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Top tools for making espresso at home
If you’re not working with capsules or a machine with a built-in grinder, here’s what you’ll need:
- Coffee grinder: We like the Breville Smart Grinder Pro for espresso because the finest setting produces fine, even results that don’t clump together. Make sure to use quality, dark roast coffee beans.
- Kitchen scale: If you’re serious about mastering the perfect shot, you’ll want a scale to weigh your grounds.
- Milk frother: You’ll need this only if your go-to is a latte or another specialty drink.
Can you make espresso without a machine?
Although technically not true espresso, you can get bold espresso-style coffee using other brewing methods, including single-serve coffee makers like the AeroPress. These are our favorite methods to make espresso at home without a machine:
How to make espresso with an AeroPress
Portable and lightweight, the AeroPress is a relatively new device invented in 2005 that brews coffee by pressing down a plunger to create air pressure, forcing the liquid through a filter and into a cup. The AeroPress doesn’t make espresso, but it can brew a strong, flavorful cup that’s closer to espresso than what you’d get from a French press, which requires a much more coarse grind. To use an AeroPress:
- Insert a paper filter into the filter cap, wet the filter and cap with hot water then dump out the water.
- Twist the filter cap onto the chamber of the AeroPress and place it securely over a mug or carafe.
- Pour the desired amount of medium-to-fine ground coffee into the chamber, then add very hot water and stir.
- Insert the plunger and push down gently until the plunger reaches the grounds.
How to make espresso on the stove with a Moka pot
Also called a stovetop espresso maker, the Moka pot brews strong, espresso-like coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through coffee grounds. Like espresso, the coffee-to-water ratio is about 1:2. It’s a popular and inexpensive option for home brewing. To prepare your coffee:
- Fill the lower chamber of the Moka pot with water up to the fill line.
- Fill the filter basket with finely ground coffee, making sure it is even but not too compact and brushing away any loose grounds around the edge of the filter basket. Place it into the bottom compartment and screw on the spouted top.
- Place the pot on a burner set to medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you hear a hissing, bubbling sound (after about five minutes).
- Immediately pour into your vessel of choice.
How to make espresso with a French press
While the AeroPress is a better press option for making espresso-like coffee, French press owners can still make a bold cup of coffee. Keep in mind that the French press usually calls for a coarse grind and doesn’t generate espresso-level pressure, so even a strong cup from a French press is going to be weaker coffee than the options mentioned above.
- Remove the French press lid and place 2 tablespoons of medium-fine ground dark roast coffee in the bottom of the glass carafe. (Although fine grounds are ideal for espresso, they can make it very difficult to depress a French press, and you don’t want your coffee to over-extract, which can make it taste overly bitter or sour.)
- Splash a small amount of very hot water (around 200°F) onto the coffee grounds in the carafe. Let the coffee bloom (warm and hydrate) for about 30 seconds, then pour in the rest of the hot water.
- Secure the French press lid onto the cylinder with the plunger all the way up.
- Allow the coffee to steep for four minutes. You can steep longer, but keep in mind your coffee might over-extract.
- Slowly press the plunger down with even pressure. When you’ve pushed the plunger halfway down the cylinder, pull it to the top and plunge again all the way to the bottom.
- Pour the coffee into a mug or carafe, leaving the plunger in the bottom position.
How to make espresso with instant espresso
Like instant coffee, instant espresso is made from brewed coffee that is dehydrated and powdered. If you’re craving a cup and don’t want to invest in any extra tools, you can pick up instant espresso from a brand like Nescafé and combine a teaspoon of the coffee with 1/4 cup of hot water, stir and enjoy. Keep in mind that the resulting cup won’t taste as rich or strong as true espresso.
How to make espresso with a Keurig
While a Keurig can’t produce the pressure necessary to brew espresso, there are a number of “espresso-style” Keurig pods and Keurig machines on the market that will give you a stronger and bolder brew than your typical coffee.
If you’re married to your K-cups but also want a pod espresso maker like a Nespresso machine, you might consider the Instant Pod, a pod coffee maker and espresso maker from Instant Brands that works with both classic Nespresso pods and K-cups.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Samantha MacAvoy is the Assistant Editor in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, where she writes about their latest recipes, must-try food products and top-tested secrets for home cooking success. She has reviewed several espresso machines and tasted countless sips of their extra-strong coffee; she has also evaluated hundreds of whole bean coffees, dozens of canned coffee products, and never misses her daily cup of espresso in the Test Kitchen.
Nicole Papantoniou is the director of the Good Housekeeping Kitchen Appliances and Culinary Innovation Lab where she oversees all of Good Housekeeping’s content and testing related to kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and gear. She’s been testing kitchen appliances professionally since 2013 and oversaw the testing of coffee makers, espresso machines and Nespresso machines, as well as all other brewing appliances.
Samantha (she/her) is an Assistant Editor in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, where she writes about tasty recipes, must-try food products and top-tested secrets for home cooking success. She has taste-tasted hundreds of products and recipes since joining GH in 2020 (tough job!). A graduate of Fordham University, she considers the kitchen to be her happiest place.
Kitchen Appliances & Innovation Lab Director
Nicole (she/her) is the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute‘s Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab, where she has overseen content and testing related to kitchen and cooking appliances, tools and gear since 2019. She’s an experienced product tester and recipe creator, trained in classic culinary arts and culinary nutrition. She has worked in test kitchens for small kitchen appliance brands and national magazines, including Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal.