How to use an Italian moka pot

a stainless steel verion of the iconic Italian coffee maker
a stainless steel version of the iconic Italian moka pot

Italians do not linger over a cup of coffee. They might meet for a coffee and talk for hours if time allows. However, the revered drink is consumed within seconds to capture all its taste and aroma.
Even though Italian cafes sell a variety of coffee based drinks, Italians tend to drink only two types of coffee at home.  One mug of caffelatte with breakfast.  One small cup of really hot and strong moka coffee with one teaspoon of sugar at any other time of the day.
A  dash of milk is infrequent as most Italians agree with the ancient Turkish proverb by which coffee should be dark as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.  My guess is that Turkish love must be a lot sweeter than Italian love, but I lack the necessary expertise on this particular aspect.
So, when you visit an Italian home you will most likely be offered una tazzina di caffè, one tiny cup of black, strong and probably sweetened coffee. Make sure to inform your host about your milk and sugar preference in advance if different. Do not expect a second cup. In fact, it is quite unusual to drink more than one coffee at the time.

an insider view of the caffettiera
an insider view of the caffettiera

Nowadays, home-sized pressurized espresso makers are available in every form and model. However  in Italy most people still use a caffettiera or moka pot at home. This magic object invented by Bialetti in 1933 is very easy to use provided that you have the right coffee beans or powder and water that is not too hard or heavily chlorinated.

how to use a caffettiera
how to use a caffettiera

If you happen to travel to Italy you can buy a caffettiera in any larger supermarket or department store selling household items.
In Italy all brands of coffee offer beans or powder for espresso makers and for moka. The powder for espresso is finer than that one for moka. Please note that coffee beans are roasted, blended and ground in different ways depending on the type of coffee that has to be obtained with those beans. There is no point in using a  product that is not meant to become an espresso or moka coffee.
Even though Italian-style coffee is available all over the world, I find that many non-Italian brands lack that unique combination of a relatively sweet taste and intense aroma. Moka and espresso coffee is naturally  sweet because the sugars caramelize during roasting. So, as with all good ingredients, it is worth to search for a good product.
Finally, when you have assembled all this refined equipment and ingredients you can happily enjoy your cup of coffe and feel a bit Italian everyday.

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  1. Magic object, indeed! I love caffettieras, they make such wonderful coffee. I think I’ll buy one in Italy in June — it will be delightful to use here in Canada.
    One of first things I like to do when I visit Italy is to get a real coffee — I love Italian coffee! Strong, fragrant but not bitter.

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