Italian coffee maker: how to use Bialetti or Moka as in Italy

One of the biggest marks of having lived in Italy was the habit of using the Italian coffee maker. The house I lived in had four Bialetti coffee makers, and when I arrived, I didn’t even understand why I had so many! But today I can say that I was experienced in the subject and I will teach you how to use yours to make the best moka! And, yet, you will know which techniques and accessories will make all the difference when using the Bialetti or another moka coffee maker!

What is an Italian coffee maker

First of all, it is important to explain the concept of the Italian coffee maker, also known as Moka. It is a pressure tool, a coffee maker that prepares coffee using steam! It was patented by Alfonso Bialetti, a specialist in foundry and semi-finished aluminum from the Piedmont region in Italy. In his company, called Bialetti, a model of coffee maker created in Italy and metal was created in the 1930s, which was then called Moka Express.

Bialetti "Moka Express" is the original Italian coffee maker
Bialetti “Moka Express” is the original Italian coffee maker | Photo by Christian Naccarato at Pexels.com

According to the UCofee blog, the name Moca means Yemen, which is where good coffee was produced. Also according to them, the design created by the Bialetti brand means the silhouette of women. It is also inspired by the observation of their creator washing clothes in the tank, which received water through a central pipe. In this way, the water from the Italian coffee maker, when used, boils and rises to the six-pack.

Use of Bialetti in the world

Today, the moka coffee maker is used throughout Europe, but also in different parts of the world. There are several sizes for making coffee at Bialetti with a capacity of 1 to 18 cups of 50 ml coffee. There are also several other moka brands today, but I, as a good Italian and a fan of the original invention, think the Bialetti coffee maker is the best!

Today the Bialetti coffee maker became known as the Italian coffee maker, or moka, and conquered the world
Today the Bialetti coffee maker became known as the Italian coffee maker, or moka, and conquered the world | Photo by JACK REDGATE at Pexels.com

In this process of making coffee in Bialetti or another moka, the ground beans are placed in the funnel and water in a container at the bottom of the Italian coffee maker. When placed under the fire, the water boils and presses the coffee – that is why it is considered a pressure coffee maker – to the top of the coffee maker, known as the collector. It results in a very aromatic, tasty and full-bodied liquid, somewhat similar to espresso.

What size of Italian coffee maker to use

As I mentioned, when I arrived in Italy, when I lived in Calabria, I didn’t understand why there were several Bialetti coffee makers in the house I rented. In fact, I had never made coffee in a Moka and I didn’t even know how to use the Italian coffee maker! But then I realized that the best result is obtained when using the Italian coffee maker to make the exact amount of its capacity!

The three models of Bialetti coffee makers I use at home
The three models of Bialetti coffee makers I use at home

This cup in the photo has more capacity than an Italian coffee, because the traditional one is very short. Over time, I realized that I have a double Italian coffee and so does my husband. With that, the amount for each is 2 cups. If I’m going to make coffee at Bialetti just for me or my husband just for him, I need to use the first Italian coffee maker in the photo, which is for 2 cups.

However, if we are going to make it for both, we need the last Italian coffee maker, which is 4 cups, of the Moka Express model. Sometimes we want a smaller quantity, so we have a version halfway, which is 3 cups model Rainbow (colored) and gives a little less for each one.

Our favorite Bialetti

The one that lasts the longest, in my opinion, is the original Moka Express, after all, it has almost a decade of history! But, without a doubt, there are other more beautiful models, like this little one that I have, which is a Bialetti Inox and rust less, but they say it clogs more.

I chose to have an Italian Bialetti stainless steel coffee maker because it is more beautiful and I wanted to test
I chose to have an Italian Bialetti stainless steel coffee maker because it is more beautiful and I wanted to test

First step to using the Italian coffee maker

Water is a fundamental element for any good coffee, after all, more than 90% of it is water. Therefore, always use mineral water with little sodium. Also, don’t even think about using filtered water at home. That’s because chlorine interferes a lot in flavor! Here in Europe the waters usually have a lot of sodium and limestone, so I need to look at the label carefully before choosing the brand I will use to make coffee in the Bialetti coffee maker.

The water quality directly interferes when using the moka coffee maker
The quality of the water directly interferes when using the moka coffee maker | Photo by Suzy Hazelwood at Pexels.com

Separate quality coffee, preferably arabica

Just like water, the quality of the coffee is essential to get the best out of the Moka. With that, opt for specialty coffees or 100% Arabica. Always remember that a bad coffee cannot turn into a good liquid no matter how much you invest in the best technique and the best Italian coffee maker! In addition, the recent roasting changes a lot, so check this information on the label! We always take coffee from Brazil when we visit the family, and our favorite brands are OrpheusSanta Monica, and Pessegueiro. Here we ended up buying Italians, like Segafredo, Illy and Lavazza Oro, but my favorite is Mauro, who is from my Calabria and more difficult to find.

The bean has a direct impact on the coffee flavor in the moka
The bean has a direct impact on the taste of coffee made in the Moka | Photo by Arshad Sutar at Pexels.com

Check for proper grinding

It is also important to know the correct grind for the Italian coffee maker, which is average. That is, it is not too thin so as not to block the water. But neither super thick, so as not to leave the coffee weak. At first, I used the Italian coffee maker with ground coffee. Over time, we realized that there was a huge difference in grinding and so, after doing a lot of research, we decided to buy a manual grinder. The choice was made by the Hario brand for the quality of the material and durability, the brand’s specialization in the coffee market, the possibility of adjusting and grinding precision, in addition to the space it occupies, as the super good electronics are huge. Another advantage of the Manual Coffee Mill HARIO Model Skerton Black 100 g is that it has a small bottle where the ground coffee is stored and you can use the powder on another day.

But we also evaluated an electric version with good cost-benefit and good reviews on the specialized blogs UCoffee, Grão Gourmet, and Grão Torrado. It is the Adjustable Coffee Grinder, Black, 110v, Hamilton Beach.

How to put coffee in the Italian coffee maker

Separate the ground coffee, fill the funnel of your moka coffee maker. Then put the powder up to the highest level of the funnel, but without leaving any coffee on the edge to avoid damaging the threading of the Italian coffee maker. It is also important not to compact the powder, that is, do not squeeze, do not press.

If there is dust on the edge of the funnel or in the threading areas, as in the photo, over time you will have problems using the Bialetti
If there is dust on the edge of the funnel or in the threading areas, as in the photo, over time you will have problems using the Bialetti

The best way is to put it with a spoon or a meter because if you stick the funnel itself in the packaging you will compact it. It should be noted that the funnel is already bundled with Bialetti, but you can buy a new one on Amazon if you need to, paying attention to its size.

How to add water to use the Italian coffee maker

Having chosen water without chlorine and low sodium or limestone, fill your moka coffee maker with water up to the measure of the safety valve, located in the lower part of the coffee maker, called a boiler. The valve therefore serves to mark the water limit when making coffee at Bialetti. A trick is to heat the water first and put it already hot in that part. This helps not to burn the coffee and makes it faster to prepare.

Another tip is to put some – but very little, droplets – of cold water in the collector (the upper area) of Bialetti. Thus, when the coffee rises, it will not burn when it comes in contact with the hot metal.

Leaving the Italian coffee maker prepared with these tips before placing it on the stove will make all the difference in your moka
Leaving the Italian coffee maker prepared with these tips before placing it on the stove will make all the difference in your moka | Photo by Kaboompics .com at Pexels.com

How to put the Bialetti coffee maker on the stove and correct time to take it out

How to use Bialetti after you have put everything in? Simply put the Italian coffee maker on medium heat, as too strong can leave the coffee burnt! Leave the moka there, with the lid open. Seriously, without closing it. But don’t move away! Always stand by the moka coffee maker. Then go, from time to time, checking if the water will come out. As soon as the coffee starts to rise to the collector, close the lid of the Italian coffee maker. When you start doing shhhhh, which is the steam coming out more strongly at the end, turn off the stove and remove the moka coffee maker! These are tips that also make a big difference when using Bialetti. When making coffee at Bialetti without turning off the stove when the water rises, you will leave the liquid with a burning taste!

How to wash the coffee maker after making coffee at Bialetti

This is a fundamental step in conserving the Italian coffee maker. After the moka has cooled down, wash it thoroughly with hot water only. Do not use chemicals, such as detergent, as they can alter the taste of the next coffees. Also, do not use a loofah to avoid taking off the protection of metals, but pass your hand well on all surfaces, on all parts, to remove all residue from the drink and dust, especially in the funnel and the collector.

Knowing how to wash the Italian coffee maker is essential: here at home we use this drainer to ensure that all water evaporates naturally
Knowing how to wash the Italian coffee maker is essential: here at home we use this drainer to ensure that all water evaporates naturally

There are people who say not to wash the moka, but don’t do that! Coffee produces oils that, over the time of use of the Italian coffee maker, spoil the metal and create fungi and bacteria. After washing, let the Bialetti dry naturally, with the mouths of the parts facing downwards. And never store it with a trace of water, as my moka has already created fungi inside!

Italian coffee maker accessories

Here in Europe, nowadays, most houses have a stove with an electric plate, called in Brazil induction. The original Bialetti was created for the gas stove. So, if yours is electric and the Italian coffee maker is not suitable for him, you can look for a brand name plate to put under the Italian coffee maker. Here at home we make a gambiarra and put the Bialetti in a small pot so that you can use the Italian coffee maker without risk of damage.

The most essential accessory, however, is sealing rubber and the filter. They have a useful life and therefore must be replaced after a period. Just don’t forget that they must be purchased according to the size of the Italian coffee maker you are going to use. And I say from experience that it makes all the difference to change the rubber! Over time, it changes color and turns pink, green, yellow or gray. When that time comes, the taste of the moka starts to get horrible!

Also important tip on how to use the Italian coffee maker: it is not thermal and will not conserve the temperature, so you need to drink coffee as soon as it is ready

Have you learned how to use your Italian coffee maker now?

I hope it helped you to make the best coffee your home has ever had! If you are planning a trip to Italy, you don’t need to buy your Moka in Brazil. Bialetti has its own stores throughout Italy and you can check out more information on their website. In fact, there are all over the country, because I bought my hopscotch in Reggio Calabria.

Aragonese Castle of Reggio Calabria
Aragonese Castle of Reggio Calabria

My suggestion is that you look for your own stores because of the variety, the specialization of the salespeople (who are not always very friendly), and because it often does not make up for the duty-free price. In fact, I think this is the best souvenir and the best gift to take on a trip to Italy! So get to work and put into practice what you’ve learned about making coffee at Bialetti and be sure to use the Italian coffee maker!

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