Italian coffee makers: how do you choose one and how do they work?
An Italian coffee maker or a moka pot is an appliance that we are seeing more and more often in our homes. Designed to be both visually appealing and practical, an Italian coffee maker uses pressurised steam to make a coffee that has an intense and refined taste.
Chiara, our Italian analyst at Twenga often tells us about her childhood when coffee was a sign for the start of the day:
“I remember when I was younger and I used to wake up to the smell of coffee coming from the moka pot. It was the first thing my mother used to do in the morning. As I got older I learnt how to make it myself.
For many children drinking coffee was a sign of maturity and I forced myself to drink it as early as possible, even though I was not keen on the bitter taste! Now an adult, coffee has become a way to relax, to enjoy after a heavy meal and above all a means of communication: ‘Fancy a coffee?’ has to be one of the most natural sentences out there…”
If you are looking for good homemade espresso, an Italian moka pot is definitely made for you! To help you choose the perfect device for your lifestyle, follow our tips to buy, maintain and use an Italian coffee pot:
Why should you buy an Italian coffee maker?
Moka pots definitely have plenty of advantages, but you should also consider the negative points before buying one! You can weigh them up yourself:
- They make superior tasting coffee because of their pressure system
- They are much smaller than espresso machines and easier to tidy away
- It is not difficult to find replacement parts, so they can be kept for a long time
- They can be used on many different sources of heat: wood, coal, gas and electric hotplates. Some models have even been especially adapted for induction hobs.
- It takes longer to make a coffee. You need at least 4 or 5 minutes just to heat the coffee without considering the preparation time.
- You need to wait for the coffee pot to cool down before doing a second round of coffee. The creamy taste is only possible if the pressure progressively increases in the coffee pot, so you need to start the process from stone cold.
How do Italian coffee pots work?
It always looks a bit complicated to work an Italian coffee pot, but it really is not that hard. You just need to follow 4 simple steps:
1.Fill the water compartment up to the line in the bottom part of the moka pot. Use filtered water if you can because the impurities in tap water can give your coffee a strange taste.
2.Add ground coffee to the filter. If you are not used to drinking strong coffee, adapted the dose to your preference.
3.Screw all of the compartments back together again and put the coffee pot on your heat source. Once the water starts boiling, the pressure in the lower compartment will force the boiling water to go up through the coffee and enter the highest part of the moka pot.
Top tip: Heat your coffee slowly for a better taste. If the water goes through the coffee too quickly it will not pick up as much of the flavour.
4.Once you start hearing the coffee pot grumble, take it off the heat immediately. If you don’t do this you might burn the coffee. Ta-dah, your drink is ready!
Looking after your Italian coffee pot
If you look after your moka pot you will be able to keep it for a lifetime. Of course you will need to replace some parts over the years, but looking after your device means that you can keep it for a very long time!
First of all, make sure that you check and change the seal if necessary. Over time, the seal will become loose and pressure will escape from your coffee pot. The more pressure you have in your moka pot, the better your coffee will taste…but make sure that the seal is nice and tight!
Clean your moka pot
It is also important to clean your Italian coffee maker (but without soap!). You should only use warm water to clean the device because you don’t want to remove the film that separates the coffee from the aluminium. Without this film, you coffee will have a metallic taste which will not be so pleasant!
Top brands and products
Bialetti is the most well-known brand for Italian coffee makers, mostly because of their Moka Express model. We often use this term to describe Italian coffee pots in general, but it is a registered brand name that belongs to Bialetti.
The Moka Express has not changed much since it was first released in 1933. It has an aluminium body and a handle made out of Bakelite. The traditional version is made out of metal but there are many different designs, such as neon colours and cow prints. There is a design for everyone’s taste.
Besides the classic Moka Express, there is also the Brikka. This model has a screw mechanism that creates even more pressure and allows the water to attain a higher temperature. The Mukka on the other hand is a device that also heats and mixes your milk with your coffee.
If you really like milky coffees you might choose the CX-25 de Bellman, which includes a ‘frother’ to make nice cappuccinos.
What size Italian coffee maker should I choose?
Each coffee maker is measured in cups, but be careful because Italian cups are almost 2 times smaller than a British one! So an 8-cup coffee pot is not actually as big as you think.
Choosing and using a moka pot should be really easy with these tips, and as Chiara says, you too can start your day with a good coffee from an Italian coffee maker!