AeroPress vs Espresso Machine: A Brewing Comparison

By Evelina •  Updated: 05/16/22 •  11 min read

When comparing different brewing methods, we usually compare the manual coffee makers together and the espresso machines together.

However, when we talk about espresso, there are plenty of ways to make it – from a Moka pot to an actual espresso machine.

The truth is that it’s not common to see coffee enthusiasts using AeroPress to make espresso. But is it possible? Today we’ll explore the differences between Espresso Machines and AeroPress, and see if the AeroPress can be used to make espresso coffee.

How The AeroPress Works?

AeroPress coffee

The AeroPress uses force with the help of the plunger to push the water through the coffee grounds. This allows for a very quick brewing process, usually around 1-2 minutes.

It comes in 4 main parts – the plunger, the chamber, the filter cap, and the seal. The chamber is where basically the magic happens.

You put your coffee grounds in there, and then you pour hot water over it. After stirring for around 10 seconds, you put the plunger on top and start pressing.

The mixture will be pressed through the filter cap and into your cup, creating a concentrated coffee.

Suggested Read: AeroPress Brewing Guide

AeroPress vs Espresso Machine Differences

DifferencesAeroPressEspresso Machine
Grind SizeMedium - FineFine
Taste Less IntenseStronger/ More Concentrated
Pressure0.5 bars 9-15 bars (depending on the machine)
Water Temperature195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, but can go as low as 175.195-205 degrees Fahrenheit
Cleaning and MaintenanceSimpleMore Complex (descaling, etc)
TampingNo Yes
Cost30$Can start from 70-80$ and can go up to a million dollars.

You can probably guess that there are many notable differences between these two brewing methods and you are right.

When you think about it, the process of making coffee with an AeroPress sounds a little bit old-fashioned when compared to an espresso maker.

So, let’s take a closer look at the main differences between these two brewing methods.

1. Grind Size

Hello to our little old friend – the grind size. Just like with every other brewing method, the grind size will have a big impact on the taste of your coffee.

Even the brewing time will be affected. For espresso, you will need to use finely ground coffee beans, almost like powder. This is because the water will be pushed through the coffee very quickly and with a lot of pressure.

On the other hand, for AeroPress, you will need a medium-fine grind. This happens because the brewing process is much slower, and also if you used a coarser grind size you will end with coffee particles floating in your cup.

Important: Avoid using pre-ground coffee beans for the AeroPress (and even Espresso machines). It will be very difficult to get a consistent grind size, and your coffee will probably taste bad. If you don’t have a grinder at home, you can always use a mortar and pestle or a blender to grind them.

Read Also: AeroPress Tips And Tricks For Better Coffee

2. Taste

Taste is the most important factor for everyone that wants to make espresso at home. After all, that’s the main reason why people invest in an espresso machine in the first place.

Since the AeroPress isn’t able to produce the same pressure like an espresso machine, the coffee that it makes will have a different taste.

It will be less intense and have a more delicate flavor, which is not exactly how espresso should taste like.

But, keep in mind that we talk about espresso made with an AeroPress, so don’t judge it too harshly. It’s still a great way to make espresso, it’s just different.

On the other hand, we don’t have to say a lot of things about the espresso machine. It will always produce a great-tasting espresso, as long as you use good quality coffee and you know how to operate the machine.

3. Pressure

As we’ve mentioned before, the AeroPress can’t produce the same pressure like an espresso machine. In fact, it’s not even close.

A typical AeroPress can produce roughly 0.5 bars of pressure, while an espresso machine can go up to 15 bars.

This difference is quite significant and it’s one of the main reasons why you can’t get a real espresso with an AeroPress.

You can see this on the crema produced by each coffee maker. The AeroPress produces a very light crema, while the espresso machine produces a thick and creamy one.

There are always ways to make a better crema with the AeroPress, but it’s never going to be as good as the one produced by an espresso machine.

4. Water Temperature

boiling water for coffee

For water temperature, both require the same range for optimum extraction.

The general rule of thumb is to use water that’s between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the ideal temperature to create a balance between bitterness and acidity.

Important: For AeroPress, you can go as low as 175 degrees and still get a decent cup of coffee. In fact, it’s more forgiving when it comes to water temperature. So, if you don’t have a thermometer handy, just make sure the water is hot but not boiling.

5. Cleaning and Maintenance

You can guess here who takes a point.

The AeroPress is very easy to clean and you can even do it without any tools. Just remove all the parts and rinse them with warm water and soap.

Espresso machines require a more thorough cleaning. The machine is more complicated and larger than the AeroPress and there are more parts to it, so proper cleaning is important.

Descaling is also something you need to do with an espresso machine. This is the process of removing minerals that can build up over time and affect the quality of your coffee, or even break the machine.

A quick tip to clean your AeroPress: Use vinegar to remove any smells or coffee residue. Just let all the parts soak in vinegar for a few minutes and then rinse them with water.

6. The Tamping Process

AeroPress vs espresso machine

This is very important for espresso but unnecessary for AeroPress. Tamping your coffee grounds before brewing is important to get a consistent coffee extraction.

If you don’t tamp your coffee, the water will flow through the grounds too quickly and will result in a weaker cup with no crema. Tamping compresses the coffee so that the water flows through evenly and doesn’t create any channels.

You don’t need to do this with the AeroPress since you mix the water with the coffee grounds together inside the chamber. This is one of the reasons that you can’t have a real espresso with the AeroPress since you can’t tamp the coffee.

So, this is a point for the espresso machine!

7. Cost

Last but not least is the cost.

The AeroPress is a lot cheaper than an espresso machine. A typical espresso machine can cost you a few hundred dollars, while AeroPress costs less than $30.

Then you have all kinds of manual, semi-automatic, and automatic espresso machines that are out there, making the choices almost unlimited.

Of course, the price of the coffee beans and other factors such as electricity will also play a role in the overall cost. But, if we want to only cover the first initial investment, AeroPress is definitely the winner.

Read Also: Best AeroPress Coffee Makers

How to Make Espresso Coffee Using The AeroPress

Make Espresso Coffee Using The AeroPress

If you still want to try and make the best straight espresso taste brewed coffee with your AeroPress, here’s what you actually need to know.

It All Comes Down to the Beans

If you want to make espresso you need to buy the proper coffee beans for the job. You need to get a very dark roast coffee that has been roasted for espresso.

Dark roasts have a bitter flavor that blends well with the sweetness of the crema.

There are many different brands and blends of espresso beans, so you’ll have to experiment to find the one that you like the best.

Get a Grinder

You also need to get a good grinder because you need to grind your beans very fine for this one. Yes, I know I said that you need a medium-fine grind size for the AeroPress but in this case, you need to go even finer.

We need to treat the brewing process as if we’re making real espresso, with a real espresso machine.

What About Tamping?

If you think about it there aren’t many ways to tamp your coffee grounds when using the AeroPress.

The only way to do it is after you added your coffee inside the chamber, place the plunger on top and then apply pressure to tamp it down.

It’s not the ideal way to do it, but it works.

Brew At Espresso Water Temperatures

This is a no-brainer. If we want to make espresso, we need to brew at espresso temperatures. That means that we need to get the water to around 195- 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best way to do this is to boil your water and then let it sit for about 30-45 seconds before starting the brewing process.

How Much Coffee Should You Use?

Normally, for every 200 grams of water, you will need around 15-18 grams of coffee, but in this case, you need to use more coffee.

The reason is that we want a very strong cup of coffee, and we also want to make sure that we get the desired amount of crema.

So, for every 200 grams of water, you should use around 20-22 grams of coffee. You understand that this will result in a very concentrated cup of coffee.

Start The Brewing

The brewing process is the same as the regular AeroPress method, so go ahead add water and press the plunger slowly until all the coffee has gone through.

Once you’re done, you can already see that there is more crema on top of your coffee. The taste will also be more intense, and you might want to add some sugar to balance it out.

All in all, the espresso coffee that you make with your AeroPress won’t be exactly like the one you get from a machine, but it’s pretty darn close!

Frequently Asked Questions

espresso-style coffee with AeroPress

Does AeroPress Taste Like Espresso?

No, it tastes less intense. An AeroPress makes a coffee that is less acidic and has a lower caffeine content than espresso. It also has a more subtle flavor. Some people prefer AeroPress coffee to espresso because they find it smoother and easier to drink.

Is AeroPress as Good as an Espresso Machine?

No, an AeroPress doesn’t produce the same level of quality as an espresso machine. However, it is a cheaper alternative and can produce a decent cup of coffee.

Is AeroPress Grind The Same as Espresso?

The grind size for AeroPress coffee is similar to espresso but slightly coarser. For espresso, you want a very fine grind so that water won’t flow through the coffee too quickly. A coarser grind is better for AeroPress because you’ll be using less pressure and force overall to brew the coffee.

Espresso is a Miracle of Chemistry in a Cup

The quote for this article is espresso is a miracle of chemistry in a cup, and for a good reason!

Espresso is coffee in its purest form. It is a concentrated shot of coffee that has been brewed under pressure, resulting in higher caffeine content than your typical cup of joe.

The chemistry and overall science behind it remind us that there is more to this world than just what we can see with our eyes.

I hope you now have a better understanding of the differences between AeroPress and espresso. If you want to learn more about coffee, check out our related articles below!

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Evelina

Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.