My very first encounter with the stove top espresso maker or as it is also known the “macchineta” was when I resided in Spain. These units were found in just about every household in the town where I lived. I never fail to marvel at how inventive people are when it comes to making some very desirable coffee.
Upon returning home to America I brought my stove top espresso maker with me and it was not until several years later that I happened to notice them being sold in the United States. I now have four different models ranging in size from the smallest for 2 cups and up to the larger 5 to 7 cup units. Even moving around the country as I have done I would never part with my macchineta.
The macchinetta works primarily by creating a built up pressure in the small pot by way of the heat. This pressure is used to force the water through finely milled coffee grounds and ultimately into a serving chamber atop the pot. Usually a traditional cup of espresso is 1.5 ounces. Although standard demitasse cups will usually hold 4 ounces the cups are never filled to capacity.
When first using your new macchinetta it is advised that you become familiar with its fundamental structure and the basic parts. Take your stove top coffee maker completely apart and examine each piece as you do. Make a mental note as to how everything fits together as you prepare to wash the unit and use it for the first time. When you are ready to make your first pot of espresso in your stove top espresso maker follow the instructions below for a treat you will not easily forget.
First fill the bottom chamber with very cold tap water up to just before you see the steam release valve. Don’t put water over the value level.
Now insert the metal cone funnel and fill it with your favorite espresso coffee. Smooth it until its level. Do not tamper it as you would a regular espresso machine.
Make certain that the flat filter plate and rubber gasket are properly in place.
Screw on the top of the pot only hand tight.
Place the unit on the stove top using only enough heat to get the bottom of the pot hot. Be sure not to heat the handle.
You will hear a gurgling sound emitting from the macchinetta. When that take place remove it from the heat and let it sit for approximately 30 seconds.
The Overpressure Plug or steam release valve is a built in safety mechanism which will open and permit built up steam to escape in the event that it is unable to go through the coffee grounds. This is the reason one should not tamper the grounds in any way. These machines will last you a lifetime if properly used and maintained.
The metal handles as well as the pots metallic surfaces will get extremely hot so be sure to use a pot holder when you handle the coffee maker. As an added precautions never allow children in or around the pot when you are making coffee.
Always maintain the heat under the pot at a fairly low level as this will prevent discoloration of the pot and any damage from occurring to the handle or other parts. You may wish to consider the use of a stove element diffuser to keep the heat even and to help make the smaller pots more stable when placed on the burner.