Wow. I don’t even know what to call this thing. A Stainless Steel Moka Pot? A Stovetop Espresso Maker? Sure, either works. We could just call it the Bialetti though and save ourselves some nomenclature.
But that would be no fun.
I want to call it the Moka Pot. That sounds ill enough and whenever you tell people you bought one they ask how it makes mochas. Ha.
The First Rendition
As always, the first espresso pot that I made was weak. Even when I looked at the grounds I was putting into the top compartment of the Moka pot I could already tell how this was going to turn out. The grounds were clearly too course, which bothered me, because I was quite sure I had dialed down the grind setting on my Skerton to what ‘should be’ espresso.
But afterward I took the handle mechanism off of the Skerton, tipped it over and took a look at it – indeed; it looked looser than I would want for espresso.
So we tighten it down for round two.
The Second Rendition
The second time we got the grind right. About half of one rotation from closed on my Hario Skerton produced a very nice, finely ground espresso. Two heaping tablespoons of it were scooped into the upper compartment of the Bialetti, and cold water was filled up to the mark in the bottom.
We are all set to launch.
We boiled it. Damn.
Before I rant about how the first few times I use a new coffee gadget I always mess it up, let me just say that this round was actually quite delightful. I can definitely see why nine out of ten Italian families use this thing – it makes great coffee and it’s almost too easy. That’s something that we pick up on very quickly here at project vvlgar. Since we experiment with the same gadgets again and again until we make great coffee with them, we’ll notice right away if the apparatus requires undue amounts of clean up or preparation.
The stainless steel stovetop espresso maker does not. You aren’t even supposed to clean it! You rinse it out and you’re done.
It only needs two heaping tablespoons of espresso to do its thing – so I take my 12 gram scoop and use one scoop’s worth for my Hario. 12 grams of whole beans equals slightly more than two heaping tablespoons, so I have actually let the rest go to waste (in the name of science). Of course, once I make delectable java this way I will surely go back and do it again with a higher dosage of grounds.
But for now, we’re doing it by the book.
The Third Rendition
This time I was watching the Moka Pot carefully. It makes a hardcore gurgling sound when it’s boiling, so you definitely know when it’s actually making the espresso. Very nice.
I turned off the heating element as soon as I could. Steam was blasting through the spout and as soon as the gurgling sound ended I wanted it to start cooling, so that I didn’t run the risk of boiling my espresso again.
I turn it off. I pour myself a cup.
It’s not bad. But ‘not bad’ isn’t the project vvlgar way of doing things. To say the least, I’m actually a little disappointed. I know that this beast of a home espresso maker is capable of so much more – that’s why I bought it. I want to make espresso at home for under $50, because I’m half Dutch and firmly believe in saving money.
Now here is the twist:
I poured myself a second cup. The Bialetti makes enough espresso for about two half sized mugs (approximately), so I pour it as such. My second half sized mug has a better-rounded extraction, has the heaviness of a real espresso, and is not bitter.
I like. I like it a lot, actually.
Three Renditions, Some Good and Bad Espresso, Some Thoughts
I like this device; it looks classy, is bound to impress the ladies, makes a solid cup, and didn’t run my wallet into the ground. Those being the predominant criteria when I shop, make this a pretty kick ass purchase.
From my initial experiences, from these three renditions, I have surmised that I want more than two heaping tablespoons. As my Resident Cat, Cicero, and I continue to expand our knowledge and experience with this new additional to our coffee lab I expect the first variable to be tweaked with shall be the amount of ground espresso we are using.
I don’t want my coffee to boil (and you don’t want to boil yours either) so I need to remember that as soon as the gurgling stops it is time to pull the plug and let nature (and by nature, I mean air that cools things down and brings them to convergence) take its course.
Oh, and if you have suggestions on other variables you’d like to see tested, or sagely advice to pass on to me and my cat, drop us some mad knowledge in the comments.
Thanks for joining, see you next time.