Espresso as we know it today has been defined by high-end, commercial espresso machines that you find at most coffee shops and if you ever wanted to make espresso at home you'd either have to buy a high-end home espresso machine or you'd just go without it. I'm here to tell you that before the days of top of the line espresso machines there was the Bialetti. The Bialetti Moka Express is the original espresso maker. Originating in Italy, the birthplace of espresso, this device was created to ensure that every home has the ability to make a delicious espresso.
It's a nice and simple, easy way to produce a perfect shot (or two) of espresso...IF you follow these instructions.
Before you start you should have:
-Espresso Beans (whole)
-Stove Top (I really hope you already have one of these otherwise just go get your espresso from your local coffee shop).
-A wooden stir stick or a chop stick (I know it sounds weird, but trust me you'll need it)
You need to start off with good espresso beans. What I mean by this is not to go out and buy the most expensive espresso beans you can find. I simply mean to find espresso beans that work with your palate and you know you'll enjoy...because at the end of the day, you want to enjoy this cup of coffee! So go and explore the world of espresso and find the beans that taste the best to you.
finely grind the whole beans until they are a super fine powder. If you have chunks of coffee beans still visible you didn't grind the beans enough.
side note: The reason you buy whole beans and not pre-ground beans is due to the loss of flavor. Whole beans hold in the natural oils of the bean and ensure a longer lasting flavor. Buying pre-ground beans causes a major loss in flavor and the dried out beans will not last as long. Please NEVER buy pre-ground beans and just buy yourself a $20 grinder from Amazon...you'll thank me later.
Take your Moka Express and fill the lower chamber hot water to just under the valve. I suggest boiling hot water and pouring it in rather than hot water from the tap. The reason you use hot water in the Bialetti first rather than cold is that it doesn't over heat the ground espresso when it's on the stove top. This allows for the full flavor of the espresso to be released without burning the espresso.
WARNING: Please use Oven Mitts or any non-heat conducting material to ensure that you do not burn yourself when handling the lower chamber of the Moka express. They are metal and will heat very quickly once you pour the hot water into it. Please use caution.
Insert the funnel into the lower chamber once the water is placed and fill it with the now ground espresso. DO NOT TAMP THE ESPRESSO. Make sure to lightly remove all the coffee grounds around the edge of the funnel.
Make sure to tightly screw on the upper part of the pot to the lower part. Then place it on the stove, using a burner that is close to the size of the lower part of the Moka Express. This is to ensure the heat is focused on the Moka Express and not the plastic handle as you'll need to use that later to remove it from the heat.
Keep the heat at a medium level. Since you have already used hot water for the base, you do not need to fully boil the water. By maintaining a medium temperature you are ensuring that you will not burn the espresso prior to it brewing.
Keep an ear on it (not literally of course) and once you hear the gurgling sound that it makes you know that it is almost ready. Once that noise stops then turn off the heat and move the Moka Express from off the stove top.
Open the lid of the Moka Express, take the stir stick or chop stick and stir the upper chamber. This is done to ensure that the different coffee layers are equalized and will allow for the best flavor. (Told you you'd need the stir stick!)
Now you can prepare the espresso however you want to drink it. If you want to drink it straight, just pour it into a cup and enjoy.
If you want to make an Americano (that's my go to) pour hot water into a cup 3/4 of the way full and then pour the espresso directly on the water. Doing it this way reduces the risk of burning the espresso and ensures you get the best flavor from it.
Wash your Moka Express by hand with warm water, dry it thoroughly with a towel and prior to reassembly, make sure that all the pieces are completely dry in order to avoid oxidation.
-Use a Dishwasher to clean it.
-Use soap or detergent.
-Use steel wool or any other abrasive products.
Doing any of the above three things will ruin your Moka Express.
Overall, this is meant to be an experience as well as a great method of making espresso. Make sure to take the time and enjoy the process and just enjoy a great cup of coffee.
Alfred Drinking Coffee