This week, we're getting into coffee's fussy, high-strung Italian cousin: espresso, and the many things you can do with it. That, and how to make one without spending a few grand on a home espresso machine!

Special Equipment List

Moka Pot


Automatic Milk Frother


French Press

Various Ingredients

For Espresso Romano:

  • Lemon

  • Espresso

  • Sugar

For Americano:

  • Espresso (double shot)

  • Hot water

For Cappuccino:

  • Espresso (double shot)

  • Steamed milk

  • Foam (large layer)

For Latte:

  • Espresso

  • Steamed milk

  • Foam (small layer)

For Mocha:

  • Espresso (double shot)

  • Steamed milk

  • Chocolate sauce

For Cortado:

  • Espresso

  • Steamed milk

  • Dollop of foam

For Macchiato:

  • Espresso (double shot)

  • Foam

For Affogato:

  • Espresso (double shot)

  • Vanilla ice cream

Methods: Equipment

Moka Pot

  1. Unscrew the top chamber of the mocha pot and remove the brewing basket. Fill the basket to the top without pressing it down with a medium to fine grind of coffee.

  2. Fill the chamber below with hot water up to the valve and replace the filter basket over the top. Screw the brewing chamber on and you are ready to make some espresso. 

  3. Place the mocha pot directly on a stovetop or induction burner on medium to high heat. In 1-2 minutes the pressure and heat should build up in the chamber below and press its way up through the coffee, which will brew a single shot of espresso. 

  4. While it does not have the distinctive crema floating over the coffee, the mocha pot is the least expensive and most accessible way to make a cup of espresso at home.


  1. The brewing ratio should be 20g of finely ground coffee and 55g of nearly boiling water at about 205 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Again, there is no distinctive layer of crema floating over the coffee, but it is a decent shot of espresso.

The Flair

  1. This method uses a great illustration of how espresso is made with heat and pressure. In addition, it is a great example of how important grind size is and why you cannot use a blade grinder instead of a conical bur. 

  2. The grinds need to be consistent and a very specific size. If the grind is too coarse, all the extra space between the grinds lets the water pass through too quickly, which will leave you with a semi-strong cup of coffee instead of espresso. 

  3. Grind the coffee a little finer, but not too fine. If there is too little space between the grinds makes it almost impossible to press the coffee through and you’ll most likely break your machine before pulling a single decent shot. It will have the crema you are looking for, but not quite enough coffee.   

  4. This will be a matter of trial and error until you find the sweet spot. For Babish’s favorite method, take 16g of coffee that is ground between levels one and 1 and 2 on your grinder and tamped with about 20lbs of force. 

  5. Fill up the cylinder with 60mL of 200 degree Fahrenheit water and extract with about 35lbs of force. 

  6. For knowing how much pressure you are putting on the machine, you can use a bathroom scale. Press down on it without putting your entire body weight on it and the extraction should take about 35 seconds.

  7. A good espresso shot will separate into three parts with a thick creamy crema on top, a mysterious dark orange body below that that slowly disappears into the crema, and finally, the deep chocolate-y brown coffee underneath it all.

Automatic Milk Frother

  1. Add milk, hit the button, and in a few minutes, you will have some nice and hot foamy milk. 

  2. The machine produces a lot of foam and not that much steamed milk. This is great for some drinks like cappuccinos, but not great for others.

French Press

  1. Heat up the milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and pour directly into your french press. Froth the milk using the metal filter by jamming it up and down a few times. This will produce steamed milk and foam that much more closely resembles what you would get with a steam wand than most other at home solutions. 

  2. Swirl the milk, tap it on the counter, and let it rest for about 30 seconds. This will get rid of any larger bubbles and makes the foam nice and glossy.

Methods: Drinks

Espresso Romano

  1. Take your pre-made shot of espresso served with a little squeeze of lemon and a lemon wedge. This significantly increases the acidity of the coffee, so add a ½ tsp of sugar if needed.


  1. This is an approximation of American-style drip coffee by adding hot water to a double shot of espresso.


  1. This is a double shot of espresso and equal parts steamed milk and very frothy foam. Pour from up high to allow the steamed milk to mix with the coffee and then move closer while you get to the foam, which allows it to settle on top. The foam should be thick and form a clearly defined layer on top of the coffee.


  1. Similar to the cappuccino, pour from up high to allow the steamed milk to mix with the coffee and then move closer while you get to the foam, which allows it to settle on top. The foam should be very light and creamy and not too bubbly and frothy. There is a much less defined layer than with the cappuccino.


  1. Start with a double shot of espresso and add to it an equal amount of chocolate sauce. This is a similar deal to the latte with a whole lot of steamed milk and a little bit of foam. Top the drink off with some whipped cream, cocoa powder, chocolate drizzle, a cinnamon stick if desired.


  1. This is a single shot of espresso to which you will add an equal amount or more of steamed milk and topped with a little dollop of foam.


  1. This is a double shot of espresso with a big dot of foam on top.


  1. Take a single scoop or a few scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with a double shot of espresso.

Emilija Saxe