress is easy. Get the drain cap out and pour the out the trash. Next, push the plunger downward to remove the grounds. Rinse using hot water and everything will be proper for the next brew.
4. Using a French Press
The French Press needs larger grounds than what you need for the espresso, but you can utilize it to give you a great brew. Just like in the AeroPress, you also need a water heating kettle here.
Once you have the grounds ready, here is the step process.
- For every cup you brew from the French Press, you need two tablespoons of finely ground dark roast. So, take note of how many cups you need out of the press.
- Get the kettle and boil some water. Before using it, set the water aside for about 30 seconds.
- Now, to get more flavor out of the grounds, you need to add double the amount of coffee used in the French Press.
- After adding the coffee, pour a small amount of the hot water from the kettle and allow it to rest for the next 30-45 seconds. That makes the grounds to bloom and release the needed aroma and oils for the espresso.
- Add more water (as preferred) but do not stir anything. Stirring will ruin the flavor extraction.
- Close the lid at the top and wait for the coffee to absorb for the next 3-4 minutes. The longer you wait, the stronger the espresso. On the other hand, don’t wait for too long to avoid getting a bitter taste.
- Now, it’s time to use the plunger. Please give it a steady, slow push so that the pressure can be even. Do it halfway at first, pull up and then press it down entirely.
- After the extraction, pour the coffee in a pot to preserve the flavors before serving.
From my analysis, the French Press is the last option you may need for an espresso cup. It uses larger coffee grounds, and you have to plunge more to get the flavor. Otherwise, it is still one of the easy ways to get you that dark brown cup you want every morning. If you want more information about using a French Press, I have the whole article for you right here.
I hope you have mastered how to make espresso without the big machines. As you have already seen, it is easy to achieve the next best drink after espresso using cheaper tools such as the Moka pot, the drip coffee maker, an AeroPress and the French Press.
It is more of a struggle though, but that’s the price we have to pay to lessen the coffee shop trips. If you like brewing your coffee using the above techniques, then you will be interested in other coffee gifts that may be of value to you and the colleague who also doesn’t like the machines.