Moka pots are known for their bitter brews, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With some experimentation and guidance from this guide on how best to brew your Moka pot coffee, you can find new and interesting ways to brew this style which will transform your morning cup into something special!
My goal is to help you make the best Moka pot coffee possible, so let’s get started!
What Is A Moka Pot?
The Moka Pot is an Italian stovetop coffee maker manufactured by inventor Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. This new art deco coffee machine was quickly embraced throughout Italy.
By the late 1950s, the Moka Pot had spread throughout Europe, North America, North Africa, and the Near East, demonstrating that it was an innovative device.
There are now several Moka Pot manufacturers and variants of this maker, but Bialetti, the original moka pot company (still in operation), has maintained its popularity. The Express, their most popular item, is still one of their best-selling products.
Let’s go through the basic construction of Moka pots:
The stainless steel or aluminum body is built to endure the heat of hot stoves while also resisting rusting. When the water in the bottom chamber is heated, a water chamber at the base of the device stores it. A coffee basket hangs directly above the water chamber. This basket contains the grinds and has tiny holes on the bottom that allow steam to rise while drawing things out of them (such as oils, acids, and tastes).
The filter screen sits immediately above it and allows brewed coffee to rise (but not the grounds), via pressure from a funnel, out a spout, and into the top chamber.
The Results Of Pressurized Brewing
Here’s the wonder of the moka pot in a nutshell.
Because the water is heated in a (mostly) sealed environment, a significant amount of pressure is generated. This pressure puffs water vapor into the grounds, which starts the brewing process. It doesn’t end there, either. The pressure keeps pushing the liquid coffee up through the funnel even after it spills out into the upper chamber and loses its pressurized state.
This pressurized brewing process generates rather more strong coffee. In fact, it’s usually a little more than twice as strong as normal coffee, brewed at a 1:7 coffee to water ratio (typically, coffee is brewed at around a 1:16 ratio). It’s strong enough to sip on lightly like espresso or add steamed milk for a fuller taste.
However, the pressure generated by this component has resulted in a major misconception.
The Stovetop Espresso Misunderstanding
Despite their name as “stovetop espresso makers”, Moka pots are not true espresso machines.
Espresso is made when hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee at a pressure of approximately 8-10 bars. This high pressure can only be produced by real espresso machines. The Moka pot generates 1-2 bars of pressure on average. This is more than humans can create manually, but it’s still far short of what a real espresso machine can produce.
As a result, while it’s still very concentrated coffee, it doesn’t quite qualify as true espresso. It fails the crema test (it doesn’t have enough pressure to form a very fine crema). Still flavor-wise it’s pretty similar – many people probably wouldn’t even know the difference. Serve over with steamed milk for a cappuccino or latte, or combine with hot water to make an Americano – either way, you’ll still get an awesome brew!
Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Moka Pot
Moka pots are simple to use and produce a rich and full-bodied coffee comparable to espresso. They all include a safety release valve that will let go if too much pressure builds up, and they can be used on most stoves with ease. They’re also rather affordable since the construction is very basic. However, there are a few concerns to be aware of. They can be confusing to master at first. Also, if you’re not careful, the coffee might become quite bitter.
Let’s Find Out If This Is The Brewer For You
Do you want a cost-effective method to make coffee that tastes similar to espresso? Then purchase yourself a Moka pot and save hundreds of dollars by not purchasing a large espresso machine.
Do you want to make real espresso? You’ll need to invest more money in an espresso machine. Although there is no reason to be embarrassed about using a Moka pot, going the less expensive route with one is not advised.
Do you enjoy a cup of rich, full-bodied coffee? That’s great! Get yourself a Moka pot if that’s the case.
Do you prefer a brewer with no learning curve? That’s not necessarily the case. It takes some time to learn how to use this one. It’s probably the simplest way to get coffee that tastes like espresso, but there is a learning curve.
Let’s talk about some pre-brewing considerations if you believe the Moka Pot is the best fit for you.
Pre-Steps and Thoughts
Always invest in freshly roasted coffee beans – there’s no alternative!
Bitter, dull, and stale coffee may provide you with some energy but it’s nothing like the vibrant sensory experience of fresh beans. Freshly ground coffee beans are the key to unlocking your brain’s potential for pleasure. The aroma is like nothing else on earth and can take you from an ordinary day into extraordinary territory where anything seems possible!
Choose the correct Moka pot size. They are sized to make one-shot (1-2 ounces of strong coffee), two shots, and so on. Keep in mind that the Moka pot works best when fully immersed. You can’t half-fill it.
Right Grind Size
Using a consistent fine to medium-fine grind size is recommended. You shouldn’t use espresso-fine grinds all out. The filter screen might clog and build dangerous pressure if you use too fine a grind. Choose coffee that’s similar to the grade of drip coffee you’re used to. When using inconsistent grounds, you may expect an uneven brew – and you’ll be disappointed. For the greatest results, use a burr coffee grinder (rather than a blade grinder).
Use water that has a low calcium content, if possible. Because your coffee is made up of 99.9% water, you won’t like the taste of it if you don’t like the flavor of your water.
Reduce the time the Moka pot has to sit on the stove by pre-heating your water. This also minimizes any possibility of burning the grounds while the vessel warms up, which would ruin the flavor and create a lot of bitterness.
To measure your coffee and water, I usually recommend a gram scale. It’s not as essential in this scenario. Moka Pots use a relatively simple measuring procedure, so you don’t need a scale to be consistent with them. You should fill the coffee basket with grounds and level it off with a knife. Then fill the water chamber to the bottom of the release valve.
However, bean mass will vary from bag to bag of beans, so if you want to be super precise (or just grind the exact amount of beans) go ahead and use a scale for the coffee beans.
Let’s get down to actual brewing now.
A Step-By-Step Moka Pot Coffee Guide
Take a few minutes to gather your tools and ingredients before you begin.
- Freshly Roasted Coffee
- Moka Pot
- Hot Water
- Burr Coffee Grinder
- Cold Towel
For the purpose of this tutorial, I’ll be using a 2-Cup Moka Pot.
Adjust the grind to medium-fine and fill the coffee basket halfway with ground coffee. Level the grounds with a knife. Do not tamp the grounds at all. Place boiling water in the water chamber until it reaches just above the release valve. If you cover the valve, it won’t work during pressure emergency situations.
Make sure there are no grounds on the ridges where the pieces connect. If stubborn grinds get trapped here, a full seal will be impossible, causing flavor and balance to be damaged.
Set the Moka Pot on the stove and turn it to medium-low heat. If at all possible, place it on the edge of the burner to prevent the handle from burning.
Set a timer and relax. It might take 5-10 minutes for anything to happen. If nothing happens after 10 minutes, raise the heat a little bit. Finally, coffee should begin to ooze into the top chamber. This indicates that the pressure is working and that coffee is being brewed. If it’s gushing and splashing, the temperature is too high; turn it down!
Remove the coffee from the heat and put it straight onto the cold towel after it has reached approximately 80% of the way up to the spout (or looks like golden honey). Rapidly cooling the pot prevents bitter, over-extracted liquid from flowing into your coffee.
Cleaning Your Moka Pot
After you’ve had your delicious coffee, it’s time to clean up your Moka Pot.
It’s not difficult to clean your Moka Pot. It just takes a few minutes of your time, but it also ensures that your Moka pot does not ruin your kitchen—or worse, the flavor of your coffee.
The first rule is not to clean your Moka pot with soapy water or an abrasive sponge. You don’t want to impart the taste of soap into your pot.Do not place the Moka pot in the dishwasher. You don’t want to unintentionally scrape off the protective coating on aluminum Moka pots, as it prevents your coffee from taking a metallic taste.
After each usage, disassemble the brewer and drain off any excess water or coffee after it has cooled. You may also use a paper towel to wipe away and remove any stubborn grounds from the basket or seal. Rinse it with hot water and wipe it down with a clean cloth. When you’re done washing it, leave it on the drying rack to dry out completely.
But if your water source is really hard, you’ll need to deep clean your Moka pot twice a year or so.
The Moka Pot is a fascinating coffee brewer that can create rich, balanced espresso-like drinks.
Freshly roasted, high-quality beans give the best outcomes every time. If you’re not going to use the finest beans available, you’re ending up short before you start brewing.
Happy Moka pot brewing!
Taimoor followed his passion to become a coffee connoisseur and now travels the world to visit the most popular coffee shops. His cupboard is also stocked with a collection of brewing gadgets. He loves to drink Death Wish Coffee’s dark roast and highly caffeinated coffee grounds when he needs a boost of energy.