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Thread: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

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    In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I was rambling about the quality its possible to get from a stove top in another thread (I do that from time to time). Dont get me wrong, I love my Silvia and the shots it produces, but sometimes I crave a pot of coffee I can drink slowly over 2-3 cups and savour the changing flavours as the brew cools, especially in the mornings.

    Here are some pics of this mornings brew: its some Ethiopian Harar (2005 crop) I roasted 3 weeks ago, yet the berry flavours are as prominent as ever. Yumm.


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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Yep, Im a great fan of the simple old Moka Pot. With experience and some fine tuning of your method you can get some fine brews.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Hey robster,
    how do you get such a luscious crema ..
    whilst i swear by my stove top pot, i never get a crema apearing ... though even crema-less (hmm, is that a word ?) the end result is better then 95% of the cafes ... and all for a pultry $60 dollar investment ;D
    BeanBrat

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    thats quite amazing

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Quote Originally Posted by BeanBrat link=1175047754/0#2 date=1175055753
    Hey robster,
    how do you get such a luscious crema ..
    BeanBrat, my tips are here: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1174971088/3#3

    As Luca pointed out in that thread, the people at stumptowncoffee.com add that you can also wrap a cold, wet towel around the bottom of the pot when you want it to stop brewing.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Robster ..
    i had a quick read of the link and will try my luck over the next few days
    BeanBrat

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Excellent work Robster .. I will be doing some testing on this method...

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    I forgot to say:

    I use the same grind for the stove-top as I do for Silvias single basket (which is only one notch coarser than I use for Silvias double basket).

    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    I purchased over-sized stovetops before I found youre meant to have lots of coffee and less water than the soup bowls I was drinking.

    This motivates me to get a new 2-cup stainless unit. I really love the Presso, but nothing gives out aroma of a brew or rocket-take-off steam sounds I love, like the stovetop :)

    Oh bummer, I just read in the other thread all the good tips for a good stovetop means less steaming aroma, and no rocket-take-off steam noise! Perhaps buy the first crack/g vac pack stuff just for the burn ;)

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoveboy link=1175047754/0#8 date=1176038302
    . . . Oh bummer, I just read in the other thread all the good tips for a good stovetop means less steaming aroma, and no rocket-take-off steam noise! Perhaps buy the first crack/g vac pack stuff just for the burn ;)
    The aromas still there - I think its even better - but youre right about the lack of rocket-launch sound effects.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Rocket launch sounds = Rocket Fuel coffee.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    man that is one awesome looking crema from a stovetop!

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Are you sure you just didnt pull a shot from your silvia into the Stove Pot ::) ;):-X

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Hehehe.

    No, my Silvia shots look like this:



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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Wow! Love that photo Robster 8-)...... If you could isolate that perfect sphere of perfection and blow it up in an appropriate background, youd have Planet Nirvana in the System Espresso..... ;)

    Mal.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Looks geat, Robster. Perfect hue. With stripes, too.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1175047754/0#14 date=1196585799
    Wow! Love that photo Robster 8-)...... If you could isolate that perfect sphere of perfection and blow it up in an appropriate background, youd have Planet Nirvana in the System Espresso..... ;)

    Mal.
    Planet nirvana Mal. Thats cool. What a photo though, it rocks........ Ray. ::)

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks. Pity the sphere is out of focus :( . . .

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Robster
    That photo is so impressive, would you mind sharing some Silvia Tips with us, would love to know your dosing and surfing methods.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    I have two of those stove top espresso/cappuccino makers. Years ago when I travelled the outback in a 4 WD with camper I would pull up for the morning brew in the vast outback bush or sometimes in a park in a small country town and set up a LPG bottle and gas ring and proceed to make an espresso. In the outback noone heard me but you can imagine the thoughts if anyone did - look at that silly old so and so making espresso out here with the kangaroos. In a small country town park it was amazing the number of travellers who would wander over for a look and chat. Bit of a toff having fresh cappuccino out here.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Vicroamer,

    You would probably get similarly impressive pics from your own espresso pours with a fast-ish shutter speed and a macro setting.

    I find the Silvia is very sensitive to grind, dose and tamp level; the difference between gushing and choking is as thin as a shower screen. I usually dose to the point where the shower screen is in contact with the coffee after a firm tamp, and grind accordingly (to get a 25-30 sec pour). With a more forgiving machine I would try to keep the coffee clear of the screen.

    Temp surfing varies according to the type of bean, blend and roast level, but I favour hitting the button about 2 minutes after the boiler has completed a heating cycle.

    I tend towards the doppio ristretto end of the spectrum, and this photo is likely to have been taken during one of them. In volume, my double ristrettos are somewhere around 55ml, so theyre not quite espresso and not quite ristretto.

    The camera is a low-mid range point+shoot, and I think it was simply on the auto setting. Do we have a forum section for espresso shot extraction pics? Let me check . . .

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Robster
    I am trying different doses at the moment. To dose to the shower screen I find I need to overfill, rap the PF down on the knock box to settle, strike off level then a firm tamp, is this your technique. Taste has not been quite to my liking but have been starting the pour 60 seconds after the light goes out, I will extend the time and see how it goes.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1175047754/0#14 date=1196585799
    Wow! Love that photo Robster 8-)...... If you could isolate that perfect sphere of perfection and blow it up in an appropriate background, youd have Planet Nirvana in the System Espresso..... ;)

    Mal.
    Its not that far out of focus... Make someone a nice avatar!


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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Robster, thats awesome looking brew from the stove top. I never get that coffee looking like that out of my stove top... :(

    I was just thinking about how inferior my stove top was after reading all the other threads. Started getting carried away thinking about how to justify a Presso or a nice espresso machine, then thankfully this thread bought me back to reality. THANKS!!! :)


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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Dimmy,

    I wouldnt get such good coffee without a big-basketed stove-top, well-roasted fresh beans, and a decent (burr) grinder. If needed, you could probably find a bigger basket for your stove-top, and good beans are not hard to find. If you dont have a grinder, thats where Id be allowing myself to get carried away . . .

    Its all about getting the best out of the equipment at hand (until upgrade-itis sets in!)

    Cheers,

    Rob

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    I am considering a grinder. I am just using the Lavazza bricks at the moment. Im slowly reading through (some, not all) of the threads in the grinders section.

    Could you expand on what a big basket means? I have a Bialetti Black 4 cup unit. Not sure how to tell what a big basket is. How does a bigger basket help? Hope these are not extreme newbie questions... :)

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Dimmy, some stove-tops come with quite small coffee baskets, relative to the size of the water chamber. A bigger basket (ie where you load the coffee) means you get stronger coffee, and probably also coffee with more substantial body. Unfortunately, packaged ground coffee has inherent limitations due to not being fresh. The good news is that you can improve your home-made coffee 100% - and immediately - simply by switching to freshly roasted, freshly ground beans from a good roaster/supplier. Just ask them to grind it for "stove-top espresso". Try brewing some as soon as you get it home and marvel at how different it smells, tastes and looks compared to the pre-packaged kind. Roasted whole bean coffee is usually stale about 2 weeks after being roasted, and once coffee has been ground it should really be used within the hour.

    A Bialetti 4 cup is a good unit. With the right grind of fresh coffee it should produce 80-100ml of luscious expresso.

    Oh, and some coffee varieties and/or blends are better suited to stove-top espresso makers than others. Your roaster/supplier should be able to advise you.

    If you want suggestions about where to turn for your roasted bean supply, let us know where you are and Im sure therell be plenty of suggestions.

    Have fun with it,

    Rob

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Rob, sounds like something to try. Im out in the south eastern suburbs in Melbourne. Id be keen to get some nice coffee ground from beans from someone.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Hi Rob

    the photos look great. Ive had my eye on a 3cup Electric Bialetti for work - no stoves around. Anyone had experience with them - are they as good as the normal stove top versions??

    cheers

    argon

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Quote Originally Posted by dimmy link=1175047754/15#27 date=1199914896
    Thanks Rob, sounds like something to try. Im out in the south eastern suburbs in Melbourne. Id be keen to get some nice coffee ground from beans from someone.


    Veneziano Caffe is a site sponsor (link via the sidebar) and they roast absolutely superb coffee which you can pick up from their cafe, First Pour, in Bond Street, Abbotsford (very close to CUB and Ikea). I believe they are your nearest site sponsor that roasts and has a retail outlet. There may be others. The people there are very passionate about all things coffee and are always eager to help out with tips on getting the best out of coffee and espresso equipment. You can even pick and roast your own beans in the shop!

    Other site sponsors (including this site itself, via the "Brown" Bean Bay) are roasters who offer delivery through the post, but Im sure they would suggest sending whole beans through the post and grinding at home is preferable to sending pre-ground coffee.


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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Greeting all. Im a newbie at this whole coffee thing and found this site and this thread in particular most helpful. Ive been playing with a 2 cup stove top and not sure Im getting the best results but then again Im not used to drinking short blacks either. ;) Love the photos Robster and I am now aiming to brew something that looks similar. :) Wondering if there are any recommended roasters in the North Brisbane area? I bought my coffee today at Zarraffas which probably is not the best source. Many thanks.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks for sharing your BARRISTA skills in person ROBSTER.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Whenever I use one of the stove-top or electrical boiling pressure units (i.e.-no separate pump) I experiment to find the right amount of water so the extraction stops at ristretto or espresso volumes. This is NEVER up to the level indicated on the machine.
    I suppose you could watch the extraction and stop it manually but I prefer to measure the water. I have had others say that this method produces better coffee than our offices $1800 automatic cappucino maker.
    Greg

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Big thanks to all you snobs out there. Just had an epiphany with my little italian 1-cup after following all your advice. Crema was there (of course not in Robsters league), so was sweetness. :D

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Youve all no doubt seen the Far Side cartoon (seen sometimes on coffee mugs) where one of the cowboys around a camp fire approaches another brandishing a contraption that looks like a stove top steamer, and asks, "Latte, Jed?" Ill give some of these hints a try before I get time to go shopping for my new machine.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Myke
    Try to get your coffee beans from Cosmopolitan Cafe in The Valley.
    They have many to choose from and experiment with your stove top 2 cup.
    They roast at the back of the store in their own roaster, reasonably priced too.
    I like their short blacks, its the only coffee i actually pay for out and would go back for more.
    cheers
    Jordan

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Hi All,
    This is my first post, I came across this site few weeks back, and now Ive got the urge to improve the quality of my espresso.

    Before I go out and start spending $$$$ I thought Ill start with what I have.

    A few weeks ago, I saw Robster tips for the Mocha Pot - impressive Robster!
    So I grabbed my Mocha Pot (2 cup Stainlees steel model), threw in boiling water, in goes the pre-ground supermarket coffee (I know, I know, Please dont shoot me down!). To my disappointment not much had changed in quality.
    So the learning journey continues, so I bought some fresh beans ( I was told it was one to two weeks old) and used one of those hand grinders that my parents had 40 years ago - built tough in those days!.

    Still not much difference in the coffee, the 2 cup model basket seemed small so I grab my 3 cup aluminum mocha pot which seems to have a much bigger basket in relation to the water chamber.
    Put the coffee in the basket, gave it a few taps and topped it up and then levelled it off with a knife. I tamped it down - lightly, threw in the boiling water and then watch and wait.

    This time I noticed some difference, the pour was not black, there was some crema, but as I poured it inoto the cup it vanished.

    Of points, I did try to switch off the burner as soon as the pour came out but only half came out, when i tried that scenario on the stainless model the coffee stopped pouring out straight away.

    The coffee is bitter, but I presume thats due to grind being to coarse from the hand grinder.

    As time goes on I will try different techiques, eg tamp v no tamp, fill basket with coffee and tamp as opposed to tapping the basket and filling again with coffee and tamp, amount of water in the chamber, not to mention buying fresh coffee from a site sponsor!

    I guess when I get some improved results, time to invest in a quality grinder, I can see that happening very soon...............


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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    well, the next attempt I tamped to much and the coffee was struggled to pour. The next attempt was without a tamp but tapped the basket a few times and refilled. The main problem is that its still bitter. I running out of coffee so next time Ill get them to grind the coffee for me instead of using those hand grinders to see what difference it makes.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Its not necessarily the grinder, IMHO (with some testing) a good hand
    grinder produces excellent results comparable to Rocky or better. So far
    my limited experimentation with stove top still produces some bitterness.
    But I need to find a new seal for the bigger one that we have.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Thanks Hazbean, I havent researched about how hand grinders perform. I was pointing to the hand grinder since its about 40 years old and most likely had seens its best days go by. Im close by to StAli so I might head down their by the end of the week and get them to grind some beans for me and see what the difference is. I guess I would have a different result for Ive using Genovese beans.
    I dont think Ill buy a hand grinder, I might just go for a Rocky/i-mini or K3 but more research and a visit to a sponser before I decide and purchase a grinder.

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)


    I must say I am very impressed by the first stove top image on this thread- that is a fine Crema for a stove-top!

    In my experience there are several factors essential for good stovetop coffee:

    1) Pre-boil the water and use a lowish flame: Using hot water at the start means the brew time is a lot less. This means that the water starts to move up and through the coffee grounds- before the entire moka pot has a chance to become hot. This reduces the chance of a burnt tasting brew. As the hot water hits the coffee and filter basket- some of the heat is dissipated- meaning the brew temp is kept down around 94c- where you want it.

    2) Always use Fresh Roasted, Fresh Ground coffee, and good clean water (obvious I know)

    3) Lightly Tamp: assuming you have the grind right (medium/fine) I find a light even tamp gives good results. Most stove-top machines only produce a few BAR of pressure- so overtamping will also lead to a burnt tasting brew. Under-tamping- or too coarse a grind will lead to a weak- crema-less brew. You must search for the middle road of tamping... the goal is to let the machine achieve a reasonable degree of pressure before the espresso juices start to flow...

    4) Use less Water: Many Moka pots produce a reasonably large volume of coffee given the amount of ground coffee used. More suited to an americao style long black than a macchiato or short black. If you want to make smooth espresso-like shots- use a little less water at the start. Do not fill the machine to capacity. This means that the second half of the extraction- the (all to often) watery, slightly burnt part- is avoided altogether. With vintage Atomic machines and my New Sorrentina machines- this means only putting half a jug or less of water in at the start to make a few small and potent shots.

    Applying these rules to my La Sorrentina Atomic stove-top machine I get the following results just about every time:



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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    and towards the end of the extraction:




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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Yummmmmm :)

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    Re: In praise of Stove-top brews (+ Pics)

    Absolutely must second the advice about using hot (recently boiled) water in the pot! I read this ages ago on the Stumpies site and was quite sceptical -- also didnt want to handle a hot pot! :( And my moka pot coffee was pretty horrible -- burnt-tasting, but worse, it tasted metallic. Urk! I blamed the cheap old aluminium pot (whats that about a workman and her tools I hear you cry?) and gave up on it.

    But see the pix in this thread finally motivated me to have another go -- boiling water in pot to a bit below that little pressure thingy, fill basket with slightly coarser than espresso grind Yirg (one mazzer notch, on this attempt), pot on smallest gas burner on low, remove from heat as soon as coffee appeared, decant all coffee immediately when done.

    Well, I cant say I got much in the way of crema, but I didnt get the horrible metallic taste either! Definitely an improvement. And jeez was it strong! I managed to fit 30g in the basket with a bit of "patting" -- maybe was a bit much... ::) But at least Ive now got something I can improve on (as opposed to toss straight out!)

    Moral of story (so far): using *hot* water is definitely worthwhile, and dont leave the coffee sitting in the pot (this may be more important for aluminium pots, perhaps).



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