We have the habit of thinking of traditional coffee when we talk about “coffee”. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? What else can be called coffee when we talk about coffee? Well, as it always happens, not everything is black or white. Apart from the coffee we all know, there are different types of similar infusions, such as malt coffee, or the one we are concerned with here: barley coffee.
Barley coffee is a popular brew in Italy, where it is called Caffé D’orzo. It is the most similar to the original coffee, both in terms of aroma and properties and in its method of preparation. There it is taken as a substitute of coffee, especially by those who cannot or do not want to drink caffeine.
To brew barley coffee at home, you need a barley coffee maker. In Italian: an Orziera. Barley coffee makers are very similar to the classic Italian coffee maker or Moka pot. You could say that they are really an adaptation of the latter to the peculiar characteristics of barley. And in fact it is perfectly possible to make barley coffee, or orzo coffee, with a traditional moka pot.
What is an Orziera or barley coffee maker for
So an orziera is used (almost exclusively) to make coffee from barley. It doesn’t make much sense to buy one if you are not a big fan of this infusion and you prepare it every day, because it is an appliance that will not serve you for anything else.
As a reference: with a traditional Italian coffee maker you can make normal coffee, and occasionally you can make a barley coffee if you feel like it. But with an Orziera it is not a good idea to try to use ground coffee.
For this reason, in most countries there are not as many models for sale as we find in Italy. On Amazon you can only find two regular references: the Miss Orzi by Severin, and the Orzo Express by Bialetti. Which is the best coffee maker for barley? Well, both are very similar and have prestigious brands behind them. Perhaps in Italy, for obvious reasons, the Bialetti model is the best seller.
Differences between a barley coffee maker and an Italian coffee maker
At first glance, on the outside, a barley pot and a coffee moka pot look exactly the same. And indeed on the outside they are. The essential difference lies on the inside, and in particular in the filter.
The roasted and ground barley is much finer than the coffee used for espresso in these machines. Therefore, if you use ground barley frequently in an Italian coffee maker, in the long run it is easy to get barley residues stuck in a lot of holes and cracks, rendering it unusable and spoiling it. Orzieras have a special filter, optimised for barley and not for coffee.
For this reason it is always advisable to use a specific barley coffee maker to prepare orzo coffee, unless it is a very specific preparation.
Here is what the inside of a barley coffee machine looks like with the lid up, and the peculiar shape of its filter, which is of dense mesh.
Is it possible to make orzo coffee without an Orziera? Pods and more
You can also buy the normal packet of roasted barley, although in these cases you should check for yourself whether the grinding is valid for making your orzo coffee. You always have the option of grinding it yourself.
Do barley coffee machines serve for induction?
Unfortunately not. The models we can find in most countries are always aluminium barley coffee makers.
So they will not work on an induction hob, unless you use one of the already famous induction hobs or induction diffuser.
How coffee is made in an Orziera
If, after reading the whole report, you wonder how a barley coffee maker works, the answer couldn’t be easier. It is prepared exactly as in an Italian coffee maker.
You only have to play with the quantities and grindings of the barley to adapt the result of the orzo coffee to your taste. But the process is not difficult: it is identical to that of the moka pots.