I'm just back from a trip to Europe, and while I was there I learned about a type of coffeemaker, totally new to me, that made such exceptionally delicious coffee that I couldn't wait to share it with my readers.
It's variously called a stovetop espresso maker, a moka pot, an espresso pot, or simply a macchinetta. It was invented by the Italian engineer Alphonso Bialetti in 1933, and Bialetti's company still makes the best known and most popular type of these coffeemakers.
Whatever you call them, these coffeemakers produce a rich, strong, espresso-style coffee that is ready in just 10 minutes. They are fairly common in Italy and neighboring countries, but much less known in the USA.
Warning: this is not a traditional American-style stovetop percolator in any way. The coffee you get out of these espresso pots is strong. Really strong. And it was the perfect medicine to conquer my jet lag, that's for sure. After downing just one cup of this glorious brew, you could have peeled me off the ceiling!
Needless to say I think I need to get myself one of these. And thankfully they are available on Amazon, so I'll share some links to typical examples of these coffeemakers right here:
A less expensive version, available in several sizes:
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
A slicker and more expensive 4-cup version here:
Bialetti Musa 4-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker
Here's a different brand, although it's bit more expensive:
VeV Vigano Vespress Nero Espresso Maker
* Full disclosure: as always, if you enter Amazon via a link on my blog and buy something, I will receive a small affiliate fee. There is no extra cost to you. Please think of it as my "tip jar"--and thanks so much to readers for your support!
If you're interested in more detail on how the moka pot works, I've posted a series of photos below with an explanation of how to use this coffeemaker. I've also included an amusing conversation I had with a friend I was visiting in Slovenia which is typical of how I ask dumb questions and am easily confused by very simple things.
Here are the three main parts of the coffeemaker: the water reservoir (center), the filter basket (right), and the coffee pot itself (left):
Fill the water reservoir with cold water, up to the pressure release valve on the side. Then place the filter basket on top...
....and fill it with grounds. Generally, you'll want to use an espresso or turkish grind coffee (meaning extremely fine, powdery grounds) with these coffee makers, but you don't need to--I made one pot using with a large-grind hazelnut coffee and found that the coffee still came out delicious.
Then, take the upper chamber and screw it firmly on to the lower chamber.
Set it on the stovetop, turn the burner on high, and then go do something else for ten minutes or so. When you come back, you'll have amazing coffee waiting for you!
And here's essentially how my conversation with my friend went:
Me: Wait! How will I know when it's done?
My Slovene Friend: You will know. [Smiles mysteriously and then leaves for work, leaving me both confused and in a state of near-enlightenment]
Note that it's not that big a secret. You can just tell, by the different sound the pot makes, when all of the water has boiled out of the lower chamber and the coffee is ready.
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