How to Make Traditional Italian Espresso With a Moka Pot: the Classic Recipe for World Famous Coffee

Total time: 5 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 2 people
By Cookist

Italian Espresso is a drink known and appreciated throughout the world for its unmistakable aroma and scent. Sipping it, alone or in company, is a real ritual; while doing it at home, with an Italian moka pot or a traditional Neapolitan coffee maker, is truly an art.

Recognizing a good coffee is really simple. First of all, we start from the color, tending towards hazelnut, with light streaks and not too dark. Therefore, it is important that it does not have granules on the bottom, but is creamy and has an intense flavor. To make a perfect Italian Espresso it's important to pay attention to some criteria, such as the quality of the blend, the maintenance of the moka pot and the water you use.

What is Italian Espresso?

Italian Espresso has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. It was in 1901 when Luigi Bezzera, an Italian inventor, patented a machine that forced hot water through ground coffee at high pressure, creating the first espresso. This innovation allowed for the quick brewing of a concentrated, flavorful coffee, which became popular in Italian cafes. In the 1940s, Achille Gaggia introduced a spring-piston lever machine that increased the pressure, producing the signature crema on top of the espresso. Over the years, espresso became an integral part of Italian culture, symbolizing both a daily ritual and a moment of social interaction.

How Can I Obtain Foam on My Italian Espresso?

To make an Italian Espresso with foam, you need to lift the lid of the moka pot when it is on the stove. In the meantime, put two teaspoons of sugar in a glass and, as soon as the first drops of coffee come out, pour them into it, being careful not to pour too much. Stir the mixture vigorously with a fork until you obtain a light and frothy cream. When the Italian Espresso is ready, pour it into the glass with foam, which will tend to remain on the surface.

Should I Grind my Own Beans or Just Buy Espresso Powder?

To make a good Italian Espresso it is important to start from the raw material: a quality blend, whether in beans or already powdered. We suggest you opt for beans and a coffee grinder, which is able to guarantee the right grain size for the powder. In this case, only grind the coffee you need for that specific coffee maker. If, however, you have little time and prefer to choose a powder, make sure that the beans have been ground within two weeks of harvesting, a fundamental parameter for a product that preserves aromas and flavors. Of course, it is also essential to know how to store coffee well so as to not ruin its quality.

How Much Water Should I Use?

Never underestimate the importance of water: water that is too calcareous will inevitably ruin the coffee maker. However, although many think that "pure" water results in good coffee, in reality this is a false myth: Italian Espresso needs mineral salts, so it is definitely better, and also simpler, to use water from the tap, which must be poured up to the halfway point of the valve. Last but not least, the water must be cold (but not frozen).

Should I Press the Espresso Powder?

Once you have placed the espresso powder in the moka it should not be pressed. It's certainly also about taste – pressing makes the coffee more intense, while those who don't press it like it lighter – but by pressing the powder too much you run the risk of obtaining a coffee with a burnt hint.

How to Correctly Maintain the Moka Pot

Everyone knows that the newly purchased machine does not produce good coffee: it is necessary to try it 2 or 3 times with water, before moving on to the first real coffee. Likewise, maintenance of the moka pot is essential: clean it well, carefully avoiding using dish soap. Pay attention, then, to the seal and the state of wear of the moka pot: when it starts to age it should be changed immediately. Furthermore, once the machine has been washed, it is best to let it dry well before reassembling it.

How Should I Cook My Espress?

The Espresso must be made over a moderate flame, otherwise you risk burning the powder before the liquid emerges. Naturally, the machine must be tightened well, so as to prevent water from leaking out of the sides. When the coffee starts to rise, immediately remove it from the heat or, alternatively, place it on the stove with the weakest flame, to prevent the part at the bottom from burning.

How to Serve Italian Espresso

When the machine is full, the coffee should be poured: it is better to mix it first, to avoid the first coffee being too light and slightly watery. Finally, if you have the possibility, heat the cup by passing it for a few seconds in the microwave or under boiling water: in this way the mixture will be able to best express its aromatic profile. Italian Espresso should be consumed immediately, while it's still warm.


Coffee grounds
to taste
to taste

How to Make The Perfect Espresso

First, you'll need an Italian coffee maker, a Moka Pot. Open it and fill the bottom part with the water til you reach the valve. Put the filter on.

Add the good quality Italian coffee grounds.

Close the machine again and put it on the fire and wait till the goodness comes out. Make sure the flame is low, since the coffee needs to brew slowly.

When you see it's started to come out, pour it into your favorite cup and make sure to drink it while it's still hot!

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