How to make espresso coffee
Espresso is widely understood to be the 'coffee shot' that comes out of a professional espresso machine. While this is true, espresso doesn't necessarily always have to come from an espresso machine.
Technically, espresso is a concentrated form of coffee, that is coffee beans that have been extracted with water. So, while a "real" espresso shot should come from an espresso machine, a very similar style of drink can be created through other means, like a french press, Aeropress or even with instant coffee.
Espresso is the base for almost all coffee drinks and is mixed with different ingredients to make different kinds of beverages. For example, an espresso shot can be mixed with steamed milk to make a latte, or with ice blocks, milk, cream and chocolate syrup to make an iced mocha. Some people even like to drink espresso on its own.
It's clear that espresso is the most crucial part of a coffee - so, knowing how to make a good one is a great skill to have.
Fortunately, if you're looking to enjoy a delicious espresso shot, on its own or in a coffee beverage, you don't necessarily have to buy one from a barista. It's possible to make great espresso-style shots at home - for a fraction of the price.
Here, we explain how to make an espresso shot at home, with a variety of different methods.
How to make espresso with an espresso machine
The most common, and widely considered to be the best tasting, way to make an espresso shot is using an espresso machine. This is the method of choice for baristas all across the world. If you're lucky enough to have your own espresso machine, you can easily make a delicious espresso shot in minimal time. To do so, follow the below method:
Choose your beans.
The coffee bean that you pick will play the main role in what your espresso shot tastes like. There's a wide range of different beans in the market, all with varying undertones. If you like a strong full-bodied flavour, with a hint of chocolate, you'll probably love Colombian Coffee Beans. If you prefer a light and sweet taste, then Yellow Bourbon Brazillian Coffee Beans are a great choice.
Grind your beans
Some espresso machines have a built-in grinder. If this is the case, you can go ahead and grind your full coffee beans within the machine. If your espresso machine doesn't have one, grind your beans using a separate grinder. One espresso shot is equivalent to seven grams of coffee beans, so measure out the coffee beans according to how many shots you want to make.
Heat the espresso maker
Preheat your coffee machine by switching it on about fifteen minutes before you plan to make your coffee.
Fill the machine with water
For the best tasting espresso shot, use filtered water - this will ensure that the flavour of the beans isn't compromised.
Put the coffee in the portafilter
Put seven grams of coffee into the portafilter - this is the correct amount for a single espresso shot.
Pack the portafilter
Pack the ground coffee firmly into the portafilter with a tamp. This will ensure that the water runs through the coffee evenly.
Pull your shot
Insert the portafilter back into the espresso and pull your shot. Some machines will have an automatic function that pulls the shot for you. If your machine doesn't have this feature, you may need to do a bit of trial and error until you master pulling a shot perfectly. The shot should be around 25 - 30mls and should take between 25 and 30 seconds to pull it.
How to make espresso with a Moka pot
Moka pots are a stovetop coffee maker that was invented by an Italian engineer and are a popular way to make espresso in Italy. The pot itself is compact and make out of either stainless steel or aluminium. While coffee made out of a Moka pot won't' be quite as good as an espresso shot made from a real espresso machine, it's a great and inexpensive way to make an espresso shot with a strong flavour.
While it's certainly possible to make a great flavoured coffee with a Moka pot, when the correct method isn't applied, a Moka pot can produce bitter flavoured coffee. As long as you follow the below steps carefully, you should be able to make a delicious espresso shot easily and quickly.
To do so, follow the below method:
Moka pots require a courser grind than an espresso maker, so don't grind your beans down to a fine powder, instead set your grinder to medium. We'd always recommend grinding your own coffee, rather than using ground coffee, as the flavour is fresher and bolder.
Fill the coffee pot
Take your coffee grounds and pour them into the funnel.
Put water into the Moka pot
Unscrew the bottom part of the Moka pot and add hot water until the level is just below the valve. It's important to ensure that you use hot water, rather than cold, as this will help you avoid a bitter flavour.
Put the pot together
Place the coffee-filler funnel on top of the water pot, and screw the top part of the Moka pot on, too. The machine should all be screwed in together now, and ready to brew.
Place the pot on the stove
As soon as the pot is sealed together, place it on a preheated stove. As the water heats it will create pressure. This pressure pushes the coffee up through the funnel and into the top cup - otherwise known as the brewing process.
Monitor the pot
The coffee should flow smoothly into the top pot. Listen and wait until you hear a gurgling sound, and this means that the coffee is ready to be removed from the stove.
Remove and serve
At this point, the top cup should be filled with freshly brewed espresso. Simply, remove the pot and serve your espresso. The number of espresso shots in your pot will depend on the pot you are using. A one-cup pot produces approximately one shot, a two-cup pot produces approximately two shots and so on.
How to make espresso with a french press (or coffee plunger)
Making an espresso-style coffee with a coffee plunger is quick and easy.
A french press is often used to create long blacks, so to create an espresso shot, you'll need to make a few changes.
To do so, follow the below method:
Grind your beans
When making espresso in a coffee plunger, ensure that your espresso beans are ground very finely.
Preheat your plunger
Add hot water to the plunger to preheat it for a few minutes before you plan to use it.
Heat water to about 195 degrees, it's important to ensure that it's not too hot, as this can make the coffee taste bitter.
Add the coffee to the plunger
For an espresso shot, you'll need to use more coffee than you normally would in a french press. We advise using table tablespoons of coffee for every one cup of water used. So, measure out your finely ground coffee and add it to the plunger.
Add a small amount of water
Add a small amount of water to get the coffee blooming. During this time the coffee will release its natural oils and the taste profile of the espresso beans will be released.
Add all of the water
Blooming will take about 30-40 seconds. Once this is done the rest of the water can be added to the plunger.
Add the lid
Place the lid on the plunger, but don't press down. You should let espresso brew for about 2-3 minutes before plunging down.
Plunge the coffee
After three minutes of brewing, slowly and steadily press the plunger down until you reach the bottom.
Remove the plunger and serve
At this point, the plunger should be filled with freshly brewed espresso. Simply, remove the plunger and serve your espresso.
How to make espresso with instant coffee
Most people will agree that espresso made from instant coffee isn't technically an espresso shot. However, concentrated coffee can be made from instant coffee, and it can be used in the same way as an espresso shot. For example, it can be added to a latte or iced coffee.
To make an espresso-like shot with instant coffee, follow the below method:
Select your instant coffee
Any type of instant coffee can be used, but dark roast coffee beans are best for a bold flavour.
Measure out your coffee
Add 1.5 teaspoon of instant coffee to an espresso cup.
It's best to use water before it reaches boiling point - as it can be too hot and ruin the flavour. An ideal temperature is around 195 degrees.
Add three tablespoons of heated water to the espresso cup and sit for a full minute.
Your instant coffee espresso shot is ready to be enjoyed on its own or to be added to a coffee drink.