how to make espresso at home

When I told Manu I was going to do a homemade espresso post he said,  “You’re going to change people’s lives.” 
And it’s true, because once you start drinking rich, full bodied espresso and feeling like a European, it’s hard to go back to Dunkin’s. (Though, I must admit, I love a nice iced hazelnut for summertime afternoon drives. Can you blame me?) 
My favorite word in Italian is caffè - it just rolls off the tongue and accents on the è in such a way that is so inviting, just like the stuff itself. You can’t go to someone’s house without being offered one, and you’ll most likely be invited to have one at the bar several times throughout the day as well. But if you want to be a good host or hostess, you should really know how to make a good caffè at home using a moka pot. Follow the steps and you’ll be whipping up shots for your friends in no time. It does take some trial and error so don’t be upset if it doesn’t bubble up perfectly on your first try - it took me dozens of tries to get it right! 
The moka pot consists of three pieces: the top (where the coffee comes up), the middle chamber where you put the grounds, and the bottom part where you put the water. Basically, the water gets drawn through to the second chamber and filters to become the coffee in the top chamber. Most italians have at least one of these in the house (if not many at multiple sizes) or they have a real espresso machine. 
1) Unscrew the moka pot, take out the second piece and pour water just to the line.
2) Put the chamber where the coffee will go back into the bottom piece and make sure no water comes up through the holes. If it does just pull it out, shake it off and put it back on. Repeat until no water comes up.
3) Add a little mountain of coffee, don’t pack it down. (Espresso ground coffee is much finer than the grounds you put in the drip machines!) 
4) Place the top on and wist top very tightly until you can’t twist anymore.
5) Place it on the stove on medium high heat.
6) When it starts to gurgle, turn the heat off. Let the coffee come all the way up to the top. Give it a little stir and pour. 
The fun part, after you learn to make the espresso, is to collect cute little cups and sugar bowls or frothers for cappuccino or fun trays to serve your coffee on. And once you taste how good it is, well, you’ll thank me. You can find moka pots in most stores that sell kitchen appliances in the US, so get out there and start brewing! Buon caffè! 


  1. You know i think I have one of these...I've never used it but a friend of ours makes his coffee this way at home. I had a cup and it was sooo good! As Manu said, you have changed my life haha! Thanks for this post, i'll be trying it this weekend for sure.

  2. We have one of these and used to use it all the time before we got an actual espresso machine - they're so much fun!


  3. This is the same espresso maker that my nonna has used for years...she gave my sister one for her bridal shower too. Now it's my turn ;) And I agree about the European that I am in France I cannot go back to regular coffee. It's just gross.

  4. YUM, thanks for the directions :)

  5. I have a funny story for you about that moka pot. One of the boyfriend's cousins was visiting from Italy a few years ago and when they all went out to dinner, she ordered an espresso after the meal. Except when she saw "mocha" on the menu, she thought it was just the american way of spelling "moka." So instead of the simple little single shot of espresso she thought she was ordering, she ended up with a huge chocolate-flavored latte with whipped creamed, chocolate shavings, and everything! and you know how the Italians are about milk in their coffee when it's not morning...

  6. I'm addicted to my Moka!!! It makes the best espresso, starbucks has nothing on it!

  7. Thanks for info. I need to get one ASAP. Seriously addicted to coffee.
    Best, M.

  8. Yaaaay! Do you add anything else to it or just pain?
    I think they have these little moka guys at Ikea... I need to get there.
    Xoxo, leigh

  9. great post! I've been (er, had been) enjoying my coffee like this for the last ten years or so. It's the best! I've always wanted to make a post like this, but it never seemed appropriate since my blog was about living in Switzerland and there everyone uses a Nespresso machine! By the way, yay for your mom being in town!!

  10. ME GUSTA! Damn that's not Italian. Delicisio! Bon Apetite!

    Good post Zoe!

  11. Yours is exactly like my first one. I've always packed the grounds. Your version will be my afternoon treat. You're right - there is nothing on earth like Italian espresso.


thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, i love reading them so much!

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