I couldn’t live without my Moka coffee maker! These days everyone wants an espresso machine that uses pods and produces every variety and flavor of espresso. They want to be able to heat and froth their milk. I confess I have one of these too, albeit not one with all the bells and whistles some of the pricier machines have.
But I keep returning to my old standby, a stovetop Bialetti Moka aluminum pot. How to make your coffee: Fill the bottom section with water just up to the level of the safety valve. Then insert the perforated coffee section and fill with espresso ground coffee. I like to pack the coffee slightly and then mound it; everyone has their own unique technique that they swear by. The top section of the Moka is then screwed on top; it seals on tightly thanks to a rubber gasket. Place the Moka on the stove over a high flame until the water boils and the steam blasts through the coffee leaving you with delicious espresso.
Once you’ve had your coffee just rinse the coffee maker out in warm water and use a brush or sponge to remove coffee debris. No soap please! It will ruin the Moka and espresso flavor forever. The best Mokas have been well seasoned by years of use.
The Moka was invented and patented by Bialetti in the early 1930′s and according to the company’s website 90% of Italian homes have a Moka. Bialetti stove top espresso makers come in many sizes: 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 cups as pictured in the photograph.
My old Via Giulia neighborhood in Rome’s centro storico has a casalinghi (small housewares store) that has every size of Moka. The store is owned and run by a gentleman who has been there probably since the Moka was invented, or close to it. It’s a dark and dusty shop that’s filled with all kinds of goodies if you take the time to look around. That’s where I photographed the above Mokas.
Occasionally you may need to replace a part or two on your Moka. I’ve left the Moka on the stove and forgotten about it only to find a melted handle upon my return. Replacement parts are readily available for the handle, gasket and aluminum coffee filter at almost any store in Italy. I’ve also found replacement parts at Sur La Table in the United States.
Years ago when Italian specialty foods and beverages were hard to come by and espresso was uncommon I used to take my Moka and espresso coffee to the States with me. Even now I try to make sure wherever I travel that there’ll be a Moka on hand for my early morning coffee.