Questions, comments or suggestions? email me at:
Don't miss out a chance to win in our monthly "Croatianicity" t-shirt draw!
As well as our monthly Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic fridge magnet give away!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Tips On How To Make Stove Top Espresso While In Croatia (Or Even When Not In Croatia)

A typical outdoor cafe scene in Zagreb, Croatia. Now you too can feel like you're having an espresso in Croatia or other European location, but in the comfort of your own home and kitchen and refills are always free. Image:

Well, the other day I ordered online one of those original style art deco looking stove top espresso makers. I was having cravings for some of the stronger and creamier coffees I've had in the past, and since I enjoy a good espresso, it seemed like a logical idea. For once in a while at least, since cafes around here to get a real espresso type coffee are rare.  I ordered it from Walmart and these original style stove top espresso makers are very inexpensive. There's no need to get into spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to have a strong, creamy and more intense flavor tasting coffee, that is unless you own a cafe and/or want to make all the various related specialty coffee drinks, with the steamed milk, foam etc. Since this is an educational blog, I decided to do this post just in case there are other readers who like espressos or thought about making espressos at home but were unsure exactly how to start. What's all involved. Sometimes if you're on your computer and you have a craving for an espresso, but there's no place around to grab one, then this will save your life.

Anyway, these types of stove top espresso makers started being made in the 30's, invented by some Italian guy in the 1930's, coincidentally during the art deco era which explains whey they look art deco. (Did you know that todays word "cafeteria" originally and today literally just means a coffee shop?) Since that time however, you will see them practically everywhere in Europe, in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and just about everywhere you go actually and anywhere they sell espresso coffee beans, it's not uncommon to see one in the kitchen, usually sitting on a shelf ready to go or on a counter, just sitting there like a piece of art deco art when not in use. (For those who aren't even sure what an espresso is: espresso)

It's basically idiot proof to make a great tasting coffee using one of these, which are also called a moka pot, but there's just these few little things that you have to know. Things that you will do or not do automatically and not even think about them after a while, like riding a bike. Things like....

1 - Do NOT use detergent to wash them when finished, because that oily coffee film that starts filling up any crevices or pores inside the coffee maker after time, actually adds to the flavour of the coffee, giving you a more intense coffee drinking experience, you don't want to taste dish detergent in your espresso. Just rinse, clean with a plain sponge and just water and then let dry.

2 - NEVER, ever fill the water past the steam outlet valve, because it's there for a reason. If you screw up and fill the water to the very top and have the stove set to high, there's a good chance of you getting a free hole in your ceiling. If or when the time comes to replace the screen or gasket or you break a handle and you can't find one that fits your exact model, no problem, it's not worth the aggravation and time of hunting around for them. Just buy a new one, they're so cheap and have paid for themselves so many times over anyway. (Although, if you take proper care it could last you 20 years)  If you paid a little more from a brand name coffee maker, they will have the gaskets etc, so I would buy a few spares at the same time for down the road.

3 - Do NOT pack the coffee grinds tightly, just fill it a little past the lip loosely and tap lightly, just make sure the threads and contact points are clean for a tight seal. Packing the coffee grinds too tight won't allow the water to flow through all the grinds evenly and properly to absorb all the coffee flavour it can, if you pack it too tight you will build build pressure, too much pressure is not what you want, you want fresh flowing brewed coffee.

4 -  Do NOT put ordinary auto-drip coffee maker grinds in, save the Maxwell House for your coffee maker. You can however buy espresso beans and grind them yourself for the freshest ground coffee, and you can even roast them in a pan before grinding if you want extra stronger flavour. Espresso grind is on the very fine side, just don't grind them too fine because remember the water has to freely flow through it. (If the ground coffee has the consistency of talcum powder you grinded it too much)

5 - You CAN brew the coffee over a gas burner stove or electric stove top, but the main thing to remember is to set it to medium. NEVER set the stove to high because you can't rush the coffee brewing process and you can't fill it only halfway either. They're designed to work at all times on medium heat and full capacity water/coffee grinds amounts. ALWAYS and at all times. You can get them in different sizes but there's still no such thing as making just half a pot of coffee with these things.

A typical evening cafe scene in the city of Rijeka. Now that you know the secrets and tips of how to brew an espresso at home, you also won't have to waste time going to your own local crappy cafe or coffee shop either.

There are other tips I could get into, but those are the 5 major ones. The espresso coffee you will make with one of these stove top coffee makers won't be exactly the same as one you will get in a cafe, a proper espresso is made with about 9 bars of pressure, and these stove top kinds have about 1-2 bars of pressure, but they get the job done and give a fine tasting cup of coffee, importantly with that crema floating on top which really infuses the espresso with intense flavour. Basically it tastes the same as a cafe no milk espresso. Also good to know, it pays for itself after about only 3 or 4 times of using it.

Sure you'll miss out on all the great scenery, ambiance  and conversation, but with a stove top espresso maker you can drink your coffee while, ....I dunno, doing other stuff.

Now, I'm not going to go overboard with tips like an espresso aficionado or connoisseur or some cafe bar waiter. Some of the videos I came across regarding how to use a stove top espresso maker, and there's tons and tons of them btw, all kinds of tips, everyone is making tips on Youtube these days, even how to debox your new moka pot. How to debox everything actually. (I might even make a Youtube video myself down the road on how to open up a package of socks or underwear, maybe even how to debox a box of crackers), they were giving just way too much information and tips that you don't need. One guy made a Youtube video in his kitchen and he was using a portable gas bunsen burner to make the coffee on the counter, but he didn't need to do that because the stove was just right there just inches away. He also was going on and on about grinding his coffee and which coffee grinders are the best to buy, but you can buy espresso coffee grinds already grinded. I don't know why but one woman in her "how to" video was using a 3/4 measuring cup to add the water and it ended up being well below the steam outlet valve, this is wrong. No matter what size of a stove top espresso maker you are using, just fill it up to just under the steam outlet valve, that's all you need to know. There's no need for any measuring cups, we're making coffee not baking bread.

Are you going to actually pay for an espresso and then put up with the crap such as this egregious display in the city of Pula, why it's full of nothing but those Brazil gay horse fuck video producers and actors. Image:

Why, I remember it just like it was yesterday, during the 2009 Croatia trip I stayed at some hostels while doing my tour along the Croatian coast. (I look younger than I am and got along no problems with the younger crowd doing their summer Euro-tour thing, besides most of the time you're out doing and seeing things, living the life of a carefree artist experiencing, travelling and learning things anyway and only need somewhere to sleep, shower and wi-fi basically, maybe a quick load of laundry too Also, the hostels there are really something, super inexpensive, clean, friendly helpful staff, satellite TV, cool lounge areas, located close to the city centres many times with awesome views and actually better than some hotel rooms I've seen in my time, (a few examples), some of them have great deals on cheap, cold beers and other things too, and of course interesting people with interesting travel stories) Anyway, at the hostels there's usually free coffee, instant coffee or tea, a kettle of some sort and usually one of these stove top espresso makers in the kitchen area somewhere. Like I said, they're very common over there in many, many peoples kitchens. (Heck, you could even pack yours in your luggage or buy one there and that way you will always have one ready to go at all times)

Since they don't need electricity, these things are also ideal for taking along for camping trips or wherever there's no electricity, all you need is heat or some sort of flame. So anyway, the below at random article I found is short and basically to the point and will save me lots of typing and having to take any photos. There's plenty more similar articles and videos out there if you're still not sure.

Why have to put up with the awful hassle and trouble of your local typical summer evening cafe scene shitfuckery, like this in the coastal city of Zadar. It's pointless when you can open up your own espresso bar in the kitchen and even your very own espresso coffee patio on the front porch. Image: Matt Field/Time Out.

A final good to know tip and yet another good reason to have one nearby in the kitchen, and this they don't usually put in the instruction manuel, is in case you ever get one of those unexpected or unwanted coffee intruders, if you know what I mean. The pot is pretty solid built but not too heavy, (many times made of aluminum or stainless steel), and it has some good sharp edges and a pointy spout, so a few good wacks with the art deco coffee pot and you can get rid of the coffee intruder in no time at all) Well, I wrote a longer introduction to the article than I intended to, but I just got mine and have already drank 3 full pots of espresso, so I'm sort of hopped up on caffeine and writing this on my Macbook on the roof right now, and I didn't even need a ladder to get up here. I'm even already looking forward to the next pot of espresso, now that says a lot.

(Update - The stove top espresso maker that I bought actually arrived with the handle broken, I was warned about the quality after reading some product reviews, and arriving with broken handles seems to be quite a common occurrence, but I thought I would take a chance anyway because the price was peanuts. I superglued the handle back and it was fine for the next 3 days. The good news though is that Walmart gave me a refund no problem, and I walked the couple of blocks to the local Canadian Tire to get one I saw on their website, there after half an hour of describing to the guy what a stove top espresso maker is, what it looks like and hunting for it, we eventually found them on a shelf tucked in among various mugs instead of the coffee makers section. (the mugs section, not the tires or duck hunting section) A very similar one for a similar price, importantly with the handle already attached. I also found a 20 dollar bill on the ground on the way back home, so the new espresso coffee maker didn't cost me anything. All's well that ends well I guess)


So You Want To Make An Espresso At Home But Don't Know How.....

Text source/images:

(Source link has more images and information, below is the basics)

Couple of weeks ago I bought a moka pot to my father for father's day present. So far I have been the only person using it, mainly because I have made coffee with it when I'd like to have a cup of espresso, and from the same pot everyone else got their espressos too if they wanted.

What I have searched on instructables, I haven't seen any instructable (only) on making coffee with moka pot. There's how to use a moka pot in some instructables, but they were like just one step. So I thought that this wonderful drink would need an instructable of it's own!

Be sure to comment about anything: what was good, what wasn't, if there's some misspelling or anything you would like to know (I'll do my best to answer). Let me know what you think!

Step 1: What you're gonna need

You're going to need just a couple of things:

-Moka pot
-Espresso grind coffee*
-Espresso cup

*If you have a coffee grinder, then I would prefer just espresso coffee beans and grind them at home to a very fine grind, but I don't happen to have a coffee grinder so I am going to use already grind beans. Both will work fine.

Then you will need water of course, but that's kinda obvious so I propably don't have to put it on the list above.

Step 2: Water

Step 3: Coffee grinds

Next put the filter (funnel looking thing) in place like you may see from the pictures. Then you'll just have to put there your coffee grinds. For full pot put it full of coffee grinds and little bit over (the pictures will be good again). When I make two cups, I usually put about two very heeping teaspoons of coffee grinds or something like that. You'll get it right with couple of tries. And the amount may vary on the coffee brand you're using - some might taste better with little less or more grinds.

They say that you shouldn't tamp the grinds at all, but I like to just smooth the surface with very little pressure. Be sure that the coffee grinds are only in the "funnel" part, not on the threads. Do not tamp like you'd do with the other kind of espresso makers.

What do you call those..?

Step 4: The top

Then you need to screw the top part on. Screw it on pretty tight, but you really don't have to twist as hard as you can, just so it stays on well and won't leak. And before screwing on, you should check is the gasket on the top part okay. If not, you should buy new one. They might have those gaskets there where you have bought your moka pot. This part is really the easiest, but I just wanted to write more than "Screw on the top".

Step 5: Stove

Turn on your stove to the highest temperature. Place your moka pot on the stove with the pot's lid closed. Any stovetype works, except induction stoves. For them you'll need a special moka pot.

After a little while you will start hearing a little "noise" which is the water boiling and distilling through the coffee grinds and up to the top. When the noise gets louder take the pot off the stove. Now your espresso is ready.

You shouldn't have your lid open like on my second picture below, because the coffee can squirt from there, and it's hot. So be careful. Actually when coffee starts comming up, it propably (by my experience) won't squirt at all, but when the louder noise starts up, it may and will come out "violently". Anyways, keeping the lid closed won't do anything bad to you - you really don't need to see there, the sound tells it all.

Step 6: Ready

Pour your finished espresso into your espresso cup or froth some milk and make a cappucino or a latte. You'll find instructions for those from somewhere else.

Enjoy your delicious espresso! Next how to wash a moka pot.

Step 7: Washing up a moka pot

Do not put your moka pot into washing machine. You'll need to wash it up by hands, literally. You're gonna use only water and your hands. Simply:

1. Open your pot
2. Throw away your used coffee grinds
3. Wash the filter part under running water
4. Do the same to other parts too
5. Dry

Do not use dishwashing soap. It might eat away your pot. If your pot gets somehow very dirty, you could use boiling water and some sort of brush and maybe just a tiny bit of dishwashing soap. If (and propably is) your pot is made of aluminium, you could use some aluminium washing soap (made for dishes).

Seriously, I think using soap won't really eat a way your pot immediately, but they say that it's not good for it so I wouldn't use it anyway.

Like I said, you will find these kinds of inexpensive basic espresso stove top coffee makers (aka moka pot) all over Europe and not only in Italy, (She just happens to be going to school in Italy). This video is straight to the point, too many videos were even ruining it with overly loud music in the background throughout the whole video that made you want to open up a restaurant or watch a Godfather/gangster movie instead of making an espresso coffee. You can also fill it with hot tap water to quicken the brewing process. There are numerous personal tips and ways to brew, you can experiment with them until you make your brewed espresso exactly the way you want it to taste.

Another simple video showing the basics, in this one he's not even talking. There are tons of more videos and plenty of websites about this topic. Notice around the 4:15 mark that foamy "crema" starting to float on top, that's the stuff I'm talking about, pure intense coffee flavour. (Oh yeah, keep the pot just off of center so the handle doesn't get too hot)

Another simple and straight to the point video. There's many more video tips HERE.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Whether you agree, disagree or have a sure to check back because we will answer or reply to every comment...Mi govorimo Hrvatski također čovječe.

Featured post

And The Croatian City To Be A European Capital of Culture In 2020 Will Be...(Drum Roll).....Rijeka

Yep, I know it's still 2 years away and I already covered this topic last year when it was announced, but I added a few extra ima...