Skip to content

How to make the perfect coffee in an Italian coffee maker: eight keys

23 mayo, 2021

The typical Italian coffee maker or mocha continues to roam freely in our kitchens. It is one of those designs that has become a timeless icon, which does not go out of style or hardly needs to be updated. Neither capsule coffee machines, nor sophisticated super-automatic machines, nor the new manual filter coffee machines have been able to put an end to it. Its mechanism is very simple, although to enjoy a true quality coffee with it, it does not hurt to review some basic concepts of use.

Long live filter coffee, the sustainable alternative to capsules: the best manual coffee machines for true coffee growers

A revolutionary invention

Its origin dates back to Italy in the 1930s, when espresso machines for professional use were already being perfected. But a device was lacking to facilitate the preparation of the coffee at home, which would allow any family to enjoy a good freshly brewed coffee in their kitchen.

Bialetti coffee maker

With that idea in mind, engineer Alfonso Bialetti designed and patented his revolutionary coffee maker in 1933. Baptized as Moka Express and made of aluminum, it followed the style of objects of the time, within the Art Deco environment, a design that has hardly changed since then. His invention would cause a great sensation and soon every Italian household would have at least one of his machines.


Today we can find coffee makers that follow the same mechanism, with slightly different aesthetic touches, from many other manufacturers. Bialetti herself has updated her catalog, updating her original Moka Express with small touches and creating models in other colors, with special decorative details or different sizes. Mocha coffee makers are classified by the number of cups that they can fill, of about 120 ml of capacity, and also for the material.

Bialetti Moka Express Italian Espresso Coffee Maker, 3 Cups, Aluminum, Silver

Bialetti Moka Express Italian Espresso Coffee Maker, 3 Cups, Aluminum, Silver

The original Bialetti and her descendants are aluminum coffee makers, which conducts heat very well, either with a handle or with Bakelite handles, a resistant plastic that prevents burns. There are specific models with a different base to be able to use them on induction hobs, and even programmable electric coffee makers, for the laziest when getting up.

BRA Perfecta - Italian Induction Coffee Maker, Aluminum, 6 cup capacity, silver

BRA Perfecta – Italian Induction Coffee Maker, Aluminum, 6 cup capacity, silver

How an Italian coffee maker works

The operating mechanism is as simple as it is ingenious, a perfect example of simple engineering applied to home economics.

The coffee machine is divided into three main pieces: a base or deposit chamber, a funnel or ladle for coffee beans, and an upper chamber in the shape of a jug with a lid, which also has a finer filter and a rubber in the lower part.


By applying lower heat to the coffee maker prepared with water and ground coffee, the temperature heats the water up to 90ºC, creating a pressure that raises the liquid before it comes to a boil. The hot water rises and passes through the coffee funnel, which infuses it, and continues to rise through the ducts, through the filters, to the chimney of the upper jug, leaving through its opening and filling said collection chamber.

When the base is almost empty, bubbles form and a sound that is perfectly recognizable to everyone is emitted.

This is the basic theory. However,How Is coffee prepared correctly with these machines?

13 mistakes that can spoil your coffee (and how to remedy them)

Step by step: this is how coffee is made in a mocha pot

Before using a coffee maker for first timeIt is advisable to separate all the pieces and rinse and dry them well with warm water, without using detergent. It is also advisable to make a first coffee to discard it before tasting the first preparation.

1. Choice of coffee

There is nothing written about tastes, but the quality of the coffee is essential for our drink to come out well. Remember that it is a very delicate ingredient, very sensitive to contact with air, heat and external odors, which begins to oxidize and lose aroma as soon as it is roasted and, even more so, when it is ground.


It is worth investing in a coffee grinder To grind our beans at the moment, although if we are not so gourmand, it is enough to buy it already ground to a trusted producer. It is important that it be naturally roasted – never roasted or mixed -, 100% Arabica or a blend with robust, according to our preference.

Bosch TSM6A013B - Electric coffee grinder, 180 W, capacity 75 grams, black color

Bosch TSM6A013B – Electric coffee grinder, 180 W, capacity 75 grams, black color

Grinding is also key. We need a medium grind point, not as thin as a super espresso machine, not as thick as a filter coffee maker or cold brew. If we buy the coffee already packaged, we can look for brands that are already specific for Italian coffee makers; although it is best to go to a specialized store and be advised.

2. Fill the tank with good hot water

If you do not have time, it is a step that you can save, but it can make a difference in the final result. Heats up quality mineral water -the one you use to drink, obviously without gas- until it is about to boil, and fill the tank of the coffee maker to just below the valve.

Why hot water? What is sought is to prevent ground coffee beans get too hot before infusion. The base of the coffee maker gets very hot before the water rises, even more so if it is cold. This can slightly burn the coffee, spoiling its aroma and flavor, producing even more bitter coffee.

3. Fill the coffee pot

Coffee maker1

Do this by holding the funnel in your hand, before placing it on the base. Drop the coffee gently, occupying all the space but without pressing. Unlike automatic coffee machines, a mocha no need to compact coffee grounds, and doing so could spoil it.

Level off leftover coffee with a knife or teaspoon, and clean what may have been left on the edges of the saucepan; a brush is useful for this task. Now yes, fit it on hot water.

4. Close the coffee maker

Being careful not to burn yourself when touching the base, fit the upper carafe over the coffee funnel, turning well but without passing you of force, grasping it by the body and not by the handle. Check beforehand that the rubber is in perfect condition, white and without signs of mold or tears.

5. Put the coffee maker to heat with the lid open

Place the base, if it is not already there, on the kitchen fire or on the plate with its corresponding size, which is not larger than the diameter of the coffee maker. Choose one power or medium-low temperature, and leave the lid open.

This gesture also seems like a small mania that almost all Italians repeat, although there are detractors who claim that this way volatile aromatic compounds are lost.

Coffee machine8

There are two reasons for making coffee with open lid. The first is to see directly when the infusion comes out; This way we can verify that it does so at a stable rhythm, without exploding suddenly and without too much slowness, which would allow us to correct the power.

The second reason also has to do with the temperature, because, in theory, the coffee does not heat up so much and it will come out that way a lot. more balanced, fresh and sweet. For this reason, it is also recommended not to heat the coffee machine with a fire that is too powerful, even if it takes longer.

If we are bothered by the splashes of coffee when leaving with the coffee machine open, we can acquire a kind of lid called flap, which already include some models.

OTTINETTI Skirts X Coffee maker

OTTINETTI Skirts X Coffee maker

6. Close the lid and remove from heat

Once the coffee is coming out with joy, close the lid and turn off the heat, removing the machine when everything has come out, so that don’t keep heating up in excess. When you hear that typical sound that we mentioned at the beginning, the bubbling, it is the signal that the coffee is ready. Don’t let it boil.

7. Serve immediately

Coffee maker

Coffee must be drunk recently made, and never, ever, do you have to reheat it. Power can be done, but we will be tasting a mediocre and probably very bitter and burnt drink, without the delicate aromatic qualities of the original beans.

8. Clean (and dry) the coffee maker as soon as possible

Experts advise against washing the coffee machine with detergent or dishwasher, particularly if it is made of aluminum. It is a material that absorbs foreign flavors too much and could affect taste of the future coffee.

The general Italian standard goes through rinse all three parts thoroughly, after emptying the ladle, with lukewarm water and rubbing by hand or with a soft soap-free scouring pad. If it is done at the moment and the coffee maker is not left dirty for hours, it will be very clean. The stainless models can be cleaned with a neutral detergent. Neither model should be washed in the dishwasher.

Coffee maker

The most difficult stains can be rubbed with coarse coffee beans, and the possible whitish marks that sometimes appear, can be cleaned with warm water and vinegar. To avoid them, you have to dry thoroughly all parts, and store the coffee maker unassembled, so that the air can circulate.

Finally, do not forget to do periodic reviews to the bottom of the opening of the jug and the filters, in case they are clogged with coffee residues, and the rubber or the ladle; they are pieces that can be replaced without problems.

Some of the links posted here are from affiliates. Despite this, none of the articles mentioned have been proposed by either the brands or the stores, their introduction being a unique decision of the team of editors.

Photos | Unsplash – Pixabay -Jcmontero
Directly to the Palate | 11 tips to make the best coffee at home
Directly to the Palate | How much caffeine does my coffee have? It depends on …