In re: Bialetti revolution

“Tea is said to have fueled the Industrial Revolution; caffeine has been credited with modern physics and chemistry. “A mathematician,” the prolific, nonsleeping Paul Erdos liked to say, “is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.” – One Latte, Hold the Milk (NYT)

On the subject of Espresso there is not consensus: “We could sit for days and argue things like, what’s the perfect size for a single shot? How much crema is important? What is the ideal brewing time and temperature? To tamp or not to tamp? Is espresso only an “espresso” when it is under a certain volume of liquid per grams of coffee used? Should you use robusta? Should you sweeten it? Why stop at 9 atmospheres? Can a super auto produce authentic espresso? And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. ” – Espresso Nirvana 

That said Espresso today is generally agreed to be coffee that is brewed under pressure (9 bars…) but unlike the days it was first created steam pressure is a no no as the temperature of boiling water is too high to create the ideal espresso (200 F is generally viewed as ideal).  So for this reason the ‘stove top espresso’ maker, sometimes called a Moka Pot, often known by the original brand Bialetti, is not  an espresso maker – but instead a hybrid drink between drip, percolator and espresso (to that end neither are the cheapy steam pressure espresso models that retail for under $100 generally).  Despite being shunned by the espresso connoisseurs the Bialetti Moka Pot if found in  9 out of 10 Italian households (the country where espresso originated) have a Bialetti that allows an approximation on the stove top.  

I found it interesting having recently received the classic Moka Pot for Christmas from a friend to learn about the history of the device, its rise in the Italian household can be tied to the push for aluminum and fascism in Italy.  An interesting story and it is interesting as well to see how many people are die hard Moka Pot users (aside from all those Italians).  So far I am just starting to learn how to use it and what it can produce.  For more on the story of the humble Bialetti  see here

[Side note: While typing this up Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode on espresso came on, people have various opinions of this episode (i.e. hard core espresso folks do) it is a good intro if you are a newbie – for hard core criticism and discussion of the episode see some coffee geek discussions]


One Response

  1. Wow some of the coffee geek responses were snobby for sure. Good to see you in CLE, buddy. I hope you’re enjoying the moka.

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