We got used to ordering and serving excellent coffee only when we’re out for a meeting in one of those cool coffee shops or diners. As such, it’s only reasonable for us to associate high-quality espresso coffee with a professional coffee machine. But this is not necessarily the case, and probably some of us have already asked the following simple question at some point or another – do we at home every morning to get a great result that puts us back on our feet after a rough night?
At first glance, espresso at home might seem way too complicated for our level of expertise. The concept of a perfectly brewed homemade espresso eludes us. But with just a little information, you will find that these barriers are only psychological, not real ones!
In addition, the aggressive marketing of capsule manufacturers and their sophisticated automated devices often give us the impression that a good Italian recipe is easy to achieve at home. And in so many cases, after making an expensive purchase, we find that the advertising was deceptive. Afterward, we convince ourselves that a quality espresso is impossible to get at home, and we couldn’t be more wrong about this. Keep on reading, for we are about to show you how to make espresso at home easily, using regular kitchen appliances and just a little bit of in-depth knowledge!
Defining ‘Espresso’ Coffee
The notorious Italian version is considered not only an art but also a result of decades of tradition and progress. By definition, the Italian espresso was born from a mixture of different types of coffee from different parts of the world, mixed to create a rich, unique, and unmatched aroma.
The authentic Italian espresso recipe is covered in hazelnut cream, slowly turning to brown as the cream melts in. Its aroma is intense, tasty, with hints of chocolate. Its taste is consistent and soft. The bitterness of espresso coffee beans is perfectly balanced by its acidity, with little or no astringency.
Different Types of Espresso Coffee
Coffee, whether its espresso and not, have specific sensory characteristics that differentiate one type from another. These differences are mainly visual, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile. Usually, that Italian espresso sweetness is obtained in a small ceramic cup with a dry and pre-heated interior. Based on the particularities and quantities of each, here are the main types:
- Italian espresso: contains a maximum of 20 – 25 ml of coffee.
- Double: double dose in a cup, a total of 50 ml of coffee.
- Ristretto: with less than 25 ml of coffee.
- Correo: in which liquor is added.
- Macchiato: with a splash of milk usually frothed.
- With cream: with whipped cream.
- Freddo: iced sugar-sweetened espresso.
- American: hot water poured espresso (max. 80 ml).
- Cappuccino: 25 ml of espresso plus one-third of hot milk (70 ° C) plus one-third milk foam, all served in a 120 ml cup.
- Caffè latte: hot milk espresso (70-75 ° C), without foam, served in a cup of cappuccino or a cylindrical glass. Ingredients: 200-220 ml milk for each shot of 25 ml.
- Latte Macchiato: in a cup or hot glass of milk, pour one shot (200/220 ml, 25 ml).
- Cappuccino Double: espresso with larger quantities of milk foam, but not necessarily double. Usually, they are served in a giant glass (max. 250 ml).
How to Make Espresso Using A Drip Coffee Maker
We have to be upfront and tell it straight: learning how to make espresso with a coffee maker is going to be a challenge. You might not get it right from the very first try, maybe not even from the second one. It is because drip coffee makers are not designed to brew this type of coffee. Now, you can always choose to purchase an affordable espresso maker, but there is one way you can do it with your average drip coffee maker, and we will break it down for you:
The first thing you need to do is to adjust the amount of water you put in – you will have to use around 2 oz. filtered water per coffee ground tablespoon. It is trial and error, and you will only be able to find the exact proportions after several attempts.
Then there’s the grinding part – fine grind usually works best, however, when using a drip coffee machine, you should go for medium-fine.
When you add water, it should already be warm. Unlike an automatic espresso machine, drip coffee makers don’t usually reach the correct temperature during brewing, so for it to reach an optimal level of 90 °C, you should consider adding it already warm.
And finally, you need to adjust the time it would take your drip maker to brew your homemade espresso. To get a perfect result, you have to make sure that the water-coffee grounds fusion is brief. It is also why you should use a lower amount of water, as it will cut down the brewing time.
How to Make Espresso in a Moka Pot
If you already know how to make espresso in a French press, then you will love the Moka pot. It’s most likely the best way to make espresso at home, and it’s nothing like when you make percolator coffee. The technology behind it is far more advanced, capable of delivering a much stronger result than the French press espresso. Why the difference? It’s pretty simple – the best result is obtained from hot water passing through the beans with very high pressure. Unlike the French press, Moka espresso coffee pot can quickly deliver this kind of trouble. So let’s jump right into it:
Grind espresso coffee at the most exceptional grind level possible. The result will be a smooth powder, through which the pressure generated in the lower chamber will easily pass the water.
Add water in the Moka pot’s lower chamber, making sure not to exceed the level of the valve. The valve evacuates the built-up pressure, and, in case it’s covered, you risk your Moka pot exploding.
Fill the basket with coffee grounds, making sure not to overfill it. One of the most common mistakes all beginners tend to do is pressing down the grounds and leveling them. You should never do this, as this will prevent the water from passing through them properly, resulting in a very weak hot drink.
Put the Moka pot on medium heat. You can decrease or increase the temperature accordingly, making sure it’s not too low or too high. If you want to avoid extra espresso bitterness, you need to remove the pot from the fire before the coffee starts to rise and gurgle.
How to Make Espresso with an AeroPress
If this is the first time you hear the notion of AeroPress and you’re wondering what that is, no worries! We’ll explain everything in detail, making sure you understand precisely how to make espresso with AeroPress. It is a more modern version of the French press, released in 2005, but it functions on the same principles. You have a tube with a filter at its lower end and a plunger that needs to be pushed to create pressure. As you press it, coffee will be filtered in the cup. It’s a much better option than learning how to make coffee in the microwave. It’s also quite efficient and straightforward, but let’s breakdown the main steps you need to take:
Much like in the case of the Moka pot, you need to grind your coffee beans as fine as you can. The size of the grounds is the most critical aspect of learning how to brew espresso. If they are too big, water will flow freely through the grounds, and your result will not be an espresso at home.
Place the filter in the lower cap of your AeroPress, and then add the grounds. Right afterward, you might want to shake the tube to even them out.
Once the grounds are settled on the bottom of the tube, start pressing. When the properties will have formed a homogenous mass, resembling a hockey puck, retract the plunger to the top.
Continue by adding hot water, the ideal temperature of 100 °C. Now, the AeroPress has three markings on the side, and you can add water up until each one of them, based on your preferences and of course, the number of grounds you have inside. If you have around 20g, you should fill with hot water up to the second marking.
How to Make Great Espresso
If you’re wondering how to make great espresso, the perfect recipe is ideally a double one – a 60ml cup of 20g of espresso coffee – this will have a caffeine concentration of half as much as a coffee in the kettle or filter, because the water stays in contact with the coffee for only 25 seconds.
The impact of the flavors will be, however, maximum, because the adequately brewed version ensures the highest percentage of solubility, that is, the passage of the soluble elements from the coffee grinder, into the water. It is what makes for that well-known espresso acidity and taste. And, to get the right quantities, you could consider buying the best coffee scale you can find.
The coffee should be ground as finely as possible for the particles to settle on the bottom of the cup so that you won’t feel them when having a taste. It is also essential for them to be fresh, as any ground coffee loses its aroma after 15 minutes of grinding.
Of course, this is an incredibly vast domain with countless methods and recipes, and we could spend hours on this topic. We do, however, hope that the above lines, beyond the complexity of new information, will have aroused your interest in discovering and creating the perfect homemade espresso. It surely made us here at MyKitchenAdvisor want to master this art, and we can say we’re getting closer by the day. But let us know your thoughts and experience on the matter, and if you have any other great methods or a unique espresso recipe, feel free to share them!