Take one look at an espresso as it drips from the machine into a tiny little coffee cup, and you might think you’re staring at chocolate syrup.
Where did it Come From?
Espresso originated in Italy in the early 1900’s, and has become a very popular, and incredibly tasty drink, when made properly. The word Espresso is Italian and can be translated to mean “pressed out” coffee. It is made by by forcing steam through a ground coffee beans, at a high pressure.
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What’s the Big Deal?
There are many factors that come into play when making a shot of espresso. The way the coffee is ground and packed, the temperature and the pressure of the water, and of course, the person making the espresso, all contribute to this wonderful luxury. The beauty of espresso, is that it can be drank plain, or it can be used as the coffee base of my other drinks, like a latte, or cappuccino.
What is it that makes this drink so popular, and such a luxury? Until recently, I thought that there was a special espresso bean that was darker and more caffeinated that is used to make it. Actually, you can pretty much use any type of coffee bean to make espresso. I hope you’re just as surprised as I was to here that!
If you try an espresso in California, it will most likely be made using a dark roast coffee bean. But if you go to the east coast, it will probably be made using a lighter roast of coffee.
How is it Made?
What makes an espresso so amazing, is in the method that it is brewed, or as some might say, extracted. To begin with, the beans are ground very fine, until they are about the consistency of sugar or even finer. The finer the grind, the longer the espresso will take to brew.
The coffee grounds are then packed into a basket using a tamper. Then, pressurized water is forced through the grounds. This usually takes around 25 seconds. The result, is a delicious shot of espresso, which you can then use to make your favorite coffee drink.
I Can’t Afford an Espresso Machine
There are many types of espresso makers out there, and if you want a good one, it will cost you quite a bit of money. Being all so desperate for a solution to my for an espresso, I went out and bought a stove top espresso maker, also known as a Moka pot, at Home Goods for six dollars. There are many different types of Moka pots out there, but the consensus is that the Bialetti is the original.
The Moka pot is not going to make the exact same thing as an espresso, but it will make a very good clean cup of very strong coffee. Its probably the closest thing to an espresso you can make, without actually buying an expensive espresso machine.
5 Simple Steps to Make Stove Top Espresso
So how do you make coffee using this crazy little contraption? It’s actually quite simple. There are two halves to the Moka pot. The top one is where the brewed coffee will end up, the bottom half, is where you will add your water and coffee grounds.
Unscrew the pot in the middle, and remove the storage basket from the bottom half of the pot. Add the desired amount of water to the lower half, but don’t fill it passed the valve located about 3/4 of the way up.
Now you can add freshly ground coffee to the basket. If you are grinding your own beans, use a finer grind than you would for drip. You can grind it as fine as you’d like, but it’s recommended not to, as grounds can fall through the holes in the basket and get into your coffee. Fill the basket completely full, but don’t pack it tight.
Screw the top half of the pot back on, making sure that you get it snug so that water won’t leak out on you. I’d hate to waste any of that good coffee.
Finally, place the pot on your stove to heat the water. If you’re using a gas stove, set the flame so that it is no larger than the diameter of the bottom of the pot. I have an electric stove, and setting the heat to a medium high setting works just fine for me.
Pretty soon, you’ll start to hear the coffee percolate, as it is filling the top half of the pot. You’ll probably also hear a little bit of a whistling just before this happens. When the coffee is finished, steam will emerge from the spout, and the percolating sound will stop. Your coffee is now ready to drink!
This was probably one of my best purchases when it comes to coffee brewing devices. It doesn’t make an espresso like a fancy expensive machine would, but it makes a very good cup of strong coffee, and just as delicious as an espresso!