The Bare Necessities of Life: Stovetop Espresso

13 Sep

Upon moving to Rome two weeks ago, we were immediately faced with several daunting tasks: figuring out the Roman bus system, getting an Italian phone, finding a place to live, starting Italian lessons, etc. So what did we do on our very first weekend here? We addressed the most pressing matter of all: getting a stovetop espresso maker and the coffee to go with it. We hopped on a bus, missed our stop, ended up on a freeway, dashed across various underpasses, found another bus going back and finally made it to the mall (where, yes, we also found a new cell phone and sampled some gelato–it was a multi-purpose shopping trip). But we accomplished our main objective: purchasing a 1-cup Bialetti Moka Express for me (yield: 2 oz; it’s actually 1 shot) and a 3-cup/shot version for my husband (yield: 6.5 oz.), and some Illy coffee.

We returned home, rinsed the Bialettis, let them dry, made a maiden batch of espresso in each (which we then threw out since the first brew is meant only to season the pot, not to drink–you are actually supposed to make 2-3 such brews, but we were too impatient). Finally, we were ready to make espresso we could actually drink, by: 1) filling the bottom of the Bialetti with water* to a point just under the valve, placing the funnel inside, gently filling the receptacle with coffee grounds (without tamping down), screwing the receptacle/top on, and bringing the water in the espresso maker to a boil on the stovetop.

The boiling water gets pulled up through the coffee grounds and into the receptacle, and is accompanied by a wondrous gurgling sound. When that ceases, the espresso is ready; you can open the lid to check if you are not sure. Below, some freshly made espresso in the Moka Express, and the resulting cup of espresso with a dash of cream (that one was my husband’s–I usually make a home-made latte with a single shot of espresso and a lot of milk). Mmm mmm good.

*If you have “hard” (ie mineral-rich) water, you may want to use filtered or bottled water instead, or the minerals will build up inside the espresso maker.

6 Responses to “The Bare Necessities of Life: Stovetop Espresso”

  1. Leah September 13, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

    When my friend Paola came to visit me last fall, she brought one of these coffee makers and Italian coffee with her. 🙂

    I should introduce you. She lives north of Rome in Grosseto.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda September 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    You saved our lives! We arrived in the Spoleto apartment to find many features needing instructions for us Americans. One of them … the espresso pot! We followed your directions to the letter for a delicious start to the morning. (And eventually we got the hang of lighting the stove, too.) So. Thank you! Linda and Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • perennialpastimes September 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      So glad to have helped! Perfect timing…. Enjoy your trip!


      • Linda October 15, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

        It was truly wonderful. Continuing with the food theme, we had the best food of our lives,spread over 3 weeks and 5 venues. Reasonably priced. A gift.


      • perennialpastimes October 18, 2015 at 3:18 am #

        Sounds heavenly!


  3. itsnickbarry October 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    I, too, like a latte milk in my espresso.


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