Are you a self-proclaimed caffeine junkie finding it harder and harder to fit your coffee shop trips into your daily life?
Everyone knows how daunting waiting in line at your favorite coffee shop for a quick espresso pick-me-up can be. You like things fast and efficient. You prefer your caffeine in condensed espresso form so that you can get it into your body as fast as possible.
As someone who values your time, why not save yourself the headache of wasting the cumulative hours of waiting in lines and instead make your own espresso at home? Here is everything you need to know about how to make espresso in the comfort of your own home.
What is Espresso?
Before learning how to make espresso, it is important to know exactly what product you’ll be striving for. Espresso and traditional coffee do in fact, come from the same beans. The difference of the two forms of caffeinated goodness lies in the preparation of the beans.
Drip coffee requires less preparation than its condensed caffeinated counterpart.
Proper espresso needs its beans to be ground as fine as possible. The more in-depth grind allows the brewing water to better encapsulate the fine coffee bean particles and provide a condensed caffeinated output much smaller in volume than your standard cup of coffee—much higher in the amount of caffeine it provides.
Along with the much finer grind needed to create a true espresso, water pressure is the other main requirement that separates regular coffee from the condensed shot.
Espresso requires much more water pressure to ensure that as much caffeine can be taken from the sand-like texture of the grinds as possible.
The type of machinery required to achieve this maximized caffeine output used to be available only to professional coffee houses, but luckily there are now several viable at home espresso makers that deliver the same quality shots as the ones you patiently wait for in line each morning.
How to Make Espresso with an Espresso Machine
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This at home offering provides all the same bells and whistles as the professional grade machines and the price is set accordingly.
With the price point of $ this option is clearly intended for the everyday espresso drinker who wants only the highest quality home shots possible. The Breville Barista Express offers a built-in conical grinder capable of providing the fine grind you are looking for. Its grinder also allows for fine tuning and adjustments to give you the exact grind to suit your own personal taste.
The Breville’s in-depth volume control customization allows for either a single shot volume or double shot if you’re feeling particularly daring. Both volume options are based around the extremely efficient pre-infusion process.
The water pressure in both cases starts out low, ensuring the liquid medium can fully surround the finely ground beans. Once the super fine beans are saturated, the water pressure will rise gradually until it reaches its peak in which as much caffeine as possible can be extracted.
The shots of espresso produced from this extremely impressive machine is enough to convince even the most seasoned caffeine connoisseur that it is from the professionals.
Unfortunately, this price point is just not feasible for everyone. No need to worry though, as there is another viable at-home option that will provide you with your much-needed caffeine fix without breaking the bank.
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This option offers a drastically lower price point and still provides you with a decent shot of espresso that will help get you through your day. At only $, the De’Longhi will certainly not be able to provide everything that the Breville can, but it will still allow you to avoid the long lines at the coffee shop.
This machine offers both single and double shot options as well, and even allows for the use of single use pods for making cappuccinos and lattes.
Temperature control and customization are limited with the De’Longhi, but it will deliver a consistent temp throughout the entire brewing experience.
It boasts an impressive 35-ounce water tank and even has a built-in frother to give your caffeinated bean a little added pizazz. This setup may not be the most advanced system out there, but it will surely be a great investment that will help you save tremendous amounts of time and money.
Perhaps these all-in-one machines do not give you the exact control you want in your home brewing experience. No need to fear, as there are separate machines that can be purchased to give you that intimate and in-depth customization that you’re looking for.
How to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Machine
The following three options offer great control, but all of them require time and patience. To help reduce time and give you the best brewing experience possible, you should definitely look into purchasing a separate kettle to heat your water to the temperature of your liking.
These options do not offer in-machine grinders, so a conical burr grinder is another safe bet here to make sure you’re not eating coffee grounds while you’re drinking your espresso.
A kitchen scale can also help you remove the guesswork of finding the perfect bean amount and drastically reduce prep time.
If you’re an avid coffee drinker, chances are, you’ve at least heard about the French press. While this machine and method are intended for making coffee, with some added steps, you can still obtain some semblance of an espresso that will surely give you the caffeine jolt you’re looking for.
How to make espresso with a French Press can be difficult. To begin, use your separate grinder to tear apart approximately two tablespoons your chosen beans to a fine consistency. A motorized conical burr grinder will be your best bet here as it will give you a consistent texture every time.
If you’d like to instead go the manual grinder route, just be ready to devote a good amount of time to the grind. It will make you a little sore at first, but at least it will get the job done and you’ll have some nice biceps as a result.
While you’re grinding, make sure you have 1 cup of water heated to around 200 degrees with the help of your kettle. Once the beans are at the preferred consistency, place them within the French press and add a tiny amount of hot water to them to help wake up their flavor potential. This process is called blooming and is an essential and simple step to help ensure you’re getting the most taste out of your favorite beans.
After about 30 seconds of blooming, pour in the whole cup of water to the beans and close the lid, allowing this steeping process to go on for about 4 minutes.
After the steep is complete, you can now perform the fun part, the pressing motion that gives the French press its namesake.
Throughout the whole process, make sure that you lift the plunger all the way to the top and press all the way down in a fluid motion. Consistent pressure and speed are key here and with time, you will surely get the hang of it.
Once your ground beans and hot water have gotten to know each other with several uniform plunges, you can then pour your makeshift espresso into your cup and enjoy.
An increasingly popular choice amongst coffee drinkers, the Moka Pot offers an easy to use kettle/coffee maker combo. Just as with the French Press option, finely grinding the selected beans is a must to make sure the hot water can leach out as much caffeinated goodness as possible.
Two tablespoons of beans ground down as finely as possible are required for this method as well. You do not have to worry about simultaneously heating your water here as both the beans and water will be heated together via stovetop.
Make sure you pour in 3.5 ounces of water into the pot first, followed by the beans that will be caught within the Moka’s built-in filter. Secure the spouted top once the contents are settled and get ready to play the waiting game.
The seal made by securing the lid and the increasing temperature creates a pressurized atmosphere within the pot that will pull the hot water through your coffee grounds, leaching out a maximized amount of caffeine.
Once you observe the coffee beginning to froth over the top section of the pot, the process is complete. You can now pour and enjoy your home brewed espresso concentrate.
The Best Option for Making Espresso at Home Depends on You
The French Press and Moka Pot are designed specifically for coffee making. If you follow the steps of how to make espresso with these machines, you will make a drink reminiscent of a true espresso.
If you’d like the closest thing to a coffee shop espresso and have money to spend, the Breville is absolutely the way to go. For a tighter budget, go with the De’Longhi.
All the options will save you the time and frustration that it can take waiting in those coffee house lines. How to make espresso at home just depends on personal preference and willingness to put in work for the perfect cup.