How to Make Espresso Without a Machine: Our Favorite Methods Revealed

how to make espresso without a machine

Are you in the habit of grabbing a coffee or espresso-based drink on the way to work? Well, if you fall into this camp, you should know that even the most reasonably priced lattes and cappuccinos can add up over time. 

There are plenty of great ways to brew an exceptional espresso without a fancy machine. Personally, we recommend a lever espresso machine. Before you pay a premium for your favorite brew from a local barista, or by purchasing a high-end device, check out our article to learn how to make espresso without a machine.

How to Make Espresso Without a Machine

Get your espresso fix every morning without overspending at your local coffee shop as there are fantastic alternatives to create your single or double shot at home. Enjoy the best of bold, intense espresso brews anytime you crave your favorite shot!

Do you have a Moka pot, French press, or manual espresso lever machine? Get ready to explore a more straightforward method to brew a high-quality roast from the comfort of your kitchen. You won’t need an expensive espresso maker or system to create your favorite caffeine fix. 

Make Espresso with a Portable Lever Machine

lever espresso machine

A portable espresso maker is a great option for you if you've always wanted to invest in a professional, fancy machine but need to stay within a budget. While the barista and coffee connoisseur may prefer the automatic espresso maker, there are some distinct benefits for choosing a manual lever machine for brewing coffee and espresso.

One of the most significant advantages of this portable device is the degree of customization. You have the ultimate control over every shot you create from the number of shots, level of infusion, tamp pressure, the size of your brew, strength, and much more. Balancing all the options is ideal for developing barista skills at a whole new level.

A manual espresso press is a perfect way to brew this intensely delicious drink without an espresso machine. This machine gives you the ability to curate a skill that can rival your favorite local coffee shop barista. You'll need a few items to start, such as a grinder, a tamp, and fine grounds to start:

  • Warm up the machine by turning it on and waiting for a few minutes.
  • Prepare the coffee beans with the grinder into finely ground coffee.
  • When the manual espresso maker is ready, scoop the finely ground coffee into the portafilter and use the tamp to press.
  • Continue to press the tamp with up to 30 pounds of pressure.
  • Place the portafilter inside the machine.
  • Underneath the machine, place a small espresso cup and raise the level gradually.
  • With the lever raised, hold this position for ten seconds, then slowly and firmly push the lever down, waiting about 20 seconds to apply more than 40 pounds of pressure.

The manual lever machine is one of the best ways to make espresso without an automatic espresso machine. While the Aeropress espresso method and other coffee makers can make an impressive, intense cup of espresso-like brew, you'll find greater control with the lever machine. 

Best Manual Espresso Makers →

Making an Aeropress Espresso


An Aeropress is similar to an espresso maker. It applies sufficient pressure to your fine espresso grind to extract the maximum amount of flavor from freshly ground beans. It's comparable to a mini espresso machine, though the Aeropress is inexpensive, portable, and doesn't require electricity to operate. It's also lightweight and ideal for travel and camping.

While the Aeropress uses pressure to create a delicious coffee, you'll need to get a bit creative with this gadget to make your espresso like coffee. You'll need an Aeropress with two filters, a temp, a kettle, and a coffee grinder. If you use the Aeropress backpacking, you can use pre-ground coffee beans to make the process easier.

  • Boil the amount of water with the kettle that you need for your Aeropress. Read the instructions to determine how much hot water is required.
  • Prepare the Aeropress by adding a coffee filter and grind your coffee beans.
  • Add the coffee grounds, then the tamp.
  • Place another coffee filter over the tamped coffee grounds.
  • Pour the hot water and press to brew espresso.

As you press the water and coffee grounds, you'll need to apply manual pressure to get the best results! Regular coffee beans work perfectly, and grinding your beans to a fine consistency in advance reduces the effort needed to create your espresso.

Overall, the richness and intensity of an Aeropress brewed espresso are excellent. On the other hand, if you decide to use this method, you'll need to acquire extra filters, a tamp, and other supplies and utensils to perfect your espresso coffee brew.

Buy an Aeropress →

Brewing Espresso with a Moka Pot

moka pot

One of the simplest ways to create an espresso is by using a Moka Pot. It's commonly known as the stovetop espresso maker. It prepares your favorite shot by forcing water through coffee grounds with high pressure. While it's not an authentic or "true" espresso, you'll enjoy the dark, golden brew fresh from the Moka pot as it does not include the crema.

A Moka pot is an inexpensive alternative to a coffee maker, which gives you the benefits of amazing coffee drinks through a simple process. You'll need a burr grinder or similar product and your favorite blend of espresso beans with a mug and cold filtered water. Brew delicious espresso in the following easy steps:

  • Grind the espresso beans into a finely ground coffee.
  • Pour the chilled, filtered water to fill just the bottom half of the Moka pot chamber.
  • Empty the fine coffee grounds into the filter basket, place them into the water-filled section, and close the top chamber.
  • Heat the stovetop and place the Moka pot on the burner until the water begins to boil in the lower chamber.
  • Once you detect a bubbling sound in the Moka pot, this means the upper section is full of freshly brewed coffee.
  • Remove the Moka pot and pour the espresso shot into a mug to enjoy.

One of the top benefits of using a Moka pot is its versatility. It's ideal for making espresso on a hot plate or over a fire during a camping trip. The Moka pot is available in various styles and sizes so that you can find a great product at a low cost. Essentially, any heat source used for cooking works well for your Moka pot espresso roast.

Are there any drawbacks to this method? If you're new to using the Moka pot, creating a great espresso may take a bit of practice. You may encounter a brew with a bit of over-extraction, which results in a burnt taste, though this is easy to remedy to achieve the intense flavor and quality taste you crave in a strong coffee.

Creating Espresso Like Coffee with a French Press

french press

A French press is a popular way to create morning coffee with an effortless brewing process, though it's not an espresso maker. The immersion process of a French press doesn't provide the pressure required to prepare a dense espresso shot. Fortunately, there's a trick you can use to create an espresso with your press.

Double brewing is the secret to creating an espresso without a machine with a burr grinder, French press coffee maker, and any dark roast coffee beans or espresso beans. The process requires a fine grind and hot water to brew your favorite ground beans twice to make a shot of espresso-style coffee.

  • Grind your espresso beans until they are coarsely ground, which is the standard for French press preparation.
  • According to the French press's instructions, prepare the coffee grinds with hot water and pour the brewed coffee into a large jug.
  • As soon as the coffee is freshly made and hot, brew another French press batch using the hot coffee instead of boiling water. This process will create a concentrated coffee that produces an espresso-like drink.

Surprisingly, you'll find that your French press makes a fantastic espresso coffee with little effort. While the process takes a bit longer than other methods, you'll have the pleasure of relishing a solid espresso-like drink that's perfect for any coffee lover. You can use any coffee beans to make espresso using this method.

Like the Moka pot, a French press is typically low in cost and doesn't take up any room in your kitchen. It's easy to fit in a cupboard or shelf, and some brands feature unique designs that complement your decor. Every French press functions the same, so once you get familiar with one style, you'll have no difficulty using any French press style.

When you make espresso at home with a French press, you'll notice a lack of crema on your brew. However, you'll have the benefit of preparing your signature cappuccino or latte with your strong shot of coffee. You can create your drink with any style of roast, including dark roasted beans or instant coffee.

How Espresso Differs from Coffee

espresso yo self

Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is brewed from coffee grinds and water. The density of coffee creates a strong brew that is achieved through a high level of pressure or force using hot water and fine coffee grinds to create this popular drink within minutes. You may notice this process is fast at your local coffee shop, and it's similar when you recreate your cup of brew at home.

Expert baristas' definition of espresso varies to some degree, though overall, there are specific guidelines met to separate this strong brew from regular coffee. In coffee shops, espressos are typically prepared using an expensive espresso machine specially designed for a professional brew. A traditional espresso includes a foamy crema layer which isn't easily created with other methods.

While creating espresso with a fancy machine is ideal, there are excellent alternatives to making this intense and delicious drink with various other brewing methods. It's easy to make espresso and enjoy the strong flavor with your favorite fine coffee grind.

Which Is Stronger?

Usually, espresso is stronger than coffee, or at least this is what most people think. There is some variance in the strength of both coffee and espresso, based on several factors. When you compare the standard brewing techniques between the beverages, you'll find espresso is twice as strong as pour-over coffee. This ratio is based on using a one-ounce shot for espresso with one liter of water to prepare the drip coffee.

A shot of espresso contains a higher concentration of caffeine than regular coffee. It's also served in a smaller portion, so you would need at least two shots to achieve the desired effects of the caffeine. The average shot of espresso contains 62 mg of caffeine, while a full pot of coffee contains double this amount. A double shot of espresso is the most common portion when you make espresso at home.

Espresso Beans or Coffee Beans?

Espresso is often prepared from a specific blend of roasted beans prepared for espresso, whereas drip coffee is made with various coffee beans. The difference between these specific bean types is not significant, and many espresso-based drinks are easily created with any beans, including dark roast coffee or artisan blends. The most important aspect of the beans you use to make espresso is a fine consistency that impacts the flavor.

The Crema of an Espresso

Alternative methods for creating espresso without a machine will give you amazing results, though you'll likely miss the crema. This frothy layer on top of espresso is a signature feature created with automated machines and doesn't typically form with manually-prepared espresso drinks.

While crema is common in coffee shops and places where automated espresso makers are used, it's not required to create an excellent cup of brew.

Brewing Compared

Preparing your preferred blend of brew with a coffee maker is fundamentally different from creating espresso for one main reason: coffee is made through water immersion, and espresso is brewed with high density and pressure. When you make espresso, the method changes significantly as your focus shifts from a standard drip coffee to maximizing the strength of the ground coffee beans for a stronger result.

All About Making Espresso

making espresso without an espresso machine

Sure, we all have heard of espresso, but do you truly know about the rich, crema-filled elixir that we call espresso? Here are some of the facts!

The Benefits of Creating Espresso At Home

Espresso is the base for creating many delicious beverages that you can enjoy at home. You may create other coffee drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and iced drinks. Make your preferred espresso-style beverage or enjoy a double shot on the go.

You'll find making espresso is relatively easy and fast, and you don't need an expensive machine to achieve stellar results. Drip coffee takes longer, depending on your machine, while espresso gives you a bit more control over the strength and method.

Whether you use espresso machines or an alternative option, there are great ways to create your favorite strong brew. Once you create your first espresso roast, you'll find lots of great opportunities for making espresso anytime.

Preparing Espresso Drinks with Accuracy

If you're new to creating espresso and want to ensure that it's done correctly, you'll want to pay close attention to the weight and pressure. A typical dose or shot weighs between 14 and 18 grams of coffee, and a double hot is around two ounces. It's a good idea to start with the standard dose and try various blends of fine grind.

Once you get comfortable creating espresso drinks, you can experiment with various options and customize your style at home. If you decide to invest in a new machine or use more than one device, you'll find that every espresso press is different, and you should expect a variance in the result.

Creating Milk-based Drinks with Your Espresso

Add delicious milk to create a frothy latte or cappuccino with your amazing coffee espresso. Full-fat cream or milk is most commonly blended with espresso. If you prefer an alternative to cow's milk, plant-based options work well, including soy, almond, coconut, and oat milk). All of these forms of milk blend perfectly with a steam wand.

You'll discover many ways to steam and swirl your preferred milk into your espresso beverage. In some techniques, baristas allow the drink to cool slightly to a medium heat level before whirling the steam wand. Other methods use a combination of moving the pitcher while moving the wand's angle within a certain time frame to create texture.

Instruction manuals for frothing and steaming may vary, depending on the product, though all techniques require practice to achieve the silky froth with textured designs instead of grainy bubbles. It's important to maintain temperature and avoid over steaming, which can be easily achieved with practice.

Coffee Grind for Espresso Drinks

Ideally, finely ground coffee is the best option for making espresso. The size of the granules directly impacts how well water passes through, which makes a fine grind more effective. The degree of grind and its fineness directly impact the taste of your coffee. For example, if you prefer a stronger flavor, a table salt-sized grind works well.

A burr grinder or machine of similar high quality is a must-have for preparing your favorite espresso and coffee drinks. It's also ideal for grinding your roasted beans in advance of travel or backpacking trips where you prefer to pack lightly and keep your espresso-making supplies as compact as possible.

Preparing for Quality Espresso Brews

Fortunately, you don't need many materials to create a delicious cup of espresso at home. However, it helps if you acquire some important utensils when using a manual or portable espresso press. If you have a lever machine, extra filters, a filter basket, stamps, and other spare items are useful.

The main focus of your tasty brew should be on the quality of your roasted beans. While various experts and experienced baristas may suggest specific blends or roasted beans, you can prepare an amazing cup of robust espresso with any high-quality blend of coffee beans.


You don't need to invest in an expensive espresso machine or spend hundreds every month to enjoy delicious, intense drinks at your local coffee house. Creating tasty espresso with an organic blend of high-quality beans is easy and fast. You'll find lots of terrific roast bean blends and products that you can try with the various espresso brewing methods for a quality drink every morning.

When you create espresso at home, it's a solid base for preparing many other beverages to enjoy in the morning and anytime you need a caffeine fix. The joy of designing your own signature espresso-based drink is exciting and offers many options without an espresso machine. It's also a great option to use in cold brew beverages and desserts.

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Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.