Craft Coffee - Revisting The French Press And Moka Express Pot

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I made a terrible mistake last month. I adjusted my Craft Coffee subscription to an even lighter roast setting, and this was just too light for my espresso machine. One of the three coffees, the one from Quasar Coffee, was only just barely dark enough and oily enough to work, and I failed as often as I succeeded with it. When I did succeed, though, it was delicious!

The other two were just too light and too dry. No matter how hard I would tamp, no matter how fine I would grind, and no matter how much I’d overfill the basket, it just wouldn’t work out. Most of the water would just work its way around the puck, leaving it dry in the center.

My mistake did make for an interesting couple of weeks, because I got to make use of some of my old, disused coffee brewing equipment—my Moka Express pot and my French press!

Old equipment with a new grinder

My old coffee equipment has been sitting in a cabinet for years. I’ve never had the opportunity to use quality beans with this gear, and I most certainly didn’t have a quality grinder while I was still using the French press and Moka Express pot.

They say that the grinder is the most important piece of equipment you can buy. My Baratza Preciso has a microadjustment dial that comes in handy for making espresso, but I recall reading that it is still a good grinder even way up at the extremely coarse French press range.

All three of my Moka Express pots and my French press came from a store called Brandsmart USA. They were impulse purchases, and they were all ridiculously inexpensive—I haven’t seen them priced that low anywhere else.

The French press

The French press and I have never gotten along very well. I just can’t ever manage to get the right ratios of cream and sugar no matter how hard I try. Things worked out a little better for me this time.

I knew that the correct grind for the French press is very coarse, but I didn’t realize just how coarse. My research suggested that I start at a setting of 32 on my Baratza Preciso grinder. I can tell you that I’ve never before ground coffee anywhere near this coarse.

For the sake of science, I followed Inteligentsia’s instructions to the letter. Everything went surprisingly well, and I actually enjoyed the coffee. The early attempts were a bit sour, but moving the grinder up to a setting of 34 seemed to correct that quite well.

The Moka Express latte

We really used to enjoy our Moka Express pots. We mostly used it to make iced and frozen drinks in an attempt to create something akin to a Starbucks Frappucino. I never managed to make a hot coffee beverage with the Moka pot using the cheap beans we used to buy. Everything came out tasting bitter and burnt.

My first attempt at an imitation latte using the Craft Coffee beans in the Moka Express pot was almost a success. It was definitely a passable latte, but it tasted a little off. My research suggested that I should start at a setting of about 14 on the Baratza Preciso, and my first instinct was to turn that up a notch or two. That would have been a rookie mistake.

As it turns out, the inside of my Moka Express pot was quite dirty inside—especially deep in those hard-to-reach places. I broke open my bottle of Caveza, took apart the Moka Express pot, and soaked everything for a few hours. When I was done, it looked new and shiny.

I was absolutely amazed with the results. My Rancilio Silvia may have me spoiled, and the latte-like beverages that I made with the Moka Express pot weren’t up to that high standard, but they were much better than anything I ever managed to make in the past. I have much more respect for the Moka Express pot than I did just a few weeks ago.

I was definitely cheating. I used the Rancilio Silvia to steam the milk. In the old days, we had some cheap contraptions for frothing milk, but they didn’t work nearly as well as Miss Silvia.

The Verdict

I really did miss the lattes from my Rancilio Silvia. You could buy twenty Moka Express pots for the price of a Rancilio Silvia, and you will be able to make a tasty, latte-like beverage, but it just isn’t the same. I was so excited when I was notified that my next box of Craft Coffee was on its way.

It was so nice to get back to making real lattes again. It was fun to see how much better the Moka Express experience is when using good beans and a proper grinder, but I’m glad this experiment is finally over.

Use my referral code “pat1245” and you’ll get 15% off

If you use my referral code (pat1245) when checking out at Craft Coffee, you will get a 15% discount. Not only will you save money, but they tell me I’ll get a free month of coffee with every order. That sounds like a good deal for both of us!