Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Coffee Chronicles #1 : Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker



Having now found my deep hidden love for coffee I've started to crave it's dark delicious tones more and more. This poses many problems for me, namely:

a) drinking coffee past 3pm means I won't sleep until the early hours

b) spending £2.40 a day on coffee, or more if the day requires it, is not financially justifiable right now in my life.

c) the nearest coffee place to my home (at present) is Starbucks (no longer a fan)

d) I can't afford to spend hundreds of pounds on an amazing coffee machine and grinder to provide myself with artisan coffee at home



What to do? Research the Internet and watch lots of youtube videos on how to make the perfect coffee at home.

I found an interesting introduction to coffee on lakeland's website, which talked me through a few options for home coffee, some of which I have already tried.

For example, instant coffee. The most basic in home coffee making. Let's not dance around it, it tastes like crap. I've tried buying more 'superior' and expensive brands and it's still pretty vile.

The cafetiere, that French thing that looks slightly erotic when you pump it up and down (dirty minded French). It's a little better than making instant gravy coffee but it still doesn't cut it for me.

And that's about as far as my home coffee making had taken me in the year since I'd started drinking it. However, after a recent trip to Brussels I came home with a massive coffee withdraw, I severely missed my relaxing days off drinking excellent coffee and eating pastries... admittedly not great for the summer diet but I needed to satisfy at least one of those cravings.

Having seen the price of coffee machines, grinders and milk steamers I decided to look for the next best thing, I hoped. My search on the Internet brought me to stove top espresso makers. I had seen one briefly as pre-coffee adolescent in a friends apartment. They showed it off to my fellow coffee comrades but as I had not yet discovered the miracles of coffee and dampened my taste buds to its flavour I didn't show a great lot of interest.

I looked on Amazon for the cheapest option, then the second cheapest option. They noticed that they came in several cup sizes. Did I want to serve four, six or ten cups of coffee? I read that some stove tops weren't great on gas cookers, then some on convection hobs, or electric hobs. I had no idea what category my crappy shared house hob fell under, so that involved more research.

I read review after review on what felt like about 20 different stove tops. This was after I had decided on one and was close to buying, the reviews were horrendous. It leaked, it fell apart after several goes, it made just 'okay' coffee. Cue more research.

Many google pages, and coffee guides later I found that investing in an Italian brand of stove top was the way to go. Apparently they are very common in Italian, with most households having one... I'd like to believe this is true now I have my own.

As the title of this post suggests I settled on the Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup . It serves six shots of espresso and came with excellent product reviews on Amazon. Mine cost me just under £20 which isn't breaking the bank, as I write it's currently on offer on Amazon for £16.13. Typical. As I wasn't quite hitting £20 for free delivery I decided to order a milk frother for a couple of quid too.

My coffee maker arrived mid-week and I had to wait agonisingly until the weekend to use it (there is simply no time for me do such things in the morning on a school day). I had been to the shops the previous week in search of coffee, being the novice that I am I had no idea what to buy, what was good or where to look. I went back home and looked on the Internet again, I needed espresso coffee that was ground finely but not too finely and that only otherwise it wouldn't work properly... I found myself in M&S looking at coffee spotted a bag of espresso coffee and bought it.

All you need is love... and coffee

The weekend finally came, I carefully unwrapped my coffee maker and looked at the instructions. It took me a while to figure out how to open it but finally I was in. I filled up the little tank, spooned my coffee in to the weird filter/funnel thing and screwed the top back on. I placed it on the hob, carefully making sure the plastic handle was placed to the side and not over the hob too. I put it on a low heat and waited for something to happen.

Nothing was happening.

Why was nothing happening?

I turned it to a medium heat. Still nothing.

Not wanting to scorch my new coffee maker or the coffee within I turned it medium-high and vowed that was the highest I'd go.

I sat back and waited whilst watching videos on how to use it properly and how to make latte art at home.

All of a sudden there was a little noise and movement coming from the hob. The coffee maker was whistling a little and it was starting to leak. D helpfully said maybe the whistling means it's ready. It's not a teapot!!

I removed it from the heat thinking maybe I had risked it too much putting it on a medium to high heat. I lowered the heat. This didn't seem to help, it still spurted down the edges. I left it to it, not knowing what else to do.

I checked back and finally the coffee was starting to filter through. Then no more coffee made it's way up the spout I took it off the hob. I warmed some milk and tried making a latte as previously shown to me on a blog and youtube several minutes earlier.

trickle trickle 
I had my first cup of coffee from my stove top, it was a bit cold. I needed to warm the milk a little more. The latte art was a total failure and I resorted to just frothing the coffee with the milk in the cup. The second cup was better.

A week later I had mail ordered coffee (which I will come to in a new post) which was much nicer than the M&S blend, I had learnt that the reason the coffee maker spewed and screamed at me was because I had filled the reservoir too much and not tightened it properly. The next attempt was far more successful. I managed to warm my milk properly and even managed a sort of heart shape in my coffee. Success!!

My first attempt at latte art 

I've used my Bialetti several times now, I've even got D drinking coffee on a Saturday morning. My housemate K, who is an avid coffee fan (until I introduced her to good places to find coffee in Leeds exclaimed there was no good coffee in England - she's Slovakian), says it's the best home made coffee she's had.

Note to self - don't turn the frother on whilst out of the cup when it has already been in the cup 

I love my little coffee pot, not only does it give me good home made coffee it also looks pretty good on my stove too. I have to point out that although the coffee is pretty good it's still not as good as the coffee you can find in coffee shops, such as the ones in Brussels (namely my little cup) or Leeds, such as Laynes, La Bottega Milanese or Mrs Athas. However, it will do until I can afford something a little more flashy.

1 comment:

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