This is a quick tutorial on the stovetop espresso maker. It is also known as a Moka Pot and is sold under the name Bialetti. A stovetop espresso machine isn’t a true espresso machine, in that it can’t produce an espresso extraction with the same level of pressure as a true espresso machine. From the Wikipedia:
Moka pots differ from espresso machines in that they brew under substantially lower pressure – 1.5 bars rather than 9 bars – and use hotter water – a mix of boiling water and steam at above 100°C (rather than 92°-96° of espresso machines), similar to early steam brewing machines.
Moka pots are widely agreed to produce inferior quality brewing to espresso machines, due to brewing at excess heat and insufficient pressure, but are considerably cheaper and more convenient than espresso machines, and the quality of brew is prized and preferred by many over unpressurized brewing.
Despite those limitations it does a pretty good job of making coffee, especially if you are adding frothed or warmed milk. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Fill the bottom chamber with cold water. Stumptown Coffee advises pre-heating the water, so the coffee doesn’t cook on the stove. That may be a good idea if you use the large 6-cup Bialetti, but I found with the 3 cup maker, it made no difference to the taste and was more of a hassle. Try both ways and do whatever works best for you.
Fill the lower chamber of the Bialetti with water.
Step 2: Add ground coffee to the filter. There is some debate on how fine the grind should be. I use a grind that is finer than drip, but a little more coarse than an espresso grind. Do not pack the filter. Like regular espresso, I level the grinds with my finger and wipe off any loose grounds. Once the coffee is loaded into the filter, place in into the bottom chamber. or you could load the filter first and then add the ground coffee. Either way is fine.
Add ground coffee to filter.
Step 3: Twist the top and bottom chambers together until a tight seal is made. Failure to secure the two chambers fully could result in a failed brew and potential clean up mess.
Seal the top and and bottom chambers together.
Step 4: Place the stovetop maker onto the stove and turn on the heat. A low flame is enough to do the job. You could also take it outdoors with you and use a campfire.
Heat the Stovetop Espresso Maker
Step 5: When the coffee has completed the brew cycle and is in the top chamber, turn off the heat and serve the coffee. Below are some photos showing a brew cycle in progress. Ideally, you would want to keep the lid down during brewing.
Step 6: Allow your stovetop espresso maker time to cool before you break it down for cleaning. You don’t want to burn yourself.
Bialetti 6800 Moka Express 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker (Amazon.com product page)
Cafe Cubano – Learn how to use the Bialetti Stovetop Espresso Maker to make this classic Cuban style coffee drink.
The Story of the Bialetti Moka Express – The interesting history of the stovetop espresso maker.
Wikipedia – References on stovetop espresso machine brewing temperature and atmospheres of pressure data.
In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to two hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 600 coffee enthusiants. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.
Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at CriticalMAS.com which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and finance.