Saturday, 20 April 2013

Making Espresso

I enjoy drinking caffé latte. Although I don't like paying the Starbucks prices, I do admit I indulge from time to time. With a registered Starbucks card, I used to be able to get free flavourings in my lattes but recently they discontinued that perk so I have been more-or-less boycotting Starbucks.

I own an electric espresso maker - the kind you put water in the reservoir and on one setting, it makes the espresso and on another setting, it steams and foams the milk. It's a bit of a pain to use and clean and the cat chewed the rubber foamer doohickey. Although I have replaced the rubber foamer doohickey, I have relegated the device to the basement due to a lack of counter space.

The other day I was noodling around on the Internet and came across a video on how to make espresso with one of the stovetop makers also called a Moka.
I have always loved the look of these things but never knew how to use them.  A friend of mine had one and I always thought it looked so exotic. After watching a couple of videos I realized how easy it was to use the Moka and knew I had to have one.

I bought one the next day for a mere $9.99 at a local kitchen store. I bought the 3 cup size and it's perfect for me to make one latte. They also come in 4 cup, 6 cup, 9 cup and 12 cup sizes.

This Moka is the traditional Italian style even though it was made in China. Bialetti is a good Italian brand but is 3 times the cost of the Chinese one I purchased. I has 3 main parts: the bottom water reservoir with a steam valve, the basket for the coffee grounds, and the top with the handle and lid.
If you look under the top, you can see the threading for attaching it to the bottom reservoir and also the white rubber sealing ring. A spare ring came with mine but it appears to be the same size as a rubber ring one would use to seal a Mason jar.
Here's a better look at the steam valve from the outside.
First, you fill the reservoir with water to just below the steam valve where I have indicated with the light blue line. It was recommended that previously-boiled, filtered or distilled water be used to avoid scale building up or for better taste so I just use water that's left in my kettle.
Then you drop the basket in and add a couple of tablespoons of coffee. Any type of coffee is fine as long as it's espresso grind. I use decaf. Don't tamp the coffee down or over-fill because the steam needs to work its way through the coffee grounds and they will expand.
Then screw the top securely onto the bottom. You might even hear the rubber ring squeak a bit. Turn the smaller burner on the stove on medium heat and set the Moka on it with the handle facing out and not over the burner (or flame if using a gas stove). The handle is plastic and will burn if allowed to heat up too much.
Within a couple of minutes, the espresso will start bubbling up into the top and when you start hearing the gurgling, it means the reservoir is empty and you should remove the Moka from the stove.

While the coffee is being made, you can heat the milk in the microwave. I use a tall latte mug and fill it about half-full and nuke the milk for a minute. I bought a battery operated frother for $8 at Canadian Tire (a national hardware and automotive store) and use it to froth the hot (but not boiled) milk. Once the coffee is ready, I just pour it into the latte mug and begin sipping away. The total time is about 5 minutes.

If you heat and froth the milk in a separate container, you can pour the coffee into the latte mug first and then add the milk and make cool designs in the top of the coffee.

To clean the Moka, let it cool down first! Then unscrew the top from the base and dump the basket into your kitchen composter or garbage. Knock out the grounds and rinse all the pieces and leave to dry. It's SO easy! Some say not to use detergent but to just rinse out the container. Others say to use detergent every few uses. It's up to you. Make sure it is well dried before putting it away. It hardly takes up any room in the cupboard - about the size of a mug. Yay! (I don't have a lot of cupboard space)

What's the difference between a caffè latte and a cappuccino? Latte is hot milk with an espresso shot or about 2/3 milk and 1/3 espresso and is served in a larger cup or mug. Cappuccino is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam and is served in a medium-sized cup (6 oz or so) and an expresso is served in the little espresso or demi-tasse cups.

I have since purchased a 12 cup Moka for when we have company.

I love learning new stuff from the Internet!


  1. This was my dad's coffee pot so whenever I see it I think of him. I must see if I still have it.

  2. This was fascinating...thanks Geri!

    I make foamy milk in a Bodum milk frother and add it to my regular coffee......with a bit of maple Canadian milky coffee recipe!