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The Stovetop Espresso Maker

Pauline Kenny

You will not find an American-style coffee maker or tea kettle in most vacation rentals. You will find a small aluminum espresso pot. Here is how you use it:

  • Unscrew the top portion.
  • Remove the steel filter from the bottom portion.
  • Fill the bottom portion with water to just below the little vent hole on the side.
  • Put the filter back in.
  • Fill it with ground coffee.
  • Screw the top back on.
  • Set the whole unit on the burner with the heat on medium to high. If it is a gas stove, be sure the flames are not touching the plastic handle.
  • The water boils and is forced up through the coffee and up the inner spout into the top section. You will hear it hissing. Open the lid and have a look.
  • When the top section is full and no more coffee is coming out the spout, it is ready. You get two small cups of strong espresso coffee.

Italian Espresso Pot, 08/01

This photo shows the espresso pot put together.

Italian Espresso Pot, 08/01

This photo shows the espresso pot unscrewed with the filter separate.

Note: Sometimes these coffee pots can get a bit yucky and moldy sitting in a vacation rental. Always store them in pieces, not screwed together, so they dry well.

Stainless Steel vs Aluminum Espresso Pots

The most common espresso pot in Italy is made from aluminum. More expensive and better looking pots are made from stainless steel, like the one in the photos above. On one trip we were so disgusted with the espresso pot in the vacation rental that we purchased (and brought home) a nice stainless steel pot thinking it was better quality and clean. We were wrong. The cheap and stained aluminum pot in the vacation rental would have made better coffee.

Allison from the agency Summers Leases (www.summersleases.com) explained it to us. She had made the same mistake when she arrived to live in Italy. She said any Italian will tell you that the aluminum pots make the best coffee. Your coffee tastes bad in the stainless steel pots.

When you get a new espresso pot, season it as follows:

  • Make a batch of coffee, but using no coffee grounds and just water. Throw it out.
  • Make a batch of coffee using 3 teaspoons of coffee grounds. Let it sit in the pot for 24 hours. Then throw it out.

Now the pot is seasoned. When cleaning the pot, lightly rinse; never scrub. Those are the secrets for making great espresso in an aluminum coffee pot.

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