8 Steps to Making the Best Italian Coffee

Italian coffee

The Italians are known for many things- fashion, sleek sports cars, pizza and, of course, coffee. Coffee has a long and rich history in Italy, going all the way back to Venice in the 16th century when coffee beans were first introduced to Europe.

Ever since then, Italians take immense pride in their world-renowned coffee. To the uninitiated, coffee can seem like a simple process of combining beans and coffee. To the Italians, coffee-making is an integral and ritualized part of the day, involving centuries of finely-tuned tricks to make the perfect cuppa.

Read on for the eight essential steps to make Italian-style coffee. Warning: once you taste it, you will never enjoy American coffee again!

1. Your equipment

The moka is the distinctive silver pot used to make coffee every morning, afternoon and night. Italians cringe at the idea of a Keurig- if you are looking for the Italian way, look for a moka.

The moka has three main compartments- the boiler, the funnel cup and the top chamber. Do your research on how to properly use, clean and take care of your moka. There are many tidbits of time-honored wisdom, such as using a toothpick to create little holes in the coffee and remembering to properly screw on the lid.

2. Your ingredients

Your ingredients make or break the flavor profile of your coffee, so invest in good quality ingredients if you can.

You can shop online for reputable Italian brands (I like the Lavazza espresso) and find the right size of coffee ground for your machine and preferences.

3. The water

The wisdom surrounding the perfect type of water varies from family to family in Italy. Some swear that tap water tastes the best, while others prefer using filtered bottled water.

Unless you have extremely refined tastes, you might not be able to tell the difference. However, it is still recommended that you experiment with several different types of water to find what suits you the most.

4. Use the perfect amount of heat

The heat will affect how fast the water is driven from the boiler through the funnel cup, therefore impacting the overall flavor.

You want to use low heat on the smallest burner you must allow the water to be drawn through the funnel cup slowly, maximizing the flavor. It also reduces the risk of burnt coffee.

5. Listen

Unlike some forms of cooking where you can put on a timer and wander off until it’s done, making Italian coffee with a moka is an engaging process that requires your attentiveness.

Although the process will usually take five minutes, the real sign that the coffee is done is the distinctive gurgling sound of the coffee rising into the top chamber. Once you hear this sound, you should immediately take the coffee off the heat to prevent it from burning.

6. Find the perfect cups

Similar to how wine glasses have their distinctive shape to improve the drinking experience, there are espresso cups perfectly designed to hold the heat and flavor of the coffee.

Often called a demitasse, the perfect espresso cup holds around two fl.oz. It should be made from ceramic or heat-treated glassware to preserve the flavor of your espresso.

7. Stir well

Typically, the coffee at the top of your top chamber of the moka will be slightly watery, while the coffee at the bottom will be thick with sediment.

For the perfectly consistent cup of espresso, remember to stir the coffee thoroughly in the top chamber.

8. Know some variations

Although you’ve now been introduced to the basics of Italian coffee making, the possibilities are truly endless.

Knowing some different options to try, such as cappuccinos, macchiatos and even more modern variations including the affogato- a scoop of vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso.

Hopefully this article has demystified the rituals and process around Italian coffee so you can add some class to your morning coffee!


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