This post comes to us courtesy of my husband, Jeff (@jeffjumper on Twitter). Both of us, but especially Jeff have loved a good Cuban Coffee (Cafecito), which until recently we could only find in Miami. We were also treated to Cafecitos when we toured the Perdomo factory in February 2012. Recently, Jeff did a bit of research on how to make these delicious treats at home. He obtained the Moka Pot he needed, and since has been making Cafecito at home on the weekends. After posting pictures on Twitter, he got multiple requests for instructions on how to make these and typed up these easy-to-follow instructions. The first part deals with making espresso and using the Moka Pot in general. At the end, you’ll find the tweaks necessary for making Cuban Coffee.
This is the Moka Pot we have http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-Express-3-Cup-Stovetop-Espresso/dp/B0000CF3Q6, though there are Moka Pots with more capacity.
How to Make Cuban Coffee With a Stove-Top Moka Pot
A moka pot does not make espresso by modern standards, although it is espresso as it used to be before WWII.
Seasoning the pot (when it’s brand new or has sat for a long time)
- Clean the pot thoroughly–no soap or vinegar–just wipe it down throughly with a paper towel and water.
- Make a pot (or a few pots) of coffee using spent grounds and then throw it away.
Making a pot of coffee
- Unscrew the top part of the moka pot and set it aside. Take out the filter basket.
- Fill the bottom part of the moka pot with water to the pressure gauge line. This should be about 50ml for each cup the pot makes.
- Drop the filter basket into place and add coffee grounds.
- Use 1 rounded tablespoon (approx 1oz) of finely ground coffee (espresso grind works fine for me) for every 50ml of water.
- So for a 3-cup pot, 3 tablespoons of coffee and 150ml of water. (Some people say it’s better with 40ml/cup, so you can experiment.)
- Do not tamp the coffee. The coffee will expand when the steam is forced through it, effectively producing its own tamp.
- If you find the grind is too fine, you can punch a few holes in the coffee grounds here to allow for aeration and for the water to seep through more easily.
- Screw the top part of the moka pot into place.
- Put the pot over medium-high heat (8 out of 10 on my stove works best) and wait.
- Rather than shut the lid, some people like to leave the top open and put an upside-down teaspoon over the funnel to keep the coffee from spitting everywhere. This allows you to see when the coffee starts coming out without the potential mess.
- My 3-cup pot takes about 8 minutes for the coffee to finish.
- Remove from the heat when you hear the throaty sound of the coffee sputtering. Take the pot off the heat at the moment it starts bubbling. Earlier, and you don’t get that tang to the taste. Later, and the taste turns bitter and nasty.
- Pour into an espresso cup and enjoy.
- To find the right temperature for the stove:
- If your coffee comes shooting out of the spout, your water is too hot.
- If the water is just barely dribbling out of the spout, turn the temperature up a bit.
- It’s better for the coffee to come out too slow than too fast.
- If the water boils and escapes through the top but doesn’t condense and turn into coffee in the pot, the problem is usually the rubber seal that separates the lower and upper halves. Check for stray grinds on it. Replace if necessary.
- If no water is flowing through the grinds, you may have too fine a grind and/or are tamping the grounds. Don’t tamp the grounds! Fine grounds packed tightly will effectively make a barrier which the water will have a tough time rising through.
- You are trying to dance the line between enough steam pressure to get the water to flow without boiling the water. The slower you heat the pot up the slower it will brew and the closer to an acceptable water temperature you’ll get. During the 8 or so minutes it takes to brew with cold water, less than a minute of that time coffee is flowing into the upper pot.
- Muck with your grind/fill (don’t tamp!!!) until you are grinding as fine as you can and not clogging the thing up. There shouldn’t be any steam sputtering out into the upper pot while the coffee is flowing.
- If you use the pot every day, just a rinse with water after use will be all that’s needed.
- If you let the pot sit for a few days without use:
- The coffee oils will go rancid and you’ll need to scrub the pot out and re-season it.
- Cleaning all the old coffee residue off with a wet paper towel will prevent the oils from turning rancid.
- If you use it infrequently its probably best to wipe it clean after use, no soap, no vinegar, just water.
- Allow to dry upside-down on a towel. Never screw back together when wet. This will trap moisture and make the inside of the pot gross and the next coffee taste bad.
- The bottom part just holds water and doesn’t get covered with coffee oils. Water and vinegar can be used to clean it if the calcium build up gets too bad.
- Sicilian coffee is made by adding a teaspoon of brown cane sugar per cup to the upper part of the pot before putting it on the stove. Stir after brewing.
- “moka grind” coffees, fresh out of the package, are almost like wet sand–a bit clingy and damp due to the oils–but will dry out a bit in a week to be more like dry sand. The basic moka pot rule is to use a grind slightly finer than drip but not as fine as espresso. That said, espresso grinds I’ve picked up at the local grocery store have worked fine.
- It is best to fill the moka pot to its full capacity. The coffee turns out better if you fill it up, otherwise the water doesn’t flow through the coffee grinds properly. Chill any extra coffee and make iced coffee.
- Fresh coffee has a better chance of producing a good crema, but moka pots are not good at this and you shouldn’t expect a crema like you would get from a local coffee shop.
- You can use a wider variety of coffee in a moka pot, both darker and lighter roasted than traditional espresso roasts, although the lightest roasts do better as French press or drip.
Cuban coffee (cafecito)
Make coffee the way you normally would above except with the following additions:
- Measure out 1 tablespoon of sugar per cup of coffee into a Pyrex measuring cup (or anything else that you can stir rapidly in).
- When the coffee starts coming out into the top of the pot, pour a quarter-sized amount into the sugar and put the pot back on the stove to finish brewing.
- While the pot finishes brewing on the stove, use a spoon to vigorously stir the coffee and sugar in the Pyrex. You’re trying to make a paste. Get it nice and smooth and shiny.
- Once the coffee has finished brewing and you’ve got your paste, slowly stir the rest of the coffee from the pot into the paste in the Pyrex.
- Pour and enjoy.
- Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to make the paste. It’s long (10 minutes) and winding, but the last few minutes at the end where he stirs the paste and pours the coffee into the Purex is very good: http://youtu.be/StDFjab62Vs