Making coffee is as easy as one, two, three, just for the simplicity that only coffee can afford. When it comes to packing more of a punch, the savory and rich flavor of freshly brewed espresso cannot be beaten. This guide will give you more reason to switch over to espresso and the methods that produce the best results.
We’ve been mentally trained to think of espresso as this magical kind of coffee drink that only a specialized machine can produce. This is simply not the case as you will find out. If you’re a fan of nostalgia, you might remember how espresso was deemed to be a health hazard years ago. However, new medical research has shown that espresso is a lot healthier than we’ve been led to believe. But the real challenge here is not the health benefits that come with drinking espresso and mixed coffee drinks, it’s how to use inexpensive additions to your kitchen that yield excellent espresso.
Brewing with Home Espresso Machines
Keep in mind that these machines are the kind that all plugin, so you need to have access to electricity to make your espresso. These won’t be so practical if you don’t have power, so the rest of these methods mentioned here can all rely on a standard gas burner to heat your water or pot. When it comes to making any decent espresso using a machine, here are excellent tips on getting better results.
Home Espresso Machine
No matter what type of machine you have for making espresso, these units come with a chamber that holds your espresso grounds. These machines are often preset to deliver the amount of pressure needed to make a single or double shot of espresso in a single operation. The key to getting great espresso is to always use clean water. Never use water that has minerals since this will only increase limescale build-up.
The second issue is using the right selection of coffee grounds. Espresso is often finely ground to a certain point. You don’t want the ground coffee to become too powdery that it will clog the machine. This also depends on the amount of packing from the tamper that you use. Tightly packed grounds are a good idea, but using overly ground coffee needs to be lightly packed so that water can seep through properly. These are the rules:
1. Keep your espresso cups cozy
You might not have noticed at your local coffee house, but the standard and often traditional coffee cups are not made from glass. The real deal is always going to be ceramic cups. Just like happy little coffee cups for lawn gnomes, these are designed to hold heat. Before you extract any espresso, put your ceramic cups in a rice steamer machine. If you don’t have one, use a portable vegetable steamer that sits inside a pot of warming water.
2. Always use filtered water
Let’s not forget to mention how clean tasting water can make a big difference when it comes to making coffee. It doesn’t take much to get filtered water these days and there are many portable home filter systems using charcoal filters. This removes harsh minerals that can make heated water taste bitter otherwise. Just imagine how this will take away from the taste of your espresso?
3. Grind your beans yourself
Another big mistake is to buy pre-ground espresso that can lose the magic that is unlocked when you grind them fresh. This is why buying a good coffee grinder that you can control is always recommended. Among the best you can look for, will always have a grind selector to ensure that the size of your grind is never too fine. If you prefer electric or manual makes little difference as long as you find a grinder that works best for you.
Capsule Espresso Machines
Somewhere in the ever-present culture of coffee machines, the rise of espresso machines that include sealed capsules became all the rage. Perhaps it was George Clooney who could sell more Nespresso machines as a result. You would never see this working the same way if Ryan Reynolds was pushing Ginsu knives… So the point is nearly the same when it comes to having an espresso maker that uses espresso capsules.
As the saying goes, ‘not great, not terrible’ could describe the kind of Chernobyl-like espresso that comes from instant capsule coffee.
Alternative Espresso Brewing Methods
There will be times that you don’t have either of these conveniences to make espresso, making the ability to enjoy espresso nearly impossible. Or is it? The internet is full of handy gadgets that produce awesome espresso without much effort. Here are some must-have products that will be handy if you’re at home, camping, or on a road trip! Here’s a tip, be sure to bring a can of Sterno or propane camping heater.
Over the years, Alan Adler has become a legend among the hoards of coffee fanatics who have turned the Aeropress into a household word. Forget about the Aerobie, you can’t make good coffee using a rubber-edged Frisbee. But what if you want to make outstanding espresso that even baristas would bow down to? Here’s how to do it best:
- Grind your coffee to medium-fine up to finely ground particles that are similar to semi-powdery table salt. Add this into the vessel of your Aeropress and shake it to become level. Now you need to have a tamper. But wait, you don’t have one that can reach the bottom of your vessel! So, grab a spare spice bottle like Lowry’s or something similar with a flat cap. Take a spare paper filter used for Aeropress and put this into the vessel.
- Use your hand to push the spice bottle into the inside and push the filter over the coffee grounds. Use medium pressure to push the grounds into a compact puck. Not too hard, just enough to become compact. Now place this over your coffee mug.
- If you’ve been warming your kettle, the water needs to be no less than 200F degrees, filling your chamber with 1 shots of water. You’ll have at least 18-20 grams of coffee grounds, so if you want more water for a double shot, add another shot glass worth of water. Now you can put the plunger into the Aeropress chamber.
- Place your Aeropress onto a flat surface lower than your hips. This allows you to use bodyweight rather than your arm muscles to push the plunger down. This will help create the right pressure to make espresso. The result is a rewarding treat that will surprise you time and time again. This can be made anywhere if you have a kettle heater
The Moka pot is a little-known Italian invention that quickly spread through Italy and soon the rest to Europe, the UK, South America, and Australia! Now it’s a standard budget-priced coffee maker offered across the internet, you can enjoy excellent espresso results. Here’s how to do it the Moka Pot way:
- Preheat your Moka pot chamber water. It doesn’t need to be boiling, but hot enough to speed up the brewing process. There is often a fill line for making coffee, yet for making espresso, you only need to fill the pot less than halfway. The secret of the Moka pot comes from building pressure, so the heat needed only needs medium-low heat.
- Add your coffee grounds into the filter insert that fits inside the lower pot. This is screwed together with the upper half and hand tightened using minimal effort. Then the pot is placed onto your heat source. If you’re camping or in the kitchen, even a can of Sterno will do the trick. It’s better to have a propane gas heater to control the amount of heat. Use a flame cover to get even heating so the Moka pot handle doesn’t get hot.
- After 5 or 6 minutes, the pot will use pressure that builds and forces the water into the upper chamber and over your espresso grounds. When you hear a gurgling-type (a very common Moka pot noise), turn off the heat! Your espresso is finished and you can pour the extracted espresso right away.
Manual Hand Press
These machines look similar to button makers and also use hand pressure to force the level down. The reason that people are disappointed in this espresso maker is all due to not having the upper hand! A kitchen countertop is above the hip and makes leverage nearly impossible. Place this model onto a table or coffee top to have better leverage which uses your body weight to get the right bar pressure. Here’s a great brewing method:
- Grind your coffee beans and add them to the press chamber. These often come with a built-in filter and most of them will house a single shot of espresso.
- Add your water to the chamber and lower the plunger into the chamber. Now use steady and continual pressure to extract the liquid. If you’re using your body weight, this will feel effortless.
- The final espresso will appear just like it came from an espresso machine complete with a light brown crema. This can be served right away.
This method is slightly tricky but not impossible. Since the French press can’t build pressure, you need to be creative. The first rule is to add an extra coffee filter onto the outside you your plunger filter. The second rule is to make a medium-fine grind that is used in your French Press vessel.
- Mix up to 20 grams of ground coffee using a dark roast or espresso roast coffee bean. Fill your vessel with one-third of the water you would normally use for a full pot. If this is for a single cup, use only half the water. This will yield a double shot of espresso.
- Allow your coffee beans to bloom for about 20 seconds and then mix them again a final time to release carbon dioxide. You’ll get the smell of fresh coffee at this point. At this time you carefully put the plunger with the coffee filter wrapped over it into the vessel. Now you can slowly extract the coffee using a slow and steady downward push.
- The results will be nice and dark but will lack the pressure used to make real espresso. Because you let it bloom, the flavor will be nice and smooth and have less bite from the added coffee filter. You can immediately serve the espresso-like coffee after this.
Off-The-Wall Wacky Methods
9Barista Espresso Maker
Talk about a nifty gadget if you’ve decided to invest in a portable espresso maker. This is what you get when you have nuclear submarine-precision devices that are designed by guys like Alan Adler get funded on places like Kickstarter. You can actually buy this gadget too, which is based on the same premise as the Moka Pot. It uses precision pressure and mind-blowing filter technology to create espresso using very little heat. Don’t believe us, check out how well it works in this video.
Portable Capsule Espresso Machine
There’s no way to escape the vacuum of space, but they did it anyway for everyone who likes to use capsule coffee. Most of the brands these days are vacuum-sealed to seal in freshness, so giving the right pressure can give you surprising results using this device. You might recognize this chap from the Hellraiser movies who had all the pins in his head. This portable espresso thermos is totally portable and can be brought with you anywhere!
Hand Pump Hybrid Espresso Maker
How about a bicycle-like pump that can handle real coffee grounds and capsule all-in-one? The good part about this single-serve espresso maker is getting the right pressure for espresso to be genuine. This nifty espresso maker can go with you on road trips, or when the electricity goes out at home. All you need is to warm up your kettle to get hot water, so your espresso comes out perfect each time. Check out this tiny espresso machine right here.