Stovetop Milk Steamer Is Beautiful, Effective

The Moka pot is an industrial design classic, hailing from Italy in the early part of the 20th century. To this day, it remains an excellent way to brew top quality coffee at home with affordable equipment. However, if your tastes for coffee lie more towards lattes than espresso, you’re out of luck – unless you’ve got one of these.

[Create] started with a classic Moka pot for this project, and set out to build a stovetop milk steamer. The top reservoir is quickly cut away, and a tap fitted atop the lower water reservoir. This allows the flow of steam from the lower reservoir to be controlled. A steel pipe is then fitted to the tap, which is bent, crushed, and soldered to form a nozzle for steaming the milk. It’s then finished off with beautiful wooden handles for a nice aesthetic touch.

While we’re not sure the soldering process or tap used are food grade, there are workarounds for that, and it’s a project that could easily be pulled off in a weekend. What’s more, you can celebrate your new creation with a delicious hot cappuccino. What could be better? Now all you need is your own special roast. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Baldpower for the tip!]

24 thoughts on “Stovetop Milk Steamer Is Beautiful, Effective

    1. The moka has a pressure relief valve.

      The problem is that in the original design you have two elements to relieve the pressure: the normal path, to do coffee, and the security valve, but now there is a single point… what happens if it fails?

      1. It’s not that bad. If you put too much or too fine coffee powder in the original moka express, the relief valve opens as well and that is quite unspectacular.
        You DEFINITELY have to clean the valve once in a while, though. If it is blocked with scale the machine blows up. Seen it happen a few times.

  1. Maybe not for severely hung over mornings but Ill bet it’s reasonably safe if kept an eye on. Never seen pipe bent with a spring on the outside before. Totally makes sense but always assumed it needed to be on the inside. Atomic made a stove top coffee maker that had a sealed steam chamber. Looked pretty rad but got a bit lively if the relief valve let go.

    1. Larger hardware stores (in the US) sell pipe bending springs, I think they also come in a “kit” for 3 different common pipe diameters. I used one decades ago when plumbing in my mother’s dishwasher. If you bend the pipe too much it gets stuck in the spring.

      Here’s one such kit I just found on the web…

      https://www.amazon.com/General-Tools-S106-Tubing-Bender/dp/B00004T827/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1544710611&sr=8-4&keywords=pipe+bender+spring

    1. Don’t buy them. They are a bitch to clean and the foam is so-so.
      That said, the project looks nicely done, but you can buy those things ready-made already (yeah, no fun in that though). I’ve seen them a couple of times in shops…

  2. Yeah, sure, let’s build a steam bomb.
    The Moka’s safety valve is a breakable diaphragm, that just BLASTS open in catatrophic failures.
    Relying on that is just criminal.

    But what do I know, I am just an italian former barista.

    1. “breakable diaphragm”
      Really? I’ll check mine when I get home. I always thought it was spring-loaded. I’ve had water come out before, now I make sure to fill it to below the valve, so only steam can come out.

      1. OKAY, just to not be sued by mr Bialetti, or the maker of the hack. Read my sentence above as:
        “In all the maybe ten moka that I checked, there was no spring of sort, the valve is usually sold as a spare so I THINK that all the ones I’ve seen were diaphragms” :D
        Obviously, in bar we do not use moka, the bigger coffee machines have a dedicated steam outlet, as you all know.

      2. And more: https://i2.wp.com/download.kataweb.it/mediaweb/image/brand_casaearredamento/2009/11/02/1257179203463_mokabialetti2.jpg

        The original blueprint states a spring-loaded valve.
        Again, I stand corrected.

        ALSO, I Would never, never, close the exit of the steam: in case of overpressure, the best case is the valve releasing a jet of steam in some nearly random, nearly horizontal direction. In the worst case the valve is clogged by something (i.e. water calcium precipitates) and, yes, bomb.

  3. I’ve had one blow on me (literally). but it blew through the gasket between the top and bottom when the screen was plugged and the relief valve didn’t release. So that is another point of release. Next would be metal shrapnel.

  4. It’s illegal to sell leaded solder in the EU these days, so the stuff you most commonly find is Sn97-Cu3. They sell you this stuff as “all around” hobby solder, recommended for electronics, even though it’s really only for plumbing.

    It requires at least 250 C to properly melt, some formulations need up to 320 C, being sort of mushy and grainy around 230 C where 60/40 leaded solder melts, so the old 40 Watt soldering iron simply can’t work it.

    There’s 2.5 – 3.5% copper, and about 0.5% something else (which can include 0.1% lead) and the rest is tin. The melting point is sensitive to the amount of additives. Even if I set my iron to 430 C it’s difficult to solder any larger pads, and the board usually starts to smoke.

    1. There’s basically two unleaded solder alternatives that are commonly available, reasonably priced, and melt at (nearly) a single reasonably low temperature.

      Sn99.3Cu0.7 (227 C) – downside: tin pest, weak joints
      Sn96.5Ag3.0Cu0.5 (217-220 C) – downside: forms tin whiskers, dissolves copper.

      Then there’s also Sn99Cu1 but that’s horrible with tin pest. I found some old projects of mine that were in cold storage, and in all of them it had turned to white dust.

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