Moka Pot

In the wide landscape of available devices for turning ground coffee into an arguably drinkable liquid, the Moka Pot does not get its due. This strange device has the advantage of relative simplicity, and a long history of faithful service. I like them because they brew the coffee sort of inside out. In the marketplace, the moka pot is trapped somewhere between the cheap plastic every day Mr. Coffee type machines and the high tech ultra-modern multi-hundred dollar espresso extractors that you can pick up at your local William and Sonoma store. I find its compromises to be perfect for my requirements. The coffee that it brews is stronger than the bitter thin product of a drip maker, but is not as potent as the thick, syrupy and often over-extracted shots that you get at your local coffee and takeout milkshake place.

I like to grind the coffee a bit finer than for drip, but not so fine as espresso, as I find that the device just can’t push the water through in that case, and you end up with a mess. Mixed with hot milk, it makes for a perfect foamless “latte”. Better yet, put the coffee in the fridge for a few hours and then mix it with cold milk on ice. When cold, the flavor of the coffee strengthens, and you get something much closer to the pure espresso experience.

I have had only two problems with moka pots.

1. The stainless ones just don’t work for me. I could never find a grind for the coffee that didn’t make either brown water or a hopeless thick goo that never really escapes the bottom of the pot.

2. I always end up burning the thing up on the stove.

My solution was to get a Bodum gadget that heats the water electrically on a dedicated stand, and is made of stainless steel and plastic which are both easier to clean than the aluminum. Yes it’s overpriced, but in the long run it’s cheaper than buying four regular pots a year.

So, if you want a decent simulation of espresso, and don’t feel like putting out $400 on a stainless steel pump action double barreled nightmare machine, give up $20 on a Moka Pot. It’ll get you close, and is much less fuss and worry.