How to Make Espresso: 4 Brewing Methods

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Are you a coffee drinker that prefers lattes over black coffee? Or maybe you enjoy waking up and having a cappuccino, like a true Italian coffee aficionado? If that sounds like you, you need to know how to make espresso at home.

Making espresso at home, with or without a machine, sounds harder than it is. The main part you need to contend with is choosing what method you want to use. Do you prefer the ease the espresso machine provides or the richness of the Moka pot?

Let’s go through the four usual brewing methods, their pros and cons, and how to brew espresso using each method.  After that, we’ll give you our best espresso recipe so you can enjoy the perfect brew!

How to Make Espresso at Home: With or Without a Machine

Espresso came to us from Italy, where its inventor, Angelo Moriondo, was looking for a way to make brewing coffee faster. When he patented a design for steam-operated coffee brewing machines in 1884, he found his answer.

Since then, the popularity of espresso has only grown. Now, we use espresso in everything from the Americano to the mocha, and everything in between! Since technology has developed a lot since the 19th century, how do we make espresso at home now?

In this article, we share how to make espresso at home in four primary ways. These methods include:

The Espresso Machine
The Aeropress
The French Press
The Moka Pot

Let’s go through these methods and explain their pros and cons, as well as how to 

Method #1: The Espresso Machine

If you’re looking for the best method to make espresso, you have to go with an espresso machine. Although these machines aren’t cheap, they produce the best espresso hands down.

Espresso machines work by forcing high-pressure hot water through the coffee grinds. Espresso machines use steam, piston, or air pump energy to produce such high pressure. The espresso machine process produces a thick liquid with a layer of crema.

For at-home coffee enthusiasts, counter-top espresso machines are a godsend. They produce the finest tasting espresso. Some counter-top espresso machines have a built-in coffee grinder and a steaming wand to make steamed milk. 

Having all of these features built into one machine ensures using your espresso machine is a breeze!

How to Make Espresso With an Espresso Machine 


  • 7 grams espresso roast coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • Tabletop espresso machine
  1. Grind your coffee: After you purchase espresso roast coffee, grind it until it becomes super fine. The grind will depend on the roast and bean quality, so don’t expect perfect espresso on your first try. You need approximately 7 grams for a single shot or 14 grams for a double.
  2. Tamp the grounds into the portafilter: Fill the portafilter with your desired amount of espresso grinds. Then, use a tamper to press down on the espresso grinds. You should press firmly until the portafilter has an even layer of espresso grinds. Do not tamp too hard or your coffee will be over-extracted resulting in a bitter taste.
  3. Brew the espresso: Place the portafilter into the machine and press the on button. It should begin immediately and take about 20 to 30 seconds to finish brewing. Enjoy right away for full flavor. 

Pros and Cons

An espresso machine is the best way to produce high-quality espresso at home. Although other methods produce satisfying espresso, they don’t come close to the quality of an espresso machine.

The main drawback with an espresso machine is its price. The cheapest espresso machines sell for around $300, although some sell for much more. If you’re on a strict budget, an espresso machine might not be the right option for you.

Method #2: The Aeropress

An Aeropress is a plastic cylinder that you can use to make a cup of espresso at a time. The Aeropress is a cost-efficient and time-saving method for making your espresso at home. 

The Aeropress works by creating pressure. After you prepare your espresso grinds, you fill the Aeropress with hot water. After letting it sit, you push the top piece down towards the bottom piece, creating pressure. The water then passes through the grinds, creating your espresso. 

Although the Aeropress is convenient, it isn’t the best espresso maker. They create a drinkable espresso, and it’s best to use it in a latte or cappuccino. The Aeropress tends to make espresso that lacks flavor and body. 

How to Make Espresso With an Aeropress

  1. Grind your coffee: Grind your espresso beans down to a fine grind. If you use your Aeropress for non-espresso coffee, you can grind your beans to a medium consistency. 
  2. Place and wet the circular filter: Aeropresses usually come with a circular filter. Put it into its place on the bottom of the Aeropress and screw it in. After that, add a little water to make the filter damp. A damp filter will make better espresso.
  3. Tamp coffee grinds: After you attach the filter, pour in roughly three tablespoons of coffee grinds. Tamp them down, ensuring the mixture is firm, but not rock-hard. Place the Aeropress on top of an empty mug.
  4. Add water and wait: Add 1/3 of a cup of hot water (180ºF or warmer) and wait 45 seconds. Waiting allows the grinds to saturate and release any excess CO2.
  5. Make espresso: After you wait 45 seconds, gently push down with the plunger until you hit the bottom. Once you do this, you should hear a “hiss” sound come from the Aeropress, indicating that the pressure is releasing. 

Pros and Cons

The Aeropress is a great espresso maker if you’re on a budget. They usually sell for around $30, so most people can afford them. An Aeropress also makes espresso relatively quickly, only taking five minutes from start to finish.

But Aeropress doesn’t make the best-tasting espresso. You’re best off using it in a drink where espresso flavor isn’t the primary component. An Aeropress also doesn’t create a crema, so your espresso misses out on those flavors and colors. 

Method #3: The French Press

The French press is the classic coffee-making tool, but you can also use it to make espresso. Although the espresso isn’t as good as an espresso machine, it’s the closest you can get!

French presses work by immersing coffee grinds in hot water. As the water absorbs the flavor and caffeine, you can push down on the filter. As the filter moves towards the bottom of the French press, the grinds will separate from the water, giving you espresso.

Although French presses don’t create the same kind of pressure as an espresso machine or an Aeropress, it still produces a flavorful espresso. You won’t get any crema, though.

How to Make Espresso With a French Press

  1. Grind your beans: When you use other methods, you’ll want to grind your coffee beans down to a fine grind. When you use a French press, only grind your beans to a medium grind. Any finer and the French press can’t filter out the grinds, leaving you with some in your coffee. 
  2. Add beans: Once you grind your espresso beans, you should add approximately 1/2 of a cup of coffee grinds to the French press.
  3. Pour hot water: Next, measure a cup of water and bring it up to 200ºF. Pour the water into the French press.
  4. Wait and filter: After you pour in the hot water, wait four minutes. After you wait, put the top on the French press and push down gently. Once you press down to the bottom, you can pour out your coffee and enjoy.

Pros and Cons

The French press will produce the most espresso-like flavor, aside from an espresso machine, of course. They’re also not too expensive, with an average cost between $20 and $40. For the at-home coffee nut, a French press is a solid choice to make espresso.

But if you’re someone who craves the flavor and sight of crema, the French press isn’t for you. Also, if you enjoy espresso regularly, it might be worthwhile to purchase an espresso maker. That way, you can enjoy the full flavor profile of your espresso.

Method #4: The Moka Pot

Although Moka pots make strong coffee, like the French press and the Aeropress, the Moka pot doesn’t make “true” espresso. Espresso requires the strong pressure that espresso machines can produce, which methods like the Moka pot can’t replicate.

But that doesn’t mean the Moka pot gives you bad espresso. Instead, the Moka pot gives you the strongest coffee you can make, aside from an espresso machine of course. 

Although electric varieties have come out, Moka pots are usually made for stove-top use. Moka pots work by heating water until it becomes steam, which then passes through the espresso grinds. Once the steam cools, it collects in the top chamber and is ready for you to drink.

Moka pots are a great way to brew espresso because you don’t lose any flavor. Although the coffee isn’t as thick as a classic espresso, you’ll still enjoy the robust flavor. Some people think that Moka pot brewed coffee tastes more like an Americano than a classic espresso.

How to Make Espresso With a Moka Pot

  1. Grind your espresso: You want to grind your coffee a little coarser than espresso when you use a Moka pot. so grind your coffee a bit coarser than salt finest.
  2. Fill the bottom with water: Fill the bottom compartment with filtered hot water. Pour in enough water to reach the bottom of the valve on the Moka pot.
  3. Add espresso grinds: Add your ground espresso to the basket, which is the middle piece. Don’t tamp down the grinds. Instead, fill the basket until it’s level with the top of the basket. Then, screw the bottom piece to the top and bottom.
  4. Heat on medium: Place the Moka pot on your stove over medium heat. Any higher and you can burn your coffee.
  5. Brew and enjoy: Moka pots take approximately five to seven minutes to brew espresso. At first, you’ll hear it start to boil. Then it will boil more vigorously. After a couple more minutes, the boiling sound should go away, replaced by a gurgle. When you hear the gurgling sound, remove the Moka pot from the heat and run cold tap water through the bottom of the pot to cool it off. At this point, your espresso is ready for you to enjoy!  

Pros and Cons

The Moka pot makes exceptional coffee, but that’s exactly what it is—coffee. Moka pots don’t produce real expresso because of the lack of pressure. So although Moka pots make great coffee, it isn’t real espresso, which is a downside.

Moka pots also don’t make “single” or “double” shots of espresso. Moka pots usually make five ounces of coffee, while a single shot is only one ounce. So although you don’t lose flavor with a Moka pot, you don’t get the real espresso experience.

Time for an Espresso!

Now that you know how to make espresso with any of these methods, go ahead and try a few out! You never know which method will suit you the best until you try it.

And while you’re at it, why not try a few new drinks. Some of the most popular espresso drinks we enjoy include:

  • The Americano (espresso and water)
  • Latte or cappuccino (espresso and steamed/foamed milk)
  • Mocha (espresso, chocolate, and steamed milk)
  • Or even a fancy iced coffee!
Photo of author
Antonella is the founder of Hot Coffee Tips. In addition to running Hot Coffee Tips, she works as a Senior Motion Designer at a leading global beauty company, where she handles video content for several brands. In her free time, she enjoys chillaxing at the beach, cooking, and sipping wine with her friends.