We love the idea of setting the right tone for viewings so we create a bespoke playlist for every home and play it whilst people look around their new home, we light candles and make sure the lighting is just right. But the old ideas are still the best – baking bread in the oven and a pot of fresh coffee on the stove captures everyones’ attention. That is why we have started roasting our own coffee,” explains Paul on his latest ride in the quest to make selling homes more interesting.
In the first of a series of Journals about coffee we look at the iconic Moka Express and why we believe it is the best way to brew coffee.
In a world filled to the brim with complex coffee-making machinery, the classic Moka Express remains our favourite.
The Moka Express is ubiquitous in Italy, anchored to the stovetop of nine out of ten Italian kitchens. The rest of the world is no stranger to this humble espresso maker either—over 270 million Moka pots have been sold internationally, and it features in the permanent collections of both New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Design Museum.
Its inventor, Alfonso Bialetti, was born in 1888 in the sleepy lakeside town of Omegna, Italy. As rumour has it, he began developing the Moka Express in 1931 following a failed attempt at building a motorcycle. Bialetti was not a designer but a metallurgist, an entrepreneur and, according to Harvard professor and cultural historian Jeffrey Schnapp, “a tinkerer.”
Perhaps for this reason, the design—despite its unmistakable octagonal form—is not exactly original. “There was a coffee service by Puiforcat and several others by Hénin that were reproduced in Casabella, an Italian architecture and design magazine,” says Schnapp. “The designs look similar to that of the Moka Express. My suspicion is that Bialetti borrowed from these.”
Even so, the functionality of Bialetti’s coffeemaker makes up for whatever it lacks in appearance. Inspired by local laundry techniques and experiments derived from the first generation of larger, industrial coffee machines, the Moka pot functions thanks to a pressure chamber that pushes water through coffee grinds into a smaller container.
The Moka Express remains almost unchanged after over 80 years despite fierce competition from the AeroPress, the Hario V60, even the Nespresso. Bialetti’s coffeepot will endure as a benchmark of home brewing for coffee aficionados across the globe and it will always be our only method of making his morning brew.
The Perfect Coffee with a Moka Express
Preheat the water. Bring kettle water to a boil and remove from heat.
This keeps the temperature of the Moka pot from getting too hot and cooking the coffee, imparting a metallic taste.
Grind your coffee on a drip coffee setting, about as fine as table salt. You need enough coffee to fill the filter basket, which is about 15 to 17 grams (or about 2.5 Tablespoons) for a 4-cup Bialetti Moka pot.
Add the heated water and fill to the line in the bottom of the brewer.
Insert the filter basket into the brewer bottom.
Fill the basket with coffee, slightly mounded, and level the surface off with your finger. Brush away loose grounds on the top edge of the filter basket.
Screw the top and bottom together. Don’t over tighten.
Put the brewer on the stove, use moderate heat and make sure that the handle is not subjected to heat. Leave the top lid open.
The coffee will begin to come out and you will hear a puffing sound and see a rich-brown stream that will get progressively lighter in colour. Once the stream is the colour of yellow honey, remove from heat source and close the lid.
Wrap the bottom of the pot in a chilled towel or run under cold tap water to stop extraction. This prevents the coffee from developing a metallic taste. The idea here is to get a relatively small amount of coffee which is very concentrated and rich.
As soon as the coffee stops bubbling out, pour it into cups or a carafe. You may wish to dilute with hot water depending on preference.