How to Make Coffee in a Moka Pot

Table of Contents

Making a Coffee in a Moka Pot

Making great coffee at home doesn’t have to be difficult, but making great espresso often is. A Moka Pot is a convenient stovetop pit that can brew up a thick strong coffee reminiscent of espresso, and all without an expensive high-pressure machine. 

The resulting coffee from a Moka pot isn’t quite espresso, it is a distinctly different type of brew. It has a richness and intensity of flavor, something that becomes really special with the perfect beans. 

To get that experience though, you’re going to need to master the fairly delicate art of making great coffee in your Moka pot. Thankfully, it is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing.

What’s a Moka Pot?

Moka Pots have become popular in recent years, but they’re actually quite a traditional device. It was invented in 1933 as an accessible way to brew the intense type of coffee Italians had become accustomed too.

On the surface, a Moka pot is a strange stovetop device, it resembles a kettle that has been dented in its center, making a nice concave pattern. Inside though, is something quite special.

A Moka pot consists of three chambers, one for water, one for ground coffee, and one for your resulting drink. When heated in the right way, pressure builds up inside this little handheld tank, forcing the water through the grinds to make an intense and flavorful shot of coffee.

How Do Moka Pots Work?

Moka Pots are relatively simple to operate, but manage to produce something that usually comes from a complicated machine. So how exactly do they work?

First, you load your Moka pot with ground coffee and hot water. When you put your Moka pot on the stove, the water heats up and turns into steam. This steam adds a lot of pressure to the chamber, which pumps water up into the coffee.

The pressure then pushes the brewed coffee through the grounds and into the top. That top chamber has your shot form through a little spout, with a rich flavor.

The resulting drink isn’t as strong as you would find in an espresso machine. Most Moka pots only reach about 1.5 bars of pressure compared with the standard 9 in an Espresso machine. 

The coffee you’ll get is close to espresso, but with enough of its own character to make it distinct. As with espresso though, it is easy to make bitter over-extracted coffee with a Moka pot. That’s why you need to know how to make great coffee with your Moka pot.

How to Make Great Coffee with Your Moka Pot

Making coffee with a Moka pot can be relatively simple, just fill it up and stick it on the stovetop. However, if you want to make great coffee with a Moka pot it is a little more complicated. This is a tried and tested method for getting great coffee every time:

  • Prep – Make sure that everything is clean, or it’ll cause some bitterness.

  • Grind – The first step to making great coffee is getting your grind right. It is tempting just to grind for an espresso machine, but the method is different here. You’ll want to use a grind that is marginally coarser to reflect the longer brew time and lower pressure.

  • Coffee – Add your coffee to the middle section. Don’t tamp this down if you want to avoid explosions. A ratio of one parts coffee to seven parts water is a good starting point.

  • Add the Water – Add pre-heated water in the base of the pot. Starting with hot water means the time spent under the heat is only when your coffee is brewing, preventing the pot from over-extracting the coffee while still heating up some of the water.

  • Safety First – Fill it up to the valve on your pot with hot water. Going any higher will prevent excess pressure from escaping, which is a bit dangerous.

  • Assembly – Attach the coffee and top section of your pot, then seal it up.

  • Start Brewing – Instantly transfer it onto the stove. You’ll hear the pressure working and pushing the coffee upwards.

  • When to Stop – Once the coffee starts to come out, listen for a gurgling sound. This indicates that it’s done.

  • After Care – Once finished, run the bottom of the pot under some cold water. This cools it very quickly which gets rid of the steam and stops the brewing process from continuing when you don’t want it to. If you skip this step, the steam still rising from your pot can taint your brew before it leaves the pot. 

This is a really solid basic recipe, but feel free to adjust a bit depending on your preference!

The Pros and Cons of Moka Pots

Pros

  • A Moka Pot can make delicious coffee that tastes different from what you can brew with other methods.
  • A great Moka Pot is really affordable compared to similar methods like an espresso machine.
  • With separate compartments, keeping things clean is really simple.
  • It isn’t too hard to master this way of brewing.
  • The resulting coffee is intense and flavorful. If that is the type of coffee you like, this is an easy and cheap way of brewing it well.

Cons

  • This method can be more difficult than simple methods, like a filter machine or a French press.
  • Moka Pot coffee is easy to over-extract, causing bitterness.

The Hows of Making Great Moka Pot Coffee

The recipe provided is great for you to make delicious Moka pot coffee. However, to make great coffee exactly the way you want it, you might need to change some things about it. To make sure you’re always making great Moka pot coffee, it is helpful to understand how each stage of the brewing process works, and why it alters the taste of your coffee. This is what you need to know:

Water Temperature

In a Moka Pot, hot water will cause steam to rise and begin brewing your coffee. If your water heats up from stone cold inside of the Moka Pot, it will begin to brew long before it has reached the optimal temperature. This will result in coffee that has been brewing for far too long. Starting with hot water solves this little problem.

Fill to Line

Filling to just below the pressure value is a safety measure! This valve releases the extra pressure when there is more in your pot than needed. If you fill past it, this can’t happen and your pot might well explode.

The Grind

The filter in a Moka pot dictates the grind level to a certain extent since it needs to keep grinds out of your cup. So does extraction though. The bigger the pieces of coffee, the longer it takes to extract flavor from it. A Moka Pot will push the water through the grinds no matter what consistency they’re in, so you’ve got to get it right here. An espresso grind is a bit too fine, so your coffee will end up slightly over-extracted since the pressure in a pot is lower and the water will stay in the grinds for slightly longer. Going a bit coarser than this will give you the perfect grind for a Moka pot.

Tamping

You don’t need to tamp in a Moka pot! They don’t have as much pressure as an espresso machine, so they can’t push through tamped grinds properly. At best doing this is going to ruin your coffee’s taste, at worst the pressure will build and your pot can explode.

Cleanliness

Moka pot coffee is strong, so residue from it carries a lot of flavors. If your pot isn’t entirely clean, this flavor will be carried over into your next brew. While this can be a nice addition if you’re brewing the same day, it can be bitter and rancid with enough time. Keep things clean!

Finishing Brewing

Our recipe involves one extra step than your standard Moka Pot routine, cooling the base of the pot immediately after brewing. This is to stop the brewing process dead in its tracks. Otherwise, that built-up pressure and heat are going to continue brewing while you remove it from the heat and pour it into your mug. Resulting in an over-extracted and bitter cup.

How to Serve Moka Pot Coffee

If you’ve brewed up the perfect Moka pot coffee, it is going to be strong. Seasoned espresso drinkers won’t have a problem with this, but a lot of people’s palettes demand something a bit softer! This makes Moka pot coffee one of the interesting types to serve. There are a few different ways you can serve the great coffee you brew in your Moka pot:

  • Straight Up – You can drink the Moka Pot coffee unfiltered and unadulterated like you would espresso.

  • Like an Americano – This is a softer way to make up coffee. You can add water to it to make an Americano like you would with espresso. However, this coffee isn’t quite as strong as espresso, so a 50/50 ratio of added water to coffee might be more beneficial.

  • Lattes, Cappuccinos, etc – Espresso based drinks that need steamed milk can be made with a Moka Pot! The resulting Moka pot coffee makes a great base for these drinks if you add steamed milk as you normally would. You can even make this milk in a French press with the right technique, letting you make flat white with just two cheap pots rather than an elaborate bar machine.

Finding the Right Moka Pot

So Moka Pot coffee can help you make espresso-like drinks easily and on a much lower budget, so where do you start with getting one? As with every type of coffee, quality is going to be important for getting the best coffee that you can. 

Moka pots are really quite cheap, but some are definitely better than others. Since they’re mainly made out of metal, they can have an impressive life span. These are the things you’ve got to keep in mind to find the right Moka pot for you and one that is going to last a long time:

  • Size – You’ve got to find the right size for you. Usually, the ‘cup measurement’ used is actually a shot. So if you’re drinking coffee with more than one shot keep that in mind. A 3 Cup Moka pot should be more than enough though since brewing more at once can complicate the process.
  • Material – A poorly made Moka pot could explode with all of the pressure going on inside. This is kind of a problem, look for a Moka pot made out of decent materials.
  • Finish – Cleaning your Moka Pot is really important. The residue is going to ruin the taste over time, so look for a pot that is easy to disassemble and clean.

Can a Moka Pot Explode?

Yeah, they can. 

Unfortunately, a Moka pot can go boom if treated completely incorrectly. This doesn’t mean that they’re dangerous though. It is really quite hard to cause an accident with a Moka pot. 

Make sure you don’t overfill your pot with water, remove it from the heat when done, and never overfill with coffee and tamp down. All of this allows your pressure to escape as it should, and keeps things running perfectly. Just be sensible and your Moka pot isn’t going to cause you any safety problems.

How to Clean your Moka Pot

We’ve mentioned a few times already that keeping your Moka pot clean is important, so how exactly do you do it? This is what you’ll need to do for an everyday clean:

  • Use just warm water and a simple cloth for an everyday clean instead of soapy water and an abrasive brush.
  • Clean and rinse all sections until clean.
  • Leave to dry on a drying rack and make sure it is entirely dry before the next use.

This will be fine for using your pot a few times in a single day. However, long term you will need to do bigger cleans. Oil build-up goes bad fairly quickly, so try to give your Moka pot a full clean quite often. This is what you’ll need to do:

  • Use hot soapy water.
  • Using a soft brush, clean off all residue from the inside of each compartment.
  • Pay particular attention to the ground coffee section and stem for steam to rise up, make sure no oil residue is lingering.
  • A longer brush or toothbrush is great for cleaning areas you can’t reach easily.
  • Allow each section to dry individually, and only reassemble after they dried fully.

Is a Coffee Build Up a Bad Thing on a Moka Pot?

That guide above covers how to fully clean up a Moka pot. However, not everyone who uses one agrees that this is necessary! Some people like to season their Moka Pots like you’d season a cast iron pan, to add flavor to their next cup. 

The thinking behind this is that the excess oils from your coffee can be left intact, which pass on extra flavor to future cups that brew in the same pot. There is some merit to this, but long-term the build-up is going to do more harm than good.

Those extra ‘oils’ are really just stained bits of your last brew. When brewing on the same day, this is going to add a bit of flavor to your cup. However, these little build-ups can become over-extracted themselves, bittering your coffee.

If you’re brewing to get the best tasting coffee each time, that leftover build-up is an unnecessary ‘wild card’. Is it a risk to take, that your build-up is going to enhance the flavor rather than ruin it. This isn’t to say you need to fully clean after each use. The built-up oil is fine over the course of a day. 

You should be removing it fairly quickly though. If left for weeks, that coffee residue is going to become pretty old and bitter. It will then be harder to remove and have a bigger impact on your coffee’s taste. Aging the oils in a pot can be a fun experiment, but not if it prevents you from having a decent cup of coffee again.

Summary and Conclusion

Moka pots make a rich and intense coffee that is definitely a different experience to anything else. On top of this, they’re affordable and easy to use, especially when compared with their closest relative; the espresso machine.

 Using one can be tricky though. If you follow all the right steps, then you should be able to master the delicate art of preparing fantastic coffee with your Moka pot.

Share This Article

Sources

The Humble Brilliance of Italy’s Moka Coffee Pot
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/make-coffee-moka-pot

How to Make Stovetop Espresso at Home Easily in a Moka Pot
https://grosche.ca/italian-coffee-maker-instructions/

Moka Pot Brewing Guide
https://www.stumptowncoffee.com/brew-guides

The Quick Guide to Moka Pot Safety and Cleaning
https://www.javapresse.com/blogs/stovetop-brewing/moka-pot-safety-and-cleaning