You can’t. But you can do something similar, enjoy a rewarding experience, and have access to a tasty brew at a reasonable price and only a moderate level of fiddling. A while ago I bought a Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4. It is a modernized version of the early 20th century “moka pot,” which is designed to make an espresso-like beverage. The original moka pot is made of aluminum, which is an excellent metal for this job given it’s heat conductive properties, but it also provides an undesirable addition to the taste of the final product. And, aluninum is not exactly biologically inert, and though the scientific evidence for the toxic effects of aluminum is weak, I tend to avoid it where I can so I can feel OK about using it when needed (i.e., no aluminum cooking pots so I can use it in grilling).
The Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4 is made of stainless steel which eliminates the aluminum problem. It appears that the heat conductivity issue is settled by designing the pot so that the base is very thick. This seems to cause the heat to take longer to transfer to the water initially, but to produce the same effect that the aluminum moka pot produced. (Yes, I used a traditional moka pot for about a year prior to its handle breaking off).
The Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4 is one of several possible similar pots (including a larger version of this brand, and several other brands). I selected teh Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4 because I wanted the smaller size, and based on reading numerous reviews of all of the alternatives. Now, I’ve been using it for long enough to declare it a good purchase, even though it is not exactly cheap. I had gotten my aluminum moka for five dollars on sale at the grocery store, but the Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4 is closer to 90 bucks. On the other hand, the handle is not going to fall off the Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4. Ever.
The Cuisinox Milano 4 Cup Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker|COFM4, or the traditional aluminum pot, does not make true espresso. True espresso requires a machine that will pressurize the water passing through the coffee grounds to a level nearly an order of magnitude higher than what happens in these pots. Also, these stove top machines will not produce the closely related “cafe creme” coffee (which is, much to my chagrin the first time I ordered some of this in Amsterdam, NOT coffee with cream!). But almost. If you play your cards right, you can get it to foam and sputter just enough to see foam form on the top of the liquid.
My ‘espresso’ always ends up in a latte, so I don’t need the tactile effect, just the flavor, and I mostly get it. There are a few tricks.
The grounds are espresso roast and ground to espresso level. A regular el-cheapo counter top grinder will not do this nicely: You need a burr grinder. For my part, I grind the coffee at the supermarket and/or purchase Archer Farm brand espresso grind at Target.
You need to fill the basket that holds the ground coffee full, but don’t pack it. There should be no gaps. If you keep your coffee frozen, shave it with the spoon you are dishing it out with to avoid lumps which may cause air gaps. If this does not make sense to you now, don’t worry, it will later when you are actually doing it.
If you keep the handle of the pot off the side just a little while it is cooking, you’ll be able to use it without a potholder. But maybe not so be careful.
After the coffee starts to spill out to the upper chamber, you can stop the process earlier or later. If you want that nice burned-coffee flavor, wait until the sputtering has been going for a while then take the pot off the stove and pour the coffee. If you want only a tiny bit of burned flavor, remove the pot the moment you hear sputtering and either place a wet towel against the pot or run water on it right away, then pour. If you want just “moka” without the burn, stop the process before the puttering. This will take some practice. No problem, you’ll be doing it every day, you’ll get good at it.
Meantime, there are variations you can try. The grind need not be roasted to espresso level. Or, you can use half Colombian (or something) and half espresso. If you try this or any other variations and have interesting results, let us know!
The specific pot I am using (see links above) has a device that lets you put in half the coffee into the basket. I tried it once, did not like the results, but have not tried again. I’m glad I got the smaller of the two pots so I get the right amount with the full basket. THere are electrical versions of some of these pots. That’s a tempting alternative. However, I decided to go for the stove top version because a) I’ve got no room for another electrical device in my kitchen and b) If Imma spend 90 bucks on something like this I want it to last forever. This pot will, but one with an electrical element won’t.
OK, I’m getting a hankering for another cup now. Gotta go.