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How to Make The Perfect Espresso at Home

Updated on November 29, 2014

Use a stovetop espresso maker

The espresso machine is perhaps the best way to make a cappuccino, but you have to pay a very high price and deal with the complicated machine features.

In my opinion, this humble espresso aficionado, stovetop's espressos can match the great taste of those expensive espresso machines. Did you know that stovetops or moka pots are the most popular way to make cappuccinos in Italy?

So join me in the quest to make home-made espressos. I'll show you how to make café espresso using a stovetop. Goodbye Starbucks!

What's espresso anyway?

a.k.a. Cafe Espresso



“espresso ­is not a specific type of coffee bean, but rather a process of concentrating the flavors from finely ground coffee beans by a combination of hot water (not boiling) and pressure”

The key ingredients - Making a great espresso

1. Get the right stovetop

First things first

You need to buy a quality espresso pot such as a Bialetti, Lavazza, Cusinox, Bodum, etc. Did you know this stovetop is called Moka in Italy?

This is very important, the pot must be made of 18/10 stainless steel. I don't particularly recommend aluminum stove tops since there is the concern that aluminum is a toxic metal and can leach into the coffee while brewing.

In any case, I've had both types of coffee makers in the past and I like stainless steel's taste much better, no corrosion and they are prettier.

Stainless steel class

6 Cup Bialetti Classic Espresso with Gold Handle
6 Cup Bialetti Classic Espresso with Gold Handle
A design with simple and harmonious lines which is enhanced by the purity of the stainless steel, the elegance of the polished finish which combines with the functional and practical handle, in athermic material.

2. Get the right kind of coffee

Espresso Roast

This is, of course, the most important ingredient of all. You need to get quality espresso roast coffee. The fresher, the better. You can buy it at supermarkets, World Market, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Italian stores or specialized coffee shops.

The two main species of coffee plants are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is considered to be superior in flavor, whereas Robusta, is higher in caffeine and tastes much bitter and more acidic. So get Arabica coffee. Good blends are: 70% Arabica & 30% Robusta, or even better: 100% Arabica.

The better roasts come from Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Ethiopia or Java. You can get it either in beans or ground. Regular or Organic. The grind should not be coarse. One of the major factors in making a good espresso is coffee that is ground should be fine enough to pack into the stovetop's filter basket.

3. Use the right kind of water

There is no substitute for tasteless water

This is another key element to get the delicious espresso taste.

The preparation of espresso coffee is a soaking process. The coffee grounds are mixed with near-boiling water. The ideal brewing temperature is 92°C (198°F). The heat and minerals in the water work together to extract the flavor from the ground coffee beans. After a short steeping period, the grounds are strained out of the mix (via the pot filter), leaving what we know as coffee.

Water for coffee should be pure and odor free. You do not want your espresso taste to be altered by the water taste. So the best is to use filtered water, purified water or mineral water. Do not use tap water.

How do you get your Espresso fix?

See results

Let's make espresso! - Step by Step

1. Fill the espresso base with filtered water just below to valve as shown in the picture to the right.

Do not try speed up the preparation time by adding heated water, in fact cold water must be used

2. Insert the strainer into the base.

The water should not seep through the filter when you insert it.

If this happens the coffee will not brew properly and will have an unpleasant taste.

3. Fill the filter with espresso coffee but do not tamp the coffee ground.

Always use the maximum amount of coffee, but do not spill it over the rim. This way your espresso will have a fixed quantity of coffee and water every time to ensure consistent great taste.

4. Tightly screw the upper part onto the base, but make sure there is no coffee ground on the outside rim or on the threads.

If this happens the pot might not have enough pressure when brewing, thus the taste could be off.

5. Place the pot on the burner. If you have a flame burner, it will be easy to control. The burner should be on low heat, since the coffee will have more time to brew, thus the flavor will be much better. If the burner is too high the espresso will taste bitter and lack flavor.

6. As the coffee starts to brew, open the lid so the condensation water doesn't get into the coffee, otherwise it will dilute the fine taste of espresso.

Remove the espresso pot from the heat when the coffee is ready.

7. Drink it right away.

Enjoy its full flavor and aroma.

My favorite, the one I use

Bialetti Musa 4-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
Bialetti Musa 4-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
* Heavy gauge, 18-10 stainless steel body * Black rubberized handle and black knob * Stainless steel filter basket * Safety pressure release valve * Each cup equals 2 ounces

Now, let's make cappuccino - use a milk frother

Frothing Instructions:

1. Fill one third of a tall mug with milk and heat to 60°C (140°F).

2. Insert the frother's whisk into the milk close to the mug's base.

3. Switch on for 15-20 seconds moving the whisk slowly around the outside of the mug.

4. As the milk begins to thicken, raise the frother so that it's always just under the top of the froth.

5. Switch off the frother before removing it from the milk.

6. Now pour in the espresso, and enjoy!

courtesy Aerolatte

Make lattes the easy way

Aerolatte HIC Professional Milk Foamer with Counter Stand, The Original Steam-Free Frother, 9-Inches, 18/8 Stainless Steel
Aerolatte HIC Professional Milk Foamer with Counter Stand, The Original Steam-Free Frother, 9-Inches, 18/8 Stainless Steel
- For steam-free espresso and other milk drinks; comes with storage stand - Includes 18/8 stainless-steel whisk, powered by 2 installed AA batteries - Frother produces foam in 15-20 seconds for hot milk - To clean, operate the frother in hot, soapy water and rinse

My espresso doesn't taste good

Check this list out!

  • Get a high-quality stovetop or moka pot.
  • Use fresh and cold filtered water.
  • Fill up the bottom chamber with water just below the steam release valve.
  • Get fresh espresso roast, with high percentage of arabica blend.
  • Use finely ground coffee, just coarse enough not to go through the filter holes.
  • Use the right ratio of coffee to water. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a good cup.
  • Fill up the funnel filter with coffee without packing it.
  • Keep the heat burner low and under the pot. Brewing process must be slow.
  • Remove the stovetop from the heat as soon it starts gurgling.
  • Replace the rubber gasket, it may be dry and too old to be effective.
  • Clean the pot thoroughly with hot water every single time you use it.

This is what you shouldn't do

  • Do not have water seeping through the funnel filter.
  • Do not leave coffee grounds on the filter rim or bottom chamber's thread.
  • Do not let the water boil to brew the espresso, use low heat.
  • Do not use soap or detergent to clean the stovetop parts, just hot water.

Look at this cool gadget

Nespresso 3194-Us-Re Aeroccino and Milk Frother
Nespresso 3194-Us-Re Aeroccino and Milk Frother
Get consistent and accurate measurement of your favorite morning beverage everytime while keeping espresso coffee fresh with the clip! Dishwasher safe.

Connect to the source

Top of the line - If you can afford to make espresso this way, go for it!

Breville BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
Breville BES860XL Barista Express Espresso Machine with Grinder
"This machine is incredible. The quality is simply superb. I get an amazing shot of espresso with great crema every time. The filter holder for ground coffee is great. The weight is perfect and the feel is awesome. It froths great too. Cappuccinos, lattes, etc are easy with a great blast of steam!"

Cofee Drinks Illustrated

Cofee Drinks Illustrated
Cofee Drinks Illustrated

Are you getting an espresso stovetop? - Are you an espresso addict?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent lens. The best espresso making report I've seen up to now. Neat and informative leaves no room for questions. A+:=)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Can't drink it myself, but I have a friend that collects espresso machines--he's addicted to the stuff LOL. featured this lens on my coffee quest--really well done, and unusual information!

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 

      7 years ago

      I love expresso

    • profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 

      7 years ago

      Great lens with good information.

    • cineteq profile imageAUTHOR

      John Parr 

      7 years ago from Montreal

      @thomas-tetreault-9: I think your question is explained here:

      Thanks for dropping by!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Respectfully I need to ask how can water be heated above 100 Celsius without the application of pressure?

      Which presumably a stove top could not?

      Doesn't it sublimate to gas at that point? Otherwise I really appreciated the bar/psi ratio(something I have not seen before).

      It is true the failing of stove top machines is their inability to generate the pressure that creates the "crema" level of a world class cup!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice article. I never know this method to make espresso. I love esresso.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      To make a proper espresso the water must be forced through the coffee grounds at a pressure of approximately 9 bar/130 psi, while a stove top moka pot cannot deliver more than 1.5 bar/20 psi.

      The stove top also heats the water to above 100 degrees celsius, which is considered a "no-no" when it comes to espresso.

    • cineteq profile imageAUTHOR

      John Parr 

      8 years ago from Montreal

      Hi Brian, nice to hear it worked out for you as well. Cheers!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I'm definitely an espresso addict and tried the steps listed on your lens and made the best espresso I've had in a long time!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image


      8 years ago

      I didn't know there was such a thing as an espresso stovetop - they look handy and much more affordable than the big fancy espresso machines.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome! My Italian flatmates (three of them) just couldn't live without the espresso stovetop. We have 3 laying on the kitchen bench! :)

    • ChrisShaefer profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Lens,

      Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I really appreciate a publication like this that gives such thorough information. Two big thumbs up and a couple like votes for you!!! Please stop by and say hello on my lenses some time.



    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 

      8 years ago

      I have been thinking of getting one of these for a while...but my kitchen space is at such a premium.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i wanted to try a new recipe for chocolate frosting. i had no idea what was "espresso"? thank you for the information. jody

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We'll see if Santa delivers

    • profile image

      WayneDave LM 

      8 years ago

      Great tips and advice! Thanks a lot for sharing this lens, must have taken a lot of effort. Nice work.

    • cineteq profile imageAUTHOR

      John Parr 

      8 years ago from Montreal

      moka-pot no problem, thanks

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nice lens, I have a plan to pick your lens into my site. Can I? :)

      By the way, you can check another coffee brewing instruction from, the brewer is moka pot from Bialetti.

    • davidleetong lm profile image

      davidleetong lm 

      8 years ago

      I have to say, this is an excellent post, very informative.

      I have a lens about moka pots as well ( and even so, I picked up a tip or two on your lens.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      9 years ago

      I think I am now! Thank you for the education!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yes, yes I am. Nice lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Definitely an Espresso addict ha ha! Thanks for sharing this great Lens. Keep up the great work friend. Ryan: My Blog

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Coffee makes me happy..if it were a person it would probably give great hugs.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      For some years I've been using a Stainless steel Lavazza Carmencita (1979 model) stovetop and an ancient Greek handmill to make my coffee, and the results are brilliant..... but now i am a convert to the stunning hand operated PRESSO machine which takes the whole coffee ritual a step further. i still use the Carmencita for those days when nostalgia needs a top up.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very cool lens. Informative and fun. Thanks for sharing. Thumbs Up given.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      I am going to have to get on of these Espresso stovetops. We spend a lot of time away from home and this would be a wonderful thing to take along. Lenrolled to my latte and home coffee bean roasting lenses.

    • profile image

      mosaic lm 

      10 years ago

      I got an aluminum moka because they were much cheaper than stainless steel. It does corrode, however, and now I'm thinking about upgrading. I LOVE your link to the illustrated coffee drinks! Great find!!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      10 years ago from La Verne, CA

      No, because I have a machine that I have used for 6 years. I worked evenings so I always had lots of time for coffee in the morning. I like froth milk and sugar. The line drawing is nice. Is it your? I am thinking about using more hand drawn illustrations. I it makes a more personal lens. Thanks for visiting my lens. I am going to go back to the older lenses and do keyword searches for some needed updates.

    • profile image

      dc64 lm 

      11 years ago

      The way to my heart is through a good cup of coffee, and I'm in love with this lens. Great pictures, by the way, I can almost smell the coffee just by looking at them...

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      11 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Great lens! 5 * and lensrolled to my coffee-mugs lens.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Have 4 stovestops as Americans call `m two 4 cups one 6 cup and a tiny one for one cup. One Nespresso, one Lavazza espresso machine en filtercoffee machine and a cafetiere of course. I love the stovestops!

      Only downside to stove stops is the cleaning, to do that thouroughly its not the fastest shot of espresso to grab.

      Furthermore the quality of taste is entirely dependant on the kind of coffee you use if you follow the instructions.

      I`ll probably keep using them. The oldest one has been in active duty for 3 years and i only replaced the sealing rings a couple of times.

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      11 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Working godless hours in the film industry, you better know your coffee. You do, CT. 5*s and a caffeinated SquidAngel Blessing. :-)

    • profile image

      MattTaylor LM 

      11 years ago

      Hey Cinetech... I like the information you put on this lens. If you love espresso or cappuccino, it is so important to get it right... rated and lensrolled...


    • profile image

      drifter0658 lm 

      11 years ago

      Sold me........I am now going to find a Stovetop.....5*

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I liked this: It was well presented and one could learn to be a great coffee addict from learning from this information. In today's economical climate it is useful information

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Oh I wish I had seen this lens at the beginning of December when I was struggling to think of gift ideas for my Hubby for his Birthday as well as Christmas!


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