Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy that embraces the imperfect, ephemeral, and incomplete. I'm always screwing something up, but it often comes out more beautiful, more instructive, and more fun for it. Come make mistakes with me!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Best. Investment. Ever. (For coffee lovers, anyway)

I always thought that if you wanted fancy-schmancy cafe drinks at home - lattes, mochas, macchiatos - you would have to invest some serious cash.  Professional-quality espresso machines, complete with foamers, steamers, and other alien-tentacle-esque appendages, are pricey and intimidating.  Automatic machines with pods force you into buying nasty prepacked chemicals passing as coffee that cost as much as Starbucks anyway. Plus, I'm convinced that one day they are going to become sentient and take over the planet.

But, frou-frou coffee drinkers of the world, there is another way!  Introducing .... the Moka pot.

Specifically, this is a Bialetti Moka Express 6-cup Stovetop Espresso Maker.  It's cheap, simple, and requires only regular ground coffee and water.  And it makes excellent espresso.  In short, it is all your wildest coffee dreams come true. 

My first experience brewing espresso in my shiny new Moka pot was made even more of an adventure by the fact that the instructions were apparently translated by somebody who speaks English as a fourth language. (My favorite example : "screw top of pot on strongly, but do not prize handle.")

So in plain English, the wonderment ...

Unscrew the bottom half of the pot.

The strainer in the bottom half is just sitting; it comes out easily and reveals an empty well underneath.  Fill that well with cold water.  The instructions say cold.  I don't know why.  I just did it and it worked.

Then replace the strainer and fill with coarsely ground coffee.

Screw the top back on (securely, but remembering, of course, not to prize on the handle!)  Then put it on low or medium heat - if you have a gas stove, make sure the flame is smaller in diameter than the bottom of the pot.

Ok, this is the part that is truly magical!  The top half of the pot was completely empty when you put it on the stove, right?  But as the pressure builds up, water is forced up through the grounds and into the top, like a fountain!  A magical fountain of espresso!  
Pretty soon, the magical flow will slow to a trickle, then stop; the top will now be mostly full.  Turn off the heat.  Presto! Espresso!

If you just want to drink it straight, you're done.  If you want a latte, read on ...

To steam and foam milk, we heated some milk up in a pot on the stove.  (We used 7 oz milk to 3 oz espresso, based on a video recipe from Folgers.) Then we whipped it up with a little hand-held frother that we got in a hot cocoa kit last year.  If you don't have one, they're inexpensive.  I couldn't find the one we used exactly, but this one is the same brand to give you an idea. It's ten bucks from Amazon.

Hubby and I wanted mochas, so we added a little chocolate syrup to the bottom of each cup.  Then we poured the milk:
Added the coffee:
Top with more foam, and if you want, drizzle with chocolate!

 Artsy photo, because I'm obsessed with how delicious my new mochas are:
Seriously, this was just as good as anything I've gotten at a coffee shop, and I know my mad skillz will get better with practice.  You can use your favorite coffee, so you can tailor it to your tastes; you can also try adding flavored syrups or playing with the ratio of steamed milk, foam, and coffee.  Using the fuzziest of math, I figure for the $30 pot, if hubby and I replace mochas that cost $3.00 each at a coffee shop (and that's a low estimate), we'll break even after doing this just 5 times.  And hopefully we'll use it for years!

Who knew a good investment could be so nummy? 


  1. Hi! Following you via blogging team. Now I'm thirsty =)
    You can follow me here if you'd like. Thanks!


  2. New follower from teh Bloggin TEam on Etsy! I totally am in love with coffee so this was a perfect post to get me hooked! http://mysweetpotato3.blogspot.com

  3. Thanks for sharing. I think I have seen pots like this in antique shops. Have never bought one because I didn't think I would know how to use it. Thanks for the instructions! Now when I see one again I just might buy it to give your recipe a try. I love coffee and this just looks soooo goood.

  4. Thanks for the information, I'm no coffee connoisseur but I've been looking into different Espresso Machines as I'm getting fed up with all of the "consumer" coffees (Starbucks, DD, etc.).