Can we just say: there’s no ‘x’ in espresso. Not one. At all. So, anyway…
The morning rooster. The wake-up call. This clobbering caffeine hit is treasured around the world for its cobweb-clearing, fog-lifting properties.
Many of us have become so used to espresso that it’s easy to chug a couple of shots in the morning and just get on with our work.
But we believe it’s worth taking a moment to savour the complex, varied flavours this subtle and powerful brewing method can bring out; it’ll brighten your day that little bit more. Thankfully, making espresso doesn’t have to take much time or effort at all – just a little care.
There are a few ways to make it, from using a simple pot to a machine that wouldn’t look out of place in the cockpit of a jumbo jet.
If you’re going all-out barista style, you could try a commercial espresso machine. These are the things that look like a Mustang engine, take up a lot of space and cost a fair bit too, so they’re more common in cafés and restaurants.
They typically force hot pressurised water through a puck of ground espresso coffee and through a filter. They’re quite loud – you’ll be familiar with the ‘clank clank’ of the barista emptying the used grounds from the portafilter into the knockbox, and the ’ssshhhwwwwoooooo’ of the steam wand being used to steam milk for a latte or cappuccino.
A slightly more practical solution for home use is the stove-top kettle, commonly known as a Moka pot.
Named after the Yemenite city of Mocha, it’s not specifically used to make caffè mochas (the chocolatey cappuccino or mochachino), although they are named after the same place.
These iconic aluminium pots with Bakelite handles are cleverly designed inside to force pressurised hot water upwards through ground espresso coffee to make a strong, steaming hot cup of coffee that’ll blow your socks off (or wake you up, at least).
Ever wondered how to make the perfect Moka pot at home? Let’s have a look.
It’s important to get rid of any stale leftovers – avoid soap though. Just hot water and elbow grease.
The small size of Moka pot servings mean they lose heat faster than regular hot drinks. So if you’re making a round, by the time you get to the last one, the first one will have cooled. Preheat your cups by filling them with hot water from the tap. Espresso or demitasse cups are the most suitable.
With this method, it’s best to use a slightly coarser grind than regular espresso (which is usually finely ground). As for the measure – 7 grams is the Italian standard for a single shot.
Fill the metal filter basket with coffee, but don’t pat it down.
Some reckon this should be cold, but a temperature difference can lead to the coffee overheating before the water boils which won’t do the taste any good. Filtered water is the best choice here, as any impurities can alter the taste of the drink. You want to aim to fill it to the level of the valve.
Now put the basket of coffee into the bottom chamber which now contains the water.
It helps to use a towel in one hand, as the bottom chamber will now be hot.
STEP 6 – Put it on the stovetop
Use a low heat. You can watch the top spout if the lid is open – you’ll soon see creamy espresso start to ooze out.
Wait for the gurgle – you’ll know it’s finished when the spout is bubbling.
You can now let it sit for a few moments, or run it under the cold tap to stop the brewing process quickly.
Into the pre-warmed cup it goes, and you have a delicious espresso. Drink fairly quickly, as it will cool within a few minutes. You can drink it straight, or add to some steamed milk for a latte, or even drop some lemon zest in for a citrus twist.