How to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Machine
I love an old world espresso. Throwing back that little drink is like inhaling a burst of flavor and tradition. While I like the old world nature of an espresso, I also like the modern element of using a precise, well designed espresso machine that makes the process simple and easy. Still, is an espresso machine absolutely necessary to brew a nice cup of espresso? Let’s take a look.
Let me be honest. It is highly preferable to make espresso with a machine that has been designed for the task. The design eliminates all the aggravating aspects of brewing espresso, and there are plenty of them. Having said that, I fully understand that money is a bit tight these days and espresso machines are not a $20 item. If you are going allocate funds to some aspect of the espresso brewing process, you always want to spend them on high quality espresso beans first. Okay, let’s get to it.
You are going to read about and see a number of different approaches to making espresso without using a machine. The problem is all of these are misleading at best or simply completely wrong. Why? Well, they are not making espresso. What they are making is a coffee drink out of espresso grinds and, frankly, the result tastes pretty nasty if you ask me. The theories range from just putting espresso grounds in a regular coffee maker to boiling them on a stove top appliance. If you want to try one of these, be my guest. Just understand that what you are drinking is NOT espresso. The problem is a lack of pressure.
Espresso is espresso not because of the bean that it is made of although it is always wise to go with a very high quality bean. No, espresso is espresso because of the WAY it is made. To create the unique, intense taste of an espresso, very hot water must be passed through the fine espresso grounds for 20 seconds or so. This must be done under at least 9 BAR of pressure. Why? The pressure is the key to squeezing out the subtle flavors found in the beans. Put another way, this is what makes an espresso espresso! Without the pressure, you simply have a basic cup of coffee that is neither intense nor flavorful.
I’ve looked far and wide for ways to make espresso without the traditional pressurized machine. I’ve only found a couple products worth recommending, and here they are:
The Aerobie AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker is very popular, inexpensive coffee and espresso maker that brews absolutely delicious, rich coffee without bitterness. In one minute, the AeroPress will make 1 to 4 cups of American or espresso style coffee.
Another inexpensive espresso maker is the Bialetti 6800 Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker. The unit makes six 2-ounce espresso cups of coffee in just four to five minutes and is extremely simple to use. Just fill the lower chamber with water and the top filter with fine-ground coffee. Then place the pot on the stove and heat until the water boils. Through a pressurizing process, espresso moves to the upper chamber of the pot, ready to be served.
If you’re willing to spend a little more money (around $80), you can buy a small espresso machine that will make quality espresso. The De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso Maker is a good choice. It will cost you as low as $80 and it makes consistently good coffee