Tag Archives: latte

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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.