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Moka Pot Brewing Guide
The Moka pot is one of the easiest ways to make coffee at home. About 90% of Italian families brew coffee with one.
The Moka Express coffee maker was invented in 1933 by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti, who founded Bialetti Industries.
The coffee maker, with its austere design, immediately gained popularity in Europe and especially in Italy.
In the first six years, Bialetti Industries produced only about 10,000 coffee makers. After World War II, production increased to 18,000 a day, or 4,000,000 a year. According to the company, from 1950 to the present, more than 300 million coffee makers have been produced.
The Moka pot received fifth place in the nomination for the best design of the 20th century in Italy, becoming one of the nation's symbols. The Moka pot has undergone more than one redesign, but the classic options have remained the most popular.
Well-loved and incredibly easy to use, the Moka pot has won millions of fans around the world and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most famous coffee pot.
Moka Pot Design
The Moka pot consists of three main parts:
- a boiler
- a filter basket
- an upper chamber
The boiler is the base of the coffee maker, which you fill with water and place on the stove. There is a safety valve in the side of the boiler for emergency release of steam in case the steam pressure gets too strong.
The filter basket is where you put ground coffee. It has a funnel tank that's inserted into the boiler and a filter plate that holds the ground coffee. While brewing, hot water rises through the funnel's tube, through the ground coffee, and finally into the upper chamber. The filter plate prevents ground coffee from entering the upper chamber.
The upper chamber is where brewed coffee collects. It has a handle and a spout for easy pouring.
How Moka Pot Works?
Each part of the Moka pot screws onto the next part: the filter basket screws onto the boiler, and the upper chamber screws onto the filter basket.
Water is heated in the boiler and generates steam. Steam pressure pushes the hot water into the filter basket, where it comes into contact with the ground coffee. Then, the brewed coffee is pushed through the filter plate and into the upper chamber.
Thanks to steam pressure and a high extraction temperature, Moka pot coffee is dense with a rich taste.
How to Make Coffee In a Moka Pot
To prepare coffee in the Moka Pot you will need:
- Clean drinking water
- Burr coffee grinder
- Moka pot
- Freshly roasted coffee
To get rich coffee in your Moka pot, you need to adjust the grind size. For this, you need a good burr grinder.
Use a medium grind with a Moka pot, or in rare cases, use a fine grind. The grind should feel like sand.
If your Moka pot is small—designed to brew only 1-2 cups, we recommend you use a finer grind. But be careful—a fine grind can lead to over-extraction and to the pot getting clogged, which will trigger the emergency valve.
If you want to add spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc), grind them in the same way as coffee beans and mix with the grounds before brewing.
Moka Pot Coffee-to-Water Ratio
It's not necessary to use a scale to determine the dosages of coffee and water. Usually, the manufacturer will already have provided instructions for how much of each to use. You need enough coffee so that it is exactly along the border of the measuring line.
To make coffee, you need soft water (preferably bottled). The colder the water, the more bitter the drink will be. We recommend that you fill the coffee maker with hot water (167-185°F/75-85°C) for a pleasant coffee taste.
Fill the boiler until the water is just below the pressure relief valve.
If you want to get coffee that's similar to espresso, use the table below.
Serving (Brewed Coffee)
Regular Coffee 1:10
Strong (Espresso-Like) 1:7
Preparation & Recommendations
Brew Time: 3 Min
Yield: 2 Cups
What You Need
• Moka Pot
• Burr Grinder
• Freshly Roasted Coffee
1. Preheat your water, but don't let it boil. If you add cold water to the boiler, the preparation time will be greatly increased, and the coffee may begin to taste bitter and acquire a metallic taste.
2. Unscrew the top portions from the boiler and pour hot water into the boiler up to the safety valve, no higher.
3. Pour coffee into the filter (to the top of the filter) and screw the filter basket onto the boiler.
4. Screw the upper chamber onto the filter basket.
5. Put the Moka pot on the stove and close the lid. After a couple of minutes, enough pressure builds up at the base of the Moka to force the water to the top.
6. Open the lid. As soon as the coffee streams become lighter and thinner, remove the Moka pot from the stove and place the base under a stream of cold water to stop extraction.
7. Your coffee is ready! Pour into cups and enjoy.
When preparing coffee in a Moka pot, the main danger is burning or overheating the coffee. Here are some tips to prevent this:
- If you use an electric stove (with which it is harder to monitor the temperature as compared to a gas stove), choose the smallest burner and use medium heat.
- If you need to warm up the water faster, start on high heat and switch to medium heat after 1-2 minutes.
- Just before the coffee begins to flow into the upper chamber, you can turn off the stove or even remove the coffee pot from the stove.
- Don't leave the Moka pot on the heat so long that it starts shaking. This means there's too much hot steam, which is bad for the coffee.
It's normal for some water to remains in the boiler. This happens in almost all Moka pots.
Tamping is generally not advised, but you can do it if you want a richer flavor. Don't over-tamp the grounds, just use a spoon.
Can You Brew Espresso In a Moka Pot?
Even though the Moka pot is also known as the "Stovetop Espresso Maker," it doesn't actually make real espresso.
Espresso is made when hot water is forced through fine coffee grounds at a high pressure of 8-10 bar. This intense pressure can only be generated by real espresso machines.
The Moka pot is usually pressurized at 1-2 bar. This is more than a human can create by hand, but far less than an espresso machine can create.
Therefore, while Moka pot coffee is very concentrated, it is not espresso.
However, it's pretty close in taste. You can use it to make espresso-like drinks, they just won't be quite as good.
If you want a real espresso, you have no choice—just buy an espresso machine. The only drawback is an espresso machine's high price.
You should not try to compare the two coffee makers. An espresso machine is good for making espresso, and a Moka pot is good for making a strong cup of coffee without investing a lot of time or money.
Caffeine In Moka Pot Coffee
We already wrote above that Moka pot coffee is strong, but how much caffeine does it have compared to regular coffee and espresso?
- Cup of coffee (8 oz/227 ml) = 105 mg of caffeine
- Moka pot coffee (1.5 oz/42 ml) = 105 mg caffeine
- Shot of espresso (1.5 oz/42 ml) = 93 mg caffeine
As you can see, an 8 oz cup of coffee contains the same amount of caffeine as a shot of Moka pot coffee. And in an espresso shot of the same size, there is even less caffeine. The reason Moka pot coffee has more caffeine than espresso is that it's prone to over-extraction. Be sure to carefully monitor the coffee preparation process.
Of course, this isn't a problem if you generally prefer strong coffee. In this case, Moka pot coffee is a great option, especially if you need to wake up quickly in the morning.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Moka pots are made mostly of aluminum or stainless steel:
- An aluminum coffee maker requires more complex maintenance. It is not dishwasher safe. Since it must be washed by hand, it is important to make sure it is completely dry to avoid corrosion. And while it lasts for less time than its stainless steel counterparts, you'll still be able to use it for years. If you don't mind a little extra effort and want to save money, go for aluminum. Aluminum Moka pots are durable and work well if you handle them correctly.
- Stainless steel is non-corrosive and super strong. If you choose stainless steel products, they will last you a lifetime. However, such devices are usually more expensive than aluminum ones. Stainless steel Moka pots are dishwasher safe.
The Moka Pot should be washed after every use. Try to use few chemicals or abrasive materials.
The filter grounds must be carefully shaken out. Don't knock the Moka pot on anything to dislodge the grounds, though—this can deform it and keep the pieces from fitting together correctly.
Don't try to clean the interior surfaces to a shine. Over time, the inside of an aluminum coffee maker will darken due to coffee oils. This isn't a problem—in fact, it protects the drink from interacting with the body of the coffee maker.
The only caveat is the rubber gasket for the filter. This wears out over time and starts to let steam out. It may require replacement. Clean it carefully, without using chemicals or too much force.
Caring for a Moka pot is quite simple, which is is one of the strong points of the coffee maker.
Let's Sum Up
The Moka Pot is quite easy to use and makes it easy to brew a strong, rich, espresso-like coffee. The aluminum or stainless steel construction is strong, durable, and easy to clean.
Modern Moka pots can also be electric, equipped with a sound indicator, timer and other functions that allow more control over the brewing process.
All Moka pots come with a safety valve that will trip if too much pressure builds up. They can be easily used on most stoves. The design is also quite simple, which makes them affordable.
Though it takes some practice to understand how to use a Moka pot and how not to burn or over-extract the coffee, they're well worth it.