The most effective way to make espresso without a machine is to use a Moka pot. Using one of these coffee makers is the cheapest way to make espresso by forcing water through ground coffee at high pressure.
The main reason why you are probably looking for the best way to make espresso without a coffee machine is the cost.
You can easily spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a machine that makes everything from espresso to cappuccino to flat white and latte.
But what if you don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds? Is it possible to make espresso for say £20?
Yes, it is. And the answer lies in using a coffee maker, not a coffee machine.
The difference between a coffee machine and a coffee maker is that a coffee machine needs to be plugged into the wall and a coffee maker is a standalone unit that requires no electricity at all.
Examples of a coffee maker are a cafetière or an Aeropress.
Some people suggest that you can make espresso using a cafetière or an Aeropress but it’s not true.
The only way to produce espresso is to push water through coffee grounds in a certain way using lots of pressure.
If you use an espresso machine then a pump does that job but without a machine you need to find another way.
There is nothing wrong with using a cafetière to make coffee but the coffee you will get out of it is more like filter coffee rather than espresso.
How to make espresso using a mocha pot
This method is the closest thing you will get to an espresso produced using a machine that costs hundreds of pounds.
What you need:
The first thing you will need is the Moka pot itself. There are cheap Chinese versions that you can pick up really cheap but they are a false economy.
Bialetti has been making mocha pots for decades and sold millions of them.
You may be able to save £5 by buying a cheap Chinese copy but it’s not worth it. The ultra-cheap ones will rust or break inside a year but if you buy a Bialetti it will last for many years.
The most famous one they do is the “Moka Express” and has been around since 1933 and is still going strong.
It’s a traditional design but the beauty is in its simplicity. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Here is some detailed information:
If you prefer a more modern design the Bialetti Venus is a modern take on the Moka Express classic. It does the same job, it just has a more modern look and feel to it.
Often overlooked is the most important thing of all and that is the coffee itself.
If you make espresso using a coffee machine that costs £500 and you use bad coffee but you make espresso with a £20 Bialetti Espresso maker using great coffee then the Bialetti will win every time.
The secret is to buy coffee beans and grind them yourself just before making a coffee.
Coffee starts to lose its goodness and taste very quickly after the beans have been ground and is the reason why you will always see the high street coffee chains grind your beans just before they make the coffee.
If buying coffee beans and grinding them yourself sounds expensive and complicated, it doesn’t have to be at all.
Great coffee doesn’t need to be expensive, you just need to know where to look.
Espresso should be made with medium to dark roast coffee with coffee roasted regularly in small batches.
Supermarket coffee beans are not very good because they are mass produced and tend to have been roasted months before.
These are some of the best value for money coffee beans that you can buy:
Each different brewing method requires a different grind level to get the best out of it.
Cafetière’s requires a coarser grind, filter coffee more finely and espresso very fine.
This article explains exactly how and why grinding your coffee beans correctly is super important:
You can pick up a coffee grinder that will grind your beans for you in 30 seconds so that they taste better than any pre-packed ground coffee.
Coffee grinders are much cheaper than you think. You can pick one up for a tenner to get you started.
These are some of the best ones:
Those are the 3 main things you need to make great espresso without a machine – Moka pot, good coffee and a coffee grinder.
Making the coffee is very simple and if you do it correctly then it will produce a delicious beverage. Here’s how:
The Moka pot itself comes in 3 parts – the base, the filter basket and the pot that sits on top.
Put the kettle on. The tip here is to add hot water to the Moka pot, not cold water because it helps the coffee to brew faster.
If you add cold water then you have to sit around and wait till the water reaches boiling temperature and watch for a good 5 minutes.
The very first thing you need to do is put the kettle on so that once you have added the coffee you can simply fill up the base with hot water.
Add coffee to the filter basket. Coffee for a Moka pot is best ground finely. You want it to be about the size of grains of sand.
Once it’s ground finely fill up the basket and level it off so that the coffee is level with the top of the basket.
Don’t be tempted to push down or compact the coffee because it will stop the water from pushing through the coffee and up into the jug above.
Add hot water to the base. Whilst you were adding your coffee to the filter basket the kettle should have boiled and you can now add the hot water.
Fill it up to the small valve that you will see on the inside of the base and insert the coffee basket on top of the base.
Let the magic begin. Screw the top onto the base and place it onto the stove on a medium heat.
The Bialetti is suitable for all types of stove whether it be gas, electric or induction.
Because you used hot water you won’t have to wait more than about 60 seconds for the coffee to start to appear in the jug above.
This method is very close to what would happen in a regular espresso machine as the water is forced through the coffee at high pressure and into the jug above.
Remove it from the heat when it’s about half full and the coffee will continue to fill the jug whilst the water in the base cools down.
Enjoy. You can drink the coffee as it is, black on its own with or without sugar or you can venture even further and create a milk based drink such as cappuccino or latte.
Make a cappuccino or latte without a machine
The Moka pot will produce a good espresso and when you have espresso you can make cappuccino, latte, flat white or any milk based coffee drink.
Espresso machines come with a steam wand to heat and froth your milk but a Moka pot doesn’t so what are the best ways to heat and froth your milk so it’s ready to be added to your espresso to create the milk based drink of your choice?
Use a jar. If you don’t want to spend any money at all then you can add some milk to a glass jar (take the lid off first) and heat it in the microwave for 60 seconds.
Take it out of the microwave, put the lid on and give it a good shake. Your milk is now ready to be added to the espresso. Add less for a cappuccino and more for a latte.
Milk frother. To get the best results use an electric milk frother. Just add the milk, press a button and the frother will deliver perfectly heated, creamy milk.
If you don’t want an electric milk frother you can also get some cheap manual frothers that work like a cafetière. Just add the milk and plunge up and down to create the froth.
This article explains more:
Here is a short video showing exactly how to use a Moka pot to make espresso without a machine: