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Walk into an Italian home and you're more than likely to spot one of these distinctive octagonal contraptions. For over 8 decades, the Bialetti Moka Express has been used by coffee lovers in Italy and the world over to make fantastic espresso-style coffee simply and easily.
All you need to do is fill the bottom with water, fill the filter basket with freshly ground coffee and put your Moka Express (or moka pot as some people call it) on the stove and within minutes you will have a rich and delicious coffee. Read below for more detailed instructions.
Please note that as it is made of aluminium, this coffee maker will not work on modern induction stoves (the kind that aren't hot to the touch which are still rare in SA). For an induction-ready, stainless steel stovetop, please have a look at the Bialetti Venus.
The Bialetti Moka Express comes in a variety of sizes - each cup corresponding roughly to a ~25ml espresso shot and most people tend to like doubles. When choosing your size, please bear in mind that the Bialetti stovetop will not work well when partially full, so pick a size that you'll be happy to fill completely each time. Many people will have a larger one for groups and a smaller one for solo cups of delicious coffee.
Here are our recommendations in terms of number of people being brewed for:
- 1 person - 1/2 cup
- 2 people - 3/4 cup
- 3 people - 6 cup
- 4-5 people - 9 cup
- 6 people - 12 cup
- 7+ people - 18 cup
The history of the Bialetti Moka Express
Legend has it that Alfonso Bialetti designed his first stovetop in his aluminium workshop in Piedmont. At that time in Italy, coffee was drunk in public coffee houses and there wasn't any decent solution for making a great coffee at home. Bialetti went to work and after many prototypes, the Moka Express was born in 1933.
Initially Bialetti's invention was sold at local markets but after the second world war, his son Renato launched an advertising campaign based around the little man with the moustache that still adorns every Bialetti stovetop. Some say it was meant to be a caricature of Alfonso Bialetti himself. Whether true or not, this campaign helped propel the Moka Express to becoming the best selling coffee maker of all time, with over 300 million sold to date!
- Makes a concentrated rich espresso-style coffee
- Made of highly durable aluminium - they have been known to last a lifetime
- Easy to clean - just rinse & wipe and allow to dry
- Suitable for gas or electric stoves
- Great for camping
How to make a coffee with the Bialetti Moka Express
- Grind your coffee to a medium-fine grind (slightly coarser than espresso)
- Fill the bottom chamber with water up to the valve. Ideally this water should already be hot to avoid the coffee sitting on the stove too long but cold water works too!
- Place your ground coffee in the filter basket and level off. It should be full but do not tamp the coffee down - you want it loosely packed.
- Place the filter basket in the bottom chamber with the water and screw on the top part (don't use the plastic handle for leverage).
- Place the Moka Express on the stove on a medium heat
- Watch or listen for the coffee to start coming out (you can lift the top)
- Once the coffee turns light in colour or you start hearing gurgling, immediately take the Moka Express off the heat. The trick is to catch it before you overheat the coffee.
- Pour immediately!
How to care for your Moka Express
Let the Moka Express cool down before cleaning it. Once cool, take it apart completely, rinse it, give it a wipe and dry it thoroughly. Do not put it in the dishwasher or use abrasives.
It does not really need soap and, in fact, they say that the coffee oil coatings on the inside will help to improve the flavour with time. However, if it starts to collect too much buildup, a gentle clean with dish soap isn't a bad idea.
Always let it dry completely before putting it back together!