Espresso – what the Italians, ahem, call il caffè – is so popular you find it all around the world. If you love il caffè italiano [Italian coffee] and want to try replicating it outside of Italy, stock up on Italian-roasted coffee and bring una moka home.
The word moka refers to a specific kind of caffettiera, a simple espresso maker for at-home use originally invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti. The Bialetti brand continues to thrive today, with stores in every major city that sell all sizes and forms of moka, in addition to other types of kitchen equipment.
Whether you’re in a Bialetti store or looking at caffettiere elsewhere, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Here are few things to keep in mind while shopping for your own moka:
– How much caffè do you want to drink? Depending on the size of the upper chamber, a moka can yield 1 to 12 tazze [cups, as in small espresso cups, not an 8-ounce American cup]. If you tend to go overboard with your coffee consumption, consider getting a smaller size.
– Do you prefer plugging things in? You don’t need a stove with una caffettiera elettrica, which makes it a convenient choice for moka-lovers who travel frequently. Remember: Italian appliances run on 230 V, so you’ll need a 110 V adapter to get it working in the USA, where your fire-free moka may take twice (or thrice) as long to produce your caffè.
– How are you going to fill your moka? Do you want to bring vacuum-sealed packages of il caffè macinato [ground coffee] home, or can you grind your own beans to the proper consistency / fineness? Consider that il caffè macinato isn’t the only option for filling a caffettiera. There’s also a model of moka that runs on pods.
More moka info and factoids are available here and here.
If this is the kind of learning you like to do, pick up a copy of Italian Through Food!