Every morning when I get up, I make a pot of espresso for my husband and myself. My former roommate gave me this nice little stovetop espresso maker for Christmas a couple of years ago, and it is truly one of the best Christmas gifts I've ever received! <reminds self that the computer upon which this is being typed was also a Christmas gift...>
These little "moka pots" make pretty fabulous coffee in a few minutes' time. But mine came with no instructions whatsoever, and I had to scour the internet to find out how to make coffee in it!
So, to make perfect espresso in your cute little moka pot
, you must start with excellent coffee. I prefer Equal Exchange
coffees, with Cafe Campesino
being my next favorite. Beans that are specifically roasted for espresso make the best cup, with other dark-roasted beans being next on the list. I highly recommend buying whole-bean coffee and grinding it yourself for the freshest cup of coffee.
So you need a coffee grinder
. Burr grinders are best, but if you have a blade grinder, that will work too. (This really does
make a difference in the taste of your coffee.) Set your grinder to the "espresso" or "fine" setting, or if your grinder only has one setting, grind the hell out of those beans so they're ground as fine as possible.
Unscrew the top part of your moka pot and remove the little coffee basket from the bottom part. Fill the bottom chamber with water, just up to the level of the valve on the side of this chamber. I recommend using softened or bottled water. Your coffee maker will last longer, and the flavor of the coffee will be so much better.
This little valve....
...is also visible on the inside. This photo sucks, but you can see that the water is just touching the valve.
Drop the coffee basket into its spot on top of the lower chamber.
Dry off the rim of the bottom chamber first if necessary - your goal is to have a perfect seal with no water or coffee grounds to muck it up.
Fill the basket with your finely ground coffee. I use a deep-welled measuring spoon for this. Again, you want to try not to get coffee grounds on the edges where your seal will be. You don't have to tamp the grounds down hard like you do with the big commercial espresso makers - I just press them down a bit with the back of my spoon as I put in each spoonful.
Now screw the upper chamber onto the lower one. You want this tight but not too tight. Once a friend of mine was visiting us and he got up early and made coffee before the rest of us were up. He put the pot together so tightly that none of us could get it open for weeks, until finally a friend who is a mechanic and has amazingly strong hands showed up! On mine, I know it's right because the valve and the handle are lined up. You may have to experiment a bit.
Set the pot on your stovetop burner and turn it to the setting/flame height that would give you a "high simmer" - my electric burners have settings all the way to "10" and I put it on "8". You don't want the water to boil too quickly, but you do want it to boil. When the water begins to boil, it will expand as it turns into steam, which will pressurize the lower chamber and force the steam up through the coffee grounds and into the upper chamber, where it will condense again into beautiful, rich espresso. Stay close by - you don't want your lower chamber to boil dry! You'll know it's done when the sound changes as the coffee spilling into the upper chamber begins to spurt and sputter. Remove it from the burner right away and pour immediately. Ideally you want to get your espresso and milk combined within 10 seconds.
You don't get to see the lovely crema in this pour, but it was present in the pot.
We prefer just adding cold half-and-half to our coffee, but if you like the steamed milk experience of a latte, feel free to heat your milk or half-and-half in a small saucepan. (To make sure it's just right, use a thermometer and heat it to 150-160°F.)
If you have a guest who doesn't like espresso, you can heat some water to almost-boiling and add it to the espresso in equal parts, to come up with the "Americano" drink sold in coffee shops. It's close in strength to regular drip coffee, but more tasty.
My moka pot makes 6 shots, and sometimes there's not enough people drinking coffee to finish it all. I save the extra to use in cooking. Once it's cool enough to put in the fridge, put the leftover coffee in the fridge to cool further. Then when it's good and cold, pour it into a canning jar and store it in the freezer. You can keep adding to this jar as long as you chill the coffee well before adding it.