Mocha madness


You know you are a native of the Pacific Northwest when your preparations for a hard winter include the procurement of a coffee maker that can be used without electricity.

I had seen this kind of coffee maker at SCA events for making espresso. Yes, even medieval reenactment cannot happen in the PNW without a good cup of modern Italian coffee. (Note that despite my initial impression, their being called “espresso makers” in many catalogs, and their use for making “espresso” in the SCA, these are not espresso makers and the resulting coffee, while impressively strong, is not espresso.) I had also seen them from time to time during my thrift store visits. I didn’t know enough about them to confidently buy one because I had a niggling feeling that I would get it home and either a) not be able to figure out how to use it, or b) discover that I was missing a crucial part. I cast about the internet until I discovered that these handy, simple, little machines are called, appropriately, macchinetta (meaning, ‘little machine’ in Italian). I also found this very helpful website that told me both how to use the macchinetta and what parts I should have.

The next time I went to the thrift store I found two – one miniature macchinetta that looked utterly unused but so small that it probably only made a shot, and the one in the picture above, which is heavier and has a 12 oz capacity. Our macchinetta makes enough super-strength coffee to make two double-shot mochas in my favorite 12 oz mugs with vintage coffee label prints. In regular coffee mugs (8 oz) it will make three mochas, in Denny’s mugs (6 oz) it will make four. If you want to get technical, what Matt and I are knocking off here at home is really café au lait with chocolate syrup because we are heating our milk in a saucepan on the stove and a true mocha has steamed milk.

Because we enjoy taking things a step further I decided to make my own chocolate syrup. When we had emptied the first bottle of store-bought chocolate syrup I washed it out, removed the labels, and made up a batch of chocolate syrup from an excellent little book called Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Howard, and Madeline Westover. (I am also going to make my own corn bread mix and buttermilk muffin mix from that book.) The syrup is cheap, easy, delicious, and makes the house smell great. My only complaint is that I couldn’t get all the lumps out and I wish that I had filled the bottle through a sieve to catch them, because when a lump gets stuck trying to exit the squeeze bottle it can end in a difficult clothing stain and half hour’s worth of countertop and wall wiping (by which time your coffee’s cold).

— Amanda


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