HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change.
For many of us, grabbing our favorite coffee drink was once an essential part of our morning routine. Whether you drink your coffee black or prefer a more complicated concoction, having that warm cup in hand can be a reassuring way to start the day.
However, getting out each morning isn’t as possible as it once was, as most of us are sheltering in place or social distancing due to COVID-19.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and tutorials out there to help you sharpen your home barista skills. As you’ll see in this chart, almost every drink you would find in a coffee shop is made up of two things: espresso and milk. For example, a latte is about one-third espresso and two-thirds steamed milk, while a macchiato is primarily espresso with just a dollop of foamed milk.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade or just beginning on your home-coffee journey, you can find several different options for making espresso, lattes, cappuccinos and more at home with equipment that fits your budget and skill set.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to make good espresso shots and drinks at home:
Don’t settle for anything less than fresh espresso beans
hedgehog94 via Getty Images
Any barista or home-brewer extraordinaire will tell you that the most important factor in any good coffee drink is fresh, high-quality beans.
Look for beans at your local roaster or coffee shop for peak freshness. If stores near you are closed, check online: Many coffee roasting companies like Blue Bottle and Dark Matter Coffee are still shipping beans, sometimes with discounted shipping costs. If you’re not sure which beans to buy, many places roast beans and make blends specifically for espressos and espresso drinks.
How fresh is fresh? Try using beans within two to four weeks from the roast date.
Get yourself a good burr grinder
Making an espresso is a little bit art and a little bit science. However, nothing impacts your success more than how well your coffee is ground up.
You can spend some big money on a really nice coffee grinder, but the most important thing is to look for a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder. This will ensure a nice, consistent grind without random chunks of coffee bean floating around. If you’re making espresso for a drink like a latte, cappuccino or americano, try to find a grinder that will let you finely grind your coffee. Check out this article with photos for an idea of how to grind your coffee for different drinks and applications.
Not sure you’re ready to invest? Many roasters will grind up your beans for you — just don’t forget to specify you’ll be using your coffee for espresso.
For an affordable option, try out the versatile Moka pot
SolStock via Getty Images
It’s easy to make espresso on the stove with a classic Italian Moka pot. All you need is your pot, coffee and water — no electricity or fancy machines required. An added bonus? The Moka pot is small enough to take camping or fit in your tiny studio apartment. All you need is a stove or hot plate to heat it up.
If you’ve never used an Aeropress before, it may look intimidating. However, the Aeropress is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to make a truly tasty cup of coffee in about two minutes max. All you need is hot water.
Plus, with a little bit of experimenting, you can use the Aeropress to make an improvised espresso on which to build your favorite drink. Check out this Aeropress espresso guide to start out.
Different drinks may require you to treat milk differently. For example, lattes typically use steamed milk, while cappuccinos use frothed milk. The main difference is consistency: Steamed milk is smoother (and suited for latte art!), while frothed milk is lighter and quite foamy.
If you’re serious about refining your home barista skills and willing to invest, there are several home espresso machines to choose from.
First, make a list of what you want your espresso machine to do and what features you can live without. For example, do you want to grind your coffee beans separately, or do you prefer the machine does all the hard work? Do you want it to have a steaming wand, or would that be a bonus?
For beginners, check out the Breville Bambino Plus. This machine will help you make your favorite espresso drinks at home without taking up too much counter space. We also recommend this guide on pulling the perfect espresso shot and steaming milk with a machine.
Once you master the basics of creating an espresso drink, feel free to experiment with different flavors and syrups.
If you’re making a mocha at home, you’re going to need some good chocolate syrup. If lattes are more your speed, you can find caramel, vanilla, chocolate (or really, any other flavor) to brighten up your drink. Ultimately, it comes down to what tastes best to you.