Over the past few years, I feel like my quest for the perfect cup of espresso has been a real journey. There are tons of high tech coffee-making gadgets, but what really changed the game for me has been the classic stovetop espresso maker, particularly the Bialetti Moka stovetop espresso coffee maker.
It seems that stovetop espresso makers are a blend of tradition, simplicity and authentic espresso flavour. I learnt about them from a friend of my mums, who is Italian (I always trust Italians when it comes to coffee).
The Bialetti Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker
It really doesn’t matter what year it currently is, the Bialetti Moka is always going to be my favourite stovetop espresso maker for making my espresso based drinks – oat milk latte being my top choice.
Get To Know The Moka
Way back in the 1930s, an Italian engineer, Alfonso Bialetti, had a vision to simplify and I guess revolutionise the way Italians made their espresso at home. At that time, espresso was primarily brewed using large, complicated machines found in coffee bars. Alfonso’s goal was to bring the coffee bar experience to every Italian household.
Alfonso Bialetti designed and patented the first stovetop coffee maker in 1933 known as the Moka Express. It consists of three parts: the bottom chamber for water, a middle chamber for ground coffee, and an upper chamber to collect the brewed coffee.
These chambers are meticulously fitted to create a pressure-driven brewing process that mimics the results of a larger and more complex espresso machine. The simplicity of this design makes it user-friendly and easy to assemble.
It literally feels like a mini science experiment everytime I’m making my espresso.
You also can’t miss the unique octagonal base design, which isn’t just for aesthetics. It actually plays a crucial role in ensuring even heat distribution during the brewing process.
The handle of the Moka and the knob on the lid is heat-resistant which means you’re less likely to risk any burns when pouring your coffee and makes it easier to grip for smooth assembly and disassembly.
You can choose from a range of sizes to suit your needs – I have the Bialetti Moka Express Aluminium Stovetop Coffee Maker (2 Cup) which I personally think equates to a double shot of espresso.
As well as the classic aluminium which I have, you can find versions in stainless steel for durability, and even compatible options for induction stoves.
How To Brew Your Espresso
For best results, start by filling the bottom chamber with cold water, up to the safety valve; the little silver “switch” on the lower chamber.
Add finely ground coffee (specifically for espresso / moka pots) to the filter basket, levelling it off but without packing it down. The amount of coffee you use can be adjusted to your taste, so you can experiment with that to find the perfect flavour for you.
Reassemble the Moka by reattaching the filter basket, securing the top tightly, and placing it on the stovetop over medium heat. When I’ve had the heat too high, I’ve ended up ‘burning’ the coffee so have a little patience.
As the water in the bottom chamber heats up, it begins to create steam. This steam, under pressure, pushes through the coffee grounds in the filter basket, extracting the flavours and aromas from the ground coffee beans. The pressure build-up is a crucial aspect of the Moka’s brewing process, as it is responsible for creating the intense and robust flavour associated with espresso.
The brewed espresso then rises through the tube in the middle of the Moka and is collected in the top chamber. It literally takes just a few minutes to complete the whole process and pretty much feels like magic.
You can experiment with the grind and amount of coffee to adjust the taste. If you prefer a milder flavour, try a coarser grind and less coffee; for a stronger, richer brew, opt for a finer grind and a slightly larger amount of coffee. And remember not to use hot water.
Taking Care Of Your Bialetti Moka
As well as being super easy to brew your stovetop espresso the Bialetti Moka is super user friendly with minimal maintenance requirements.
After each use, I undo my Moka and rinse all the parts with warm water and no detergent. I leave them to dry next to the sink and that’s job done. I have noticed over time, there is a build up of coffee oils and residue, but this can be resolved by soaking the parts in a mixture of water and baking soda every now and again.
You might find that eventually certain components can wear out but you can get replacement or spare parts easily. These include gaskets, funnels, and safety valves, allowing you to extend the life of your Moka without having to replace the entire unit.
Follow this simple advice and your Bialetti Moka will literally last you for years!
Versatility For Coffee Lovers
Of course the Bialetti Moka is designed to brew espresso, but I reserve my straight espresso shot drinking for before long weekend bike rides, but you can of course make so many different espresso-based drinks.
You can easily create lattes, cappuccinos, Americanos, and other coffee concoctions usually just down to the amount of milk you use and how you heat your milk (e.g steamed milk, frothed milk)
In the Summer, I let my espresso cool down and then add it to a large ice cube tray ready to make iced lattes to keep me cool.
Since I’ve learnt how to nail good coffee at home, I barely ever buy coffee out unless I have to. A keep-cup and my Bialetti Moka is all I need if I need to leave the house. As well as being easy to use, it’s also such an affordable way to make my favourite coffee.
Got any other tips for making stovetop espresso?