Moka pot, deconstructed
Typical moka pots come in three pieces: The base (where the water goes), a drop-in filter (where the ground coffee goes), and a top piece with a pour spout (where the brewed coffee winds up).
Adding the water
First, make sure you have already-hot water handy: You don't want to have to bring the water to a boil in the pot with the coffee in place, because the grounds will overheat and the resulting cup will be burned-tasting.
Unscrew the Moka pot and fill the bottom chamber with your heated water, just to where the little ridges start on the inside of the pot.
Adding the coffee
Seat the filter screen into the base and fill with fine-but-not-too-finely ground espresso—it should feel something like table salt—and level the filter off without tamping down.
(These little guys can't quite handle the pressure that compressing the grounds creates.)
Assemble the pot
Tightly screw the top half of the pot onto the base, and place over medium-high heat on your stove.
Start the brew
Once you start to see coffee coming out of the spout, close the lid and listen carefully: As soon as the pot starts gurgling, take it off the heat and wait for the noise to stop.
FYI: If your coffee is ground too coarse, it will spurt wildly out of the top of the pot, like so. (Stand back!)
Similarly, if the coffee is too fine, the water will not be able to pass through the filter, and you run the risk of building up too much pressure in the pot. Finding the perfect grind requires a little trial and error.
Finished and delicious
After the last sputter, lift the lid to reveal a fresh, hot, potent liquid. There should be at least some crema-like foam on top.
Pour and enjoy immediately. (Well, maybe blow on the cup a little first—that stuff is hot!)