Strong, dark, and delicious–that’s the taste often associated with the small yet powerful espresso. Yet enjoying an espresso at home is nearly just a dream as having your very own espresso machine can cost you an arm and a leg. But because you already have that coffee maker staring back at you, we understand if you’re wondering, “can you brew espresso in a coffee maker?”
Well, you’re not the only one entertaining the idea! Today, we’ll answer this question which has been hanging over many espresso lovers’ heads.
Key Elements in Making Espresso
First, it’s important to know the key ingredients in creating a cup of espresso, so we’ll understand why it’s possible or not to prepare one using a coffee maker.
To make espresso, you will need three ingredients or elements:
- Darkly roasted coffee beans
Espresso is traditionally made with dark roasted coffee beans. These give the espresso its characteristic rich and strong flavor. With the coffee beans roasted dark and thus more porous, the soluble become easier to extract compared to the lightly roasted ones.
However, some would argue that espressos can also be prepared using lighter roasts.
- Fresh, fine coffee grind
Besides the coffee beans being dark, to achieve that rich and strong flavor that espresso is known for, the coffee beans also have to be ground into fine powder. Keep in mind though that it should be just the right kind of coarseness.
The aim is for it to be fine enough to slow down the penetration of water through the filter, not block it. If it’s too fine, then the ground coffee will block the filter. The coarseness level should be just like the mixture of powdered sugar and fine sand.
- 130 PSI of pressure
Unlike most coffee drinks that are ideally prepared with 205°F of hot water, espresso is made with extremely hot water. Besides that, this hot water has to be forced through the finely ground coffee beans at enormous pressure. How much pressure are we talking about? Nine bars of pressure or 130 pounds per square inch. That’s more than four times the pressure in a car tire.
Can You Brew Espresso in a Coffee Maker?
So, based on what we know about espresso coffee, is it possible to brew espresso in a coffee maker? Dark roasted coffee beans, finely ground–easy! How about 130 PSI of pressure? Can a coffee maker fetch you that much pressure? Not really. But if you’re okay with espresso-like coffee, then that’s achievable with an automatic drip coffee maker, a Moka pot, or an AeroPress.
How Do You Make Quasi-Espresso Using the Different Coffee Makers?
Here are some ways you can get that close-enough espresso taste without having to invest in an espresso machine:
- Automatic drip coffee maker
One issue you have with the automatic drip coffee maker when using it to prepare espresso is that the fine coffee grounds may not be appropriate to the filter. If yours come with a permanent filter or a filter with a flat bottom, then the finely ground beans can get stuck or keep the water from coming through.
So, with an automatic drip over coffee maker, you’d want to use a medium grind instead. If the filter basket is cone-shaped, then using coffee grounds that’s between medium and fine is good.
Step 1: You can start with 6 grams to 8 grams of fresh grounds per espresso shot. Then, adjust on your next session the amount of coffee to achieve the desired strength. Alternatively, you can increase or reduce the amount of water. That also works in tweaking the strength of your coffee.
Step 2: Wet the grinds with hot water and wait for 30 seconds. This is what we call the blooming period.
Step 3: Run more hot water until you have collected one to two ounces of coffee. Your espresso is ready! Actually, the result is heavier than espresso.
- Moka Pot
A Moka pot will fetch you more pressure than you can get from a drip over coffee maker. It adds water pressure through steam. This pressure, though nowhere near the nine bars of pressure you get from an espresso machine, helps you get that almost-espresso taste.
To prepare a quasi-espresso drink with a Moka pot, you’d want to use a medium-fine grind.
Step 1: Start with 6 to 8 grams of coffee, and again adjust as needed next time. Place the coffee grounds in the basket.
Step 2: Pour water into the bottom chamber. Load it up to the fill line or up to the bottom of the pressure valve if you don’t see any line.
Step 3: Put in the loaded coffee basket. Make sure the coffee grounds are leveled but DO NOT press them down.
Step 4: Attach the upper chamber of the pot to the base.
Step 5: Put the Moka pot on the stove with low to medium heat on. After around three minutes, coffee will start to flow from the center. Keep brewing until you have the amount you need for your espresso. That’s 1.5 ounces per shot. The result is highly similar to espresso.
Step 6: Remove the pot from the stove and run tap water onto the bottom chamber to stop the brewing process. Be careful not to spill hot coffee to yourself as you do this.
An AeroPress is a great way to simulate an espresso taste and feel. Since it uses more pressure than a drip over coffee maker, the result is a closer espresso-like drink. For “espresso” made with an AeroPress, you’d need a fine coffee grind around 28.3 grams.
Step 1: Put a filter in the basket and run hot water over it so that it sticks well to the basket and to remove the papery taste. Pre-heat as well the brew chamber and your cup.
Step 2: Attach the basket to the brew chamber. Place the setup on top of the cup. Make sure to use a stable cup.
Step 3: Put the coffee grounds inside and tamp them, making a nice and tight “puck.”
Step 4: Pour 120 ml of hot water into the AeroPress, ideally 205°F hot. Give it a quick stir. Wait for 30 seconds, and then give the plunger a steady push until it reaches the bottom. You should feel some resistance as you push down. Otherwise, it means the coffee grind is too coarse.
Step 5: When the plunger reaches the bottom, remove the AeroPress. Below, you’ll find your espresso-like drink!
There you have it! The answer to your question: “Can you brew espresso in a coffee maker?” Although the lack of adequate pressure makes it impossible to get the real deal from a coffee maker, you can still get that almost-espresso taste from different types of coffee makers. The closest perhaps is by using the Moka Pot. After all, it isn’t called the stovetop espresso for nothing.