To Make Authentic Italian Coffee it starts with Espresso:
Espresso is a technical term for the type of coffee grind being used to make the coffee. In Italy when you order a coffee you would ask for ‘un caffe’, which is simply a coffee made with espresso. Now all you need is a moka pot also known as a macchinetta (literally “small machine”).
Espresso is brewed by expressing or forcing out a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. It has a rich flavor with a thicker consistency and is the base for other drinks, such as a Latte, Cappuccino, and Macchiato. If you are interested in coffee drink recipes go here.
Typically, you would not order a Cappuccino, Caffe latte, or Caffe Macchiato after 10:30 a.m. and especially not after a meal. The Italians believe that too much milk on your stomach mid-day or after a late night meal is not good for digestion.
Now here’s what you will need to make an Italian Coffee (Espresso):
Bialetti Espresso Maker
Espresso Grinds: I like Lavazza
Sugar (for added sweetness or the Cremina)
Below is how you setup the Moka Pot step by step and make the Espresso. I am also showing you how to make the cremina, which is the sugar cream that you will find in certain regions of Italy. If you don’t want the cremina simply ignore those steps.
Preparation: Italian Coffee
1. First you will break down the moka pot into it’s 3 parts. Fill the bottom part with very cold water to the rim.
2. Fill the filter with the grinds to the top of the rim (do not pack it in).
3. Next float the filter with the grinds on top of the water (see pic below).
4. Next screw the top part on tightly and put it on the stove with medium to low heat.
If you want to make the cremina (sugar cream) take a regular coffee cup and fill with about 3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar. If not just wait for the coffee to percolate and once it is finished you can pour yourself an espresso. The directions below continue on to make the cremina.
5. When it starts to percolate pour about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the espresso into the sugar and with a spoon stir fast to break it down. This will make sugar for about 3 cups of espresso.
Note: put the moka pot back onto the stovetop until it is finished and then you take it off the heat.
6. Stir fast until you have a light caramel color like this
7. Now that you have your creama you can take a teaspoon of it and add it to a separate espresso cup.
8. Pour the espresso into this cup and stir, you will see a caramel color surface to the top and now you have a beautiful coffee to drink!
That’s It! Now you are can be your own personal Barista at home!
melatoninSeptember 29, 2011 at 2:49 am
Before reading this never thought that I would be able to make such coffee ever.But now after reading this surly going to try this process.Thanks.
AbigailOctober 17, 2011 at 5:35 am
Great post! I was always wondering how to make my espresso creamy on top, and now I know :)
EmnmeJanuary 29, 2016 at 7:13 am
Right!!!! This is they answer we’ve been looking for “creama”!!!
Carrie PaciniFebruary 3, 2016 at 7:11 pm
I know it’s the key to a great coffee.
MarlaOctober 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm
Right?! I was clueless too.
Carrie PaciniOctober 24, 2011 at 9:25 am
Abigail – it is super simple and makes for a great espresso.
ChristineNovember 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm
Love this! My husband loves espresso and drinks full coffee cups of it! I even bought him some espresso cups for Christmas.. we will def be trying this out. thank you!
Carrie PaciniNovember 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm
@Christine he will love it. My family and friends in Italy still use this method at home. It makes a spectacular espresso- hope you both enjoy it!
NanciNovember 10, 2013 at 11:23 am
I just returned from 3 weeks of fantastic cappucinos and lattes in Italy. Thank you for these recipes!
Carrie PaciniNovember 10, 2013 at 11:32 am
Your Welcome Nanci! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do :)
milenaDecember 16, 2013 at 4:52 am
Nice post :).
I’m italian and I use this way to prepare my coffee everyday! xD
I think this is the best way ;)
Carrie PaciniDecember 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm
Thanks Milena, I agree you can’t get a better cup of coffee then this :)
RobertJanuary 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm
Hi. I got a little confused after step 4 you have a note saying pour 2 teaspoonfuls in then in 5 you say add 3 teaspoons full. Are these seperate ie add 5 or is it same step. Many thanx looks great.
Carrie PaciniJanuary 2, 2014 at 4:39 pm
Hi Robert, sorry for the confusion! I meant to put 2 to 3 teaspoons of the espresso into the sugar so you can make the creama that you see in the pictures. I will update it :)
SereneJanuary 8, 2014 at 4:47 am
This is great! I actually fell in love with this sort of coffee while in Spain and purchased my own espresso maker as soon as I got back. Question– what if I only want to make, say, 2 cups? Should I just 2/3 everything? 1 cup? 1/3?
Carrie PaciniJanuary 8, 2014 at 8:17 am
Hi Serene, In general if you just want to make 2 cups of espresso I would still make the entire espresso in the Moka Pot and then only use 2 teaspoons of sugar to make the creama. If you are adding milk to make the different styles of coffee I have it listed for 1 serving. For 2 you would double that part of the recipe up. To make a caffe latte for 2 people you would need 1 cup of hot milk that is split between 2 servings. I hope I answered your question! If not just reply here and let me know what I missed.
charis fitchettApril 13, 2014 at 10:33 pm
I have an induction stove so I don’t this moka pot will work. Is it magnetic? What can I use instead.
Carrie PaciniApril 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm
It’s my understanding that it is not good to put a Moka Pot on and induction stove. But check with the manufacture of your particular brand.
GodnilOctober 21, 2014 at 6:24 am
I think moka pots can be used on induction stove too. Got italian G.A.T moka pot and it is possible to use it on it, and I also use it on induction stove. Not just me but also other guys here at the dorm use their pots on induction stove so it is probably OK. But as Carrie mentioned check manual for your moka pot.
Carrie PaciniOctober 29, 2014 at 6:58 pm
Thanks for your insight :)
Jennifer C VelezDecember 15, 2014 at 12:49 pm
I ran across this wanting to learn how to make authentic Italian espresso and it was tremendously helpful. For the sugar, I use coconut palm crystals and the milk (I LOVE caffe lattes) I use unsweetened almond milk. I put a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cocoa powder in the milk and whisk it and it is the best latte I have ever had. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!
Carrie PaciniDecember 21, 2014 at 9:55 am
You are welcome!
Anna Marie JanssensJanuary 22, 2015 at 7:45 am
I spent two months in Sicily Sept and Oct 2014 and had the best cappuccino. I’m trying to recreate here. love your instructions!
How long do I percolate expresso?
Where can I buy cappuccino cups.
Carrie PaciniJanuary 22, 2015 at 8:01 am
Hi Anna Marie, 2 months in Sicily sounds dreamy right now! Once it starts to percolate to the top you are good to go. Probably just a minute once it starts. In regards to cappuccino cups you can find them just about anywhere unless you are looking for a specific type. Sur la Table, Bed Bath and Beyond, Possibly Target.
KimberlyJuly 23, 2015 at 11:38 am
I was wonder why all of the water from the bottom never gets to the top? I’m I doing something wrong? In a 3 shot kettle I get about a tablespoon of done espresso.
Carrie PaciniJuly 24, 2015 at 10:18 am
Hi Kimberly, Make sure you have the heat up high so it will percolate all of the water to the top.
Ashley CowlesAugust 5, 2015 at 12:34 pm
I studied abroad in Italy for 4 months and fell in love with the coffee! Now that I’m home, a cup of coffee from my Keurig just isn’t the same. I can’t wait to try this!
Carrie PaciniAugust 19, 2015 at 11:29 am
I know! It really isn’t the same. I hope this helps you as you settle in at home ;)
HiteshJanuary 5, 2016 at 12:14 pm
Thanks for the great guide! Would you suggest a substitute for sugar for folks who do not take sugar?
Carrie PaciniJanuary 5, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Hi Hitesh, I don’t have a sugar substitute for the Creama and have zero experience with using sugar substitutes. My thoughts would be to research and find one that is close to the texture of sugar BUT again I have no idea how the sweetness would translate.
Carol F.September 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm
I’ve been making espresso in my little Moka Express for about forty years, and I never knew how to make the creama. Thank you!
Carrie PaciniDecember 28, 2016 at 11:14 am
Adam MittlemanJanuary 22, 2017 at 1:38 pm
Thank you for this article. Not only did I learn about a Moka, but I got the 3 Cup one, a small portable campsite burner and the Lavazza beans that I grind fresh. After a few trials, I found the right amount of pack and my espresso is just like I had in Bellagio, Italy. Great article.
Carrie PaciniJanuary 30, 2017 at 12:09 pm
AnthonyMarch 26, 2017 at 11:01 am
You say to fill the moka pot bottom with water “to the rim”, but there is a mark inside that shows the limit of how much water I can use. Do you ignore that mark?
Carrie PaciniNovember 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm
Hi Anthony, go with the mark inside the moka pot. In one of the first images above you can see where I filled it up to.
Carrie PaciniNovember 3, 2017 at 6:34 am