A Skeptical Cup of Coffee

2017-04-03

I can enjoy a good cup of Joe from time to time

You can say that I am a bit of a fan of coffee, it’s been an interest and hobby of mine for some time now. I don’t do Keurig coffee, or even own a drip coffee pot, but I have collected many apparatuses for making the rich bitter tonic that helps so many get through the day. I have come to find that, like cooking, I find some “Zen” when making coffee. The process and involvement makes it taste that much better. But I digress, today I will show you my process in making a good cup of Joe using an apparatus called the Moka Pot.

The Moka Pot or a macchinetta is a coffee making device invented in the 1930’s in Italy by Luigi De Ponti. Its operation is relatively simple where water in the boiler is forced up by steam pressure to go through a funnel filled with coffee which percolates through a filter and fills the top chamber. This is best seen by the animated image seen below. More info on history and inner workings can be found over on the Wikipedia page.

How-I make Coffee

As a word of caution, this is not necessarily meant to be a “How-To” but more of a “How-I” make this, though a “how-to” knowledge can be gained by this and I hope you all get the opportunity to try this out.

For the process of preparing a Moka Pot, first I bring some water to a boil, though I have read that the quality of the water makes some subtle differences to the taste of coffee, I don’t go that deep into the rabbit hole when it comes to making my coffee. Pre-boiling your water is an optional step, though I do have my reason for doing so. If starting with cold water in the boiler, it takes much longer for the water to come to a boil, and during that heating-up process, the grinds in the funnel heat up with the pot over a longer period of time. This does make the extraction noticeably more bitter and burnt tasting, which is why I avoid making it like this.

All coffee is better with freshly ground beans

I am not all that picky when it comes to beans, I favor a good medium, to medium-dark roast, but what I never do is buy pre-ground beans. Freshly ground coffee makes a big difference when making any coffee. The size of the grind is a big contributor to the taste and texture of any good cup of coffee. A good coffee grinder helps to achieve this and what is most recommended is a decent burr grinder. For the Moka Pot, a super fine grind is not necessary, I found that something in-between espresso and filter coffee is just about right.

20-22 grams is what is recommended to be added to the funnel for this pot. I found that for the grind size that I use, it just about fills the funnel. I don’t normally use a scale, but it’s helpful for demonstration purposes. The grinds should not be tampered like a normal espresso, that will cause the base to over-pressurize and coffee will not flow correctly to the top chamber. Though there are some methods that utilize a light tamp, I usually don’t.

Once the water is brought to a boil the base is filled just under the pressure device. The funnel is placed carefully into the base and the top half is screwed onto the base. The base gets pretty warm because of the hot water. I use a clean dry cloth to hold the base in order to prevent burning my hands in the process. Then I place the whole apparatus onto the burner on the stove at medium-high to high heat. On a flame stove, I wouldn’t use more than a medium flame. Now it’s just a short wait to let the magic happen.

You can hear an audible boiling just before you see a trickle of coffee start to come out of the spout of the Moka Pot.

The flow should be maintained at a slow trickle, I maintain this by controlling the heat. Soon after the coffee starts coming out I take some optional steps that I have found make a huge impact to flavor. After a short but steady flow of coffee from the base, I remove it from the heat source. Coffee will continue to flow up. When a there is a noticeable change in the color of coffee coming out (it gets lighter in color) I gently steep the base into an ice bath. This stops the boiling process and the flow of coffee from the base. The majority of the coffee has been extracted and the rest will just water down the coffee in the top chamber. And that’s it! This rich extraction can be enjoyed as is. Its strong, but has some pronounced sweet notes, almost like a bitter dark chocolate.

Some Extras!

This brew can be enjoyed easily with or without cream, sugar or any other extras, but I decided I wanted to add some frothy mix to it. I used a combination of 1/3 half-half cream and 2/3 almond milk. There has to be some fat content (the milk) in order to get some foaming action. I used the steamer in my espresso machine to achieve this, but another way of achieving a decent foamy like cream is to take some milk or half-half and nuke it for a good bit in the microwave. After steaming the milk long enough to get relatively warm, I place the end of the steamer to just above the surface of the milk to aerate it. It adds a nice, pleasurable frothiness to it that can be put on top of the mix.


Steam and Foam


Pour and Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making, writing about and drinking this coffee.

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Comments

  • Rawwr

    The Breville Grinder is great.

    April 3, 2017 at 12:42 PM
    • SkepticNerdGuy Rawwr

      worth every penny, at least 100 lbs of coffee has gone through it.

      April 4, 2017 at 3:30 AM
  • Markonius Porkbutte

    This looks like a pretty dope cup of coffee.

    April 3, 2017 at 2:30 PM
    • SkepticNerdGuy Markonius Porkbutte

      I’ll make you one next time your in town.

      April 3, 2017 at 3:56 PM
      • wookybear SkepticNerdGuy

        Might need to get an editor to proof-read you are comments.

        April 3, 2017 at 6:36 PM
        • SkepticNerdGuy wookybear

          yep, I’m pretty terribad. I would blame my phone, but it wasn’t.

          April 4, 2017 at 2:53 AM
  • wookybear

    Also that animation just makes me think of tubgirl. Thanks for that btw.

    April 3, 2017 at 6:37 PM
    • Kael Decadence wookybear

      Do I want to know what tub girl is?

      April 5, 2017 at 12:48 AM
  • Caleb Ayrania

    A writing well worth the wait! Thanks for that coffee geekness!

    April 3, 2017 at 7:57 PM
  • Thomas Hagan

    I love it! Great read!

    April 4, 2017 at 3:33 AM
  • Xenuria

    “I don’t do Keurig coffee” Shame…. Green Mountain is the shit man. Until I have had coffee I can’t focus enough to do all the stuff you do to make your cup. lol

    April 4, 2017 at 11:40 AM
  • Anonymous

    Interesting article, as a coffee geek Myself it makes me want to write a rebuttal article about the problems with this brewing method; then put forth the way I brew. As well as the fact that good beans make a huge difference, but I am glad you at least dealt with the problem of buying preground coffee.

    April 4, 2017 at 6:20 PM
  • Matterall

    I use the macchinetta, ever since I saw Piccaso’s painting of one – love. https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/91.177

    April 4, 2017 at 10:08 PM
  • Kael Decadence

    And here I was thinking I was a coffee snob with my thousand dollar coffee machine. Damn. Makes me want to write an article on beer brewing now. I need to get around to creating an EVE inspired brew one of these days.

    April 5, 2017 at 12:47 AM
  • Urandas

    I was waiting for another coffee article! thx Skeptic.

    April 5, 2017 at 10:33 PM
  • Coffeesnob

    The only problem here is the pollution you add to your coffee with the perc you are using. The material it is made of matters, not only for excessive heat conduction (and thus burnt phytonutrients and bitter taste) but the aluminum or stainless steel decanter. The best way is with a glass siphon perc. Glass does not corrode and does not leach metals into your coffee. Yes it is fragile but there are Pyrex models out there that are more rugged. Also using good water matters a lot. You want your water PH to slightly alkaline. Do that with a fresh roasted and ground bean and feel your tastebuds explode.

    April 6, 2017 at 8:01 PM