How to Brew Coffee in a Neapolitan Flip Pot

Katherine Pannell | 30 May 2020

If you’re looking at this thinking wtf is a Neapolitan flip pot, I really do feel you. I bought this thing when I was in Italy back in 2018 and it took a VERY long time for me to even figure out what it was called. When I bought it, I really struggled to find good resources on how to use it so my whole journey with my flip pot has basically been me stumbling around in the dark. If you have one yourself or you’re just curious about what it is, I’m going to share everything I have learned about making a top-notch brew in this weird contraption. Bear in mind that I am no coffee expert but I do love it and try to learn more about it every day. With that mini-disclaimer out the way, let me get into showing you how I brew coffee in a Neapolitan flip pot. 

Is it a Moka pot? Is it pour over?

I’ll save you the long history lesson but basically, the flip pot was supposedly designed by a Frenchman. But then the people in Naples really loved it and it was named a Neapolitan flip coffee maker. I don’t know how accurate that information is but hey, that’s what I found. They were originally made from Copper and then later Aluminium. And no, it’s not a Moka pot. Moka pots use pressure to brew the coffee whereas this flip pot uses gravity. They are kind of similar but the Moka pot is from the bottom chamber up, and the flip pot is from the top chamber down. It’s probably closest to pour over or drip coffee but minus the electric appliance.

What’s inside?

It consists of two chambers, one has a spout and one doesn’t. There is a small lid that is only used at the end. And there is the filter sleeve with the filter that screws on top of it.

Isn’t she a beaut? 

This is how it looks disassembled. 

The filter sleeve is on the left and the filter is on the right.

The filter holes are pretty small but nothing crazy.

How it looks at the end.

So how do we brew?

As far as I understand it, you’re supposed to place your water in the chamber without the spout, slip in the conical filter sleeve, add your coffee grounds and screw the filter into place. Then you pop the other chamber with the spout on top and place the whole thing on a stove until you get steam coming out the small ventilation hole. You then take it off the stove, flip it over and whack it on the table (optional). This means that the spouted chamber is now at the bottom and your hot water drains down through the coffee grounds to give you coffee. Then you take off the top chamber and remove the filter and its sleeve. Add the little lid on top of the bottom chamber and you can happily pour your coffee.

But that didn’t work for me.

With the method above, I was just getting burnt coffee. The handles got really got and flipping it over after it had been on the stove was messy and just a big mission. So I definitely don’t recommend doing it that way.

This is what I do instead.

Re-working the technique.

To solve the problem of my coffee burning on the stove, I just cut out the stove step entirely. I boil water from the kettle, add hot water, piece everything together and then flip it over straight away. 

Let’s talk weight and grind.

The chamber on my flip pot holds about 200g of water. So if I was following the 1:16 water to coffee ratio for pour over, that would mean 12.5g of coffee. I have seen lots of sites quote 1:17 as the ratio but I have heard 1:16 just as often so let’s just say that it’s a matter of preference.

I’ve played around a lot with grind and technically, my coffee should probably be ground to a size just bigger than the holes in my filter. The holes look about a medium grind to me but when I used a medium grind with ~12g of coffee, it just drained really quickly and came out very watery. No one likes dilute coffee. Ew.

I quickly realised that I was juggling brew time, grind size and the quantity of beans in a very tricky way. More beans mean a longer drain time and stronger coffee. A finer grind means better extraction and a longer drain time but too fine of a grind means you get powdery coffee grinds in your coffee at the end. Also not a fun time.

So I basically had to get a finer grind for better extraction without making it too fine. And I had to get the right amount of beans because a finer grind with too many beans would mean a really long drain time and bitter coffee.

I like my coffee strong but not bitter. So after trying all sorts of things, I have settled on 14-15g of coffee at a medium-fine grind.

This is what I personally look for.

Related article: 7 Best Coffee Shops in Cape Town

A step-by-step of what I do:

Step 1

So the first thing I do is weigh out my beans and pop them in my hand grinder. I put some water on to boil and grind the beans while it boils.

Step 2

Once the kettle has boiled, I pour a little bit of water into each chamber to warm them up. Copper is a great conductor so it sucks out the heat when I brew the coffee if it’s cold. Aluminium is less conductive so I’m guessing that’s part of the reason they switched to Aluminium with these guys. I let the rest of the water in the kettle cool down for about a minute or two.

Step 3

Pour out the water from the chambers and fill the chamber without a spout with the fresh water from the kettle. You want to fill it to just below the ventilation hole. You never want to go above that hole, for obvious reasons. 

This is the one that you want to fill with water.

Step 4

Then slip the filter sleeve into that chamber and add your coffee grounds on top.

Once the grounds are in, screw the filter into place, on top of the filter sleeve.

Then pop the other chamber on top and click it into place so there isn’t any gap where the two chambers meet.

This is the orientation of the filter sleeve that you want.

Step 5

Now it’s time for the flip and I must say that this takes some practice. I always spill because of the ventilation hole but I swear, one day I will get a perfect flip!

You basically want to grab each handle with either hand and apply pressure on each side to hold the two chambers close together. The handles will be warm but they shouldn’t be too hot to hold at this point. While applying the same pressure to make sure they don’t come apart, you’re going to flip it upside down so that the spouted chamber is now at the bottom. Go ahead and give it a healthy whack on the table. This is supposed to get the water flowing nicely but honestly, it’s just fun.

Unless you are wearing some gloves to protect your hands, always only hold by the handles. If you hold anywhere else on the pot while you do the flip, you will either burn your hands by touching the chamber with hot water or you will burn your hands with the hot water coming out the ventilation hole.

Step 6

Now you just wait for the water to drain into the bottom chamber. This should take about 4-5 minutes. You can pull the top chamber off carefully to take a peek every now and then but just be careful of hot handles. 

Once it has drained, you can take the top chamber off and pull out the filter sleeve, along with the filter and grounds still screwed on. 

I like to give mine a stir at this point to make sure all the layers of the extraction are nicely mixed. Then place your lid on top and you can pour your coffee into your favourite mug.  

Soo much effort. Does it even taste good?

I personally think it tastes bloody good. It’s like a cross between a French press and a Moka pot. It’s strong but not too strong and I do really enjoy the process as well. I think it’s really fun and you never know if today’s the day you burn your hand so it keeps you on your toes.

Seriously though, coffee will always have an element of subjectivity to it so maybe I love it and you hate it but you’ll never know unless you try. I know Neapolitan flip pots aren’t exactly readily available so if you do come across one, I’d definitely recommend getting it. Maybe it is a tad impractical but what it lacks in practicality, it makes up in charm.

Whether you have a flip pot or not, I hope you enjoyed this or at the very least, judged me heavily for my f***ed ratios and non-traditional technique. Whether you think this is a banging how-to guide or you think it’s an absolute wreck, I wish you all the best with your coffee adventures <3


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