The perfect moka

Raise your hand if you have a moka pot at home! If you didn’t raise your hand, you need to go and get yourself one immediately!

The moka pot is a most extraordinary item... in all its forms, from the most traditional to the most extravagant, it reminds us of home, and by home we mean la Bella Italia.
Italians traveling abroad miss it not just for the delicious cup of coffee it makes, but for the ritual that it is.

To make yourself a cup of moka you need to take the time, you need to take a break from the daily humdrum or the many thoughts that often occupy our minds. The moka pot fills the room with its unmistakable fragrance, which represents comfort or hospitality when we share it with someone else; or it means love when someone brings you a cup to bed in the morning (at least that's what I’ve been told...).

It was invented in not too distant 1933 by ingenious Novarese businessman Alfonso Bialetti; and in just a short timeframe it surpassed the Neapolitan system that was widely used by Italian families before. It gained popularity especially since the 1950s, because it was easy to use, it requires less time to prepare and because of the result obtained.

Mister Bialetti was inspired by the laundry pots that he saw while living in France, and when he came back to Italy, he opened a company that manufactured semi-finished aluminium products.
He focused on this large container equipped with a tube that had a perforated top section: when water was boiled, it travelled up the tube and poured onto the laundry, mixing in with the detergent. The rest is history!
The moka pot is one of the iconic items of the economic boom, and in over 80 years it has hardly undergone any changes in how it operates.

The fact that it has survived the advent of super automated, super fast, super efficient coffee machines with their super capsules and all sorts of other modern gizmos speaks volumes to its legacy.

But how do you prepare a well-made cup of moka?
There are many factors that will impact the finished product!

The coffee: I’m not going to criticize any personal tastes or the beans you like to use, but we need to focus on their real and objective quality. The best starting point is to choose freshly roasted, homogeneous and not too darkly toasted coffee.
If you are able to grind it on the spot then you have earned yourself a place at the Mount Olympus of real coffee nerds. In any event, remember to always go with micro-roasters, they know what they are doing!

The type of roasting is selected based on the fresh coffee to be treated and on the type of device that will be used to extract it. Beans are selected from the plantation, breathing value and respect into the entire production chain. Remember that behind every coffee bean there are real people.

The moka pot: on the market you will find all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. There are even professional ones! Whatever you pick, remember to keep it clean! Always wash it after every use, with hot water, in all its parts; change the filter and seals when they become worn, and before you ask: no, storing it dirty DOES NOT preserve the flavour!

The water: I could spend a whole day lecturing people about this point, but I’ll keep it short and just ask that you use mineral water or a filter jug. Please, NO TAP WATER! I always use filtered water because it is better in terms of its components: it has a lower pH, decreases limescale and keeps out any impurities.

The heat source: whether you are using a gas stove or an induction cooker it makes no difference, what’s important is that you use the right tool for your needs.

But let’s get down to it! You’ll need:

In the boiler, heat the water (at least 400gr) bringing it to 198° F. 

Nel frattempo, se avete in casa il caffè in grani macinate 18/20gr (consiglio 20 gr i per monorigini) medio/fine, se invece avete il macinato, distribuitelo nel filtro.

Versate nella moka 140 gr di acqua a 92°C, preriscaldata con la kettle, senza superare la valvola.
Place the filter inside the moka pot with the 18/20 grams of ground coffee, without pressing it, just make sure it is all evenly level.

Screw  on the top section with the lid up and placed over medium heat.
When the coffee starts to pour out, stay and enjoy its hearty perfume; don't go and do the laundry or throw out the garbage, the moka demands your full attention! When the extraction has reached about half the tank, turn off the heat and immediately pour into a server. Pour in 10 gr of the leftover water that you had previously heated. Stir and serve. Your moka is ready!

Why do it this way?
The moka pot, of any kind, always has a built-in patented "defect", which is exceeding the boiling point. By exceeding 100 ° C (212 ° F) it brings hints of bitter and burnt to your cup. The longer the coffee and boiling water are in contact, the greater the aromatic defects that ruin your drink. By pouring in the leftover hot water we halt the extraction process, and we can overcome this problem by extracting a balanced, clean cup full of flavour and fragrance, which will of course vary according to the type of coffee selected.

Adding 10 g of water at the end allows us to recover what was lost by halting the extraction process without watering down the finished product.

Now that you have all the necessary information, all you have to do is experiment with different types of coffee and find your favourite, because, as Barbara A. Daniels famously said "life is a beautiful and endless journey in search of the perfect cup of coffee".