Since I am currently hankering for a nice cup of coffee after we ran out of cream this morning (ARGH!), I thought I’d share a quick how-to on the subject.
While I may not be a barista in a fancy apron, and I’ve never had the pleasure of owning a costly contraption that will create a handsome espresso at the push of a button, I can tell you that the stovetop espresso maker is a thing of equal parts beauty and brilliance.
Revel in its shining, low-cost IKEA glory:
You’ll definitely want to get yourself a stainless steel espresso maker, and not an aluminum one—particularly if you have one of those schmancy ceramic-top stoves, which warn you that aluminum may actually MELT on them! This is mostly for reasons of taste. And if you’re concerned about Alzheimer’s. And if you like your stovetop items to last longer.
Anyway, the thing is pretty impossible to screw up, unless you:
- Forget to put in the water;
- Don’t screw it together tight enough, as the expanding metal might do something unpredictable, like spew out hot water and scald you; or
- Keep it on the burner too long and scorch the bottom.
Okay, so it requires a bit of parental supervision, but you’re an adult and you like a challenge, right? Hey, man, I didn’t say this was going to be EASY; I said it was going to be GOOD.
Right, so the steps here are actually pretty simple, despite my previous dire warnings. All you have to do is:
- Fill the bottom piece up with cold water. You should use filtered water for better tasting coffee, and only fill the thing up to just underneath the little release valve (i.e. that knobby thing).
- Put the filter dohickey on top of the bottom piece, and fill it up with espresso. Not regular coffee, but actual espresso, ground for a stovetop device. (Or just grab a can of Lavazza at your grocery store for about $6.) The recommended dose is 1 T. of espresso per 3/4 c. of water. Don’t tamp it down, just layer it gently.
- Screw the top part on pretty tight. No need to get all Hercules on it, but make sure you put some pressure to get it properly screwed on there.
- Place the machine on one of your stove’s smaller burners and fire that puppy up! My espresso maker’s instruction booklet said to use a medium-high heat to slowly bring the thing to a boil, but I’m impatient and usually switch it on high, to no discernable ill effects.
- You’ll know when it’s done because it’ll start making a sound kind of like an airplane taking off. In case you aren’t sure, and you’re the impatient type with your burner on high, there will probably be a lot of steam emanating from the lid as well. You can take the espresso maker off the stove now, preferably using a potholder of some kind as that little plastic handle can get pretty hot, and either let it sit for a minute to cool down a bit or pour it directly into your favorite mug, shot glass or latté bowl. Add a little cream and sugar and you get the following:
Why yes, I do like my sugar with coffee and cream! Thanks for noticing. You may prefer yours a bit more black, in which case I salute your manliness.
So there you have it, the world’s best coffee, at home. How do you like YOUR coffee?