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Friday, June 1, 2012

Neapolitan Espresso Pot (Macchinetta Napoletana)

Click HERE to watch Eduardo use his famous Napoletana!

~My 40 year old Napoletana~
The Neapolitan Espresso pot or the Macchinetta Napoletana is different than the Moka pot in that it uses a simple reverse drip brew method rather than the Moka's pressurized water method.
Even though this pot has been around since the 1800's, believed to have been invented by the French, it was made popular with Neapolitans by Eduardo De Filippo in the 1946 movie Questi fantasmi (These Ghosts). In this movie there is a scene where Eduardo sits at the balcony to enjoy a cup of espresso. He, already having boiled the water, flips the caffetteria napoletana over. He then waits while the water drips down through the filter and into the second pot. Pretending to talk with a professor neighbor, he explains that a paper cone put over the spout is essential. This keeps the aromas from escaping.

My Neapolitan Father brought a Napoletana back to the states with him after a visit in the early 1970's right around the time I was born, It was the actual pot I learned to first make espresso with by my Zia Adele on a visit to the states from Italy. It is still my preferred method of brewing espresso and I realize that this is due probably to more sentimental value than taste. The taste is not quite as strong and slightly sweeter than espresso made in a Moka pot and is perfect for new espresso drinkers or those who like a slightly sweeter espresso.

I can still remember as if it were  yesterday as my Zia taught me how to fill the filter completely full yet without packing it down to hard. Then filling it with filtered bottled water to the the little screw in the side and placing it on the burner allowing it to almost come to a boil, and at just the right moment flipping it over and then waiting for the magic to happen, which took about 3 minutes. But you must remember always to cover the spout she demonstrated to me without using any words, she used a little spout cover placing it on and off again just to make sure I understood the importance of it, this cap is now missing. Recently I pulled down my old pot and made some espresso with it. I didn't have the cover so I used a napkin I was so excited but then was quickly disappointed when I found that some of the grounds had come through but then I remembered  (I could almost hear my Zia telling me in her very broken English) that the beans need to be ground a little larger than in Moka pot, in between a very fine and medium ground. My next pot was perfect mmmm so sweet and only slightly bitter but I think what I like most about this brewing method is the memories it evokes.
My Zia (left) around the time she visited with us.
 How To Use The Napoletana Pot:
The side with the spout will ultimately end up being the pot on the bottom but it starts out on the top.
Pull the two pots apart and remove the filter, it looks like a big salt shaker top.
Add water to the to screw indent on the inside of the pot without the handle.
Pull the filter open and add espresso beans ground to a medium/fine grind.
Screw the filter back and add to the top of the spout-less pot.
Now place the spouted pot on top and place on stove top, make sure the handle is kind of hanging over the element and not over the heat.
As soon as water starts to seep out of the tiny hole near the lip of the bottom piece, flip the pot over, and the hot water will seep through the coffee into the piece with the spout. Remove from heat at this point. You want to catch it just before actual boiling.
Cover the spout as it drains.
Remove spout cover and pour!

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