Ever since I went to Latin America about a decade ago, I have enjoyed Cafe au Lait. I love it for its strong flavors and is unapologetic rough flavor that can only be tamed by a little milk and sugar. The brand that I ran into is pretty basic, Cafe Bustelo, which sells for less than $3.50 per 10-ounce can where I shop. I know it sounds odd, but the coffee always seems pretty fresh in the can as there are a lot of hispanic consumers buying it at our market, which keeps things turning over fairly often. To be clear, this is not your single origin fair trade arabica only blend, as it's got enough kick in it to think that it's got more than a robusta bean or two in there. That's OK, because I like the added body and flavor that a robusta blend has, and if you do, read on.
Whenever I am brewing for cafe au lait, I brew it in my Moka pot. This is a 4-cup (8-ounce) pot that makes just enough for me to enjoy a pretty good sized mug of cafe au lait in the morning. The whole proces takes about 6 - 7 minutes; and only about 1 of that is actual work. Fill the bottom of the Moka pot with water, add a few tablespoons of coffee to the grounds holder, screw everything together, and put it on the stove. I usually get the rest of breakfast going, and by the time I am done, the coffee is ready.
I usually add about 2-4 ounces of milk to the 8-ounces of espresso, with a good slug of sugar too. Wakes me right up.
more on Cafe Bustelo
Bialetti Moka Pots at Amazon
Before I had an ESE machine I started with a stovetop maker. This modern Bialetti Espresso maker is an adaptation of the classic stovetop espresso maker and is at home in any kitchen. It makes 5 espresso servings of 2 ounces each. These are easy to use; just fill the lower chamber with water, put your fine ground espresso roast in the integral filter, and screw on the top of the maker. The dual chamber design is easy to use and only takes minutes on the stove. It is made from heavy-gauge, 18/10 stainless-steel body and stainless-steel filter basket, as well as a black rubberized handle and knob for graceful serving. Made in Italy, the stovetop espresso maker measures approximately 8 inches tall by 4 inches wide and carries a 10-year limited warranty.
Easy, simple, elegant. These make great gifts and make great espresso.
You can compare it to the classic Bialetti Moka pot below.