Making Stovetop Espresso at Home

My better half tries out a Stovetop Espresso Coffeemaker.

Abe here for my 3rd product review, and definitely the most challenging one so far. Making a good cup of espresso is like creating a perfect chemical reaction.  And anyone who remembers me from 10th grade knows that I’m terrible at chemistry. I actually exploded a test tube once. A couple weeks ago I made a regular cup of coffee in the espresso maker, as the directions suggest, just to clear out any of the metal shavings that might still be floating around. Today is my first attempt at a real espresso, and it starts off pretty well. I got some beans at Intelligentsia that I carry home in my backpack.  The backpack now smells delicious.

Step one, grind the beans. I know enough from coffee experts and common sense that freshly ground beans will yield a fresher tasting beverage.

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Step two, use the limiter to reduce the amount of grounds in the espresso maker. I plan to use enough water and grounds for half of the expresso maker’s capacity.

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Here’s the coffee grounds on top of the limiter. And I fill the base below halfway with filtered water.

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Step Three, screw in the carafe to the base.   Then set it over a medium flame.

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After about 3 minutes there is a steaming sound, so I remove it and let it sit for half a minute.

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One key direction from the instructions reads “Always allow the coffeemaker to cool down before opening it.” I forgot this step when I made my test batch a couple weeks ago and will certainly not be fooled again.

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While the resulting espresso is not as disastrous as my chemistry experiments, it isn’t a total success either. It tastes like a nice strong cup of coffee, but not as strong as espresso. And there is no crema on top, which is disappointing. I’m not sure that this type of coffeemaker makes crema, but I’ll do some more research so I can perfect my technique.

My hope is to create something that looks and tastes more like an espresso that they serve at a restaurant, or at least like the results of the Nespresso machine that my cousins have. That yields a nice crema everytime, but is not very sustainable, since every cup necessitates a spent plastic pod that isn’t recyclable.

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The coffee is still satisfying though, giving me the caffeine jolt that I need. Hopefully I’ll post a prettier picture once I do more research. And figure out how to get that crema on top.

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Espresso Experts – any advice for my husband?

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8 thoughts on “Making Stovetop Espresso at Home

  1. Cindy

    As someone who has been using a stovetop espresso maker for about ten years…

    1) The crema will never be as much as a good machine will provide because you can’t get enough pressure. There is also a difference in how the last bit of coffee exits the makers that is a big factor.

    2) You can get some, but will probably only get there when you make a full pot. Leave it on the stove top until you hear it gurgling…this is past the “steam sound” point. Be warned if you leave it on until it boils, you’ll have a nice mess to clean later.

    3) Make sure the grind is the finest possible. Lightly press it down the grounds, but don’t hard pack it…this is another you don’t have as much pressure as with a machine kind of issue. You’ll know you’ve packed it down too firmly when the machine releases mostly steam from the relief valve instead of brewing through the filter cone.

    4) Keep in mind that many coffee shops actually scald the grounds and we’ve been trained to think this bitterness is what espresso is supposed to taste like. It should be a full bodied, strong yet smooth taste.

    When your hands are shaking too much to fill the filter with coffee, then you’ve probably run a few too many “tests”.

    You can brew on a camp stove and even a grill. No electricity needed!

    Happy Brewing!

  2. Heidi

    From what I can tell from the photos, it looks like you might need a finer grind on those grounds. Hard to do with a grinder that doesn’t have specific settings, I know. Keep at it! 🙂

  3. Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    I am no help on the espresso front but I can go all fangirl for Intelligentsia and go on and on about how delicious their coffee is. I went there for the first time yesterday and could not get over how amazing it was. And the fact that they brew each cup separately. Ridiculous and amazing.

  4. Jen Cheung

    looks like a nice cup of espresso. for me – im not a espresso fan. never tried making one at home. hehe

    have a fabulous week lady!

  5. wendy lee

    I suggest you put away the adorable little pot and limit your espresso intake to stops at Intelligentsia. Some things are simply not replicable at home. Even in Italy people constantly stop at cafes and stand at the counter to chug their espressos, even though they all have those adorable little pots at home. I have one that I bought in Italy and it sits proudly in the cabinet as a lovely souvenir. This is why God invented coffee houses.

  6. Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo)

    Hmm. No advice. You are right about the sustainability issue with Nespresso, but the truth is that it makes a KILLAH cup of espresso with gorgeous crema. My Dad had the ‘regular’ version. For some reason I thought I needed the “business” version (because I fell in love with the coffee at the Me hotel in Cancun on the club level- dur), so that’s the one I have. Truth be known, the regular version is better. I was given an ancient Pasquini machine (from the 70s) and while it worked for a while, it died and now i keep it as cool decor. Sigh, I guess the search goes on. Thanks for being a sport and trying it though!

  7. Jennifer @ keepitsimplefoods.com

    I love stove top espresso! Actually, I pretty much love anything stove-top and old school. Thanks for posting! xoxo

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