How to Make Espresso

There are two basic ways to make espresso, or traditional Italian coffee: with an espresso machine, or by using an Italian Moka coffee pot. Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods:

How to make espresso using an Italian Moka pot

Moka pots are designed for stovetop use. To make espresso using a Moka, fill the lower chamber with water and top with finely ground coffee. When the water begins to boil, sufficient pressure is produced to push water through the grounds and move espresso into the upper chamber.


  • Never let coffee boil; remove from heat as soon as coffee reaches the top chamber
  • Avoid using chlorinated water
  • Fill coffee grounds loosely; never pack or compress

Making espresso using an espresso machine

Similar to a pour-over drip coffee pot, most espresso machines operate by pouring water into a reservoir, adding grounds, and then brewing. To properly extract the flavor from the coffee grounds, espresso machines produce pressure either with a pump or with steam.


  • Never pack or compress coffee grounds
  • Make sure the grounds are evenly distributed
  • If it takes longer than 25 seconds to brew, water isn’t moving through the grounds quickly enough; adjust to a coarser grind
  • If your shot is fast (less than 20 seconds), adjust to a finer grind

Traditional Italian espresso is served as-is, or topped with whipped cream or foamed milk. When you learn to make a great-tasting espresso, not only will you enjoy traditional Italian coffee at its finest, you’ll also have a foundation for creating specialty Italian beverages, such as cappuccino and latte.

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