“How do you make the perfect Italian coffee at home,” you wonder? Well, I’ll tell you! As you may already know, I am passionate about coffee. When I go to sleep at night, I am already excited to wake up and have my morning coffee. Anyone else? There are several ways and types of coffee that I enjoy, but there is a wonderful way to make coffee that is a deep part of Italian culture, and that is the Moka. Not to be confused with mocha, the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, but moka, with a “K.”
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To make this coffee and bring some of this Italian coffee culture into your home, you must begin with a moka pot. Interestingly, the word “Moka” actually comes from a port city in Yemen, where coffee was exported.
Delicious Coffee to Start the Day
There’s nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning. Just the mere thought of the smell, the taste, can make you jump out of bed. A pot of good coffee is a way to bring everyone together. Sitting over hot coffee with a friend is one of my favorite things to do. And, there are so many ways and types of coffee, but today I’m going to tell you all about preparing and drinking a moka.
Coffee the Italian Way
Fortunately, not far from where I live, there is one of my most favorite places in all of Venice. It is a coffee house called Torrefazione Cannaregio. Torrefazione refers to a coffee bean roaster. It was started in 1930, and was located on the main street, Strada Nuova. It was a unique place. The door opened and you were hit with the most incredible aroma of coffee. The floor was lined with enormous sacks of coffee beans and you could even get a glimpse of an enormous round coffee roaster in the back. It was always packed, but the line moved fast. Some would take their coffee “da portare via” (to go) and others would drink at the counter, as there was only bar service.
It’s since changed ownership and now it is located right near the Jewish Ghetto, on the Fondamenta Ormesini. Combining the look of a quaint coffee house with the beautiful glass containers of coffee lining the walls, you can sit inside and look out at the Venetian canal and watch gondolas go by. Although you may hear many languages from around the world at one of their canal-side tables, if you stand and drink right at the bar, you can often hear Venetian, the unique Italian dialect of the lagoon city.
Know Your Coffee
The staff is well-versed in every type of coffee they sell and how exactly to make it. Each coffee bean produces a different taste, and the staff is kind and patient to explain the details. Some coffee beans are more fruity, while others are more earthy. At Torrefazione Cannaregio, they will even blend coffee for you with your choice of ingredients such as anise, black pepper, cinnamon and more. In Italy, people genuinely savor and enjoy the flavor of the coffee. A typical Italian breakfast is a coffee and a “cornetto,” a croissant, either plain, dusted with powered sugar or chocolate-filled.
The Moka Coffee Grind
If you will be buying coffee beans to be ground on the premises, you will be asked whether you would like them ground for espresso or moka. The grind for a moka machine is a bit more course than that of an espresso machine. Once you have your perfect grind and blend, you are (almost) all set.
An Italian Coffee Classic
With these easy steps, I will share with you how you can make the perfect moka Italian coffee at home, just like the Italians do. I That’s a coffee with a smooth, rich taste, and not bitter. But first, you must have a moka machine. My preference is a Bialetti, which is the most well-known brand. With a Bialetti, you know what are getting. It is a high-quality coffee maker, named after it’s inventor, Alfonso Bialetti. The story goes that in the early part of the 20th century, Mr. Bialetti had a workshop where he produced aluminum products. In the 30’s, he designed what would become the iconic moka pot, which has enhanced the way people drink coffee around the world.
Moka machines comes in a range of sizes. At home, I have a six cup moka, which is a perfect size for just us or for when we are having some company. If that’s too big for you, you can get a small moka that makes two cups. I’ve seen a much larger 18 cup moka, as well. And now, on to the actual brewing process.
How to Make a Moka Coffee
Making a moka is actually very easy. Familiarize yourself with the parts of the stove-top machine. The base get filled with water. The little filter cup gets the coffee. On the underside of the top of the moka machine, you will see two parts: a little filter and a rubber ring holding it in place. It’s all quite basic. But there are some tricks of the trade that will make your moka coffee taste just perfect.
Put some water up to boil, because starting with boiling water is one of the keys to making a delicious moka. By beginning with water that is already hot, the coffee in the moka machine won’t be exposed to the direct heat of the flame any longer than necessary. This will eliminate that bitter taste that’s commonly associated with coffee that is prepared incorrectly in a moka.
Next, take a look inside the bottom container. You will see a little valve. That’s where you fill your boiled water to. Keep in mind that once you fill the base of the machine with the boiling water, it will be hot. So, work with a dish towel when you need to pick it up. You can also preheat the coffee cups you’ll be using with some of the remaining boiled water.
Now it’s time to fill the filter cup with coffee. Fill it to the top of the cup, without pressing the coffee down. You can give it a gentle swipe to even it out, but it shouldn’t be packed. Insert the cup into the water-filled base.
Next, take your dish towel to hold the base still while you place the top of the moka machine on and carefully twist it closed. And now, you are just a few minutes from having some of the most delicious coffee you will ever taste.
Place the moka machine on the stove and turn the flame on to medium-low heat. Regardless of the size of your moka pot, be sure that the stove flame does not extend outward and up the sides of the moka pot. Soon, the coffee magic will begin. You’ll start to hear the coffee boil upward through the internal mechanism into the top container. It’s doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it.
Your kitchen will smell so delicious. All the coffee lovers in the house will come running. Carefully pour, serve, sip and enjoy. I always say that coffee is like a vacation in a cup. And a moka is like when you get an upgrade. To make it even better, you can pair it with these delicious Bisse Italian Biscotti.
A Virtual Shopping Experience in Venice
When you do come and visit Venice, you can buy a bag of beans to take home for yourself or to give as a gift. What an amazing souvenir for a coffee lover. But, why wait! This is one of the places I love to take people on my virtual personal shopping tours. Would you like me to pick some up for you? Let me know! You can set up a virtual personal shopping experience in Venice with me, from the comfort of you own home. For more info, email me at RebbetzinUnplugged@gmail.com