Espresso is a central part of so many delicious coffee recipes. But if you don’t have an espresso machine, you might wonder if you can use the equipment you already have. Can you make pour-over espresso, and how close will it be to regular espresso?
We’re here to answer those questions! The answer is yes, you can make something similar to espresso using a pour-over coffee maker, and we’ll show you how. With a few tweaks, you’ll be enjoying strong, delicious coffee before you know it.
What’s a pour-over coffee maker?
Pour-over brewers are typically cone-shaped coffee makers that hold paper filters. To brew with them, you place the cone on top of a mug or carafe and add a filter, then pour in coffee grounds. The name comes from the brewing process, which involves pouring hot water over the grounds. The water flows through the beans and into your cup, turning into coffee along the way.
Can you make espresso using a pour-over?
You can make a version of espresso using pour-over brewers, but it won’t be quite the same as true espresso. Espresso machines use a combination of hot water, high pressure, and tightly packed coffee grounds to produce a very distinctive form of coffee. True espresso has three parts: the crema, the body, and the heart. The crema is the foamy, golden layer you find at the top of your shot. The body is the second layer, a caramel-colored section just below the crema. And at the bottom is the heart, a strong, syrupy layer that comes out first and contains some of the more bitter flavors.
When you make espresso with something other than an espresso machine, you won’t see these three layers. Instead, you’ll get a concentrated cup of brewed coffee. It will still be delicious, but you’ll miss some of the complex, bitter flavors of an espresso shot. With that said, let’s start brewing!
How to Make Pour Over Espresso
- Paper filter
- Coffee cup
- 8.5 grams dark roast coffee beans
- 3 ounces filtered water
- Grind your coffee beans. We’re using a 1:10 coffee to water ratio for this recipe, so you’ll need to measure a very small amount of coffee. Use about 1.7 teaspoons of coffee per 3 ounces of water.
- Fold the edge of your paper filter and put it in the brewer. Then add the freshly ground coffee beans. Place the brewer on top of your coffee cup.
- Boil your water. You want it at around 200 Fahrenheit for the best flavor. Use a gooseneck kettle if you have one!
- Pour a small amount of hot water over your grounds. Wait a few seconds, and then pour in the rest. For the best flavor, make small circles with the water, covering all of the coffee equally.
- Once your coffee finishes draining into the cup, remove the brewer and discard the grounds and filter. Enjoy your pour-over espresso plain or with a little sugar or cream!
Pour Over Espresso Brewing Tips
Your pour-over espresso isn’t going to be exactly like espresso, as we covered, but there are a few ways you can make it more similar! Here are a few quick tips.
Coffee to Water Ratio
One of the main ways to make your coffee stronger is to adjust the coffee to water ratio. The classic V60 coffee to water ratio is 1:16, so to approximate espresso, we want to increase that ratio. True espresso uses a 1:2 coffee to water ratio, which is a big difference. That ratio works in an espresso machine, which pushes water through the beans very quickly, but won’t work as well in a pour-over, where the water lingers as it drips through. That’s why we’re increasing the amount of coffee but not too much.
To make 3 ounces (85 grams) of regular V60 coffee, we would use 0.18 ounces or 5 grams of coffee beans. To make 3 ounces (85 grams) of V60 espresso, we’re increasing that to 8.5 grams of coffee, or a 1:10 coffee to water ratio.
If you’re using a different pour-over brewer, try increasing the number of coffee beans a little and see how it comes out! You can also try grinding your beans a little finer than usual.
Brewing More Than One Shot
Espresso shots are typically only 1 to 1.5 ounces, so approximating espresso can require you to worth with a very small amount of water and coffee. That’s why it can be easier to make a larger batch at once — if you can drink it, of course. You’ll be able to measure using your usual coffee tools and won’t have to mess around with teaspoons. Why not invite over a few friends to sample your batch of pour-over espresso? You can also freeze leftover coffee into delicious coffee ice cubes.
We hope this guide helps you understand what you can — and can’t — accomplish with your pour-over equipment. You can make a decent pour-over espresso pretty quickly, though it won’t really hold a candle to a great espresso machine. Brewers like the Chemex and the Hario V60 can produce excellent, complex coffee with great depth of flavor. Even better, they can make strong coffee that approximates the rich flavor of a shot of espresso! Enjoy your coffee.