AeroPress Vs Espresso – An Intriguing Comparison

There are so many ways to make amazing coffee. For example, you can use a traditional drip pot, a single-cup brewer, a Moka Pot, or an AeroPress.

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.

A commercial espresso machine inside a coffee shop.

 

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!

What Are The Differences Between AeroPress And Espresso?

The main difference between the AeroPress and the espresso machine is how the coffee’s prepared.

Espresso

Firstly, espresso beans have to be ground shortly before they’re used. Using pre-ground espresso beans often results in a milder, or even bitter, flavor.

The ground coffee is inserted into the portafilter. Then you have to take a tamper 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.

Close up of a man using a coffee tamper to tamp espresso grounds in an espresso machine portafilter.

Why Do You Need To Tamp Coffee?

Tamping is important in the production of espresso.

When espresso 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.

AeroPress

Now that I’ve mentioned how an espresso machine works, I’m realizing that the two machines work in a similar manner.

An AeroPress is a handy coffee maker that utilizes your brute strength to produce a hot cup of coffee.

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:

  1. put your coffee grounds in the AeroPress after inserting the filter.
  2. fill the chamber up with hot water.
  3. once the hot water is in there, insert the plunger into the chamber.
  4. 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.

Close up of a latte glass with some coffee with a bit of crema inside.

 

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 the recommended coffee beans used in each method are different.

Coffee beans meant for espresso are roasted longer. This gives the 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.

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.

Espresso Beans

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, but you don’t have to use espresso beans when brewing espresso coffee.

We want to make espresso in our AeroPressSo let’s try to get some espresso beans. This will make it taste as close as possible to espresso.

Espresso beans are sold about everywhere coffee is sold.

If you can’t find any at the grocery store, stop by a local coffee shop. They often have bags of espresso and coffee beans for sale.

Grinding Your Beans

As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t grind espresso 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 espresso 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 ground espresso beans and pour it into your AeroPress.

You’re going to need one AeroPress scoop (18 grams) of fine ground espresso coffee.

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.

Close up of a coffee cup with some coffee with a slight crema present, after following one of the Fellow Prismo recipes.

 

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 made at home.

Can you make espresso without a machine? You just proved you can!

AeroPress Vs Espresso – The Verdict

So you’ve proven that you can make espresso 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.

Close up of an espresso machine 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.

Close up of an espresso machine steam wand being used to heat up milk in a metal milk frothing jug.

 

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.

Stay caffeinated!