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How to Make Espresso With a Drip Coffee Maker

How to make espresso in a drip coffee maker

If you love espresso but don’t own an espresso machine, don’t despair! You can still enjoy a rich shot of bold espresso using a coffee machine you probably do own: a simple drip coffee maker. We’re going to show you how and answer all of your questions about espresso and drip coffee.

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How Close to Espresso Will it Be?

Making espresso in a drip coffee maker can be a challenge. For your brew to be called espresso, it needs to be a concentrated amount of bold coffee. To achieve this, you need a good amount of pressure to force water through fine grounds. Drip coffee makers normally don’t function this way. They have a higher flow rate but lower water pressure than a proper espresso machine. You also won’t get the crema that an espresso machine creates. This is why your result won’t be authentic espresso — though it will still be delicious.

To create your best version of espresso, modify your brewing method. It also doesn’t hurt to use a drip coffee brewer with a “concentrate” brew setting. For example, Ninja makes a few models with this handy function.

Espresso in a Drip Machine – 3 Simple Steps:

1. Pour in and tamp coffee grounds.

Pour in and tamp espresso grounds

Put one heaping tablespoon of fine to medium-fine coffee grounds into the coffee filter. Press the grounds down, to help with the pressure during the brewing process. It isn’t going to be officially like tamping, but it will help the process.

2. Add water.

How to make espresso in a drip coffee maker

Pour about two ounces of warm water into the water reservoir.

3. Start brewing!

Café Bustelo espresso in drip coffee maker

Now it’s time to press “Brew” and wait. If you have the option of selecting “Concentrate Brew,” do that instead. Enjoy!

RELATED READ: We also recently wrote a step-by-step guide on brewing Café Bustelo with your drip coffee maker. Worth checking out for some inspiration.

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Modifications to Make it Work

What modifications do you need to make to brew high-quality espresso in a simple drip coffee machine? Here are a few tips to improve your brew:

1. Adjust the amount of water.

You want to use less water than you would normally. The best proportion for brewing espresso in a coffee maker will be about two ounces of filtered water per tablespoon of ground coffee.

Not quite right? You can experiment and adjust the proportions until your espresso is perfect. The final proportion you use is up to you and your coffee preferences.

2. The grind is important.

You don’t want it too coarse, because that will let water percolate through the grounds too easily, which results in a brew that’s not rich in flavors and sometimes weak. On the other hand, if the grind is too fine, the brew will take longer and the coffee will come out bitter. No one wants that! Normally fine grind is best for espresso, but when brewing it in a coffee maker, a medium-fine grind works well.

Espresso made in a drip coffee machine

3. Pay attention to the water temperature.

The filtered water used to brew espresso in a coffee maker might need to be warm when it’s filled to reach the right temperature during brewing. As we mentioned, drip coffee makers don’t always reach the correct temperature needed to brew espresso. Using warm water will help because the machine will heat it more during brewing.

According to the National Coffee Association, you want your water between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit so that it gets the best flavors as it goes through the grounds.

4. Use bold coffee or espresso blends.

Looking for the robust flavor of true espresso? Try using a bold coffee blend. Some examples of blends that are good for espresso are all dark roasts, like Italian, French, or Espresso. However, you are free to use any roast of coffee you like.

Maybe you love light roasts, which make pretty impressive espressos. Or maybe you tried a flavorful medium roast and you want to taste a concentrated version of it. This is the perfect opportunity! Another suggestion is to use Vietnamese coffee or Bustelo coffee. These are international ground coffees that have a very strong taste.

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If you only own a drip coffee maker but still love espresso, this is the method to use at home to get what you love from the equipment you own. While this method works well, you may want to upgrade to an espresso machine for the full experience.

It might not be truly authentic espresso, but it’s still a strong brew to get you through your day. Try this method to see if it works for your coffee lifestyle!



Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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