Anyone that has spent time in Europe, especially southern Europe, knows that the coffee is amazing. There is just something about their meticulous approach to crafting such a simple drink. What makes this coffee so amazing? Espresso. Pure and simple. Whether you prefer a Latte, Americano, or Cappuccino, all of these drinks use a good shot of espresso as the base.
So you’ve returned from that romantic getaway to Italy to find that your old Folgers drip coffee just isn’t cutting it. What can you do about it? How can you relive some of those wonderful memories of your trip while sitting at home? It is simple, make some espresso!
My Favorite Coffee Machine
A quick Google search will bring tons of options for at-home espresso machines. You could fork out a cool $1,250 for the Ascaso Dream PID Espresso Machine, or, if that is too steep, you could grab the Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine for almost half that price at $799. Or, you could do what I did and buy a Bialetti Moka Express (3-cup version) for a whopping $35. You read that right, $35, or about the price of a gourmet bag of coffee beans. While it may not be the same as that perfect cup you drank on the Spanish Steps in Rome, it is close enough!
I first saw the Bialetti Moka Express on a pre-kids trip to Croatia. Our main hobby then was rock climbing and we were staying at the famed Cliffbase on Hvar island. I saw some guys using a funny little pot in the shared kitchen and couldn’t quite figure out what was going on. It was years later while living in Malta that I finally learned what it was and why it is so awesome!
Side Note: Check Cliffbase out even if you don’t climb. They have an awesome, and secluded, little getaway, and kids are welcome. Since we’ve been there they’ve built a Via Ferrata that looks amazing. We ate amazing food in Sveta Nedelja (Bilo Idro and Tamaris come to mind) and went on some breathtaking hikes. We’ll be sure to write that trip up soon!
How to Brew that Perfect Espresso
The Bialetti Moka Express is insanely easy to use, creates zero waste, and comes in multiple sizes. It is a quick brew and even quicker clean up. I currently use a 3-cup version (keep in mind, by cup they mean espresso cup, NOT measuring cup!). Kristen does not drink coffee (I haven’t quite figured out what is wrong with her), so the 3-cup version is perfect for me. Most days I will drink it straight, but sometimes I’ll water it down with some boiling water from our OXO BREW Cordless Electric Kettle for a longer-sipping Americano. Bialetti makes a 9-cup version that I use when we have guests (technically mine is a Tescoma knock-off).
Making espresso is incredibly simple. Here is my process:
- Wake up
- Unscrew top from bottom
- Remove filter basket (which has yesterday’s coffee beans in it)
- Tip filter basket over the garbage and hit it with the bottom of the coffee maker. Usually a nice puck of coffee beans pops out. Mine is full of small dents but that is OK!
- Fill the bottom with water up to the pressure relief valve
- Put the filter basket in and fill with coffee grounds
- Screw on the top, place on the burner, and wait
- You will hear a gurgling sound at the end. That is your cue to pull it off the heat and enjoy!
You also could watch this instructional video from Il Barista Italiano. The Italians are the true experts!
I do have one warning. If you are like me and are a little groggy in the morning, be careful. If you forget to put water into the bottom, it will get really, really hot and melt the gasket. It will stink and you will be on Amazon trying to find a replacement. I’ve since learned and keep a couple on hand for when my brain is not fully functioning. Just make sure you get the right gasket for your size pot.
Sit Back and Enjoy
We can’t always be traveling. We have kids, and jobs, and other things going on in our lives. It is still possible to enjoy some of the same experiences at home. Food is an easy and fun way to bring back memories of those prior trips.
Want to remember that trip to Italy? Buy a Bialetti, enjoy a nice cup of homemade espresso, and pull out those old pictures. You’ll be transported back in no time. If you are reading this after noon, swap out that cup of espresso with a nice Prosecco and enjoy!