How to Make Espresso Without a Machine – 9 Exciting Ways You’ll Love!

I’ve spent weeks researching how to make espresso without a machine. Then, I tested them out for you. 

How to make espresso without a machine
I made espresso with an AeroPress!

The internet has loads of unclear and wrong espresso recipes, so I set out to fix that.

We’re going to look at espresso-style coffee recipes using AeroPress (#1, #2), Moka Pot() and French Press(). 

Then, we’re going to look at espresso recipes using manual, non-electric and portable espresso makers().

You’ll see: the best way(), the easiest way(), the most stylish way(), the most alternative way() and the most scientific way().

Keep reading to find out how to make espresso without a machine.

By the way, read this if you want to learn more about how to make espresso.

How to make espresso without a machine (espresso-style coffee)

Here are a few ways for how to make espresso without a machine, for espresso-style coffee. I’ve ordered these from best to worst.

#1 – AeroPress Espresso Recipe 

How to make espresso without a machine - aeropress 1

What you’ll need:

  • An AeroPress
  • 18 grams finely ground coffee
  • 60 grams of water
  • AeroPress filters 


  1. Rinse the filter and put it in the AeroPress filter cap. Then set this aside. 
  2. Grind your coffee while your water is boiling. 
  3. Insert the plunger into the AeroPress brewing chamber, then pour your coffee grounds into AeroPress.
  4. Place your AeroPress on the scale, then tare the scale so that it reads 0 grams. 
  5. Start your timer and, very slowly, pour in 60 grams of hot water. This should take about 10-15 seconds. The water shouldn’t be boiling, so wait about 30 seconds after the water has boiled before brewing. 
  6. Agitate the coffee by stirring it for a few seconds, or by swirling the AeroPress in a circular motion.
  7. Put the filter onto the top of the AeroPress and lock it into place. Then put a cup on top of the AeroPress, so that when you turn it around, the coffee will extract into the cup.
  8. When the timer reaches 30 seconds, you’re ready to extract. Turn the AeroPress and cup over and plunge as hard as you can. Force all the coffee through the filter and into the cup. You should aim to extract all the coffee in about 5 seconds.

Your coffee grounds should be very fine; similar to castor sugar. 

If you don’t have a scale, measure out 60 ml of water beforehand. 1 ml of water = 1 gram. 

#2 – AeroPress Prismo Recipe 

How to make espresso without a machine - aeropress 2

What you’ll need:

  • An AeroPress
  • A Fellow Prismo pressure-actuated pressure valve
  • 20 grams finely ground coffee (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 80 grams of water
  • AeroPress filters 
  • A tamping device. This should be a cylindrical object that can fit inside the AeroPress. You’ll use this to tamp down the coffee.


  1. Attach the Prismo to your AeroPress and begin boiling the water.
  2. Put the AeroPress over your cup, Fellow Prismo side down.
  3. Add 20 grams of finely ground coffee to the AeroPress.
  4. Attach two filters to the bottom of your tamping divide, then tamp down the coffee. Do this by pushing down on the coffee to compress it. Then, remove the tamp.
  5. Slowly pour 80 grams of just off boiling water over the coffee cake. Do this slowly so that the water sits on top of the coffee cake, and doesn’t disturb the grounds.
  6. Insert the plunger into the AeroPress and press down slowly. Aim to push through all the water within 30 seconds.

Make sure that you do not use a glass. The pressure you exert when extracting the espresso could break it, and this can cause serious injuries. 

Some ideas for the tamping device are a spice pot, a thin rolling pin, hand-grinders, etc.  

#3 – Mokpresso Recipe (Moka Pot)

How to make espresso without a machine - moka pot

What you’ll need:

  • A Moka Pot
  • 20-22 grams finely ground coffee
  • 140 grams of hot  water


  1. Add the finely ground coffee to the coffee basket. The basket is in the base of the Moka Pot. Don’t tamp the coffee, but brush off any excess coffee grounds from the rim of the basket.
  2. Pour about 140 grams of hot water into the base. If you don’t have a scale, stop pouring water when it reaches just below the pressure valve. Then, screw the top back on. 
  3. Place the Moka Pot on the stove, and turn the stove to medium-high. 
  4. Sit back, relax and let the Moka Pot do its thing. You should have your espresso ready in about 2 minutes. If you started with cold water instead of hot water, this could take up to 7 minutes. 

Coffee that is ground too fine could clog the Moka Pot. It’s also a good idea to place the pot on the edge of the heat source to prevent the handle from getting too hot to touch. 

If the coffee spits out or comes out of the exit valve, use a lower heat next time.

#4 – French EsPRESSo Recipe (French Press)

How to make espresso without a machine - french press

What you’ll need:

  • A French Press
  • 30 grams finely ground coffee
  • 150 grams of water


  1. Boil your water while you grind your coffee very fine. 
  2. Put the coffee grounds into the brewing chamber. 
  3. Let your boiled water sit for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then pour about 50 grams of water over the coffee grounds and wait for 30 seconds. You can swirl the brewing chamber for 5 seconds to make sure that all of the coffee is saturated. 
  4. Add the remaining water, then add the plunger and lid to the brewing chamber. Don’t plunge or stir yet. 
  5. Wait 3 minutes, then plunge very slowly but with consistent pressure. 
  6. Serve your coffee immediately.

Using French Press to make espresso isn’t recommended as it really skirts the definition of what an espresso is. But, to create the strong, bold flavors associated with espresso, we’re using a higher dose in this recipe.

How to make espresso without a machine (real espresso)

Here are some espresso makers that produce enough pressure to make real espresso. 

Read how decaf coffee is made.

The best way to make espresso without a machine

How to make espresso without a machine - wacaco nanopresso

#5 Wacaco Nanopress 

What you’ll need:


  1. Finely grind your coffee beans while boiling some water
  2. Add finely-ground coffee to the provided coffee scoop and transfer this to the filter basket.
  3. Tamp the coffee in the filter basket using the bottom of the coffee scoop. There should be about 4 mm of space at the top of the basket after tamping. Remove any coffee grounds from the rim of the filter basket. 
  4. Put the coffee filter basket into the Nanopresso and screw on the portafilter. As we’re dealing with high pressures, make sure the portafilter is screwed on tight.
  5. Add 80 grams of boiling water to the water tank. If you don’t have a scale, you can pour up to fill-line. Then, screw the water tank onto the Nanopresso.
  6. Unlock the piston by twisting it counter-clockwise, then flip the Nanopresso upside-down.
  7. Start pumping with slow consistent pumps to build up pressure. It should take about 6 to 8 pumps to get up to pressure. 
  8. After about 20-30 pumps, the espresso should be fully extracted. You’ll know it’s fully extracted when you no longer feel resistance in the piston.

This is by far one of the most convenient ways to make espresso without an espresso machine. It’s certainly my favorite! 

The easiest way to make espresso without an espresso machine

How to make espresso without a machine - cafflano kompresso

#6 Cafflano Kompresso

What you’ll need: 

  • Cafflano Kompresso
  • 14 grams of fine espresso grounds
  • 60ml of water


  1. Boil water while grinding 14 grams of coffee.
  2. Add the coffee grounds to the filter baskets. Then, use the bottom of the provided scoop to tamp the coffee. Remove any excess coffee grounds from the rim.
  3. Screw the filter basket to the water chamber. Be sure to not over-tighten this as you could damage the o-ring. 
  4. Add the hot water to the water chamber. The water shouldn’t be boiling, so wait 30 seconds before you begin the extraction process. 
  5. Attach the piston to the chamber, then push down until the piston reaches the bottom. This step should take about a minute. 

The most stylish way to make espresso without an espresso machine 

How to make espresso without a machine - flair signature

#7 Flair Espresso Maker

What you’ll need:

  • Flair Espresso Maker
  • 15 grams coffee
  • 60 grams of water 


  1. Preheat the brew cylinder. An easy way to do this is to place it at the top of your kettle and heat it with the steam from your kettle.
  2. Grind 15 grams of coffee very fine while you’re waiting for the water to boil.
  3. Add the ground coffee to the basket and clean any excess from the rim. To avoid mess, you could use a funnel when adding the coffee grounds. 
  4. Distribute the coffee grounds and tamp them. 
  5. Put the espresso screen above the coffee grounds, then put the portafilter into the mount.
  6. Put the preheated brew cylinder on top of the portafilter. Add the water and stop just at the line so that there is no air in the cylinder. The water should be just below boiling.
  7. Insert the piston into the brew cylinder. This can be a bit fiddly, but tilting it forward as you insert it helps.
  8. Slowly pull down on the lever until about 30 grams of espresso is extracted. This should take about 25 – 30 seconds.

Be careful when pushing the lever back as the pressure difference could cause the parts to disengage and you’ll be left with quite a mess (or burns!). 

There could be leftover water in the brewing cylinder. Purge the extra water into a new cup to avoid a mess when you take the Flair apart. 

The most alternative way to make espresso without an espresso machine

How to make espresso without a machine - uniterra nomad

#8 Uniterra Nomad Espresso Maker

What you’ll need:

  • Uniterra Nomad Espresso Maker
  • 15 grams of finely ground coffee
  • 50 – 300 grams of boiling water


  1. Boil your water and finely grind 15 grams of coffee beans. 
  2. Add coffee to the coffee drawer’s basket. First, you’ll need to unlatch the coffee drawer and remove it. Then, add the coffee to the filter basket that’s in the coffee drawer.
  3. Distribute the coffee and tamp it. Then, insert the drawer into the Nomad. Make sure that it’s flush with the cube’s front, then latch the drawer.
  4. Add boiling water to the water reservoir. To do this, you’ll need to remove the cap. Don’t overfill the reservoir, and remember to put the cap back on before brewing.
  5. Pre-saturate your coffee by pumping 12 full strokes. Then wait 5-10 seconds. The lever behaves like a seesaw. One full stroke would be when both sides of the lever have gone up. 
  6. Build up the pressure and extract coffee. Pump the lever quickly to build up the pressure, and slow down the pumps to maintain pressure. Aim for the labelled “crema zone” which is between 6-9 bars of pressure. 
  7. Stop pumping when you’ve extracted about 30 grams of espresso. 

The Uniterra Nomad has a large water reservoir, which is great for making back-to-back espressos. The reservoir is built from plastic and this helps it retain heat, instead of losing heat. 

Finding the right stroking motion will take some practice. Once you’re comfortable with it, you’ll be able to experiment with different pressure profiles.

The scientific way to make espresso without an espresso machine

Creator: Jonathan Knowles Copyright: © Jonathan Knowles 2019

#9 – 9Barista espresso Maker

What you’ll need:

  • 9Barista Espresso Maker 
  • 20 grams of finely ground coffee
  • 120 grams of cold water


  1. Add cold water just below the ‘fill to hear’ line. This will be about 120 grams of water. If you fill beyond this line, water will spit out of the chimney. 
  2. Screw the group head (middle section) onto the water chamber. 
  3. Turn the portafilter (the top section) upside-down and add 20 grams of ground coffee to the basket. Then, distribute and tamp the coffee grounds. 
  4. Place the basket cap on top of the coffee grounds, then flip the portafilter over.
  5. Attach the portafilter to the group head and lock it into place. The portafilter will be sealed when the two handles are at 90 degrees to one another.
  6. Add this to your heat source. If using any stove other than induction, keep the handles and chimney out of the direct heat wherever possible. 
  7. The espresso should be extracted after about 3 – 5 minutes, depending on the heat source. Pour this into your cup and enjoy your expresso! Don’t be tempted to take the portafilter off yet as it may still be under pressure. 

If you’re planning on using this, just remember to let everything cool down before taking things apart again. All that heat and pressure needs to be handled with a lot of care. 

Can you make espresso without a machine?

Now that we’ve looked at some fun and exciting ways to make espresso without a machine, let’s address the elephant in the room. Can you really make espresso without a machine?

Yes, you can make espresso without an espresso machine. But, if you want to know if you can make espresso with an AeroPress, Moka Pot, or French Press, then things get a little murky. 

We’ll get into this in the next section, but here’s what you need to know for now.

To be classified as espresso, the coffee needs to be extracted using 6-9 bars of pressure. Without pressure, it can only be called a strong brew at best.

The AeroPress, Moka Pot and French Press do not create even close to this amount of pressure. So technically, they don’t make espresso. That doesn’t mean that they can’t make espresso-style coffee though. 

This also doesn’t mean that we can’t make espresso without an espresso machine. We looked at a few inexpensive, easy to use espresso makers already, but there are tons more out there.  

As long as we’ve got a brewing device that can create 6-9 bars of pressure, then we can make espresso without a machine. 

Read about how to make pour over coffee.

What is espresso?

The short answer according to the Speciality Coffee Association, espresso is:

Espresso is a 25–35ml (×2 for double) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. 

Read our article on what is espresso for more fun facts and info! 

Why do people get AeroPress, Moka Pot and Espresso confused?

There are similarities between espresso and AeroPress and Moka and AeroPress, so it’s easy to get confused. 

Moka pots are similar to espresso machines because they brew coffee under pressure. They also make coffee using a brew ratio similar to espresso. Moka Pots can also sometimes produce crema. 

That said, Moka Pots brew coffee using much lower pressure and steam to brew the coffee. The pressure a Moka Pot creates is about 1.5 bars. The temperature of the water and steam is usually about 100°C or more. 

When it comes to AeroPress, some of the confusion comes down to semantics. I mean, ‘espresso’ is kind of in the name, isn’t it? Although, the AeroPress only creates a pressure of 0.35-0.7 bars.

Add to that the fact that AeroPress also, to some extent, markets itself as an espresso maker, it’s no wonder there’s confusion. The following quote is from the AeroPress website:

“Many people say that espresso must be made with 9 bars of pressure. If you use this definition then no, AeroPress coffee makers do not make espresso. But if you define espresso by the taste of the drink in the cup, certainly many people think AeroPress coffee makers can brew espresso. Since AeroPress brewed coffee can be made into lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso-based drinks, we feel it is important to use the term “espresso” when describing what AeroPress brews so potential customers will understand how AeroPress brew can be enjoyed.”

Whether it’s espresso or not, the important thing is that we’re making and drinking delicious coffee. And AeroPress will always be an integral part of my coffee arsenal. 

What next?

Now that you know how to make espresso without a machine, read how to make espresso with an espresso machine. 

If you haven’t already, read how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.

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