Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Like Coffee? How About Cappuccino? Here's A Great Way To Make It Without Electricity!

Still Not Warm Enough
    Sometimes the old ways are still good ways of doing things. I'll freely admit I am a great fan of technology. For example, the methods and styles of brewing coffee are varied and run the gamut from simple to outrageously complex. Over the years electricity has become the king of brewing. If you like Espresso drinks (like Cappuccino) you have lots of new-fangled ways of getting a good cup without ever lighting your stove. This is fine and dandy if you live in a sticks and bricks house and have an, essentially, unlimited supply. In an RV...not so much. When boondocking almost not at all! So, how can you still get a great cup?

Nice At Only $7.50!
MANY years ago, before home electric espresso makers, there was the "Moka" Pot. This ingenious device made what is about as close to "real" espresso as you can get, on the stove. The main difference between it and a professional maker is the pressure it develops. Pro espresso makers top out at about 130 PSI while this pot can generate only around 20 PSI. That being said, the addition of hotter water and steam in the brew cycle can give a very close approximation of espresso including the all too important "crema." That's the  frothy foam that develops from the ground coffee beans and the brew cycle. It's NOT the milk froth you add later...if you want to.

So, How's it work? Easy. Simply unscrew the top and bottom portions of the pot. Remove the metal coffee basket, then add water to the lowermost half, up to the valve (there MAY be a fill line inside as well) then put the basket back in and fill it with coarse ground coffee. Do NOT tamp it down! Make sure there are no grains on the threads or mating surfaces and screw them back together. Be careful, you may have a gasket seal to watch. Put the now-ready-to-go pot on the stove. Try and pick a burner and flame size that roughly equals the size of the bottom of your pot. They come in many sizes, from a tiny single cup all the way up to a 12 cup version.

Yes, I Know It's Sideways!

Once it's on the burner, wait until the water begins to boil. At that point the water will travel up the center, through the grounds and coffee will begin to appear. Once the top reservoir is filled with coffee the pot will begin to make a much louder "gurgling" sound. This is the time to shut it off and remove from the heat. If you let it go much longer, you will end up with nasty and burnt tasting coffee. So, is it espresso? Yes and No. It definitely falls within the definition, but the type, grind and time will vary the flavor greatly. The good news is the experiments usually taste pretty good!

The Manual Frother!
So this gets you the basic ingredient of most coffee drinks. To make the arguably most famous, Cappuccino, you are going to need some heated and some frothed milk. The heated one is easy...just a small saucepan on the stove with a very low flame works great. Frothing at home with a steam-based frother is great, but won't work without power in the RV, defeating the purpose of the Moka pot! I use a press style milk frother This is very similar to the Coffee french press style pot. In fact you can use one in a pinch. Pour cold milk in, push/pull the plunger for a while and voila! you have milk froth. It will almost double in volume. Then, if you like, you can heat it up and pour it/spoon it over you espresso after you've added the warmed milk. Add some cinnamon if desired and drink. There are other ways, but this is the most "authentic."

All in all, it sounds way more complex than it is. Also, it makes for a nice ritual for a lazy afternoon. I wouldn't recommend it for early mornings...well, unless you are a *gasp* "morning person."

Be Seeing You... Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"



  1. you can also add a little milk in a small small mason jar and shake the milk to make milk froth, warning (a cup of coffee in these makers is 2 onces per cup not 8. I own 2 of these and love for the coffee and conversaton. cin cin

    1. d,
      Good point! I've never tried the mason jar trick. That's new for me to try.


      Rich "The Wanderman"


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