Thursday, April 26, 2012

Finding the Flavor, Part 2

Continuing from Coaxing the Flavor out of those Beans!...

My coffee-roasting friend was a tremendous help in helping me out of the confusion of trying to figure out what contraption might get me the most coffee for my daily treats.  She listened to what I wanted to accomplish and said I'd never do it with a drip pot, like what I was using, because what I wanted was something full-bodied, like espresso.  She also didn't think I wanted a French press, but thought she might know the answer... A Moka Pot.

She wasn't sure how the flavor would compare to an AeroPress, and thought she might have the opportunity to find both and compare.  --She did, and let me know that the flavor produced from a Moka Pot was much closer to what I wanted.

I wondered, what is a Moka Pot?  You may be asking the same.  It is a comparatively tiny and simple, stovetop espresso maker, apparently popular in Italy. 

Basic 6-cup moka pot
I trusted her judgement and was intrigued.  I was additionally excited to find that 3- and 6-cup moka pots sell for about $25 on Amazon.  My friend told me that the "cups" referred to in a moka pot description, are the size espresso shots (1.5 to 2 oz), not actual 8 oz cups, so she recommended I go for the 6-cup.  I filed this all away on my mental wish list, waiting for the day I felt I could make that splurge.

Meanwhile, as previously promised, my friend sent me a pound of her personally-roasted coffee beans... Yum!  We could smell what was in the package before we opened it.  Another thing I noticed is that the box had a notation:  "1 of 2."  She let me know she was sending something else... I thought maybe it was another type of beans to try.

I was so pleased and surprised to open package 2 a few days later and discover a Bialetti 6-cup Moka Pot!  It is a pretty little thing, with a bit more style than the basic model I'd chosen for myself on Amazon.

First I had to figure out how to use it.  My friend recommended I watch this video.  It was helpful to refer me to the internet, where I found a few videos to watch.  The included written instructions were a bit brief, and used interesting word phrasing.  It sure didn't seem to be written by someone who speaks English as their first language.   

The videos helped me get started, but I still wasn't sure if I was supposed to grind the beans fine, like for the electric drip pot, or coarser, as for an espresso machine.  I stumbled along for the first few tries, trying different sizes of grind.  Since my Cuisinart bean grinder doesn't allow any adjustments, it was always a guess.  It was fairly easy to get a consistent, fine grind, but with anything coarser, I always had pieces of varying sizes.

In finding the answer to a question from Prince Steadfast, whose engineer's curiosity needed to know how the moka pot worked, I found an excellent diagram and helpful explanation offered by, and also some great written directions.  These let me know that the finer grind was what I needed.  It also let me know that the gurgling sound was the end of the process, while the written instructions said only that it's finished 'when the pot is full.'

My opinion of this little pot is that it's great!  Our coffee drinks, hot or blended with ice, are much richer and tastier.  

Click to see larger

It's easy to operate... Fill the base with water up to the steam valve, put in the coffee filter/basket and fill it with fresh-ground coffee (starting with a rounded 1/4 cup of whole beans), then screw the top to the bottom, 
and heat over medium flame (just enough to heat the bottom without flames coming up the sides).  

It takes just under 5 minutes until I hear that wonderful little gurgling sound.  

I use about 1/4 cup with about 1 cup of hot soy milk, a splash of cream, and a bit of honey, almond milk "creamer," or coffee syrup (my favorite is Hazelnut Torani Syrup) to taste.  It's so much better, that it's more fun to make my daily cup, so I broke out my AeroLatte again to add some froth and do it up right.

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