If you have decided that buying espressos is racking up your coffee bill more than you would like, and would like to make your own, you need to know how a stovetop espresso maker works and how to use it. A stovetop espresso maker is known as a moka pot or a coffee percolator.
It’s a great way to make dark, rich coffee or espresso. It is also a cost-effective alternative to large espresso machines. Let's look at how does a stovetop espresso maker work.
What are stovetop espresso makers?
Introduced in Italy in 1933, stovetop moka pots were made by Alfonso Bialetti. To this day they are popular worldwide, particularly in Latin America and Europe. This is because these espresso makers make delicious and rich coffee. A top quality stovetop espresso maker uses an Italian safety valve, which ensures the percolator can endure the high pressure developed while brewing.
Stovetop espresso makers vs. machines
It is sometimes surprising how delicious an espresso made by a percolator tastes. Stovetop coffee makers produce tastier and richer coffee than a normal coffee machine. Stovetop makers are also lighter and smaller than machines and don’t use a lot of space on your counter or in your cupboard.
Stovetop espresso makers are also typically cheaper than big electric machines, and you only need a gas or electric stovetop to make a rich brew in your espresso maker, making them very convenient.
How do stovetop espresso makers work?
Coffee makers have three key sections. First, there’s a chamber at the bottom for the water. Secondly, there’s a funnel which holds your coffee grinds. And last, there’s a chamber on top which holds the brewed coffee.
How a stovetop coffee maker works is really simple. The water boils in the bottom chamber and makes steam. This steam creates pressure which pushes the hot water upwards through the funnel. The water moves through the grinds into the chamber at the top. The brewing water has a rich and bold coffee taste.
Stovetop espresso makers are available in many different sizes and shapes. These range from single serving makers to many cups. The most typical sizes are the 3, 6, and 9 cups. However, bear in mind that these are espresso cups, not normal coffee mugs.
So, you’re ready to have a try at making your own espresso? Follow this easy guide on making espresso with your stovetop espresso maker.
7 Steps for irresistible Italian-styled coffee
Step 1: Take apart your espresso maker
First, you need to take apart the moka pot into its 3 parts – the water chamber at the bottom, the coffee funnel in the middle, and the coffee chamber at the top.
Then, check that the silicon seal at the base of the coffee chamber has no kinks. This is to ensure it will seal properly.
Step 2: Fill the water chamber with water
Pour water into the bottom water chamber until it is just under the safety valve if you want Americano-style coffee. If you want a thicker, richer espresso, only fill the water chamber to around half way.
Tip: Never fill the water over the safety valve, which releases excess pressure if it gets too high. This may be because of blockage, and the valve reduces the possibility of an explosion for high pressure. Ensure that your stovetop espresso maker uses an Italian safety valve. Coffee makers that use cheaper valves can result in dangerous accidents.
Step 3: Put coffee grinds in the filter funnel
Add espresso grinds or medium or fine ground coffee to the filter funnel. Once filled, ensure the coffee grinds are level with the filter’s top.
Don’t compress the coffee grounds in the funnel as the water won’t flow through them. Compressing the coffee grounds can also create excess pressure in the water chamber. This can create a dangerous situation.
Step 4: Put your espresso maker back together
After filling the filter funnel, place the filter into the bottom water chamber and twist the top chamber onto the water chamber securely.
Step 5: Place on your stove top
Next, place your coffee maker onto your gas or electric stove on medium heat. Always ensure the handle does not touch the hot stovetop.
Step 6: When the coffee brews, turn down the heat
When you can hear the coffee emerging from the filter funnel, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it finish percolating.
Step 7: Your coffee is done
When you hear the gurgling stop and the top coffee chamber is filled with espresso, the coffee is done and ready to drink.
Cleaning your stovetop espresso maker
Once you are done making coffee, you need to clean the espresso maker. Cleaning your stovetop moka pot is vital for maintaining delicious tasting coffee. Most espresso makers are not dishwasher friendly, as this causes a salt-like build-up and the aluminum turns black and oxidizes.
The best method to clean a coffee percolator is with a hard sponge and warm water. It is said that as an espresso maker ages, it makes better tasting coffee. Using soap strips the conditioning your espresso maker gets over time. Detergents aren’t necessary or recommended.
While buying a takeaway espresso or Americano on your way to work may be more convenient, you can save money while learning a new skill to impress your friends by using your own espresso maker. And once you learn how they work, nothing could be easier.