Neapolitan: how to prepare coffee with cuccumella!

I maestri della tostatura media
We’ve already gone thorugh the preparation of coffee with the Bialetti moka pot, the Aeropress, the French Press, the Chemex, the Siphon, the Clever and the V60, now it’s finally time to introduce you to the Napoletana, also called Cuccumella!

The Napoletana is a historical instrument, present in many homes of Italian grandmothers!

It is a coffee maker that is very reminiscent of the moka pot, but it hides a secret: percolation!

Let’s better understand what it is in this article!

The History of the cuccumella

The cuccumella was invented in 1820 in Paris by Jean-Louis Morize, who patented a modification of his first coffee maker in a double filter version, suitable for preparing coffee without boiling and without evaporation.

Yes, you read that right, in France! But then why is it called Napoletana?

This name was attributed in Italy for the large consumption that has been made of it. So with the passage of time and with the spread of this instrument, popular jargon led to the creation of the Neapolitan name or better still “Cuccumella”.

It became so famous that it was even represented in many paintings, such as the one entitled “Fruit and coffee pot” by Henri Matisse, which you can see in the image below, and mentioned in Eduardo de Filippo’s mythical comedy “These ghosts”.

But let’s get back to us!

In appearance it may recall the classic mocha, but it differs substantially in the type of extraction.

While the moka works by pressure, thanks to the steam the water is pushed upwards, making it pass through the ground dough, reaching the upper collector.

The cuccumella works just the opposite!

It does not use pressure, and for this reason it is part of the percolation extraction methods.

Let’s understand better: percolation is that method of coffee extraction in which the water passes through the ground in a “slow” way. The water is in fact pushed only and solely by the force of gravity, thus making its way slowly through the coffee stick.

This extraction is more delicate, making it possible to obtain a more fragrant, acid and sweet coffee.

Furthermore, since we do not necessarily have to boil the water to be able to complete the extraction, we will also have less bitterness.

On the other hand, it differs from other percolation methods, such as Clever or V60, because it has a metal filter, which allows the passage of oils and fats, giving greater viscosity in the cup.

It also differs in the dose: 140 g of coffee on 1L of water, while the other brewing methods tend to have a Brew Ratio of 60 g of ground coffee on 1L of water. This also allows for a more concentrated drink.

The Napoletana is made up of:
  • A container for water;
  • A double filter that contains the ground coffee inside;
  • A container for the collection of the final drink.
  • Double handle, which will allow us to turn the coffee maker in a simple way.

The result of the coffee obtained?

As already mentioned it is a fragrant and aromatic coffee, with little bitterness and a velvety body.

The extraction with the Napoletana

Preparing coffee with the Napoletana is simple and requires only the cuccumella.

Only if you want to be more precise and technical then I also recommend a scale and a timer.

The Brew Ratio, i.e. the dose of coffee in relation to water, is 140 grams of coffee per 1 L of water; in this case, since I have a 3-cup Napoletana, I will use 200 ml of water for 28 grams of coffee.

The coffee must be medium-large ground, a little coarser than that used for the mocha. To be precise, the particle size should be between 500 and 700 microns.

Steps for extraction on the stove:
  1. Pour bottled or filtered water into the container without the spout;
  2. Then insert the ground coffee in the filter and screw the upper part of the same to close it and make sure that the ground always remains inside it;
  3. Insert the filter inside the container with the water, waiting to leave the part containing the coffee towards the top;
  4. Also mount the upper part of the instrument and place everything on the stove with medium-low heat;
  5. There is a small hole in the top edge of the water container. When you see the water bleed out of that hole then it’s time to turn the coffee pot with a quick and decisive movement;
  6. Now you just have to wait for all the water to pass through the ground coffee and then the extraction is completed, in about 4 minutes.

NB. If the water takes more than 4 minutes then the coffee is ground too finely and therefore the coffee is over-extracted;

if, on the other hand, it takes less, the opposite is the case, i.e. the coffee is ground too broad and the drink will therefore be under-extracted.

But now I want to give you my advice: what I like about the cuccumella, compared to the mocha, is precisely the possibility of choosing the temperature of the water. In fact, we know that if the water is at too high a temperature, there is a risk that the ground coffee will burn, bringing bitterness into the cup.

For this I now tell you: experiment!

Do not put the Napoletana on the fire, but help yourself with a kettle: then pour the preheated water with a temperature between 90 and 95 ° C, so as to make the cup even less bitter and more fragrant, enhancing the natural fragrances of your quality coffee!

Also try the different temperatures, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94 and 95 °, and find out which temperature is ideal for your coffee!

If you still have any doubts, check out the video below!


All discussions made so far are only valid if you use a quality coffee with medium or medium-light roast.

You can pay all the attention in the world to make an excellent coffee, but if you start from a dark roasted ground coffee, created from green starting coffees with defects and without merits, the result will always be a bitter cup with notes of rubber, wood and empyreumatic (burned), if not even worse!

All discussions made so far are only valid if you use a quality coffee with medium or medium-light roast.

Single-origin Arabica washed and natural, it depends on whether you want to get more aromaticity, choosing the first, or more sweetness, then opting for the second.

Or a blend of Arabica and Robusta, if you like a little bit of bitterness and a more rounded body!

Do you want to practice this method and also discover all the other techniques and tools for Brewing?
We are waiting for you at the Ernani Academy Brewing course!

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    Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager
    Coffee Lover


    Martina Mazzoleni

    Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager Coffee Lover

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