How to Make Coffee in a Moka Pot: A Guide for the Beginner

how to make coffee in a moka pot

A Moka pot is a curiously fascinating little coffee maker. The distinctive design sets it apart from any other coffee-brewing device, and the process is, well, a bit mysterious to most. When it comes to learning how to make a great cup of coffee in a moka pot, it's certainly more than throwing some pre-ground coffee in a filter and pushing the 'start' button, but definitely a method that can be learned and enjoyed. If I can do it, so can you!

If you enjoy getting involved in the process with some hands-on experimentation, brewing a strong cup of espresso-like coffee with a moka pot may be right up your alley. And, it looks pretty cool sitting on your stove top, too.

Let's take a look at a little bit of history, some how-to's, see if this is a brewing method that will work for you, and give you some buying options as well.

If you happen to click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is a Moka Pot and Where Did It Come From?

how to make coffee in a moka pot

The Moka Express was invented in 1933 by an Italian engineer named Alfonso Bialetti, and has become the world's most famous coffee pot. It is referred a Moka, a Moka pot, a Bialetti, a Percolator, a stove-top coffeemaker, and in Italian as la Moka, la macchinetta, or la caffettiera.

The distinctive eight-sided design is always recognizable, with a retro-classic look that has retained the same design for over 70 years. It looks pretty cool sitting on your kitchen counter or stove top.

Simply put, a moka pot is a stovetop coffee maker that brews a strong cup of coffee. It is one of the methods of making espresso coffee without using a machine expressly made for that purpose.  More about that in a minute.

How Does a Moka Pot Brew Coffee?

It's about the pressure, friends. Hot water (in the bottom of the Moka pot) passes through coffee grounds (in the middle of the Moka pot) with the force of stream pressure, to create the strong coffee (that collects in the upper chamber of the Moka pot).

It's important to note that when using a moka pot, one cup = 1 "shot" of coffee, not a full cup. 

Here are the components of a moka pot, from bottom to top:

  • The water tank, or chamber is the bottom portion of the moka pot. It is constructed of stainless steel or aluminum, to withstand the heat as well as resist rust.
  • Above the water tank is the basket that holds the coffee grounds. It contains many tiny holes on the bottom, which allow the steam to rise. It is part of the magic of moka pot coffee, as during this process extractions take place, like flavors, oils, and acids.
  • The filter screen is directly above the basket. It will allow the coffee to rise into the upper chamber but keep the grounds where they the filter basket!
  • Finally, the upper chamber is the area where the brewed coffee collects, waiting for you to pour and enjoy!

Our friends at MokaBees show us the process in the colorful graphic below:

how to make coffee in a moka pot

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 Can a Moka Pot Brew Espresso coffee?

A moka pot will brew a shot of strong coffee that is similar to espresso. But let's be clear. It is not literally the espresso coffee that is brewed in an espresso machine.

What's the difference? Espresso coffee is brewed with pressure - about 9 bars of pressure. You'll get about 1 to 1.5 bars of pressure in a moka pot, which will give you a robust, strong brew. But it is not literally espresso.

I'm perfectly happy with the brew created by my little moka pot, though. The strong espresso-like brew is tasty and holds that extra rich flavor and intensity I want when creating a specialty coffee drink.

Coffee drinks

There is so much that you can do with a shot or two of espresso coffee brewed with a moka pot.

Use this handy graphic we created as a guide!

All you need for most of these specialty drinks is:

espresso coffee drinks made simple

How to Make Coffee in a Moka Pot: Step-by-Step

As with any hands-on coffee brewing method, there will be some experimentation involved. So be patient and know that it may take a few sessions with your Moka pot to brew the espresso-like coffee you're craving.

Before you jump into the process, have these tools handy:

  • the whole coffee beans of your choice, or freshly ground coffee
  • your Moka pot
  • a coffee grinder (unless your coffee has been previously ground)
  • a timer, if you're the type of person who wants to be precise about the process
  • a spoon for transferring the ground coffee to the coffee filter
  • a kitchen towel for those unexpected things that sometimes occur

Step 1

Fill the lower chamber with cold water just below the pressure release valve. Don’t overfill, as the flavor of the coffee may be affected. And, the pressure release valve is designed to release extra pressure in case the Moka pot doesn’t brew properly for some reason. It will not function properly if it’s covered with water.

NOTE: some Moka pot aficionados use hot or even boiling water to speed up the process. Experiment with it and determine what will work best for you.

Step 2

Grind your fresh, whole coffee beans to a fine consistency (a little finer that for drip coffee), enough to fill the Moka pot chamber. The grind should be fine, but not super fine, as this may cause clogs in the pot.

Step 3

how to grind coffee for a moka pot

Now insert the filter basked funnel into the pot and fill it with the ground coffee. Use a gentle hand, don’t overfill, and do not tamp the coffee down, as this may create more pressure than wanted. Clean any excess ground off of the edge of the funnel by running your finger around it.

Step 4

Next, screw the upper chamber of the Moka pot onto the base and make sure it’s on there tightly.

Step 5

how to make coffee in a moka pot - the step by step guide

Okay, now you’re ready to place your Moka pot onto a stove top burner. Select a burner that is closest to the size of the Moka pot bottom, and place it at the edge of the burner to avoid heating the handle. If you’re using a gas stove, make sure that the flame is not larger than the bottom of the Moka pot. It’s also a good idea to point the safety valve away from you, just in case.

Use a medium-low heat, nothing higher, and wait...patiently. It could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes for the water to boil. As the water begins to boil, the coffee will come up and out of the center post. You’ll also hear a gurgling sound.

Note: It takes the water in my Moka pot a good 10 minutes to boil and begin to brew. I have an electric stove top and keep the heat just shy of medium.

If you hear spurting and the coffee is spewing out, your heat is too high. Turn it down a bit or your coffee may taste burnt.

Step 6

When you begin to see a hazel-brown foam appear at the spout, take your Moka pot off of the stove. You can stir the brewed coffee a bit before pouring if desired. Now, enjoy your freshly brewed espresso-like coffee!

I enjoy my Moka pot espresso coffee with steamed milk and foam, and use a nifty little electric milk steamer. It works great and is easy on the budget, too.

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How to Brew Better with a Moka Pot: helpful tips and suggestions

making coffee with a moka pot
  • Decide what size Moka pot you need. Simply put, a 1-cup pot will brew about 1 shot of coffee, a 2-cup will brew 2 shots, etc. Keep in mind that a Moka pot will produce the best tasting coffee when it is filled to its intended capacity.
  • Where you source your water from will affect the taste of your coffee. This is true for any coffee you brew, so use filtered water if the taste of your tap water is less than stellar. 
  • The size of the grind makes a difference. You'll probably get the best result with when grinding your coffee beans a little bit finer than for a drip method. What does that mean? A medium-fine grind. 
  • Keep your moka pot clean. Like any other brewing method, your friendly little moka pot will perform better for you when it is kept clean. The best habit to get into is to clean the moka pot by hand after it completely cools, after each use. And, make sure each component is completely dry before putting it back together. 

Find the Best Moka Pot for you

You can find a sturdy and reliable Moka pot for about 20 dollars and up, depending on the size and manufacturer. If cared for according the the manufacturer specifications, your sweet little Moka pot can last for a long, long time. Some things get better with age!

SaleBestseller No. 1
Primula Stovetop Espresso and Coffee Maker, Moka Pot for Classic Italian and Cuban Café Brewing, Cafetera, Six Cup
  • BETTER BREWING - Produces six demitasse or espresso servings of rich, smooth espresso coffee within minutes from the convenience of home.
  • DURABLE AND INNOVATIVE DESIGN - Carefully crafted with strong cast aluminum for long-lasting durability. Provides thorough and even heat distribution for enhanced flavor and aroma.
  • SAFETY FIRST - The flip-top lid features a temperature resistant knob and handle that allows for easy, safe pouring. The safety-release valve controls water pressure and delivery for perfectly extracted espresso, every time.
  • EASY TO USE - Simply fill the lower chamber with water, add ground coffee or espresso to the filter, and place on stovetop. Within minutes, delicious, bubbling cups of espresso will fill your pot. Remove from heat and enjoy.
  • EASY TO CLEAN - Simply rinse parts with warm water and allow to dry before reassembling.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Moka Express: Iconic Stovetop Espresso Maker, Makes Real Italian Coffee, Moka Pot 3 Cups (4.4 Oz - 130 Ml) , Aluminium, Silver
  • Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted
  • Made in Italy: it is Made in Italy and its quality is enhanced by the patented safety valve which makes it easy to clean and its ergonomic handle, available in many sizes and suitable for gas, electric and induction (with the Bialetti induction adapter plate)
  • How to prepare the coffee: fill the boiler up to the safety valve, fill it up with ground coffee without pressing, close the moka pot and place it on the stovetop, as soon as Moka Express starts to gurgle, turn the fire off and coffee will be ready
  • One size for each need: Moka Express sizes are measured in Espresso Cups, coffee can be enjoyed in Espresso Cups or in larger containers
  • Cleaning instructions: The Bialetti Moka Express must only be rinsed with clean water after use, with no detergents, the product is not to be washed with a dishwasher as it will be irremediably damaged and the taste of coffee altered
Bestseller No. 3
KASSO Stovetop Espresso Maker, 6 Cup Aluminum Moka Pot for Classic Espresso, Italian Coffee Maker for Home and Camping, Easy to Operate & Quick Cleanup (Silver and Burlywood)
  • 6 Cups Espresso Coffee Maker: This classic moka espresso machine will give you all the coffee recipes, latte, cappuccino, traditional espresso and all that in one use with our moka pot. Make up to 6 espresso cups of rich espresso. Ideal for friends of 3 to 5 people to drink. Enough for a warm breakfast or a midnight nightcap with friends.
  • Elegant & Durable Design: This espresso coffee machine is made of a food-grade aluminum body with a pressure valve for coffee essence to be extracted efficiently to make favorable coffee. A soft-touch imitation wood handle and the classic octagonal design have both classical shapes and modern lines to be a great addition to your modern home.
  • Easy to Use: Unscrew and remove the funnel filter from the base. Fill the base with water just below the safety valve. Fill the funnel filter with espresso ground coffee. Screw the top to the base securely. 3-5 minutes on low or medium heat until it’s stopped gurgling, you will get a rich and high-quality espresso coffee. Suitable for all cooking over the open fires and electric stove.
  • Easy to Carry: This manual coffee machine is made of a material strong enough yet lightweight enough to be easily stuffed inside your bag or luggage without breaking or bending. Brew the best-tasting Italian espresso with utmost ease wherever and whenever you are.
  • Easy to Clean: Carefully wash all the components with clean water after every use and let the espresso maker air-dry in the ventilated areas or wipe them dry. Do not use sandy materials and ACID detergent for cleaning, as this will damage the surface brightness. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Bestseller No. 4
Yabano Stovetop Espresso Maker, 1 Cups Moka Coffee Pot Italian Espresso for Gas or Electric Ceramic Stovetop, Italian Coffee maker for Cappuccino or Latte (1 Cup)
  • CLASSIC TASTE ESPRESSO - Brew demitasse espresso in real Italian way with classic Italian moka pot. Enjoy espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, Cuban coffee, Italian-style coffee, moka, mochas anytime at home!
  • DURABLE MOKA POT - Yabano moka pot is made of strong cast aluminum, makes it last long.
  • EASY TO USE - Everybody can use moka pot to make demitasse espresso at home! Filling the water, adding coffee ground into filter basket, assembling the entire device, and place it on your stovetop. Tasty espresso will be ready soon!
  • SAFETY FEATURES: The flame retardant handle will stay cool and safe to the touch, and the lever allows for easy pouring. And the safety valve regulates the internal pressure of this pot by releasing the pressure during the brewing process.
  • IF you receive defective item or not satisfied with our product, please contact us, we will try our best to help you and give you the best solution.
Bestseller No. 5
Bialetti - New Brikka, Moka Pot, the Only Stovetop Coffee Maker Capable of Producing a Crema-Rich Espresso, 4 Cups (5,7 Oz), Aluminum and Black
  • Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted
  • Thick Crema for a rich espresso: Bialetti Brikka is the only stovetop coffeemaker delivering an intense and crema-rich espresso coffee, with an unmistakable intense flavor
  • New Bialetti Brikka is Made in Europe by Bialetti, the inventor of the original Moka pot and recognizable by the one and only the gentleman with moustache​ gracing it
  • The easiest way to prepare coffee: use the measuring cup, fill the boiler with water, put the filter back, add coffee, close the pot and place on the stove, until start to gurgle then turn the fire off and wait for the coffee to be fully extracted
  • The right number of espresso cups: coffee can be enjoyed in espresso cups or in larger containers, Brikka is available in 2 sizes 2-cup 3,4 oz espresso and 4 cup 5,7 oz espresso

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you've learned all about how to make make coffee in a Moka pot Just remember to be patient, experiment with the type of coffee, the grind, and be willing to try and try again. You'll find that is really is quite simple to brew a rich, tasty shot of espresso-like coffee in a Moka pot!

Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions!

Last Updated on July 16, 2021