5 Simple Ways to Make Your Espresso Taste Like Starbucks

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Last Updated on June 11, 2021

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

starbucks espresso machine

There are very few people that don’t love Starbucks. Yes, there are a few out there, but for the most part, if offered Starbucks, most people will say, “yes please!” 

The problem with Starbucks, and really any coffee shop for that matter, is the price. Espresso drinks are pricey. If you are looking for ways to save money, one of the easiest options is to cut out your morning Starbucks run, and make your own coffee. 

The problem – coffee at home just doesn’t taste the same. Oh and it seems like a difficult task to make an espresso drink, just like Starbucks.

Well, never fear. We’ve done the research, and have come up with five simple ways that you can make espresso at home taste just like your favorite treats from Starbucks, at a fraction of the price.

1. The Starbucks Espresso Machine

Mastrena

Here’s the thing, you’re not going to get the same machine that Starbucks uses, for your home. In 1999, the Starbucks corporation worked with the thiny Swiss company Thermoplan to develop an espresso machine exclusively for Starbucks. The result was the Thermoplan Mastrena high performance espresso machine. 

The Mastrena espresso machine is a high pressure machine that has a built-in bean grinder. This machine is designed specifically for high output and is commercial grade. You won’t find this machine for sale to the public, and even if you did, the price tag would shock most of us. These machines cost between $17,500 and $40,000 depending on the needs of the particular Starbucks location.

2. Tools of the Trade. What You Need for Starbucks Tasting Espresso At Home

Espresso

Ok, so you can’t buy a Mastrena espresso machine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your favorite Starbucks coffee at home. Here are the tools that you need to invest in, to get Starbucks style coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Espresso machine

Yes, you are going to want to invest in an espresso machine. You can’t get an espresso based drink using drip coffee. The good thing is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a good espresso machine. A couple of things to look for when shopping for an espresso machine. 

You want one that has high pressure, created by a pump or by steam. And you want a milk steamer/frother attachment for that steamed milk for lattes, cappuccinos and macchiatos. An espresso machine that grinds beans for each drink is a great bonus, but may cost you more.

Whole bean coffee

Skip the pre-ground coffee. It doesn’t taste nearly as good. And select an espresso roast or other dark roast for the best taste.

Coffee grinder

Fresh beans are best. If your espresso machine doesn’t grind beans, invest in a countertop grinder. Burr grinders are the best.

Filtered water

Water is really important. We suggest you use filtered water if your tap water has a flavor.

3. How to Make that Starbucks Taste at Home?

Espresso

Now that you know what you need to make a Starbuck knock-off at home, you’re ready to get started. However, before we need to share with you some details about making coffee so that you’ll enjoy the end result, and stick to your commitment to make coffee at home.

There are four factors that will make or break your espresso at home. Let’s break them down.

Roast

Different levels of roasting make different tastes with your coffee beans. As does the type of coffee that is the base. If you find that dark roast beans are too much for your tastes, do experiment with other roast levels.

Grind

Remember that part about fresh is best? Well if you want the best tasting espresso, grind your own beans, and make sure to use a fine ground coffee.

Water Temperature

You have to have hot (not boiling) water to make a great espresso. Hot water releases the oils and flavors of the beans. If your water is just warm, your espresso will be mostly brown water. On the other hand, if you use boiling water, your coffee is likely to be “burned” and will taste bitter.

Pressure

Look for a machine that creates at least 9 bars of pressure. Pressure is essential for creating that intense flavor that comes in espresso. If you don’t have pressure, all you really end up with is coffee.

4. The Bean Secret

White Ceramic Mug on Brown Wooden Table

The most important key to getting your at home espresso drinks to taste like Starbucks is to use the same kind of beans as Starbucks

Their standard Espresso Roast is the base for most of their espresso drinks. It is a medium-dark blend so it doesn’t have quite as robust a flavor as a dark roast blend.

The Starbucks blend is a mix of beans from all over the world, selected and blended for the rich caramel and slightly sweet flavor. This bold flavor is essential for creating a drink that doesn’t get hidden under the milk.

To be fair, if you want your espresso at home to taste like Starbucks, the easiest step you can take is to buy Starbucks beans. You can pick up a bag at your local Starbucks, or many grocery stores carry Starbucks brand beans.

5. 5 Easy Ways to Get the Starbucks Taste at Home

Close-up of Hand Holding Cappuccino
  1. 1
    Buy the Starbucks beans. They are a bit more expensive than other brands, but if you want the same taste, use the same beans.
  2. 2
    Grind your beans just before brewing. When grounds sit they start drying out, and losing their flavor. There’s even a big difference if you grind your beans the night before. A burr grinder will give you the best results.
  3. 3
    Don’t just eyeball the amount of grounds you need. Weigh the beans. Different types of beans from different regions create grounds that can vary in density, this can really impact the flavor of your espresso.
  4. 4
    For best results, do invest in the automatic espresso machine. If you want to have tasty espresso when you travel, try a Moka Pot or Aeropress as a nice, no electricity needed option.
  5. 5
    Your local Starbucks has a filtration system for their water. This means that for the best tasting espresso at home, you should also use clean, fresh and filtered water. You can buy filtered water, or use your refrigerator filtered water or invest in a filter pitcher.

Jim Bob

Author: Jim Bob

Final Thoughts

Making espresso can be a bit of a process. However, once you’ve practiced a few times, and you have the right equipment, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not that that hard. When you carefully consider your ingredients and tools, it is a piece of cake to make your favorite Starbucks espresso drink at home

And yes, a good espresso machine will help, but it isn’t necessary as long as you select good quality ingredients and remember that water and pressure are the keys to making espresso. If you know this particular fact then you’ll easily be able to master any espresso recipe.