Brewing Guide to Stove-Top Espresso Makers
Stove-top espresso makers (also referred to as espresso or moka pots) are a simple and affordable way to brew espresso style coffee at home or on your travels.
A stove-top uses steam pressure to brew a strong coffee with some of the characteristics of espresso, such as: added texture, viscosity and flavour. Therefore they make a great alternative if you don’t want the expense of, or don’t have the space for, a genuine espresso machine.
1. Pre-heat the Cups: Pre-heat the cups by filling them with hot water.
Tip – Small volumes of liquid lose heat quickly. To keep your espresso hot you should serve it in pre-heated cups.
2. Fill Water Tank: Fill the water tank with freshly drawn cold water to just below the level of the pressure safety valve.
Tip – It’s worth investing in a water filter such as a Britta jug. It will rid your water of alkalines which can make your water taste funny and reduce the taste of your coffee
3. Add Coffee to Filter Funnel: Place the filter funnel on top of the water tank and fill with ground coffee until it’s level with the top of the filter basket. The coffee should be ground medium-fine (like demerara sugar) with the largest particles approximately 1mm in length.
Be careful when filling to ensuring that no coffee grounds get on the rim or screw thread of the water tank. Do not tamp (pack) the coffee as it needs room to expand during the brewing process.
Tip – A useful measure for the correct coarseness is the holes found in filter basket. The majority of the grounds should be larger in diameter than one of these holes.
Don’t use espresso grind. This is designed for espresso machines which work under much higher pressure.
4. Reassemble: Screw the upper part to the water tank as tightly as you can without using the handle for extra leverage.
5. Place on Heat: Put the stove-top espresso maker on a medium heat source. If using gas, make sure the flames do not exceed the base of the water tank. If using electric, make sure the handle isn’t directly over the hob.
It should take between 3-4 minutes from the moment you turn on the heat until the coffee starts pouring into the upper part. If the coffee comes through quicker, try lowering the heat next time. If the coffee comes through slower, try raising the heat.
If you have an electric hob that takes a while to warm up, you made need to turn on the hob for a few minutes prior to putting the espresso maker on it.
Tip – Small stove-top espresso makers can be unstable on gas rings, as they are too small for the pan supports. This can easily be resolved by using a gas ring reducer.
6. Remove from Heat: As soon as the coffee starts pouring through at a steady flow, remove from the heat.
7. Serve Immediately: Once the flow of coffee has stopped, serve immediately. Don’t leave it in the pot, as it will continue to heat the coffee turning it bitter.
Tip – If you’re sharing the coffee, you may wish to stir it before serving. This is because the final few drops of coffee when brewing will be weaker than the first few drips.
Feel free to steam some milk separately, for a slightly more decadent and less strong flavour.