We bought a new Bialetti Dama Moka italian coffee maker the other day – a new model that has a window in the top and a silicone handle. A sign at the Bialetti store, posted below, entitled “how to prepare an excellent ‘italian espresso’” inspired me to post these instructions on how to make Italian coffee that I’ve given time upon time to foreign visitors to Italy.

how to make italian coffee
how to make italian coffee

This is an official instruction sign that I’m transcribing with my own commentary.

      1. Fill up the base with (preferably filtered or bottled) water. Fill until just below the safety valve pictured here.
      2. Insert the filter funnel. Make sure that the water doesn’t cause resistance – if it does, there’s too much water. To take out a few drops, simply remove the filter and flick away excess water attached to it into the sink.
      3. Spoon coarse grind coffee into the filter and LIGHTLY tap it into place, but do not pack it in! (That’s for cappuccino makers.)
      4. Attach the top of the coffee maker and place it on your stovetop. I think it works best on gas stoves, but it can also work on electric stove tops. The Sign says to use low heat, whereas Italian practise says that this causes a burned flavour. At our house, we use high heat, but on the smallest burner.
      5. When you hear the characteristic “coffee gurgle” sound, all the water from below has made its way into the top section of the moka, and you’re ready for breakfast. Turn it off immediately to avoid burning (and mess)

Three important tips to make a good moka coffee

The new bialetti dama display in store
The bialetti dama display in store

Amongst the important things to know is how to break in your moka and how to care for it.

      1. When you get a new moka, to break it in you must throw out the first coffee you prepare. The aluminium moka depends on a build up of coffee to taste good, so the second cup you make will probably be not great either, but it will improve with time. Bialetti also makes stainless steel models that are better for infrequent use as they require less build up to taste good.
      2. In relation to point #1, never wash your Bialetti moka with soap and sponge. Not only will your coffee taste like soap, but it defeats the whole purpose. Just rinse with hot water and clean with your fingers.
      3. After time, the rubber filter at the base of the top part of the coffee maker dries out, causing your coffee to taste bad and boil out the sides (which makes a mess of your stove). At this point you simply need to change the gasket. Purchase the Authentic Bialetti Replacement Gasket; I’ve found that the others don’t work properly.

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