You need a good espresso machine and know how to use stovetop espresso pot if you want to make a really good cup of espresso at home, but most of us can’t afford one, and unfortunately, some of the espresso machines made for home use make really bad coffee.
Nevertheless, most Italians make their morning espresso with a stovetop coffeemaker called a moka , first produced by the Bialetti company in 1933.
Steam pressure is used to force water through coffee grounds and into a separate serving chamber. The machines are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to operate, and quickly produce a great cup of coffee. This type of pot works best on a gas stove; aluminum pots won’t work on induction stoves, and electric burners are too difficult to control.
Technically, it is not the same as espresso because it is made with a much lower pressure than a professional espresso machine, but if you use a good-quality coffee ground to the proper grind for moka pots (which is a medium grind, not as fine as for an espresso machine), it will produce excellent results, even with a little crema on top of the coveted layer of light foam on top of a well-made cup of espresso.
Step-By-Step How To Use Stovetop Espresso Pot
- A cup of rich espresso can be made in about 10 minutes by following a few simple steps.
- You will need to remove the top half of the moka pot, remove the filter basket, and fill the lower section with water until you reach the bottom of the round safety valve (you should be able to see this inside the water chamber).
- Place the filter basket on top of the bottom half of the pot.
- Filter the medium-grind coffee into the filter basket. Ensure that the top of the coffee filter is level with the coffee itself. To make the surface level, gently pat it with the back of a spoon or your fingers, but do not tamp it down tightly (that would create too much pressure and cause hot coffee to spray everywhere).
- You will be able to screw on the top half of the filter basket without any obstruction if you run your finger around the perimeter of the filter basket to remove any stray coffee grinds.
- Make sure the upper section is straight before screwing it on tightly.
- Over a brisk flame that is not larger than the diameter of the bottom of the pot, place it on the stove. You might need to use a stove top heat diffuser to tame the flame if you do not have a small-enough burner.
- Turn off the flame as soon as the coffee begins to emerge (you will hear it gurgle and bubble out). Let the rest of the coffee percolate through slowly.
- When only steam emerges from the spout after the upper section is full, the coffee is ready.
Tips and Variations
In order to make espresso, the type of coffee you use and the size of the grind are extremely important. You must use coffee that’s been roasted specifically for espresso and that has been ground to a medium grind. Most American/Northern European drip coffee (even espresso blends) will not work because they are not ground to the right consistency and contain too many bitter oils. A good espresso to try is Illy medium-grind espresso, which is designed for use in moka pots. Silver-and-red cylinders are available, as well as whole beans that you can grind yourself.
The milk-foaming mug by Frabosk is perfect for making a caffè macchiato (espresso shot with a touch of foamed milk) or cappuccino using your moka pot. A ceramic version (for use in a microwave) and a metal version (for use on a stove top) are available.
In the ceramic version, you simply heat the milk (for about 45 seconds, and on the stove top, just until it is hot) and then pump the milk-foaming attachment vigorously for about 20 seconds until it forms a thick and velvety foam. To make the foam denser, give the bottom of the mug a sharp tap on the counter to break up any larger bubbles, and let it sit for 1 minute before adding it to the coffee. In the same way, a French-press coffee maker can be used to foam milk. In case you need recommendation for best stovetop espresso maker, we have list for it.