As a self-confessed coffee aficionado, I love trying out different coffee drinks and fancy cafes. Yet, it was not until recently that I discovered I can make the perfect shot of espresso at home without buying a fancy espresso machine. Yes, it does sound outlandish at first, but once you understand the science behind the process, the entire notions become a lot easier to grasp.

Of course, the best way to compete against your local barista is to shell out a few hundred bucks for a semi-automatic espresso machine. But, let’s be honest – where is the fun in that?

This post is not about how Starbucks makes their coffee; it’s about how to get the best out of any coffee maker while being on a budget. As I progress further, you’ll realize making an espresso without an expensive machine isn’t all that difficult.

What really goes into making an espresso?

Unlike with coffee, hot water, and a filter aren’t enough to make an espresso; you need pressure. Espresso machines maintain high pressure while driving the water through the grounded coffee beans, resulting in a strong brew.

Grinding of the beans is also important. If you are using dark roasted beans, you are likely to get a stronger coffee because they are broken down more than the lightly roasted ones. Finer coffee ground will ensure a higher resistance to the hot water that is being pushed through. If the water temperature is right, this inevitably results in a rich and aromatic shot of espresso. While it is difficult to do that without a proper machine, it is not impossible.

3 Ways to Make an Espresso without an Espresso Maker

The Aeropress


As the name implies, the Aeropress takes care of the pressure that is to be applied and maintained while making the espresso. The texture of the end product, in this case, may not be accurate, but the taste and caffeine content should be similar to that of an espresso.

Ingredients required:

  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • Aeropress
  • Tablespoon or scale for measuring coffee
  • Grinder


  1. Heat some water (the number of cups of coffee you need a + ½ cup) to 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit). It has been determined that water needs to be almost at its boiling point in order to get the perfect coffee, but if you are using an AeroPress, any temperature between 85 and 96 degrees Celsius (185 and 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit) should work fine.
  2. Grind your coffee beans using a grinder if you haven’t done so already. You will need around 2 tablespoons of grounded coffee for a double shot of espresso. It is recommended to use freshly grounded beans, but if you find g beans at home too troublesome, you may have to make do with the not-so-fresh ground beans from the store.
  3. Stack your AeroPress. Place a filter inside the drain cap and rinse with hot water. Now put it inside the compartment of the AeroPress directly onto a coffee mug or tumbler.
  4. Fill the AeroPress with the ground coffee and tap it down occasionally to reduce the air between them.
  5. Measure out ½ a cup of the heated water and pour into the press followed by stirring.
  6. After 30 seconds, plunge with the weight of your hand, and keep pushing till the plunger is fully depressed. Now remove the press.
  7. Serve your espresso in a fancy mug and enjoy!

French Press


Let me just note that this is not the most authentic way to replicate an espresso. But the French Press, being one of the most commonly owned coffee materials, does deserve a shot (of espresso – put totally intended). As a side note, you are unlikely to get the coffee to be as dense as with the AeroPress. As a result, the shot may come out a bit oilier than originally anticipated.

Ingredients required:

  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • French Press
  • Tablespoon or scale for measuring coffee
  • Grinder


  1. Grind your coffee beans into a very fine ground. Since the French Press does not give you a strong coffee by default, you need to ensure that you are using very dark beans for this purpose. The ration is usually 2 tablespoons of beans to 1 cup of water.
  2. Heat the water. The ideal temperature is 90.5 degree Celsius (195 degrees Fahrenheit), but in case you don’t have a thermometer, simply heat the water till it boils, and then leave it away from the heat for 30 seconds.
  3. Fill the French Press with double the amount of coffee you normally use for French Press coffee. 2 tablespoons of beans per cup of water usually suffice.
  4. Add a fraction of the water you have heated to the French Press. This will help the beans to release the oils.
  5. Now add the remaining water and stir gently. Stirring makes sure that all the coffee grounds are absorbed into the water.
  6. Close the lid without plunging. Allow the mixture to steep for around 2 and half minutes. The longer you let it steep, the stronger will be your espresso.
  7. Finally, plunge halfway, lift it back up and plunge all the way down again. Enjoy your espresso shot!

The Moka Pot


The Moka pot is a  utility kettle that produces an espresso-like brew which, albeit not precisely similar to espresso, boasts of a lovely taste of its own.

Ingredients required:

  • Freshly roasted coffee beans
  • Moka Pot
  • Tablespoon or scale for measuring coffee
  • Grinder
  • Kettle


  1. Grind the roasted coffee beans as finely as you can. Make sure you are having at least 20-22 grams of grounded coffee.
  2. Fill the bottom of the Moka pot with water.
  3. Place the coffee powder in the built-in filter you’ll find inside the pot.
  4. Attach the top of the pot and place it on the stove. Adjust the temperature to medium heat.
  5. When the water boils, you will hear a hissing sound that indicates a stream of coffee pushed through the upper chamber under pressure. When you find the upper part of the pot filled with foamy coffee, remove it from the heat. Stir it with a small spoon.
  6. Pour the coffee into mugs and serve.


Making an espresso is more about understanding the process, rather than making a huge investment in ready-made results. Now that you are aware of the best ways to make a shot of espresso at home without a fancy machine, you can invite your friends and family over instead of going out to a posh café for a little hangout.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can you make espresso without a machine?

Espresso is made with a machine because it requires a certain level of pressure (15 or 19 bar pump). But, theoretically, you could make espresso at home without an expensive maker. Instead, you could use an AeroPress, Moka Pot, or a French Press.

Can you make espresso in a coffee maker?

You could if the coffee maker is capable of generating enough pressure, such as the AeroPress.