I’m going to show you how to make an equivalent/substitute for a double shot of espresso. No machine or fancy tools required! It’s an affordable way to make all your favourite lattes without ever leaving home or purchasing an espresso machine.
All you need are some medium fine ground coffee beans, hot water and a fine mesh strainer! My method for homemade espresso creates a full-bodied flavour with a nice layer of crema on top. Which is just foam and is not actually crema.
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What is an espresso shot?
Espresso is a condensed strong type of coffee that is made by using pressure to push hot water through finely ground coffee beans. Resulting in that wonderful rich espresso with a thin layer of crema on top.
Crema is the light coloured foam that sits on top of a well made espresso. I love how it consists of microbubbles of CO2 gas that become suspended in the water. The bubbles attach to natural fats and oils found in coffee and rise to the top.
Can You Make Espresso Without a Machine?
Technically speaking no, but we can create an espresso equivalent using different methods!
An authentic espresso shot requires pressure to push hot water through coffee grounds. If you don’t have a way to make espresso you’re going to love my method!
I have been making a substitute of a double espresso shot. I use medium fine ground coffee beans steeped in hot water.
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 ways to make a homemade espresso
The most common ways to make a substitute for an espresso shot without a machine are:
My favourite method is 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. A French press is simple but doesn’t create as much foam either. I’ve never used an AreoPress, but 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.
Choosing Beans & Grind type
For this recipe it’s best to use a medium/medium fine grind Arabica beans.
This is the one I use most often make my espresso. It’s what I usually have on hand.
What Type of Coffee Beans Should I Use For Homemade Espresso?
Fresh roasted beans create the best espresso but use any beans that suit your taste! Remember espresso is a drink and not a specific type of bean or grind.
The two main beans are Arabica and Robusta. Which are also the main types grown and used to make coffee/espresso.
Generally, in the US coffee shops use a darker roast like the French roast with a fine grind. In northern Italy they tend to use a medium roast.
What type of Grind Is Best?
In America a lot of coffee shops use a finely ground bean to make espresso. The grind size will vary from place to place though.
Technically speaking, there is no accepted standard of grind type for espresso.
Does the grind type matter for a homemade espresso?
I recommend using medium fine or medium ground coffee. Since we’re using a fine mesh strainer to remove the coffee grounds it’s important to not make them too fine.
I’ve tried making it with a fine espresso grind. I ended up with some black sludge and grounds in my espresso that slipped through the strainer.
How hot should the water be?
For this method we will use boiled water that has been off the heat for 20 seconds before using. If the water is too hot it will result in a burnt bitter taste.
The temperature for brewing should be between 195-205F (91-96C). Anything below 195F/91C will not properly extract the caffeine from the beans.
Brewing above 212F/100C will result in burnt coffee that is no fun to drink. And coffee should always be fun to drink.
More information on how heat effects espresso can be found in this article from Solo Espresso.
How to Make A Homemade Espresso Shot
- 3 TBSP medium fine ground coffee beans* (I use an Arabica bean)
- 1/2 cup hot water
Step 1: Grind & Measure coffee
Grind your beans to medium fine and measure your coffee into a small cup.
Step 2: Boil & Measure Water
Bring the water to a boil and make sure to let it sit for about 20 seconds before using.* Pour a splash of water into your grounds and let it absorb for 20-30 seconds (releases flavour).
Pre-warm your cup by rinsing with hot water. Measure out 1/2 a cup of hot water.
Step 3: Steep Ground Coffee
Slowly pour the 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 evenly.
Steep for 1 minute and then stir the coffee so that the grounds mix in. Let it steep for 3 more minutes.*
Step 4: Strain and Use
Pour through a fine mesh strainer into another cup. Let the coffee sit for about a minute to let the sludge settle.
Use in your recipe/or prep to drink by slowly pouring into your cup. Being careful to leave out the bottom ¼ inch of thick sludge.
This helps to keep most of it out of your drink.
How Long Should I Steep The Grounds?
The steep time should total 3-5 minutes. I find over 4 minutes it starts to get bitter.
- 3 min. creates a strong shot of coffee that is not bitter.
- 4 min. will be stronger, with more flavour and a light bitter taste.
- 5 min. makes bitter espresso but can still work in lattes and iced 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 15-30 seconds. This way you don’t end up with a bitter burnt taste.
- I like to swirl my 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 it steeps, 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
- Small glass cup
- Coffee grinder or ground coffee
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- 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
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.