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What Is a Neapolitan Coffee Maker? Facts, Brewing Tips & FAQ

a cup of coffee from Neapolitan coffee maker

Most of us are familiar with espressos, Moka pots, and even the old-fashioned percolator, but have you heard of the Neapolitan coffee maker? Popular in Italy, this coffee maker has been around longer than those we previously mentioned. Also known as the cuccuma, the Neapolitan coffee maker was created by a Frenchman named J.L. Morize in 1819 and named after Naples, Italy due to him being in love with a girl born there.

At the time of its creation in the 1800s, most people were using the stovetop pot that was created by Jean Baptiste de Belloy. With the strong love of coffee in Italy, it only made sense that they would craft their way of making coffee, thus the use of the cuccuma. In their eyes, the cuccuma, or Neapolitan coffee maker was more cost-efficient and reliable when it came to making the coffee people of the country often sang about. Nowadays, the Neapolitan coffee pot is regarded as a staple of Naples’s unique coffee culture.

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How Does It Work?

The Neapolitan coffee maker consists of four parts. The water tank has a small hole in the top and a handle on the side. The coffee tank is where the ground coffee is placed. The filter screws into the top of the coffee tank and helps keep your coffee from making its way into your finished beverage. Then a beverage tank where the fresh coffee makes its way during the process. The beverage tank has a spout for pouring and a lid you can place on it once this part is removed from the water tank.

To put all these parts to use, fill your water tank slightly below the small hole at the top. Then fill your coffee tanks with grounds. You’ll want these to be a bit bigger than those used in a Moka pot. Screw the filter onto the top of your coffee tank. Once this is done, gently place the coffee tank inside the water tank. You want to be careful that your water doesn’t spill out. Then you add your beverage tank. It should go on top of your water tank, with the coffee tank inside. Ensure the handles are properly aligned and no open spaces are seen to avoid spills.

Now that everything is together, place your coffee maker on the stove and wait. When the water boils, a bit of steam will escape through the tiny hole in the water tank. This is when you turn off the heat, grasp both handles securely then flip the coffee maker over. This allows the boiling water to pass through the filter. The resulting coffee will collect into your beverage tank in roughly 5 to 10 minutes once the process finishes. Then you can remove your water tank, place the lid on the beverage tank, and pour a delicious cup of coffee.

Traditional old Italian Neapolitan coffee maker
Image Credit: Photology1971, Shutterstock

What Are the Different Types of Neapolitan Coffee Makers?

The original Neapolitan coffee makers were made from copper. At the time, in the 1800s, it was a metal of choice. The handle used to flip the maker when the time came, was made from wood. Early users of this maker also felt like it was a sign of good luck if their wooden handle was broken. Current Neapolitan makers, however, have changed a bit. Throughout the years, the use of copper changed and aluminum became the metal of choice. The wooden handles even evolved. Instead of a basic-looking handle, you can now purchase Neapolitan coffee makers with straight handles or curved ones. The attempt to return to more traditional looks has also allowed for the reemergence of copper makers.

Where Is It Used?

While the Neapolitan coffee maker originated in Italy and is still used widely in homes throughout the country, in the beginning, it was only in the homes of those with money. Over the years, this maker became more affordable and made its way into the homes of every wealthy class. It also found its way into other countries. Currently, you can find coffee shops that offer coffees made from these pots. They are also readily available online to be used in any home around the world.

Neapolitan coffee
Image Credit: ARCANGELO, Shutterstock

Advantages of Neapolitan Coffee Maker

When using a Neapolitan coffee maker you’ll realize you’re using percolation. While this maker may look similar to a Moka pot, it is actually quite different. The Moka uses pressure to push the hot water through the coffee. This makes the resulting brew a bit heavier. A coffee made from a Neapolitan maker often has notes of toasted dark chocolate. It also has a bitter aftertaste. While the maker itself is quite easy to use, the resulting brew is the biggest advantage of using this maker.

Another advantage of this coffee maker is the ability to experiment when you have one in your own home. You can use different coffee roasts, quicker methods, and even avoid the stove altogether by simply using hot water. This makes having a Neapolitan coffee maker on hand a fun way to experience different coffee flavors.

Disadvantages of a Neapolitan Coffee Maker

The biggest disadvantage of using a Neapolitan coffee maker is the time involved when waiting for a cup of coffee. Most people around the world have come accustomed to the convenience of an automatic drip. If you use a Neapolitan coffee maker as it is intended, you’ll find yourself taking several minutes to get your maker ready, then an additional 5 to 10 minutes to brew your coffee on the stove. For those who aren’t willing to wait for a delicious cup of coffee, this maker may not be ideal.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I have to use a dark roast in my Neapolitan coffee maker?

No, you do not. The Neapolitan coffee maker can work well with any roast you prefer. Simply experiment and choose the tastes you enjoy.

Traditional Italian Neapolitan coffee maker
Image Credit: DaBeatriz, Shutterstock

Which is older, the Moka pot or the Neapolitan coffee maker?

The Neapolitan maker is decades older than the Moka pot and even espresso.

Can I use any size of grounds in my Neapolitan coffee maker?

While experimentation is encouraged with this maker, baristas who work with this maker suggest using medium-ground coffee.

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While the Neapolitan coffee maker isn’t well-known, this fun and tasty way of making coffee deserves more attention. If you want to taste the Naples tradition of rich coffee in your home, grabbing one of these makers will make your coffee dreams come true. With a little practice, you’ll be making amazing coffee beverages in no time.

Featured Image Credit: ARCANGELO, Shutterstock


Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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