Back to Basics: Stovetop Espresso

Back to Basics: Stovetop Espresso

Amber Byfield
Sep 22, 2008

92208_stovetop.jpgAll the talk last week about coffee had us craving espresso. So over the weekend, we re-discovered a very basic, filter-free way to enjoy espresso. It's much quieter and actually less hands-on than a regular machine, and we think it makes a more velvety shot of espresso than our little plug-in.

After three years of collective barista work, we thought we knew that the only way to make perfect espresso was to have a very powerful steam machine. Now we realize we were completely wrong.

This weekend, we dusted off our old stovetop espresso maker that hasn't gotten much play since Christmas, when we were gifted the electric one. And we're changing our ways and going back to the basics.

The macchinetta (Italian for "little machine") or moka is a cast aluminum espresso maker that heats water up in the lower basin, pushes the steam up through the espresso grounds, and makes a velvety-rich espresso with a beautiful crema on top.

There's no real trick to making this kind of espresso: there's no tamping the grounds, no filters, no timing. The only thing to remember is to pull the machine off the heat right when it starts gurgling, so that the espresso does not boil.

It's such a simple and efficient way to enjoy some espresso. As for steamed milk, there are also stovetop steaming pitchers.

As life seems to become more automated and less personal, we've become big proponents of slowing down and taking things back to the basics. From a dryer to a clothesline, from store-bought veggies to growing our own, from buying coffee at the corner chain store to making it at home.

And it seems as if all these shifts toward the "old" way of doing things have a green factor: toning down the products you use and buy will always be a great way to make a sustainable choice. What better start to the day?

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