The Moka Pot, an ingenious Italian invention capable of brewing a cup of delicious java in a very low-tech, almost vintage way. Folks often confuse a Moka pot with a percolator. Although there are similarities in its brewing method, this is a different beast altogether. If you’re reading this, you must be wondering; how to use a Moka pot and make yourself a delicious cup of coffee?
Ok, let’s dive in.
Does a Moka pot make espresso?
Contrary to popular belief, a Moka pot does not make espresso. The name ‘stovetop espresso maker’ is confusing. Both brew coffee using steam. The difference between an espresso and coffee from a moka pot is that Espresso is brewed under pressure, giving it the distinct aroma, and coffee from a Moka pot isn’t.
Although an espresso machine and the Moka pot both use the same brewing technique (steam), they’re also quite different from each other.
An espresso machine typically presses the hot steam through the coffee grounds between 9 and 20 bar of pressure. Needless to say, that to get this much pressure, you need a sophisticated compressor, which the Moka pot doesn’t have.
In all its simplicity, the Moka pot is capable of mustering about 1.5 bar of pressure. This is not enough to call the result an espresso.
Why does coffee from a Moka pot taste so good?
The main reason why coffee from a Moka pot tastes so good is because of the pressurized brew by steam. This brewing technique achieves a fast extraction which ensures maximum aroma.
Often we hear people calling a Moka pot a Percolator, which is also incorrect. With a percolator, the water ‘percolates’ or permeates through the coffee again and again. If not watched closely and stopped at the right time, percolators can ruin the coffee and ‘burn’ the coffee. On the other hand, the Moka pot only pushes the water (steam) through the coffee once, thereby eliminating the risk of your brew getting too strong or burnt.
Steps to brew coffee in a Moka pot
Making coffee with a Moka pot is not a ‘set and forget’ way of brewing like with a drip coffee machine. For the best result and eliminating the risk of overheating the coffee, you need to pay a bit of attention.
Step 1: Fill the bottom chamber with water
Some pots have an interior line or marking to indicate the maximum water level. If yours doesn’t have it, then keep the maximum amount of water just under the pressure valve.
Always fill the chamber with hot water. This will decrease the amount of time it takes for the water to boil. Not only does it speed up the process but it’s also better for the coffee. Heating the coffee can add a bitter taste.
Step 2: Place the metal filter into the water chamber
Make sure the filter fits snugly in the water chamber and there’s nothing blocking it. A blockage would prevent the pressure from building up and the brewing process from starting.
Step 3: Add the coffee into the filter
Next, we fill the filter with coffee. You can use any coffee, depending on your taste. We advise using a light to medium-light roast. Even if you prefer a cup that’s a bit stronger, a medium roast is usually fine because the fast-extraction method preserves the aroma quite well. Please don’t use a grind that is too fine because it will make your coffee bitter.
Ideally, a medium-fine ground is used in a Moka pot. This gives the steam sufficient surface area to extract a beautiful cup of coffee.
You can experiment with the amount of coffee versus the water, but as a rule of thumb, we advise 1 tablespoon of coffee for each cup (c3 oz) of water.
Finally, press the coffee lightly into the filter with a spoon or your finger to fill it but don’t push it down too hard. The tighter the coffee is packed together, the stronger the coffee’s taste, but you also have the risk of it getting too bitter. This is something to experiment with and adjust it to your personal taste.
Step 4: Screw on the top of the Moka pot
Make sure the two halves are securely tightened. If they’re too loose, pressure will escape, ruining your brew.
Step 5: Place the pot on a stove or heater
While all Moka pot’s will work on gas heathers, most electric heaters, or even on an open fire, only select ones will work on induction heaters. Worried if your Moka pot works on an induction stove? See our article about Moka pots on induction stoves here.
Make sure the burner is turned to high to prevent the hot water you put in the chamber from cooling down. When you hear bubbling (i.e. the steam is percolating through the coffee), turn the heat down.
Step 6: Turn off the heat when you hear the gurgling sound
Once you hear the ‘gurgling’ sound, that means that all the water has evaporated from the chamber. Take the pot off the stove and rinse the bottom with cold water to cool it down.
The sooner the pot cools down, the better it is for the taste of your coffee.
Step 7: Enjoy!
Pour the delicious result in a cup to enjoy black. Add milk or sugar if you prefer. Is the aroma too weak or too strong for your taste? You can tweak the following to influence the result of your brew:
- Balance of coffee versus water
- Experiment with a different roast
- Experiment with different grinds (usually a medium-fine ground works best but feel free to try a coarser grind)
Tips for delicious coffee from a Moka pot
Do you want to try Moka pot coffee for yourself? Amazon has quite a selection of affordable stovetop or electric Moka pots.
The Moka pot brewing method has been around for a while, and with all the modern coffee makers, it’s easy to overlook it. Modern coffee machines can bring us variety and convenience. However, the real coffee aficionados can still appreciate going back to the basics, especially when a little more patience is rewarded with a good cuppa.
Oh, watch the video above for a great serving tip; The Moka Pot Latte!
If you want to read more about the Moka pot’s history, I would recommend this article on perfectdailygrind.com.