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Don’t have a fancy espresso maker? No problem. Here are all the best ways for how to make espresso without a machine!

How to make espresso without a machine: espresso cups with French press
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Want espresso but don’t have a fancy espresso machine? You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for great espresso at home! An espresso machine makes top quality espresso with the best smooth flavor and foamy crema on top. But there are several inexpensive tools you can make to try to approximate the flavor. Here’s what to know about how to make espresso without a machine!

Method 1: Portable espresso maker

The best way to make espresso without a machine? A portable espresso maker. This small device lets you manually push the water through the coffee into the cup. It’s small, portable, and easy to use for traveling or to take to an office!

The flavor isn’t quite as tasty as espresso with a machine, and the crema is not as rich and abundant. But the flavor is surprisingly decent and at $65, it’s a steal! It’s also small and easy to hide away in cabinets or take traveling.

To make espresso with a portable espresso maker, follow the instructions that come with the espresso maker you buy. Here’s the maker we use.

French press espresso

Method 2: French press espresso

The next best way to make espresso without a machine? A French press. The French press is a great way to make espresso, and it’s perfect if you have one on hand to make coffee. This is our top choice for how to make espresso without an espresso-specific tool, because the flavor is pretty comparable to the real thing.

The French press can’t achieve a foamy crema like the first two espresso making methods and you will end up with some sediment in your cup. But for a brewed coffee method, it gets pretty close to the flavor of a true espresso. It’s great for making espresso for coffee drinks or an affogato.

How to make espresso with a French press

  1. Grind the coffee: Grind ½ cup dark roast coffee beans to a medium fine grind.
  2. Heat the water: Heat ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons water to hot but not boiling (200 to 205°F).
  3. Add coffee and wait 4 minutes: Add the medium fine ground espresso coffee to the French press. Top with the hot water and stir. Set a timer and wait 4 minutes.
  4. Plunge: Place the lid on the French press and slowly press on the plunger all the way down.

For more details and the full method, go to French Press Espresso.

Moka pot pouring espresso

Method 3: Moka pot espresso

The Moka Pot is a great way to achieve a dark, rich flavored coffee. It’s not exactly espresso, but it tastes so similar you can use it as a stand-in for espresso drinks. It’s more like an Americano than espresso. The Moka Pot is also known as a Bialetti, which is the brand name. It’s stovetop method for making strong coffee by forcing steam through coffee grounds. It makes a deliciously rich pot of coffee, and is popular in Europe and the US.

The flavor you can achieve with a Moka Pot is fantastic. It’s more like a strong dark roast coffee: it doesn’t achieve a crema and lacks some of the richness in flavor. It makes a cup that is 5 ounces, whereas a single espresso shot is 1 ounce and a double shot is 2 ounces. But it works well as an option for espresso drinks! At a price of about $35, the Moka Pot is a steal.

How to make espresso-like coffee in a Moka Pot

  1. Grind the coffee: Grind 20 grams (¼ cup) dark roast coffee to a fine grind: espresso grind or just slightly larger.
  2. Add water: Add 330 grams (1 ⅜ cups) cold filtered water to the bottom half of the pot until it reaches the valve.
  3. Add the coffee and assemble: Fill the funnel with coffee grounds level with the top, but don’t tamp the grinds down. Insert the funnel into the bottom portion of the pot. Screw the top onto the base until it is just finger tight.
  4. Place over medium heat: Place the pot on the stove over medium heat. For a gas stove, make sure the gas flame is smaller than the width of the pot.
  5. Wait while the coffee brews (about 5 to 7 minutes): The water will boil up through the coffee and fill the top of the pot. You’ll hear coffee start to bubble at around 3 to 5 minutes. About 2 minutes later, you’ll hear it boiling rapidly: then listen as the boiling sound increases in volume and frequency. Once the sound dissipates to air and you hear a loud gurgling sound, the coffee is done. Turn off the heat.
  6. Check the coffee: Once you turn off the heat, lift the top of the pot and peak inside. The chamber should be full of coffee. If it is not, return the pot to the heat and continue heating until the coffee is done.

For more details and the full method, go to Moka Pot Coffee.

Aeropress espresso

Method 4: Aeropress espresso

You can make espresso with an Aeropress, but it’s not our top choice for flavor. Only use this if it’s the only option you have on hand! An Aeropress is a plastic cylinder used to make a single cup of coffee. It’s portable, cheap and easy to clean, making it an accessible way to make coffee.

The Aeropress is very cheap at $30. But this method makes major sacrifices on flavor. Aeropress espresso tastes more bitter and flat than other methods, and has no signature crema. Only use this method if it’s your last resort.

How to make Aeropress espresso

  1. Heat the water: In an electric teapot, heat water to 200 to 205°F.
  2. Grind the coffee: Grind 3 tablespoons (18 grams) espresso coffee beans to a fine grind (but not super fine, or it will be too hard to plunge).
  3. Add the filter: Place the circular filter into the basket of the Aeropress and wet it so it is fully damp. Screw the basket onto the end of the Aeropress.
  4. Add the coffee grounds: Pour the coffee grounds into the Aeropress, and tamp the grounds lightly with a cocktail muddler. Place it on top of an empty mug.
  5. Add water and plunge: Pour 85 grams water into the Aeropress (1 and ½ mark). Wait 45 seconds. Insert the plunger into the top of the Aeropress. Gently press down until the plunger is pressed fully to the bottom; you will hear a hiss of air being released (this process takes about 30 seconds or so; it will be slightly harder to plunge than normal Aeropress coffee).
  6. Remove grounds: Remove the Aeropress, unscrew the basket and hold it over a compost bucket or garbage. Press down on the plunger to release the filter and grounds. Rinse the Aeropress so it is ready for future use.

More espresso drinks

Once you’ve got your espresso, there are so many coffee drinks to make! Here are some of our favorite espresso drinks:

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How to make espresso without a machine

How to Make Espresso Without a Machine (4 Ways!)

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Varies


Don’t have a fancy espresso maker? No problem. Here are all the best ways for how to make espresso without a machine!


  • Dark roast coffee
  • Water


  1. Portable espresso maker: Use this portable espresso maker and follow the provided instructions. 
  2. French press: Go to French Press Espresso.
  3. Moka pot: Go to Moka Pot Coffee.
  4. Aeropress: Go to Aeropress Espresso (use only as a last resort; the flavor is more bitter than the other methods).
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Coffee
  • Cuisine: Coffee
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!