ESPRESSO … “stronger than all the religions of the world”

“The voodoo priest and all his powers were as nothing compared to espresso, cappuccino, and mocha, which are stronger than all the religions of the world combined, and perhaps stronger than the human soul itself.” Memoir From Antproof Case, Mark Helprin

What is more delightful than an espresso (that’s eSpresso, not eXpresso) to help move through the day or a caffè correto to end a good dinner and aid digestion? This is an easy-to-learn process using a Bialleti Moka Express, a stove-top espresso maker.  It’s well worth the negligible effort.  I prefer the moka pot to a machine because I feel more connected to the process and the product, it takes up less real estate in the kitchen, and it’s budget wise.

As always we start with the freshest ingredients: water – clear, cold, and filtered – and freshly ground dark-roasted coffee.  Buy it when you know you will use it right away, even if you purchase beans and grind them at home.

The Bialetti Moke Express comes in three parts: the reservoir for water, a coffee filter with funnel for the grounds, and a top piece to capture the espresso as it bubbles up from the bottom.  This coffee pot comes in various sizes to make coffee for just one person or for up to twelve.

Directions:

Fill the reservoir with water to just below the steam valve. Put the coffee filter in place and fill it with grounds, tamping them lightly with the back of the spoon. Screw the top piece in place.

Put the Moka Express on the highest heat.  Watch it because it is quickly done.  The espresso will gather in the top chamber. Serve immediately.  Sweeten with xylotol if you like.  If you care to, you might add either a lemon peel or, for a caffè correto, a little grappa. Caffè latte: One shot fresh, hot espresso for each six ounces of steamed organic dairy or nondairy milk.

This video demonstrates the process. (If you are view this from an email subscription, it’s likely you’ll have to link through to the site to watch the video.)

Photo credits: The header photo and the Bialetti are courtesy of Bialetti. The espresso cup is courtesy of Lemone under GFDL.

“An old American who lives in Brazil is writing his memoirs. An English teacher at the naval academy, he is married to a woman young enough to be his daughter and has a little son whom he loves. He sits in a mountain garden in Niterói, overlooking the ocean. As he reminisces and writes, placing the pages carefully in his antproof case, we learn that he was a World War II ace who was shot down twice, an investment banker who met with popes and presidents, and a man who was never not in love. He was the thief of the century, a murderer, and a protector of the innocent. And all his life he waged a valiant, losing, one-man battle against the world’s most insidious enslaver: coffee. Mark Helprin combines adventure, satire, flights of transcendence, and high comedy in this “memoir” of a man whose life reads like the song of the twentieth century.”

 

Lebanese Coffee, Cardamom Scented; featured writer, Freya Stark

“We found a little side valley for lunch, and made a salad and cooked the coffee.”

Letters From Syria, Freya Stark

A blend of dark coffee beans ground with cardamom, prepared in Lebanon, a Turkish ground

As a child I lived for a while with my Lebanese grandmother, my Sidto. Every Tuesday afternoon some of the ladies who traveled to the U.S. with her would come to visit. They’d bring store bought-cakes. This was a luxury and a delight. It was something they didn’t have to slave over.

My grandmother would serve coffee. Sometimes it was regular American coffee and sometimes it was Lebanese coffee, a sweet treat fragrant with cardamom. It is the cardamom that distinguishes Lebanese coffee from Turkish.

The coffee, called Al-Qahway in the Arabic, is integral to all entertaining, a hallmark of Lebanese hospitality, which is legendary.

Note: Generally I prefer and recommend purchasing whole beans, however Maaatouk is perfectly blended and ground, delicious and convenient.

 

Hand Hammered Thick Solid Copper Turkish Coffee Pot Small, Arabic Greek Stovetop Coffee Maker Ibrik Cezve Briki with Brass Handle

Lebanese coffee is prepared in a narrow, long-handled brass pot, called a rakweh, and then poured into a demitasse.

It is generally served sweet (mazbuhtah), moderately sweet (wahsat), very sweet (helwa) or, at funerals, bitter (murrrah).

This recipe is for two servings. Just multiply the ingredients to prepare the coffee for more people.  This is an easy prep process.  Don’t be intimidated.

The recipe

The ingredients:

For two demitasse cups, medium sweet:

water

2 tablespoons dark-roasted coffee, ground for Turkish Coffee

2 teaspoons organic sugar

2 cardamom pods

The preparation:

Pour two demitasse cupfuls of water into the rakweh. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and add the coffee and sugar. Put the pot back on the heat.  The coffee will foam up.  Remove from heat and let the foam subside.  Add the cardamom pods. Put the pot back on the heat and let it foam again.  Remove from heat.  Let the foam subside.  Do the process once more. Pour into cups.  Drink hot, hot, hot.

This is my favorite set, not only because of the colors but we are a family of three: me and my son and my daughter-in law. Three Espresso & Famous Turkish Coffee Cafà Cup Mug.

“There is a certain madness comes over one at the mere sight of a good map.”

FREYA STARK (1893-1993) was an explorer and travel writer, an adventurous woman who was ahead of her times. As a child she was often ill and housebound. When on her nineth birthday, she recived a copy of One Thousand and One Nights, her facination with what was then called “the Orient” began. As an adult she lived in Lebanon and Iran and was the first Westerner to travel western Iran wilderness. She traveled in Southern Arabia, rare for a Westerner, and all over the Middle East. Her books and her biography are facinating reading, not least because they make for a great vicarious adventure. Jane letcher Geniesse’s biography, Passionate Nomad, The Life of Freya Stark, is a recommended read.

Copyright Coffee, Tea and Poetry 2017
Shale theme by Siteturner