But there’s only one true way to get authentic espresso, and that’s with an espresso machine. Or is there?
In this post, I’m going to cover how AeroPress coffee stacks up against espresso coffee.
That’s right. It’s time for another almighty battle royale: AeroPress Vs Espresso. Keep reading to see how they compare!
How Does an Espresso Machine Work?
If you’ve ever been to a coffee shop, you know what an espresso machine looks like. The espresso machine was built around 1884.
Since it was dreamt of and brought to life in Italy, espresso is a very common drink in many Italian cities.
Thankfully, Italy didn’t keep this beautiful creation all to themselves.
In an espresso machine, hot water’s forced through the portafilter containing the espresso puck. The water’s pushed through the coffee grounds by a mechanical lever.
The person making the coffee presses this down. It can also be done through steam, pistons, pumps, or air.
Espresso machines also heat the water for your beverage for you. They can have a tank where cool water is stored or they can connect to a cold water line.
The cold water line connection is the most common in commercial operations.
Could you imagine if the barista had to get a pitcher of water to refill the machine after every few shots? People would be rioting, and I’d be one of them!
To see a short but in-depth video of how an espresso machine works, watch this video:
What Are The Differences Between AeroPress And Espresso?
The main difference between the AeroPress and the espresso machine is how the coffee’s prepared.
Firstly, the coffee beans have to be ground shortly before they’re used. Using pre-ground beans often results in a milder, or even bitter, flavor.
The ground coffee is inserted into the portafilter. Then you have to take a tamp to compress the grounds.
I’m not talking about a few taps to make sure that it’s even. You’ve got to put some elbow grease into tamping down the grounds.
Why Do You Need To Tamp Coffee?
Tamping is important in the production of espresso.
When grounds are well compressed, it slows down the rate that the water flows through the grounds.
A slower flow will result in more oils and flavor being pulled from the grounds and landing in your glass.
If you don’t tamp down the coffee grounds, the water could flow through the grounds too fast. This doesn’t extract as much flavor and caffeine from the grounds.
This would result in a “dead shot,” which is an amusing way to say subpar espresso.
Espresso machines also tend to come with a steaming wand.
A steaming wand is essential for steaming milk for drinks such as lattes and flat whites.
Now that I’ve mentioned how an espresso machine works, I’m realizing that the two machines work in a similar manner.
With an AeroPress, there’s one chamber. This chamber contains a filter, usually made of paper, and a plunger.
To use it, it’s very simple:
- put your coffee grounds in the AeroPress after inserting the filter.
- fill the chamber up with hot water and give it a stir.
- once the hot water is in there, insert the plunger into the chamber.
- with the plunger inserted, press down on the plunger.
This forces the hot water to pass through the coffee grounds. After a short push on the plunger, you’ve got a nice, hot cup of coffee.
Lovers of the AeroPress enjoy that the coffee has a smoother taste than if they used a drip or single-cup brewer.
I agree, but I also love that I can have a cup of coffee in no time.
A lot of the “fancier” pour-over coffee methods take so much time to set up and get right. I can’t deal with that.
When I wake up in the morning, I need my caffeine coursing through my veins as soon as possible.
Does AeroPress Taste Like Espresso?
No, but that’s because of a couple of different reasons.
The recommended coffee beans used in each method are different.
Coffee beans meant for espresso are roasted longer. This gives the brewed coffee a strong flavor.
Traditional coffee beans aren’t roasted as long. This results in a smoother and milder flavor compared to espresso.
But what if we brewed with each method using the same beans?
They’re also very different brewing methods. So their methods of coffee extraction are quite different.
Espresso uses far more pressure than you can typically get with an AeroPress.
While there’s likely more than these, these differences alone are enough to produce a variance in taste.
Can I Use One In Place Of The Other?
So the AeroPress and espresso machine have similar methods to create hot coffee.
But can you use an AeroPress to make espresso? Or use an espresso machine to make traditional coffee?
To make the battle of AeroPress Vs Espresso complete, I’ll need to investigate this further.
If you’ve already got an espresso machine, you might be wondering if you can make traditional coffee with it.
A standard espresso machine makes two one-ounce espresso glasses worth of espresso.
If you were trying to make regular coffee with an espresso machine, you’d have to run the machine about four times. This would fill an eight-ounce mug.
On the flip side, you could use your AeroPress to make espresso if you did it right.
Using Your AeroPress For Espresso
Is AeroPress good for espresso? While that’s not its intended use, a lot of AeroPress users say that their coffee tastes like a cross between brewed coffee and espresso.
One of the most important parts of making espresso is to get the beans right.
Some people say: “If you use standard coffee beans, you’re making coffee. If you use espresso beans, you’re making espresso.”
But it’s not actually that simple. Espresso is a brewing method, so you can’t just buy “espresso beans” to brew espresso coffee.
We want to make espresso-style in our AeroPress. So let’s use an espresso grind. This will make it taste as close as possible to espresso.
The grind size is very fine for espresso. If you don’t own your own grinder, you can try buying pre-ground at the local grocery store.
If you can’t find any at the grocery store, stop by a local coffee shop. They often have bags of espresso-grind coffee beans for sale.
Grinding Your Beans
As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t grind coffee beans until they’re ready for use.
This keeps all the beautiful flavor and aroma inside of the bean and streamlines it into your cup.
Ideally, you will grind the beans at home right before you use them.
If your coffee grinder is adjustable, use the finest setting possible. You want to turn your beans into dust.
If you don’t have your own coffee grinder yet, I highly recommend investing in one.
I reviewed several hand coffee grinders that work best with the AeroPress recently. You can read my post about it here.
If you don’t have a grinder available and it isn’t in your budget to buy one, you can buy pre-ground beans.
Don’t worry; the coffee gods won’t strike you down if you use pre-ground coffee! But you won’t have as rich of a flavor to your espresso.
Brewing With Your AeroPress
Now, take your espresso grind and pour it into your AeroPress.
You’re going to need one AeroPress scoop (18 grams) of fine ground coffee beans.
Before adding any water at all, insert the plunger. Force the plunger down until it makes contact with the coffee grounds.
Give the plunger a few firm pushes to tamp down the coffee grounds.
Once you’ve tamped down the coffee grounds, pull the plunger out of the chamber. It’s time to add the water now.
Since you’re making espresso, you won’t need as much water as you would if you were brewing a cup of coffee.
The Final Step
Pour two to four ounces of almost boiling water into the AeroPress. With the hot water in place, insert the plunger into the AeroPress.
Now, this is usually where we put all our strength and might into forcing the plunger down. Today, we’re taking a different procedure.
Allow the hot water to sit on the grounds for about a minute.
I know that when you’re craving caffeine, a minute feels like a lifetime. But I promise you that you can hold out for 60 seconds.
Once the minute is up, begin pressing your plunger downwards. You want to use steady pressure, but you don’t have to slam the plunger down.
You may notice the liquid coming out of your AeroPress is more syrupy than usual. And that’s great.
After you’ve pushed all the water through your ground coffee, you now have espresso-style coffee made at home.
Can you make espresso without a machine? Technically no… but you just proved you can get pretty darn close!
AeroPress Vs Espresso – The Verdict
So you’ve proven that you can make espresso-style without an espresso machine. Now I bet you’re thinking that you can live without one, right?
But there is one thing that an espresso machine has that no other coffee maker does: a steaming wand.
If you want your home-made lattes to taste anything like you get in a coffee shop, you’re going to need a steaming wand.
Steamed milk isn’t just hot milk.
When you add steam to the equation, it makes the warm milk lighter and more airy. This is how you make foam or froth when steaming milk.
If you’re crazy about lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites, I say go with the espresso machine.
The price point is higher than an AeroPress, but you’re getting that invaluable steaming wand.
And let’s face it. Nothing’s going to make better espresso than an espresso machine, right?
If you’re more of a straight espresso or Americano drinker, go with the AeroPress.
The AeroPress makes top-notch espresso-style coffee if you follow the procedure above.
Or if you love coffee any way it’s made, why not splurge and get both?!
How do you find the AeroPress compares with the espresso machine? Do you prefer one over the other?
Let me know in the comments below.