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THE COFFEE SNOBBERATI tend to look down their noses at the humble moka brewer. It's a misunderstood little beauty that's unfairly picked up a bad rap for making strong, bitter coffee.
But there's a reason why virtually every Italian household has (a bare minimum of) one of these brewers knocking about in the kitchen.
Yeah, you can make coffee so strong it would probably do a decent job of powering a ride-on lawn mower. But you can also produce a cup that retains a lot more of the delicate flavors you'd normally associate with something like pour over brewing.
Whichever version you prefer, here's how to rock your way to your perfect brew.
However you want your brew to turn out you need to start off with clean equipment. There are three main parts to a moka, but don't neglect the filter in the top part. Prise the rubber ring off so the filter drops out and give it all a good spruce-up inside and out.
Many of us do, but since water is over 99% of your coffee it's not smart to overlook it. Use filtered, bottled or distilled water if you possibly can. It will taste better, I promise.
Fill the base with water up to (and not above) the safety valve.
Light & Delicate: Use hot water, just below boiling point. Starting with hot water means less heat exposure, bitterness and degradation of the more subtle flavors. NOTE: If you use hot water you'll need to use a towel to hold the brewer to avoid burner your delicate little fingers ;)
Thick & Strong: Use cold water. Starting cold means longer exposure to heat and pressure which both contribute to that typical 'espresso' flavor.
Fill the basket with ground coffee. The more freshly ground the better and ideally something that's been roasted around 2 weeks ago. It might cost a pennies more but a good local roaster is best positioned to help.
The coffee should be level with the top of the basket and uncompressed.
Place the basket in the base, make sure the thread are clean and clear of grounds and screw the brewer together. Remember to protect your hands if it's hot.
Light & Delicate: Use a coarser grind than for traditional espresso. Try something closer caster sugar-size which you'd normally use for pour over coffee
Thick & Strong: Use an extremely fine 'espresso' grind. Finer grinds mean more steam contact which equals more intensity.
Set your moka on the stovetop and let it get brewing.
Light & Delicate: Use a low to medium heat and listen out for the gurgling sound which means it's time to stop. Turn off the heat, run the base under a cold tap to halt the brewing process and serve.
Thick & Strong: On a medium to high heat (extra pressure), wait for the gurgling sound to stop (more brewing time) then take off the heat and serve.
That's how it's done. Let us know in the comments how you get on.