Make Espresso No Machine Required (2 Best Ways)

Let’s learn how to make espresso without a machine. Even if you have nothing in your kitchen to make it. All you need is ground coffee, hot water and a small cup. Or you can use a French press.

How to make Espresso with a machine

I know stopping at your local coffee shop isn’t always an option. This is the best way to make up for that. So if you’re a coffee lover this full-bodied concentrated espresso substitute will hit the spot. 

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What is Espresso & Can I Make it Without a Fancy Machine?

An authentic espresso is made using high pressure pressure to push hot water through coffee grounds. Which results in that wonderful rich espresso with a thin layer of crema on top.

So technically speaking you can’t make true espresso without an espresso machine. However, we can create an espresso-like approximate without a fancy espresso machine.

It’s the perfect homemade espresso substitute. That allow you to make coffee shop drinks requiring espresso, and it’s customizable to your taste!

4 Brew Methods to Make Espresso Without a Machine

Here’s a quick guide to the most common brewing methods used to make a substitute for a double espresso shot. Instructions on how to make the first two and more info on each is given further down the article.

  1. Immersion Process (easy, needs no special tool
  2. French Press (affordable, easy, makes great espresso coffee)
  3. AeroPress (small, simple to use, portable & affordable)
  4. Moka Pot (affordable, takes practice to make & fun to master)

My favourite method is the immersion process, which is simply using hot water and ground coffee.

I’ve tried to use a Moka Pot and it’s got a learning curve and doesn’t produce foam. While a French press makes straining simple, it doesn’t create as much foam either. I’ve never used an AreoPress, but I have heard it is a great option to make something similar to an espresso.

The easiest choices are the French Press and using a small cup with hot water and ground coffee (immersion process).

Immersion Process: How to Make Espresso Without Anything

You will need:

  • Coffee beans or pre-ground regular coffee
  • 1/2 cup of hot water
  • Strainer cover with paper towel or make one with just paper towel/paper filter
How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

Step 1: Grind & Measure Coffee

  • Using your coffee grinder, grind your beans to medium fine and measure 3 tablespoons ground coffee into a cup.

Step 2: Boil & Measure Water

  • Heat the water and once boiled, let it sit for 20-30 seconds before using (Need temp of 195-205F)
  • Measure out 1/2 cup hot water

Step 3: Steep Grounds (total 4 min.)

  • Slowly pour the hot water over the coffee grounds while swirling the cup in a slow circular motion to cover all grounds.
  • Steep for 1 minute and then stir. Let it steep for 3 more minutes.*

Step 4: Strain

  • Slowly strain through a fine mesh strainer that is covered with a piece of paper towel. Strain into serving mug.
  • This makes sure that your espresso is smooth and doesn’t contain sediment from the fine grounds.

Use in your recipe/or prep to drink by slowly pouring into your prepared glass.

How to Make Espresso Using a French Press

If you already own a French press, it’s the next best option to make espresso without a machine. 

Pros: Keeps the strong coffee hot, makes straining grounds out simple, 

Cons: it doesn’t create much foam.

how to make espresso with a french press

Step 1: Grind Beans

  • Grind about 1/3 cup dark roast coffee beans to a medium fine grind.
  • Measure 3 1/2 tablespoons of coffee grounds into the French press basin.

Step 2: Heat Water

  • In a tea kettle or on the stove, heat 3/4 cup of water to boil and let sit 20-30 seconds (want 200 to 205°F).

Step 3: Brew French Press Espresso (4 Min.)

  • Pour the the hot water into the press and stir. 
  • Place the lid on the press with the plunger up and let it steep for 4 minutes.

Step 4: Plunge & Serve

  • Slowly press the plunger all the way down.
  • Optional: Strain the French press espresso using a fine mesh strainer covered with paper towel. 
  • Pour it directly into your serving mug.

Top your espresso-like coffee with 3/4 cup hot milk and enjoy.

AeroPress

Pros: It’s affordable ($30), a portable espresso maker, simple to use and easy to store.

Cons: Requires you purchase or already own an AeroPress and filters out the foam. 

Moka Pot

The moka pot is a neat way to create espresso. You place it on the stove over medium heat. And uses steam pressure to push water from the bottom chamber up through the packed coffee grounds. 

Pros: It’s a stovetop espresso maker, affordable ($15-30), also portable and creates intense flavor for your espresso based drinks. 

Cons: Tricky to do properly, doesn’t produce foam and requires you already own one or purchase one.

Other Methods: How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

If none of the options listed above suit you, there are still a few other options to try. 

Coffee Maker: You can make traditional drip coffee at double strength. Use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6oz cup of water you brew. 

Instant Coffee: Use 2-3 teaspoons of instant coffee granules and 2 tablespoons of hot water.

Keurig: If you have one of these you can use an espresso roast k cup pod. A newer coffee pod machine may have the option to brew a smaller cup of concentrated coffee.  

Lever Espresso Machine: This is an expensive option but is completely manual. It is supposed to simulate the bars of pressure you would get with a real espresso machine.

Choosing Beans & Grind Type

For this recipe it’s best to use a medium/medium fine grind espresso roast bean. You can also use any type of espresso beans you like.

The type of coffee I often use for my espresso is an Arabica Bean. Or if you like to try different roasts & beans use Atlas Coffee Subscription

Generally, in the US coffee shops use a darker roast coffee beans like the French roast with a fine grind. In northern Italy they tend to use a medium roast to make their espresso-based drinks.

Water Temperature

For best results you want a temp of 195-205F (91-96C). To simplify this I heat water to boil and let it sit off the heat for 20-30 seconds. If the water is too hot it will result in a burnt bitter taste.

Anything below 195F/91C will not properly extract the caffeine from the beans. While brewing above 212F/100C results in burnt coffee.

How Long to Steep Coffee Grounds

The steep time should total 3-4 minutes. I find over 4 minutes it starts to get bitter.

  • 3 min. will create a strong shot of coffee that is not bitter.
  • 4 min. will be stronger coffee, with more flavour and a light bitter taste.
  • While 5 min. makes bitter espresso but it can still work in lattes and iced coffee drinks.

Tips & Tricks

  • Before measuring coffee grounds into your cup, pre-warm it by rinsing with hot water.
  • Allow the boiled water to cool for 20-30 seconds. This way you don’t end up with a bitter burnt taste.
  • Swirl the cup in slow circles while pouring water into the grounds. It helps 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 to replace a double shot of espresso in a recipe.

That concludes this guide to making a homemade espresso without a machine. Let me know in the comments how your espresso turns out and how you plan to use it!

How to Make Espresso without a machine
Print Recipe
5 from 11 votes

How To Make Espresso Without a Machine

Try this simple affordable way to make homemade espresso with no machine!
Prep Time1 minute
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Breakfast, brunch, Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Homemade espresso, How to make espresso without a machine
Servings: 1
Author: Linda Spatig

Equipment

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

Ingredients

  • 3 TBSP medium fine ground coffee beans* I use Arabica beans -medium roast
  • 1/3-1/2 cup hot water use 1/3 cup if using in a smaller mug

Instructions

Grind & Measure Coffee

  • Grind your coffee beans to medium fine. Measure out 3 TBSP into a small cup.

Boil Water & Steep Coffee

  • Bring the water to a boil and make sure to let it sit for about 20 seconds before using. Pour a splash of hot water into your grounds and let them sit for about 20 seconds.
  • Pour a bit of hot water into your measuring cup and swirl it around to prewarm the cup. Pour it out then measure out ½ cup hot water.
    Slowly pour the ½ cup hot water over the coffee grounds. I like to swirl my cup in a slow circular motion while I pour the hot water in to make sure everything gets soaked.
  • Steep for 1 minute and then stir the coffee at least 10 times so that the grounds mix in and you introduce some pressure. Let it steep for two-three more minutes*

Strain & Use

  • Pour through a fine mesh strainer into another pre-warmed cup.** Let the coffee sit for 30-60 seconds to let the sludge settle.
    Use in your recipe/or prep to drink by slowly pouring into your drink or cup. Being careful not to pour the bottom bit of sludge into your drink.

Notes

*Use 2 or 2 1/2 tablespoons with 1/3 cup water for a lighter tasting espresso. 3 Tablespoons renders a nice strong flavour.
**Prewarm your cups by rinsing with hot water. This helps to maintain the temperature of your drink. 
The steep time should total 3 to 4 minutes. 3-minutes makes a nice strong espresso brew that is not bitter. 4-minutes makes a very strong brew with a light bitter taste to it. 5 it starts to be fairly bitter.
Water temp should be 195-200F.
Cover the espresso with a small saucer or a lid of some kind while it steeps to keep the temperature up.
Play around with the steep time to see what you like. If you don’t mind the bitterness and want a very strong shot of coffee steep for up to 5 minutes.
Letting the boiled water to cool slightly ensures you won’t burn your coffee and end up with a bitter burnt taste. Adding a splash of hot water to your grounds first helps release the flavour.
I like to let it sit for 30-60 seconds after I strain it, I have found that this really helps to get rid of the sludge that would be poured in by adding all the espresso shot.
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22 thoughts on “Make Espresso No Machine Required (2 Best Ways)”

  1. 5 stars
    Haven’t tried the recipe but looking forward to it. I’m really not interested in purchasing another gadget and the internet was not helpful in terms of a recipe 😅. Thank you!!!

  2. 5 stars
    It’s perfect! Love making this, it’s a nice coffee ritual and a treat. Very delicious results! Thank you for sharing:)

  3. 5 stars
    This was great! I put my moka pot in the dishwasher and ruined it. Been missing it so I went looking for a way..my friend made me Armenian coffee and it’s similar to this. Very yummy! Thanks for posting!

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear about your Moka Pot 😭. As a fellow coffee lover I can understand the sadness of that. I broke my one cup French press and was very sad about that for a while because it was my favourite one. The Armenian coffee sounds wonderful. I’m going to have to look that up!
      I’m so glad you are enjoying the tips I share. Thank-you so much.

  4. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this, your step by step instructions are so helpful and I feel confident I can make it.

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