As an Amazon Associate, earns commissions when you make qualifying purchases. Learn more.

How To Make Espresso

Not everyone that drinks coffee understands what espresso is. To some people, it is just coffee with a fancy name. Others think that there is a type of coffee beans called espresso, and the drink results from ground espresso beans. Those that understand coffee and the art behind making different specialties will tell you that when they walk into a coffee café and order for espresso, they should get an espresso and not just any other type of coffee.

For you to learn how to make espresso you first need to know that making espresso requires art that provides vivacity, fantastic flavor, an intense taste, and different aromas. For the best espresso brew, you need to use an best espresso machine or visit your nearest specialty coffee cafe.

Worry not if you do not have an espresso machine because you can still improvise and have incredible espresso from your home's comfort. This article will guide you on the different methods you can espresso with or without a coffee or espresso machine, but first things first.

What Is Espresso?

What Is Espresso

Espresso is a coffee beverage that comes with an intense flavor and bold taste. The drink is an Italian creation with high caffeine concentrations, served in small cups, and sipped slowly for an extended period. The Italians have their description of espresso, which reflects its main components.

The 4 M espresso description, according to its creators, stands for miscela (right coffee blend), macinazione (right grind), macchina (espresso machine), and mano (barista). You can choose to drink espresso in its brewed form or take it as a base for many other espresso-based coffees such as cappuccino, macchiato, latte, and flat white, among others.

The coffees that use espresso as their base differ from one to the next, depending on the amount of steamed milk added to them. The preparation of a classic espresso requires an espresso machine that uses pressure to force hot water through ground coffee beans to produce thick, dark brown coffee with crema on top of the cup.

What Should Good Espresso Taste Like?

One of the best ways of recognizing a quality brewed espresso coffee is by its taste. The coffee brewed under high pressure and hot comes with a potent taste that makes it different from ordinary coffee. On top of the palate, the luxurious creamy look with foamy cream on top is another excellent espresso giveaway.

The coffee also leaves a lingering aftertaste that lovers of the coffee specialty like. Mastering espresso's taste is challenging, but it is essential if you want to improve your homemade espresso.

So, what should good espresso taste like?

Espresso has three distinctive flavors, which are acidity, bitterness, and sweetness that make it stand out.


The one thing that makes coffee stand out from other beverages is its bitterness. Espresso has a rich flavor that makes its bitterness more concentrated than that of different coffee blends. Bitterness in espresso is the taste that many baristas and coffee connoisseurs associate with an espresso brew. The bitterness is also, what everyone taking an espresso shot expects as the first thing they taste from their cup.

Why the bitter taste?

Diketopiperazines from bitter green beans proteins form during the roasting process. With the content becoming higher, the more extended the beans, take during the process. If the coffee beans roast for an extended time, they garner more bitterness. According to LC-ESI-MS analysis, in every 50 grams toasted beans and 20 to 30 mg espresso, there are between 5 and 7 mg of Diketopiperazines. The study explains that every 20 mg lit of water, provides a detection threshold for Diketopiperazines bitterness in espresso and roasted coffee beans.


Another distinctive taste in coffee is acidity, which is even stronger in espresso. Acidity in espresso is easy to recognize, as it tastes sour just like the taste you get from green apples or lemons that leave your tongue with a zing or sparkling feeling. While acidity is a characteristic that espresso has to have, too much of it might make it impossible to drink the espresso in comfort while too little of it will taste dull or flat.


A well-brewed espresso should come with some sweetness that helps to balance out the acidity and bitterness. The sweetness in an espresso drink is easy to disregard, especially after getting used to the coffee blend's bitterness. If you wonder where the sweetness comes from, you have to remember that coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit that get sweeter with the ripening of the fruits. Roasting the beans enhances the sweetness through the reaction of caramelization that helps to make coffee beans turn their color to brown and become easy to brew.

What Beans are Best for Espresso?

You can have the most expensive and highly advanced espresso machine, but that will not make you the perfect drink if you do not have high-quality beans. Only by pairing the finest beans with high-quality espresso machines can you get espresso that will leave you craving for more. Espresso blends use Arabica beans and, on occasion, Robusta beans.

Though Arabica is the choice beans for espresso, using Robusta in the mix helps to add to the coffee's boldness and balance the taste as it contains more caffeine. Single-origin coffee does not make great espresso because it does not provide a balance in flavor that is characteristic of the perfect espresso.

What Is The Ideal Bean Grind For Making Espresso?

Coffee grinds have a significant impact on the flavor of your espresso. Grinds can be fine, medium, or coarse. Grinding the beans too much leads to over-extracting the espresso's taste while the opposite leads to under-extracting. The best beans for espresso are fine grind that allows you to extract the gest flavor quickly.

The Science of Water Composition in Espresso

To make espresso or any coffee blend, you need water and ground coffee beans. The two must be of the highest quality if you want to have a great tasting espresso. Espresso, unlike many other blends, portrays an excellent particle bed that allows a slow flow of water through it.

The pressure from the espresso machines helps to increase gas solubility and water volatility. The ideal water elements that affect espresso flavors during extraction are the hardness, pH levels, and TDS-total dissolved solids. To get the best taste out of espresso, you need to modify water hardness.

Minimum water hardness of 50 ppm will give you the perfect flavor extraction. Research and studies also indicate that a low pH level can damage the extraction machine, while TDS does not influence espresso's flavor.

How to Make an Espresso (Using an Espresso Machine)

If you want to get the best out of espresso, you need an espresso machine. An espresso machine provides consistent pressure and the most appropriate temperature for espresso extraction. The devices come with different features, with the more advanced units having café-quality features that make extraction much more manageable. A fully automated espresso machine allows you to extract your coffee without any assistant.

How to make espresso with a Semi-Automatic Machine

How to make espresso with a Semi-Automatic Machine

Unlike fully automatic espresso machines, semi-automatic machines require some involvement from you during the extraction process. The advantage of this is that you can monitor and control some of the stages of the extraction process to get your preferred brew. Semi-automatic machines allow you to control the brewing time, grinding, and others.

What you need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Semi-automatic espresso machine of your choice
  • Grinder
  • Filter
  • Tamper
  • Scale
  • Container
  • Water

Steps to make it

  • First, ensure that you preheat your espresso collection container and the cup you will pour the content into to maintain the taste.
  • Grind your beans to a fine texture
  • Hook up your machine to a water line or fill up its reservoir with clean water
  • Turn the semi-automatic espresso machine on and allow it to heat up. The heating up process could take anything between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on the brand. Check the temperature scale on the display of the machine to monitor the brewing temperature. Allow all the device parts to attain the right temperatures. After you are confident that the brewing temperature is correct, allow the machines group head to run for a few seconds to remove any stale water
  • Fill the portafilter with the fine grind ensuring that you distribute the ground coffee beans evenly
  • Use the tamper to tamp the coffee
  • Lock the portafilter, carefully ensuring that there is nothing to cause cracking or dislodging. Engage the pump to start the brewing process
  • The brewing process should take 25 to 30 seconds
  • Before the process reaches the desired yield, stop the pump, and allow the portafilter to seep out the last drips to your brew
  • Clean up brew head, and portafilter to get rid of residue and coffee oils
  • Mix your espresso with any other ingredients of your choice or simply stir, sip, and enjoy your espresso

How to make an espresso shot in a Lever espresso machine


The first model of a lever espresso machine first appeared in the market in the 1930s. Lever espresso machines are manual machines that come with both class and an old feel about them. They are 100% hands-on machines that some people find difficult or strenuous to use.

Pulling the lever to extract your espresso is not hard, but it is not an easy thing to do too. The machine allows you to control the whole extraction process, making the brewing procedure a personal affair. Some people find this satisfying and empowering. The method to extract espresso using a lever machine is as follows.

What you need:

  • Espresso Lever machine
  • Beans
  • Grinder
  • Tamper
  • Water
  • Container for collecting the espresso

Steps to make it

  • Once you turn on your lever espresso machine, allow it to run for a while to heat up
  • Grind the beans to a fine powder
  • Put the ground beans in the portafilter making sure to spread them evenly
  • Use the tamper to tamp the grinds
  • Ensure that the portafilter is free from anything that would cause distraction or crack. Also, clean the rim to remove any stray grinds
  • Put the portafilter to the group head
  • Raise the lever and wait for about 10 seconds before pressing the lever down
  • Collect your espresso using the conative and serve into your cup
  • Clean the lever espresso machine
  • Enjoy your Espresso

How to Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine

If you want to make espresso, but you do not have a machine, do not fret because there are other ways you can extract your favorite drink from the comfort of your home.

How to make espresso in a French press

How to make espresso in a French press

A French press is a cylindrical pot with an in-built filter and a plunger. It is an easy to use device for making espresso allowing many people from all over the world to make French press their method of choice for espresso extraction. The machine works by pressing hot water through finely ground coffee beans to create a rich tasting cup of espresso.

What you need:

  • French press machine
  • Arabica Coffee beans (Arabica beans are suitable for this method)
  • Grinder
  • Mug
  • Spoon

Steps to take

  • Put some hot water in the French press and allow it to heat for a while.
  • Grind three spoons of coffee beans to a coarse grind
  • Add the freshly ground beans to the French press.
  • Fill up the level of the beans with hot
  • Use a spoon to stir the beans and cover them with a filter
  • Allow the coffee beans to go through the brewing process for the next four minutes
  • Press the plunger slowly into the beans
  • Collect the liquid in the mug and enjoy your espresso

How to make espresso in an AeroPress


The AeroPress is an invention by Alan Adler, an American inventor who first entered it into the market in 2005. It is the best machine to use in the market if you do not have an espresso machine as it provides you with a brew that is very close to that extracted by an automated machine. The AeroPress works by pressing ground beans, using a set of cylinders, and seeping them through water before forcing espresso out through a filter.

What you need:

  • AeroPress espresso machine
  • Coffee beans
  • Grinder
  • Filters
  • Spoon
  • Tamper
  • Mug

Steps to take

  • Place more than one filter into the machines drain cap
  • Rinse the filter and place it in the press compartment with the drain cap
  • Place the machine on a stable collecting container or mug
  • Grind the beans to a fine consistency
  • Place the beans into the filter
  • Using a tamping tool, tamper the grinds
  • Add hot water to the filter
  • Stir, and press the plunger down

How to make espresso in a Moka pot

A Moka pot will not give you strong espresso as the one you would get from an espresso machine, but it is one of the best alternatives if you do not have an espresso machine. A Moka pot will also give you a brew, which is three times stronger than drip coffee.

The Moka pot, which originated from Italy, uses both heat and pleasure to make espresso. Steam pressure forces water from the pot's bottom chamber to pass through a filter that contains ground coffee to make great tasting espresso.

What you need:

  • Coffee beans
  • Moka pot
  • Coffee grinder
  • Water
  • Stovetop
  • Damp towel
  • Mug

Steps to take

  • Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot with water
  • Grind the beans to an excellent consistency
  • Insert a funnel into the Moka pot and add the coffee
  • Prepare the Moka pot by screwing the base and upper part of the pot together
  • Using a stovetop, heat the Moka pot
  • Remove the pot from the stove when the coffee starts to foam
  • Pour your espresso into a mug and serve

How to make Espresso with Keurig

How to make Espresso with Keurig

A Keurig is a single-serve espresso machine that is slowly gaining popularity for its unmatched ability to brew coffee. The machine is suitable for use at home and in offices. Though using a Keurig machine will not give you the same great tasting espresso as that of a machine, it does a beautiful job providing you with an espresso that comes close to the real deal.

What you need

  • A Keurig machine
  • Freshly ground coffee beans
  • Hot water
  • Cup


  • Pour clean water into the Keurig jug
  • Heat the water to 200 degrees F
  • Put ground beans into the portafilter. The ratio should be two spoonfuls of beans to six ounces of water
  • Turn the machine on to start the brewing process with a timing of 25 to 35 seconds
  • Pour the brew into the cup and serve


Is espresso the name of the drink, process, or machine?

Espresso is a brewing process and a drink created from the process. A machine that does the brewing process is an espresso machine.

What does the word espresso mean?

Espresso is the Italian word for express

Is espresso more expensive than coffee?

Yes, in the majority of the coffee shops around the world, espresso is more expensive than a regular cup of coffee.

Wrapping it up

Technology and the modern world have made it easier and possible for many people worldwide to enjoy the amazingly bold and strong espresso drink. Espresso is the only coffee drink that provides you with many possibilities of different tastes and flavors that make drinking just as exciting and fun as brewing.

Even without an espresso machine at your disposal, you can still enjoy the best-brewed espresso using any of the above alternative methods. We hope this article will help you become the next best barista in the comfort of your home. If you have any questions or comments to make about this article, fill the form below and we will get back to you.

My future starts when I wake up every morning. Every day I find something creative to do with my life.

Leave a Comment