Make Delicious Espresso At Home With The Macchinetta


Living in Japan, it’s almost impossible to find a cafe that offers a cup of espresso for less than $3-$4. Now call me stingy, but as much as I love espresso, I typically won’t be spending that much to get just one shot.

I dream of having my very own powerful espresso machine, but until then, I think I’ll stick with my small but trusty Bialetti macchinetta to make all the espressos I want, right at home.

Macchinetta — the affordable stovetop espresso maker

The macchinetta, also known as a moka pot, is found in virtually every Italian household. Shaped like an hourglass, it’s a pot which you fill with water and ground espresso, and boil over a stove until it extracts one or multiple shots. If you’re not familiar with it, this is what my macchinetta looks like:


Mine is the smallest macchinetta on the market, and makes just one cup of espresso. There are various sizes, including ones that make 10+ servings at a time.

To be clear, you won’t be able to extract a shot of espresso exactly like those served at cafes. Instead, you’ll get something that I usually describe as somewhere between an espresso and coffee, in terms of texture and flavor. The reason for this is that the coffee won’t be extracted with nearly the same amount of pressure as a powerful espresso machine. You won’t get a nice thick layer of crema, either, but it will still be aromatic and delicious nonetheless.

Using your macchinetta

The macchinetta is made up of three main parts — the bottom chamber which you fill with water, the funnel filter in which you set the coffee grounds, and the top chamber which will eventually be filled with the extracted espresso.


Now, onto making the actual coffee. Prep time takes less than a minute, with just three easy steps.

  1. Fill the bottom compartment with water. There will be a line inside it indicating how much water you should pour in.
  2. Fill the filter with espresso grounds. You don’t need to tamp the coffee, but I usually smooth it over lightly with the back of a spoon.
  3. Place on stove over medium heat. What works best for me is to set the flame so that it is slightly smaller than the bottom of the macchinetta itself. This will not only make sure that the water doesn’t heat too quickly, but it will also prevent the pot handle from melting.

After about a minute (longer for those with bigger pots), you’ll start to hear a soft gurgling noise from the macchinetta. Turn off the stove and wait until the gurgling subsides. Your espresso is now ready!

Tips for extracting the perfect shot

Using a macchinetta is simple enough, but here are few tips to help you get a delicious shot of espresso every time.

  1. Don’t wash the moka pot with dish soap. Don’t scrub it too hard, either. With the macchinetta, the more you use it, the better flavor you’ll get. The oils from the coffee will coat the inside of the pot, saving the coffee from tasting like metal. I only rinse it lightly with water after every use.
  2. Remove the macchinetta from the stove soon after it’s done extracting coffee. Keep an eye on it so you know when it’s ready.
  3. Use fine, fresh espresso grounds. You also don’t want the dry grounds to sit over the stove for too long before the water heats up (this will make the coffee bitter), so make sure the heat isn’t set too low.

As with everything, you’ll have to go through some trial and error to understand what works best for you. But you should try and have as much fun as you can experimenting, especially since you’ll be getting a flavorful cup of espresso every time.


7 Comment

  1. christinamk says: Reply

    Wow, it only takes a minute to make this? That is incredible. How long does it take to prepare before heating? How many servings does it make? Sounds like a great way to have a delicious cup of espresso without buying a powerful, expensive machine. I will have to check this Macchinetta out!

    1. Saori says: Reply

      Thank you for the comment! Actually, the time it takes will depend on the size of the macchinetta. Mine makes just one serving, which is why it takes only a minute, but there are others that make 10+ cups. Those will probably take about 5 minutes to make. All you need to do is pour water into the pot and fill the filter with coffee, so prep time is less than a minute. Macchinettas are extremely affordable, so I highly recommend them!

  2. Gina says: Reply

    I can almost smell the aromas of a coffee shop while reading this. The outcome cup of espresso looks perfect. It seems pretty simple too!
    I bet I could learn a lot about coffee from your coffee expert website haha. I’m in need of some recipes for different drinks to keep things fun. Thanks!

  3. Jeff says: Reply

    I like this website very much It has that cool uber chic coffee house vibe to it and with a nice choice of images it all works very well
    The lay out is nice and clean and does not distract from the written content. It is informative and fun and in all honesty has made me think about re-theming my own site to make it ‘scat’ as good as this one.
    Really good job

  4. Chris says: Reply


    Great post on what looks like a very decent product.

    There a millions of people out there who, like yourself don’t really want to be paying dollars for a coffee they could make at home.

    I honestly didn’t know that a lot of households in Italy would have one of these. Your step by step guide on how to use the Macchinetta is easy to understand and I might look into one of these.

    I appreciate your information.


  5. Joe says: Reply


    I really enjoyed reading this article and how to prepare a perfect espresso from home. I actually have a little experience using a cuban coffee maker which is very similar to the Macchinetta that you feature in the article. Unfortunately I do not have my old Cuban coffee maker so I will be looking into this. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Lyle says: Reply

    I’ve always been curious to how these worked, considering I had previously only seen espresso’s made from proper machines I couldn’t quite figured how this little pot done the same. But after you said it’s in between an espresso and a regular coffee it all makes more sense now. I like my coffee to be strong in flavour (not just coffee but milk and sugar – I’m more of a latte macchiato kind of guy) so I think I’ll need to pick one of these up for myself at some point!

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