The moka pot, also known as the "stovetop espresso maker," has been brewing quality coffee at home for decades. In fact, with its syrupy, velvety mouth feel and rich, encompassing flavor, coffee from moka pots is perfect to savor when you have a little more time and can just concentrate on that lovely nectar.
Here's how you can experience this pleasure (and be sure to click here for a step-by-step slide show)
While moka pots can look a little different from each other, they share the major elements in common. A base chamber, which holds the water; a funnel, which sits within the base chamber and holds the grounds; a filter held in place by a rubber gasket, and a top chamber, into which the coffee ultimately flows.
Water. Fill that base chamber with the best drinking water you have. Remember -- coffee is mostly water, and you shouldn't use anything you wouldn't drink by the glass as the key ingredient in your coffee. Filtered water, ideally by reverse osmosis, will help yield excellent coffee.
Fill the base chamber to just below the relief valve; any more than this, and you'll pre-saturate your ground beans. Don't worry that it won't make too much coffee; with this rich brew, you don't need as much.
Place the funnel unit into the water.
Grind your beans. Grind to something finer than drip -- but not too fine, or you'll create clogs. Espresso grind is much too fine. It may take a little trial and error to find your happy medium. See the slideshow for an up-close photo of the grind size. Eyeball it; you need just enough to loosely fill the funnel basket. Once you put the beans in, do not attempt to tamp them down. Just a nice, casual heap, administered by the patient spoonful.
This is actually one way in which the moka pot is a little easier than other methods: it's hard to add too much ground coffee; the size of the funnel basket pretty much guides you to exactly the right amount. Again, your biggest worry here is finding the right grind size.
After making sure that your filter is secured via the rubber gasket to the bottom of the top chamber, screw the top chamber onto the base.
Step five: put it on the stove over low heat. No need to rush; when that coffee comes out, you want it gently oozing, not screaming to get out. Overheating the moka pot may burn your coffee. Nice and steady is a good method here.
When you hear the top chamber start to sputter, you know the coffee is mere moments away. It'll fill up the chamber at a pretty good rate, even when "oozing" has been achieved; once the rate of coffee jumping into the chamber has slowed significantly, you're all done.
Pour into a favorite mug.
Fun variation: If you want to try Cuban style, take a metal cup and fill it with about one teaspoon of sugar per serving of coffee you're making. As the coffee in the moka pot begine to ooze (back in step six) quickly pour just enough to moisten the sugar into this separate cup, then place the moka pot back on the stove to finish brewing. While you wait, stir this coffee/sugar mixture into a paste. Once the moka pot has finished, pour the remaining coffee into the metal cup; the sugary paste should float on top of the coffee, creating a sort of foam known as an espumita. Serve in tiny cups.
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