Conventional espresso machines can be intimidating for home users, with their jets of superheated steam, and they’re often inconveniently large. Tiny Italian moka pots, such as Bialetti’s Moka Express, are an appealing alternative. They’re often referred to as “stovetop espresso makers,” which isn’t quite correct, but the end result is similar enough to work beautifully in your favorite espresso drinks.
Your Moka Express is a simple piece of equipment. As water heats in the bottom of the pot, it’s forced up through a funnel containing coffee grounds, through a finely perforated filter, and up the central spout into your coffee pot. Before you use the pot, unscrew the top half from the bottom and wash it with hot, soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly, then make and discard three to four pots of coffee to remove any lingering off-tastes from the manufacturing process.
You’ll see a safety overflow valve on the bottom half of the Bialetti. Fill the bottom half of the pot with cold water, up to the level of the valve, then drop in the funnel. Fill the funnel with medium- to coarse-ground coffee — not the fine espresso grind — and screw the pot back together, to finger-tightness. Put the pot over a medium burner and wait. After a few minutes coffee will begin to sputter and gurgle up the central chimney spout. As the pot fills, listen for the sound to change. When the coffee’s nearly done, a fine brown foam, the “crema,” will come from the spout. At this point, remove your Moka from the heat. Stir the coffee briefly, then pour it into demitasse cups.
References and ResourcesBialetti: Moka Express
Espresso Planet: Stove Top Espresso Maker Instructions Manual