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