Coffee Brewing Guide - Stove-top espresso

Coffee Brewing Guide - Stove-top espresso

Brewing guidelines for stove-top espresso machines:

   • Bialetti Moka Express, Bialetti Brikka and others
   • Atomic (it may have a portafilter but it is a stove-top device!)

Quick reference instructions:

  1. Warm your cup.
  2. Fill the water reservoir up to the lower point on the relief valve with cold water. Use hot water if your heating method results in a very slow brew time. This can happen for some electric hot plates.
  3. Fill the basket level to the top with medium grind coffee.
  4. Distribute evenly and tamp the coffee very gently with your finger.
  5. Screw together the two parts of the device and place over a low gas flame or equivalent.
  6. Leave the lid open while brewing so that you can observe the extraction volume.
  7. When the first drops appear get ready to assess the extraction. This may be 1 to 2 minutes into the heating time.
  8. As the coffee begins to cover the bottom of the chamber and begins to rise up the spout consider turning off the heat. The liquid volume you now see will be only 2/3 of the total water available in the chamber below.
  9. The extraction will continue a little longer on the existing heat and pressure in the system.
  10. Your resulting shot will use about 2/3 of the water in the reservoir and will be a little under extracted by normal standards (with nut and malt flavours dominant) but it will not be burnt and the overall balance of flavours will be optimal for this brew device.
  11. Revisit step 8 to suit your flavour preferences in relation to extraction yield.

Fine tuning your brew

"I want the more mouthfeel and intensity of flavour"

  • Increase the dose a fraction or decrease the brew time/volume by turning off the heat earlier.

"My previous brew was under extracted and I would like to achieve a more balanced flavour"

  • Increase the brew time/volume very slightly by leaving the heat on longer.

Recommended baseline grind settings:

  • Medium.
  • Around half the size of plunger grind particles but not as fine as for paper filters.
  • An indication of a grind that is too fine would be excess sediment in the bottom of your cup.

Dose levels

As with pump driven espresso machines, dose levels are important in stove-top espresso and the same principles apply in relation to extraction yield and flavour profiles. For a 1 cup Bialetti Moka Express our benchmark setup is just under 9g dose and a 32g net beverage weight; this results in a rich and balanced espresso-like shot.

Brew Temperature

With stove-top brewers the temperature is intimately related to the brewing pressure and ultimately also the extraction process. This means a compromise is required because a fuller extraction will result in the brew water being potentially too hot. Refer to the Quick Reference and Fine Tuning sections above for some practical tips on how to manage this compromise.

Detailed information on coffee extraction principles: Science of Coffee Brewing

Tagged : Workshop, How-to, Brewing, Espresso

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