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How to Get the Strongest Cup of Coffee Without an Espresso Machine

Bear Country Kitchen carries two coffee makers with which you can make a really strong cup: Bialetti Moka Stovetops and Bodum French Presses. Both methods become a ritualistic coffee making experience that you will look forward to each morning. Both methods are aromatic and produce a rich, flavourful, strong cup of coffee that satisfies your caffeine cravings. And unless you need the real thing, both methods are quite respected in coffee culture for producing brews that are considered a rival to espresso. But that’s where the similarities end because the way to use each machine is quite different. Which is right for you? Keep reading to learn more.

Bialetti Moka Stovetop Machines

 In 1930s Italy, Alfonso Bialetti designed a new technique for brewing coffee that has become a staple among coffee enthusiasts. The Bialetti Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker is the iconic model and has the classic octagonal design that allows it to diffuse heat and enhance the aroma perfectly. 

The brewing process could best be described as reverse percolation. The machine’s construction consists of three chambers: one for water, a second for coffee grounds, and the third for the finished brew. There is no need for paper filters or plastic coffee pods making the Bialetti Moka pot an affordable, sustainable choice.

Simply twist to unscrew the chambers and place water in the bottom chamber, stack the funnel on top of it and add your fine espresso ground coffee and press it down lightly. Then screw the top chamber onto the bottom to close the unit and place it on the stove. Listen for the characteristic gurgling as steam passes through the coffee. Promptly remove the unit from the stove to prevent over extraction. 

The Bialetti Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker produces fragrant, espresso flavoured coffee produced at relatively low pressure compared to traditional espresso machines, a brew that is about 2-3 times as concentrated as regular drip coffee. The distinct flavour depends greatly on bean variety, roast level, fineness of grind, water temperature, and level of heat while brewing.

Bodum French Presses

French press coffee is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to enjoy a cup of joe in the morning. Bodum is one of the most popular French Press manufacturers. Bear Country Kitchen stocks several models of Bodum French Presses including Brazil, Columbia, Chambord, and Kenya as well as their replacement glass beakers.

The sight of a Bodum French Press Coffee Maker can be a little intimidating, but it's one of the simplest brewing methods and has been around for decades. Coffee grounds are steeped in hot water before being pressed to the bottom of the beaker, helping to separate the grounds from the liquid, leaving behind a strong cup that is full of flavour. This brewing method gives you total control over your brew, and you can even use a French press coffee maker to make other beverages like tea or even cold brew coffee. 

However, you need some extra tools to make the perfect French Press brew:

Fresh whole coffee beans, a burr coffee grinder, measuring tools (2 tbsp of coffee/ cup of water), your Bodum French Press Coffee Maker, boiling water, a long (plastic or wooden) spoon or stirrer, and a timer.

French Press Instructions

  1. First, warm up the press by rinsing it out with boiling water. 
  2. Next, measure and grind your coffee beans into coarse, breadcrumb sized grounds. 
  3. Next, add your grinds to the empty press and add boiled water into the French Press. 
  4. Use your plastic or wooden spoon and stir vigorously to break up the top layer. NOTE: Your spoon should be made of a material that won’t risk breaking the glass beaker.
  5.  Allow the coffee to steep for 4 minutes. 
  6. Once the timer runs out, push the plunger all the way to the bottom of the press.
  7. Pour immediately to avoid over extraction.

Which Brewing Method is Better?

The easy answer is the brewing method that is better for you! Both methods require a similar brewing time, so the difference comes down to both taste and whether you want to be patient listening for tell-tale sounds or whether you want to be patient with a hands on brewing method that is simple, but involves measuring, stirring and timing. 

Moka pots can involve a learning curve to get the perfect brew. What they don’t require is much fussing with measurements - the size of the pot determines the amount of grounds and the amount of water. Another benefit compared to the french press is that once the brewing process is finished, the coffee is in a completely separate compartment and won’t touch the grounds anymore. The tricky part with a moka pot is removing the pot from the stove just in time to prevent over extraction. If you can handle being highly attuned to your Bialetti’s whims and whimpers, learning what the different sounds it makes mean, it might be the right brewing method for you.

French presses are quite simple to use. The mechanism involves a simple push of a plunger. What’s a little more difficult is getting the right grounds to coffee ratio - this involves measuring and finding the right measurement for your tastes. You also have to be a little more hands on throughout the brewing process; stirring the grounds, timing your brew. You’re likely to be on your feet for most of the 4 minutes it takes to get ready. Bodum might be right for you if you’re a go-getter in the morning and you like a morning ritual to earn your first cup of coffee.

How do they Taste?

Moka pot coffee uses pressure in the brewing process which imparts a dense strong flavour somewhere in between drip coffee and espresso. This can best be described as strong, sharp, and highly energizing. It will mix very well with milk or cream. Compared to this, french press coffee is smoother and less overpowering. Its flavour comes from oils that make it full bodied and richly textured. If you really love espresso, you’re best bet is the moka pot. But, the french presses give you more control over your brew, so you can definitely achieve a strong, rich, nuanced flavour with them. 

How do I get the Right Grind?

One other difference of note is that Bialetti Moka Pots require a fine grind, while Bodum French Presses require a coarser, medium to large sized grind. A burr coffee grinder is a great tool to get the right grind whichever method you choose. Both methods make better tasting coffee with freshly ground beans, so it’s a worthy investment either way. Many burr grinders have settings to automatically achieve the desired grind texture.

Which Machine Size do I Need?

Bear Country Kitchen stocks Moka pots in the 1, 3, 6, and 9 cup sizes. Because much of the water is expelled as steam in the brewing process, moka pots do not yield the full cup size. The table below explains how much coffee you get after the brew is finished:

 

Moka Pot Size

Coffee Measure

1 Cup

2 oz. or 60 ml

3 Cup

6.5 oz. or 200 ml

6 Cup

10 oz. or 300 ml

9 Cup

18.5 oz. or 550 ml

 

Bear Country Kitchen stocks Bodum french presses in the .35, .5,  1, and 1.5 L sizes.  Because coffee grounds take up some of the space in the glass beaker, french presses do not yield the full measure of coffee. If you like 2 large cups of coffee every morning, the 1L size is probably ideal for your needs.

Are There Any Tips for Getting the Strongest Brew? 

What does a strong brew mean to you? For some people, strong coffee means high in caffeine. To others, it’s all about the bold flavour profile. What many people don’t know is that a stronger flavour doesn’t always connote high caffeine content. A lighter roast always has higher caffeine content, and usually these are more subtle tasting. It can be tricky to get a strong tasting and highly caffeinated cup because the darker the roast, the bolder the flavour. If you want a stronger flavour, you can always increase your grounds to water ratio.  This means packing your moka pot by pressing the grounds in it more compactly OR adding more grounds to the french press than are called for. Whichever brewing method you’re using, you can definitely get a strong cup. It just might involve some experimentation to find out what works best to achieve your desired strength.

Benefits of Sustainable Coffee Making

One of the best things about both of these brewing methods is that they are sustainable, eco-friendly methods that produce only compostable waste. There aren’t capsules, there aren’t filters. There’s just ground coffee and your machine.  

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