How to make coffee in a Moka Pot, the Italian coffee maker
The Italian coffee maker, also known as Moka Pot, is probably the most popular coffee maker as it is the one most of us first saw at our grandparents' house. With a very basic operation that does not present any difficulty in its preparation and handling, it is capable of flooding the entire space with the pleasant aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
We agree that it may not be the fastest method of preparing coffee, however, along with the drip method, it is one of those that allow you to live a complete experience in making quality coffee at home, which begins with the grinding of the grains.
Although it is a very simple method, you have to pay attention to some small details that are very important to be able to extract all the characteristics that the coffee that we have selected offers us and not ruin our preparation.
A little history
The Italian coffee maker, also popularly known as greca or macchinetta (in Spanish "little machine"), is a coffee maker whose operating principle consists of passing boiled water pressurized by steam to the upper part of the coffee maker.
The invention was patented in Italy by the inventor Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, whose company, Bialetti continues to produce the same model (named "Moka Express") and the moka pot has become one of the staples of Italian culture.
Initially appearing in Italy, the moka pot is nowadays particularly popular in Europe and Latin America due to its ease of use and maintenance. It has become an iconic design, appearing in industrial art and design museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Science Museum in London.
We can find different sizes of coffee machines with which we can prepare from one to eighteen cups (50 ml). The original design, like several current models, was made of aluminum with Bakelite handles, due to its good thermal resistance.
Do you want to learn how to make coffee in an Italian coffee maker?
Well, the first thing to do, in the event that the coffee maker is assembled, is to open it by unscrewing the two parts that make it up. The next thing is to fill the lower container with water almost to a little below the level of the safety valve. Some people comment that it is better to preheat the water and not add it cold. We sincerely believe that beyond the temperature of the water, what will determine the quality of the coffee is the variety we have chosen, as well as the thickness of the grind.
On this lower container, we insert the funnel-shaped metal filter, add the ground coffee to the filter and close it tightly by screwing it back firmly to the base. At this point, there are people who completely fill the filter where the ground coffee rests and others prefer lower amounts. This is to everyone's taste and will depend on how intense the coffee we have selected is and on our particular taste.
Returning to the operation of the coffee maker, it should be noted that the valve will release pressure in the event that we have added more water to the container and in this way we will avoid scares (a possible explosion of the coffee maker).
Once the coffee maker is closed, we put it on a heat source (medium / medium-high) so that the water heats up to the boiling point, forming steam in the lower container. The steam reaches a high enough pressure to force the rest of the water to "go up" through the funnel, soaking the ground coffee that rests in the filter and thus ending up in the upper chamber, where the already liquid coffee accumulates.
When the lower container is almost empty, bubbles form that produce a characteristic "gargling" sound. We remove the moka pot from the heat source when the bubbling sound begins, thus preventing the lower container from drying out and the coffee from burning.
After having used it, we can see a fine residual oily layer of coffee inside the tube, in the filter and in the upper chamber. Some people recommend keeping this layer, as in many cases it prevents contact between the coffee and the aluminum wall, which can give the coffee a slight metallic taste. Others prefer to clean it to avoid an intensification of the bitter taste. Although we do not clean it thoroughly, we do remove the remains of the coffee grounds using hot or boiling water, especially avoiding the use of soap or detergents, thus maintaining the residual layer. At most, we pass a little kitchen paper through an area where the water has not dragged the remains of coffee.
This type of coffee maker requires the rubber seal to be replaced more or less periodically, as well as the filter, and to verify that the safety valve is not clogged. The frequency will depend on how many times a day we use the coffee maker and the quality of the coffee maker. In our case, we prepare coffee an average of three times a day and we change the rubber a couple of times a year approximately.
One detail to keep in mind is that if the rubber seal is new, it can slightly alter the flavor of the coffee. To avoid this, we suggest that you run the coffee maker a couple of times without coffee, with the sole purpose of eliminating the smell.
Variations and brands
Luckily we can find several brands in the market; most of them are usually made of aluminum. This allows various sources of heat to be used, from electric, gas or even wood or other combustion materials. With the appearance of induction hobs, they had to make an adaptation and today we can easily find specific models.
Characteristics of Moka Coffee
The flavor of the coffee from a Moka pot will depend fundamentally on the variety of grain, the thickness of the grind that we have used, the type of water that is used and the preparation time used. As we saw earlier, once the water in the lower container has evaporated and passed into the upper chamber, it is advisable to remove the coffee maker from the heat to prevent it from burning.
Mocha coffee vs. espresso and drip coffee
As always, it's all a matter of taste and personal preference. There are coffee growers who prefer an espresso-type preparation because of the speed, others because of the amount of drink, some even because of the temperature, and the fact is that an espresso can be consumed practically as soon as it has been prepared, unlike a preparation with mocha.
Espresso coffee has its characteristic flavor due to the fact that the water, at higher pressure, is in contact with the ground coffee for less time, so the result is a drink with a different intensity and body than that obtained from drip coffee machines or of filter.
There is an idea that espresso is a coffee with more caffeine, which, as we saw in an entry on our blog, is false, since in drip coffee, as the coffee spends more time in contact with the water, it is extracted a higher amount of caffeine. What we do recommend for those who dare to use the Italian coffee maker is that whenever you can regulate the coarseness of the grind, choose a medium / medium fine point, this in order to avoid fine residue or coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot.
We leave you the following video developed by Bialetti Peru who teaches us how to prepare a coffee with the Italian coffee maker and we see how simple it is.
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