The moka pot, or stovetop pot if you prefer, is a long beloved way to brew coffee. Rich, strong, somewhat espresso-like, it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity due to the number of home brewers that are constantly looking for the very best cup of coffee for their tastes.
Resurgence regarding the USA. In the original country of it, Italy, it has never stopped being one of the most popular ways of preparing coffee. The iconic design of the Bialetti moka is hardly any news for any coffee drinker.
Anything can be improved though, or so Crucial Detail must have thought. The Chicago design studio has launched a kickstarter project, the Orb One that aims to make the moka pot more accessible and better performing than ever. With a name and style that seems out of a Star Wars movie, the Orb One is a modern take on the classic moka pot that should put together both modernists and conservatives of the old tradition of brewing coffee on a stove, using pressure to recreate an experience much similar to an espresso machine.
Image via Orb One
What’s good about the Orb One?
The Orb One is meant to be used on any modern stoves. Gas burners, electric stoves, induction ones, ceramic plates and even camping stoves alike. The base is larger than most moka pots, allowing for more heat to get into the inner chamber, for quicker brews. To prevent the risk of over extracting the coffee, the Orb One includes a temperature regulating solid stainless steel shower head with a unique high precision, laser-pulse-drilled filter. A 250 micron filter sits atop of the coffee basket. Designed specifically to regulate the flux of hot water through the coffee grounds in order to avoid over extracting the coffee and making it bitter and harsh.
The coffee basket has a pod-like shape. It was designed to ensure a well-distributed passage of water through it, avoiding channeling and dry spots. In poorer words, the grounds are evenly wet by the hot water, and there are no “holes” through which the water can pass through without touching the coffee grounds. Both are very important to avoid when brewing coffee, as they can lead to the opposite of over extracting coffee, under extraction.
Before the basket, a thermo-regulating shower head prevents too hot water to reach the coffee altogether, another common cause of over extraction that is the cause of many failed attempts at brewing with a classic moka pot. A quicker lock system for the stainless steel funnel that prevents mistakenly half locked bases (which caused spurting out coffee in a stovetop pot).
Completes the design of the Orb One a larger base and an insulating handle, resembling one of the classic portafilters that espresso machines use to pull espresso shots with. Seen from the outside, the Orb One indeed looks like a stylish portafilter that can also contain the brew.
The capacity of the coffee basket is 16g, putting it in direct competition with most espresso machines on the market. The quantity of coffee that can be put in it to brew should be enough to have a very rich and strong cup of it. The water capacity of the Orb One is 250ml, enough for a couple of classic moka pot-like cups of coffee or around 6, espresso-sized, cups. I’m comparing the Orb One with an espresso other than a moka because this little coffeemaker is thought to be able to create coffee that is closer to an espresso than the classic moka pot could.
One of the significant advantages of this new kickstarter project is that it is capable of brewing many types of coffee styles, effortlessly, without the user having to change parameters or settings. It can brew both coffee grounds that are coarse, making a gentler cup of coffee, not very dissimilar from a filter coffee machine, and very fine grounds, allowing it to brew a coffee that is as close as possible to an espresso without using a proper espresso machine. The inventors of the Orb One claim it can also make very light, pour-over style coffee. It will have to be seen, as the pressure of the hot water will be several orders of magnitude higher than the one used in a pour over like with a V60.
When will the Orb One be available?
If the kickstarter campaign goes well, by late March it should reach its goal. Currently, around half the amount of money necessary for the project to be fully funded has been pledged. The actual production of this little moka pot is set for July, with quality control and then assembling all the units following. The first deliveries of the pot are set for late October, more probably November of this year.
If you are thinking of getting one as soon as possible, pledging at least $120 will get you on the list of the first receivers of the Orb One at a 20% discount. Higher pledges will give you access to purchase more than 1 Orb One at even higher discounts. Most of the spots for the lower pledgers are already filled, though. The cost for the new moka pot is set to $99 for a single unit, much less than the planned $120 for those who haven’t pledged money in the campaign.
Admittedly, the price is steep for a moka pot. It will all hinge on whether the promised features and qualities will be met. A stovetop pot that can make coffee in various styles, in about 2 minutes, it is easily portable and stylish is well worth the increased price over a classic Bialetti pot that is limited to one style of coffee (or two, if you can make an espresso-like coffee with it). If the guys at Crucial Detail have played their cards well with the design of the Orb One, a step forward for the world of home coffee brewers will be made, fully justifying the not minimal prices required to get your hands on this new device.