How to make a perfect Italian coffee at home and explanation about coffees you can find at an Italian bar

Today I talk to you about how to do a perfect italian coffee with your Moka pot (yes, a perfect coffee with an italian Moka pot is always possible!) and the explanation of the main types of coffee you can find in an italian bar.


best coffee italian moka pot lavazza

Nowadays you can find espresso almost everywhere and/or you can have good espresso maker at your home at a cheap price with the simple and fast coffee capsules but the old and classic method of doing coffee with an italian Moka pot, with the right coffee blend, is still good (if not the best). …..well, if you have space and money you can always buy a bar espresso machine for perfect results. 😀

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Starting from the history, Moka pot was invented in Italy by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, revolutionizing the way of making coffee at home. The name refers to the city of Moka, Yemen, famous for having a good quality coffee blend.

It consists in three parts: a boiler for water (A), a funnel-shaped filter (B) to put the finely ground coffee in and the upper part (C) that serve as a coffee collector.

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There are few but important steps to follow to reach a perfect coffee and thanks to online shops today you don’t have to travel all the way to Italy to buy an italian Moka pot and its

Ingredients:

  • you need to have the best italian Moka pot that is the distinctive eight-side shaped Bialetti Moka that allows to diffuse heat perfectly to enhance the aroma of your coffee.
    I’m aware that there are a lot of similar Moka pot on the market, but, trust me, I (and my whole family) tested them and the best is Bialetti. *
  • good finely ground coffee blend for Moka pot. The best ever industrial coffee blend is Lavazza Qualità Rossa (red) (or at least Illy or Pellini). *

moka pot lavazza rossa red

  • good quality water, bottled is better so you’re sure to avoid hard water that is not suitable for italian coffee.

 *Note: this article reflects my thoughts, I have no commercial interests in those brands.

Instructions:

Take the boiler and fill it up with water until the water level is right below the little safety valve.

moka pot safety valve water

Insert the filter into the boiler.

moka pot filter

Now you have to choose between 2 thought patterns (my family always use the second option):

– fill it up with finely ground coffee creating a little mountain on it (1/3 the height of the filter), do not press it, just leave it that way;

moka pot coffee mountain

OR

– fill it up with finely ground coffee, press it with the back of a teaspoon and with a toothpick make 5 holes in the pressed coffee.

moka pot coffee flat moka pot coffee flat holes

Screw the upper part of the Moka pot tightly onto the base, put it on a kitchen burner on a low heat to allow the water to rise slowly between the coffee powder, therefore releasing better its aroma.
If the heat is high your coffee will come out too early and probably it will have a burned taste.

When you hear the characteristic gurgling noise, open and keep the lid of the Moka pot up to prevent that the condensed vapor goes back to the ground coffee and therefore changes its flavor.

moka pot coffee out

When the hazel brown foam appears and a second before the coffee comes out completely, take the Moka pot away from the burner.

moka pot coffee

Before pouring coffee to espresso cups, take a teaspoon and stir a little bit (to equalize the different coffee layers).

coffee moka pot cup

The experts say that coffee should be drunk bitter, to taste better its intensity and aroma (if you can stand it!).

To achieve a perfect coffee with your Moka pot you have to use the same pot several times, so it’s normal that the first 10-20 coffee are not so special.
Now you would say “what??? 10-20 times??? it’s a lot!”. You have to count that the italian average is 3 coffees per day so, a week is not so long here…

italian coffee ready

Mantaining the Moka pot

Another ESSENTIAL step to achieve a good italian coffee is to wash (with your hands) every part of the Moka pot just with warm running water, DO NOT use soap or something different from water. Even if the inner part of your Moka pot would naturally blacken due to the oily coffee residue, never ever use soap after the first time (when the pot is brand new).

Let every parts dry (upside down) before reassembling the Moka pot.

You just have to change the gasket when it’s consumed. Then your Moka pot would last a life time! And the more you use it the more the coffee is good!

Where to store your coffee

Tightly close the coffee package or put the ground coffee in an airtight container. Keep the coffee powder away from the sunlight, for example in a kitchen cabinet.
Some people suggest to store it in the refrigerator but we couldn’t see any difference, maybe because our house is not usually hot.

MAIN COFFEES YOU CAN FIND AT AN ITALIAN BAR

In Italy you can find just espresso coffee at bars but there are different types on which you can choose.
Yes, of course you would have to be an espresso lover to feel the difference between one to another (except for Cappuccino!) but maybe someone of you has always wanted to know what’s the difference between them and the exact italian pronunciation.

Ristretto (pron. ree-stray-toe): it’s obtained by leaving less water to flow into the cup that a normal espresso, therefore it has a darker color and a fuller aroma, so a stronger espresso flavor. However, the concentration of caffeine is very reduced.

Corto (pron. kor-toe): it’s obtained by leaving less water to flow into the cup, like the Ristretto coffee, but has the same caffeine concentration of a long coffee.

Lungo (pron. loon-goh): opposed to Ristretto coffee, it’s obtained by letting more water flow into the cup, therefore you have a coffee with a lower concentration of aromas and a high concentration of caffeine.

Macchiato (pron. muh-kyuh-toe): it’s obtained by adding a small amount of foamed milk, cold or hot, to a normal espresso.

Cappuccino (cup-pooh-ceen-oh): like the Macchiato coffee, it’s obtained by adding foamed milk to an espresso but Cappuccino has larger quantities of coffee and milk and it’s served in larger cups. Italians usually drink it just for breakfast or in mid-morning, not after a meal.

Corretto (core-ret-toe): it’s a normal espresso modified by the addition of a small amount of liquor, usually Grappa.

How to make a perfect italian coffee at home and explanation about coffees you can find at an italian bar
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy steps to achieve the best authentic Italian coffee with Moka pot at home
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • you need to have the best italian Moka pot that is the distinctive eight-side shaped Bialetti Moka that allows to diffuse heat perfectly to enhance the aroma of your coffee.
  • good finely ground coffee blend for Moka pot. The best ever industrial coffee blend is Lavazza Qualità Rossa (red) (or at least Illy or Pellini).
  • good quality water, bottled is better so you're sure to avoid hard water that is not suitable for italian coffee.
Instructions
  1. Take the boiler and fill it up with water until the water level is right below the little safety valve.
  2. Insert the filter into the boiler.
Now you have to choose between 2 thought patterns (my family always use the second option):
  1. fill it up with finely ground coffee creating a little mountain on it (1/3 the height of the filter), do not press it, just leave it that way.
OR
  1. fill it up with finely-ground coffee, press it with the back of a teaspoon and with a toothpick make 5 holes in the pressed coffee.
-
  1. Screw the upper part of the Moka pot tightly onto the base, put it on a kitchen burner on a low heat to allow the water to rise slowly between the coffee powder, therefore releasing better its aroma.
  2. When you hear the characteristic gurgling noise, open and keep the lid of the Moka pot up to prevent that the condensed vapor goes back to the ground coffee and therefore changes its flavor.
  3. When the hazel brown foam appears and a second before the coffee comes out completely, take the Moka pot away from the burner.
  4. Before pouring coffee to espresso cups, take a teaspoon and stir a little bit (to equalize the different coffee layers).
Notes
Mantaining the Moka pot
Another ESSENTIAL step to achieve a good italian coffee is to wash (with your hands) every part of the Moka pot just with warm running water, DO NOT use soap or something different from water. Even if the inner part of your Moka pot would naturally blacken due to the oily coffee residue, never ever use soap after the first time (when the pot is brand new).

Let every parts dry (upside down) before reassembling the Moka pot.
You just have to change the gasket when it's consumed. Then your Moka pot would last a life time! And the more you use it the more the coffee is good!

Where to store your coffee
Tightly close the coffee package or put the ground coffee in an airtight container. Keep the coffee powder away from the sunlight, for example in a kitchen cabinet.
Some people suggest to store it in the refrigerator but we couldn't see any difference, maybe because our house is not usually hot.

32 thoughts on “How to make a perfect Italian coffee at home and explanation about coffees you can find at an Italian bar

  1. Thank you for your post – I have tried moka pot coffee for more authentic Italian taste and I love it!
    I have read that you should not leave the parts out to air dry after rinsing with water, or it will cause the aluminium to corrode or wear out. Instead you should dry them by hand straight away. Is this true?

    • Hi George, this could happen if the pot is wet for a long time. When you wash the parts, you can just leave them to dry upside down on the counter and in few minutes the water drops are evaporated so there’s no time for the aluminium to corrode.
      But of course you can decide to pat dry the parts, especially if you want to store the pot in a kitchen cabinet straight away.

    • Hi Sonya,
      I bought those cups in a cheap shop in my town (Italy) because they resemble my theme-logo.
      I tried to search on Google “red and white check espresso cups” but nothing similar came out, sorry!
      Maybe you can try to search on Ebay too.
      Have a nice day!

  2. Lavazza is the best coffee out there for espresso!! love to make mine in a small 1 cup thanks for the extra tips!! 😀

    • Hi Jason,
      this is really strange and never happened to me!
      Usually when I overturn the boiler (when it’s cold), the filter comes out easy or I just give it a little shake.
      For sure there’s something that cause the filter to be glued to the boiler (e.g. coffee powder or limestone).
      If it’s not that, you would need to change the moka pot, maybe it’s spoiled!
      I’m curious so let me know! Bye!

  3. I bought 2 cans of Lavazza coffee today because they were on sale, but later realized is the brewing type and not the one for espresso. Can I still use it for espresso? I don’t think they have the one for MOKA.

    • Hi Francisco,
      you shouldn’t use brewing coffee with moka because this is finely grounded and this could obstruct the rising of the water into the moka cup and/or give the coffee a burnt taste.

      But you can avoid that by mixing 1/4 brewing coffee with 3/4 of regular coffee for moka.

      Thanks for passing by!

  4. Thank you for the post!

    Just wondering if it is ok to brew regular morning-type coffee and not espresso in the moka pot?

    And if so, how much grounded coffee should I put in the filter for one mug?

    • Hi Dmitriy,
      I’m sorry but to use a moka pot you have to use a coffee blend made for moka pot, so on the package there has to be written “for Moka pot” or “espresso kettle”.

      Your regular morning-type coffee is absolutely not suitable for that pot because it is specifically made to be brewed and obtain large quantities of coffee. The grains of the powder are larger than those for moka, so they would probably stuck in the funnel.

      But don’t use an espresso blend too for Moka pot because the powder is too thin and it would trespass onto the moka base.
      Use an espresso blend just for espresso machines.
      Use a moka blend just for moka pot.

      Italian espresso or coffee made with Moka are made to be served in small cups because they have large quantities of caffeine, a richer aroma and are full-bodied. So you couldn’t drink a mug of espresso without ending in having a tachycardia ;).

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Thanks for the warning! :) However, it tastes like any cup of American Coffee I buy at Starbucks, which actually was a great discovery for me. I realized that with this magic Moka Pot I can have a very good coffee everyday.

        Also I will definitely buy a package of coffee specifically for the Moka Pot. But, just to make sure, I have this starbucks grounded coffee package with “Medium House Blend” written on it. Is it anyway not good for the Moka Pot?

        • Dmitry, Ilaria is not so familiar with Starbucks so asked that I respond to you on this question. Although your Starbucks bag of Medium House Blend could work, it may not make the ideal pot of Moka coffee as the coarseness of the ground does impact the flavor. Did you purchase the beans at Starbucks and had them grind it for you to order or did you buy it an another outlet pre-ground (usually for drip makers)? The Moka pot grind should be somewhere between that for an espresso (finer) and a French press/drip (coarser). They can grind to order for you at Starbucks. However, buying the pre-ground beans from Lavazza or Illy for the Moka will result in a superior taste since they have perfected the coarseness for it. For example:

          http://www.illy.com/wps/wcm/connect/en/coffee-at-home/coffee-for-moka

          • BarFlySF, thanks for the advice! Yes, I bought this pre-ground Starbucks coffee at a supermarket, and I am pretty sure it is specifically made for the drip coffee making machines (which I had used before I bought the Moka Pot).
            Anyways, I will definitely buy the coffee made for Moka Pot. Thanks for the link!

  5. This is an excellent post on coffee Ilaria! I’m happy I read it. Since I’m not living in Italy anymore this is my daily routine 😉 Preparing coffee with moka, I mean.

  6. Very good information Ilaria. I bought one like that when I was in Venice for my dad, will share your blog with him.

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