For all lovers of caffeine, there is arguably nothing better than enjoying a hot and invigorated cup of espresso. A shot of caffeine help us jump start our day, helps us face the difficulties with a positive attitude and also helps us relax and enjoy life.
Similarly there is nothing worse than not having the option of enjoying a cup of espresso whenever you want, because either a machine is really expensive, or you can’t afford to spend money every day on coffee, either because you are out in field and you may think that it is impossible to enjoy a cup of espresso in the nature.
When you think about café espresso you may think about having to go out and buy very expensive equipment, or visit your local coffee house and get your coffee from there. You may also think that making an espresso without a pricey espresso machine is a difficult task and is not worth your time.
Besides having the pleasure of making your own coffee without having to use an espresso machine, you can also save a good amount of money to use elsewhere.
Moreover, if you are the adventurous type, there is nothing better than having a good cup of coffee when you are outdoors in a “survival” adventure, or just camping. The methods that I’m going to explain are perfect if you are the type of person that likes to travel with a backpack and enjoy a great cup of espresso in nature while watching the sunrise or sunset.
However, the hard truth is you cannot make an espresso without an espresso machine. But at the very least, you can make a quasi-espresso with alternative methods which we will share below.
To understand how to make a quasi-espresso, we have to understand what makes an espresso an espresso? In general, espresso is simply a method of brewing coffee. When we are talking about espresso there are many factors that we need to keep in mind.
Just like in any cooking that you do, it is going to take the right ingredients. When you are thinking about espresso there are two major ingredients that are going to end up in your cup: water and coffee.
When making an espresso, the coffee is brewed by squeezing water through fresh coffee beans and this pressurized brewing procedure allows espresso to have a high concentration of flavors, chemicals, and aromas, which is what makes this type of coffee so adored by caffeine fans.
So first, it all starts with good water - you can’t have your coffee without having a good source of water. After you have your water you want to make sure you boil it and the best temperature for it is around 95 degrees. If you are in nature and you don’t carry with you a thermometer then what you want to look for is just some bubbles popping up in the water, not a rolling boil but just some bubbles starting to come off the bottom.
This is the crux of it. Espresso are called that because of the 9 bars of pressure needed to push the water through the coffee grinds (9 times the atmospheric pressure at sea level).
The espresso stands apart from the rest with the nice layer of crema at the top when it is brewed. WIthout it, something feels missing.
Determined that you want to make espresso-like drinks without having to use a machine or the local barista? Then just keep reading for three quick alternatives that can fulfil your want. Note, they are not technically espresso per se but they are probably close enough.
The Aeropress uses a combination of intense air pressure and paper filter to create a really refined cup of strong coffee.
The equipment necessary for making a cup of espresso with an Aeropress is,
Near boiling water
Aeropress chamber and piston
Filter with the pre-wet paper filter
Finely ground coffee
The procedure is pretty simple; you insert the Aeropress piston about roughly half a centimeter or a centimeter inside the chamber and then you flip it over, which is called the inverted method. It’s better to use that method because it actually gives your coffee more time to brew within the water.
Then you pour in the grounded coffee and you shake it a bit, just to make sure it is all leveled out inside. After that, you pour in the water with a circular motion that helps incorporate all the coffee and the water together.
You leave it about two to three minutes to brew; you lock the Aeropress with the permanent filter with the paper filter inside, you place the funnel inside the cup or the mug and when the espresso is ready you slowly invert the brewing chamber onto funnel in the cup or mug you are using.
Finally, you apply pressure to the Aeropress in a downward motion to extract the brew into the cup or mug you are using. Pretty simple right?
The second method of making espresso without a machine is the French Press. A lot of people love the French Press despite not producing quite as strong coffee as other methods, but it is though a really nice smooth coffee. The utensil is also really light and easy to carry around so, so that makes it a really great choice for all the travelers and campers.
All you need to make an espresso using a French Press is
The procedure is also very easy, as first, you place the grounds inside the French Press cup, then you pour the water inside.
After you pour the water, the grounds are sitting in the top, which means they are not getting soaked in the water, so after you pour the water you want to make sure that you stir the grounds in. Then you have to wait for three to four minutes - the longer you wait the more bitter the coffee you are going to get.
The last step is putting the top of the French Press back on, with the plunger all the way up; you slowly push down the plunger until you hit the bottom, you will need to push harder than usual to mimic the pressure needed for espresso. You are going to feel a natural resistance stopping you, so try your best.
After you have pushed the plunger all the way to the bottom, your espresso is ready to be served and you can go ahead and pour your cup of coffee.
One small tip to mimic the froth. Pour some steamed milk into the french press and and use to plunger to pump some air into it. Do it till the milk seems to be thicker in volume. There you go, a make-shift milk froth without a frother.
Another method of making espresso at home without a machine is using a Moka Pot. Very much the Italian way of making coffee at home, it works on the same principles as an espresso machine, so the water is taken up to a temperature and under pressure with steam, it goes through finely powdered coffee.
This is not a method I would recommend for those who want to make their coffee out in the field, but it is a method of making an espresso at home without a machine.
All you need to make an espresso using a moka pot is
Medium coarse grounds (like table salt)
The procedure of making espresso by using a Moka Pot is also very simple.
First, you take apart the Moka Pot by taking the top and removing the filter basket. Fill the bottom of the Moka Pot with boiled water; stop pouring when the water has reached the bottom of the safety valve.
Fill your filter basket with grounded coffee, level the coffee with a slightly curved finger, the ground should be loosely packed because if it packed too tight it will lead to a bitter taste.
Then place the filter basket back into the case and screw the top of Moka Pot securely. Then you place the Moka Pot on the stove.
Once the pressure is efficient the water will be forced through the coffee and start oozing slowly from the spout, thick syrupy espresso. As the flow becomes more vigorous remove from the heat, as the residual pressure will complete the extraction.
When the extraction is finished then you are all set, and the last and most important thing that you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy a hot and invigorated cup of quasi - espresso.
To make milk - based drinks like cappuccino or latte, milk froth is absolutely essential. And without it, the quasi - espresso methods doesn’t seem complete. Breaking down milk froth, it is hot milk with air. So, you can use a blender or whisk to create it without a need for a steam wand.
Check out this for a couple methods you can use to create that.
You cannot get a real espresso without an espresso machine. But you can make a close one without having to spend money on an expensive machine. Also, having the knowledge to make it while you are camping or traveling, adds a great value to the whole experience.
Keep in mind that whether you choose to use the Aeropress, the French Press or the Moka Pot, you can enjoy espresso-like brew everywhere.