Tag Archives: moka

How to Make Espresso in a Moka Coffeemaker



    • Boiler
    • Basket
    • Chamber


What You’ll Need:

  • Coffee ground to espresso setting or slightly coarser
  • Dish towel or oven mitt
  • Kettle or electric water boiler



Step One: Boiling (optional but strongly recommended)

Boil water
Boil enough water to fill the Moka Pot boiler up to its release valve. Starting with boiled water is beneficial to the extraction process – it limits the possibility of burning the coffee grounds, which produces off-flavors. But it is not wrong to just fill the Moka Pot boiler straight away with water of any temperature, it will just take slightly longer for the water to get to steaming temperature inside the mechanism. IF YOU USE PRE-BOILED WATER, THE OUTSIDE OF THE BOILER WILL BE VERY HOT. USE A DISH TOWEL OR OVEN MITT FOR ALL CONTACT WITH THE BOILER.

Step Two: Filling the Boiler

Fill boiler with water up to, but not beyond, the midway point of the release valve
Fill the Moka Pot boiler up to the midway point of its release valve, but no higher, with pre-boiled water. Overfilling will cause displaced water to leach into the basket containing the coffee grounds, water-logging them when the object is to extract solely through steam passing through the grounds. The water-log caused by overfilling will lead to off-flavors and an imbalanced extraction.

Step Three: Loading the Grounds

Moka 017Fill basket with coffee grounds, level out, and place inside the boiler
Fill the basket with coffee of your choice, ground to an espresso setting or just slightly coarser. You want the volume of the basket to be filled evenly. Once you’ve scooped enough coffee grounds to fill the chamber, lightly level out the surface of the coffee so it is flush with the lip of the basket. DO NOT TAMP THE COFFEE! The Moka Pot is equipped to withhold only a moderate amount of pressure, and tamping the coffee grounds can impede the movement of steam from the boiler through the basket and into the chamber. This will cause an uneven extraction at least, and at worst the results can be, literally, explosive. So just brush off the excess grounds, wipe away any that are clinging to the outside surface of the basket as well, and place the basket into its snug resting place inside the boiler.

Step Four: Closing the System

Screw chamber onto boiler until just tight – then give an extra quarter turn
Screw on the chamber until just tight, then screw another quarter rotation to firm up its connection to the boiler to avoid any pressure leaks. Remember the outside of the boiler will be hot if you’ve used pre-boiled water, so hold only with a dish towel or oven mitt. Once the chamber is screwed on, be sure to pop open the lid so you can monitor the upcoming action!

Step Five: Heating

Put your Moka Pot on medium-low heat
Place your Moka Pot on the stove-top and heat on medium-low. Be mindful of the placement of the handle, which is plastic – accidentally melting this is a tragic sensory compromise that strongly overshadows the coffee aroma you were hoping for, and the burnt plastic smell will linger in your kitchen for hours or even days. I always turn the handle to the outside of the burner.

Step Six: Extracting

Moka 016Watch Your Coffee!
As the water in the boiler turns to steam, pressure forces it to rise up into the basket. It continues through the basket, extracting vitamins, oils, caffeine, and all the flavors that are soluble at that temperature range from the coffee grounds. It rises into the small, dual-opening channel within the chamber, recondensed into liquid form as coffee!

The extraction occurs in a few stages: the first bit of coffee that escapes into the chamber is typically a bubbly, light-hazel honey colored foam. Quickly after this first spurt, the coffee will begin to stream through both openings, running down the channel in the chamber as a thin, cherry-dark, syrupy ink with a thoughtful constancy. Coffee will stream through like this and at this pace for almost the entire extraction process. As the extraction nears its end, the coffee begins to thin significantly and become pale, almost straw-colored.

Step Seven: Stop Extraction

Remove Moka Pot from heat, run boiler under cold water to halt extraction
Learning when to stop the extraction is the true art of the Moka Pot. The extraction will continue until all of the water from the boiler has passed through the grounds into the chamber. But the flavors change dramatically toward the end of the process, and knowing what taste profile you desire will inform how long you allow the coffee to extract. As a general rule, cutting your extraction short, as the coffee is still prominently dark and streaming, before or just as it becomes light in color and puffing bubbles through the channel, will produce a rich, robust, concentrated drink. BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED: THE EXTRACTION WILL NOT STOP JUST BY REMOVING THE MOKA POT FROM HEAT. To stop extraction, you must cool the boiler rapidly. I blast the bottom of the pot – the boiler component – under cold water for 5 seconds or so, until coffee stops passing through into the chamber. For more pure volume, you can allow the extraction to go longer, knowing that the tail of the extraction period is pulling less and different soluble components out of the beans. This will water down the overall flavor of your drink and can produce a less delicate, balanced tone in your coffee. Whichever way you choose, enjoy your drink!

Moka 015

Making the Perfect Espresso Read more

Components:   What You’ll Need: Coffee ground to espresso setting or slightly coarser Dish towel or oven mitt Kettle or electric water boiler   Method: Step One: ...

Drinking In Italy

Moka 019

It’s hard to contribute to a blog entitled “La Dolce Vita” (The Sweet Life) at a time when life actually feels quite bitter. The Coronavirus pandemic has levied incalculable hardship, despair, and uncertainty on such a broad scale, altering our individual psyches and the safety of entire nations. For the housing insecure, shelter in place order cannot easily be met; for the food insecure, grocery essentials and group meal resources are scarce; for the immuno-compromised and elderly, every human interaction carries great risk. Health and safety precautions have been meted out, landing us in quarantine. And yet, despite the closure of standard commerce, this is a time of great work. That is, there is challenging, creative, and necessary work to do with and for those who are most vulnerable at this time, whether by encouraging local governments to open vacant hotel rooms, providing food goods to shelters and community centers, or by maintaining physically distanced emotional and social connection with loved ones. It is also a time for self work, and for many, there has indeed been a lot of time. Exercising our mental and emotional wellbeing is a constant effort and is of utmost importance regardless of circumstance – at this time, we happen to be facing more as a more collective unit these challenges that we often grapple with in isolation.

The increased time spent at home has significantly restructured the paces and routines of our daily lives. For many, without the constancy of our jobs, time may feel it has folded upon itself and expanded in size. This is, in fact, a blessing – a resource we can utilize for greater work, both unto others and for ourselves. We have greater opportunity for unmitigated introspection, deep thought, and reflection. I have revisited memories through emotional recall, searching my mental rolodex for the soft, satiny, warm-glowing experiences of my life to buoy the current turbulence. Often, I find myself returning to the spray of wind biking Umbria’s rolling hillscapes, preparing a soffrito at Chef Simone’s restaurant in the quiet hours between late-departing lunch patrons and late-arriving dinner guests, the tip-of-the-tongue, tingly adventurousness of accompanying an Italian host on a seemingly straightforward errand only to find yourself in a fully unexpected and delightful series of cascading circumstances, often including free beverages and new friends made. I am saturated with the feeling of Umbria, my breath is enriched, my heart beats slower and more fully, my taste buds begin to salivate. I experience relief, gratitude, excitement, tranquility. For me, this is the happy place people tell you to think about in times of distress. In quarantine, I have discovered a tool that without fail allows me to remember these times spent in Umbria, re-center, and find some emotional sovereignty: the Moka Pot.

Moka 015I have never entered a home in Umbria without being offered un caffe by its resident. Most homes now have a Keurig or Nespresso machine that makes a concentrated shot out of a pre-packaged pod. Every home has a moka pot, or more typically several of varying size. The moka pot is an iconic Italian totem, an understated and finely elegant machine of great utility and exceptional function. The octagonal-designed stainless steel is ubiquitous there, and even to those here who’ve never seen it before, its shape and structure suggest it as innately Italian and absolutely coffee-related. The moka pot is my twice (sometimes thrice) daily ritual. Everything that goes into making coffee in the moka pot – the deliberate and structured pacing, the emblematic design and Bialetti logoman, the finger-smoothing of the grounds in the brew basket, the rich expression of color and movement as the coffee percolates, the essential smell of thoroughly extracted coffee – returns me to my experiences in Umbria. The roughly 10 minutes I spend in the morning getting water hot enough to steam through ground beans transports me in place and temporality to another country, and the few sumptuous sips I consume can extend my mental stay there throughout the rest of my day – or until I get the craving for another cup! And despite how good it tastes and what could easily be ascribed to a mild caffeine dependence, I insist that my drive to “bang a ‘spressy” in the morning is founded upon the ritual of it. I could get caffeinated from tea, or stoop so low as to reach for the fresh-brewed pot of “American coffee” in the carafe on the counter, right next to my beloved Bialetti. For me, such a simple thing as still having coffee in the morning – coffee the way I like it, the way I make it, to drink at my pace – builds an amount of certainty that helps soften and reframe the perilous situation we face. It is part of my self-work of preservation and comfort in tumultuous times, and it also illuminates the perspective of privilege from which I am able to be relatively safe in a time where great masses of people are not, the work for others that stands as an imperative. I endeavor to unbind my empathy, apply thoughtful circumspection, and generate actionable plans to help meet the needs of communities and individuals struggling through this global health crisis. There are few things like a good cup of coffee and plenty of time on your hands to help get work done.

Comfort through the ritual of a morning espresso Read more

It’s hard to contribute to a blog entitled “La Dolce Vita” (The Sweet Life) at a time when life actually feels quite ...