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!

Bestseller No. 1
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker, 6-Cup, silver
  • Invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, symbol of made in Italy all over the world
  • Product with 8 faces, with the unmistakable little man with a mustache
  • High quality: made of aluminum, with ergonomic handle
  • Maximum safety: patented safety valve, inspectable and easy to clean
  • Suitable for all hobs except induction ones
Bestseller No. 2
Bialetti Moka Express StoveTop Coffee maker, 3-Cup, Aluminum Silver
  • Makes 4.4 ounces of Mocha Coffee – enough for 2 espresso cups with a little left over
  • Mocha coffee is a strong, rich, and velvety brew
  • Takes less than 5 minutes to brew on your stovetop
  • High quality polished aluminum in the classic Balletto octagon shape. Not suitable for use on induction
  • Patented safety valve; Easy to clean and disassemble
Bestseller No. 3
Bestseller No. 4
IMUSA USA B120-42V Aluminum Espresso Stovetop Coffeemaker 3-Cup, Silver
  • Made with Durable Aluminum that Keeps Coffee Warm
  • 3-Cup Capacity with Cool Touch Handle and Knob for easy handling
  • It's Small and Portable Design Makes it Easy for Sharing
  • Designed with a Flip up Top and Side Pour Spout for Easy Serving
  • Ideal when Making Espresso
Bestseller No. 5
GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker Moka Pot 9 espresso Cup- 15.2 oz, White - Cuban Coffee Maker Stove top coffee maker Moka Italian espresso greca coffee maker brewer percolator
  • ⭐ [Moka Espresso Coffee] 9 cup Stovetop espresso maker & manual coffee percolator machine. Available in 3 cups, 6 cups, 9 cup espresso sizes. Stove top percolator coffee pot to make home espresso like a barista. Its easier to use than electric espresso coffee machines and makes a rich cup of Expresso moka coffee. 9 cup expresso size in Food grade anodized aluminium.
  • ⭐ [Easy to use Moka Espresso coffee Maker & Cuban Coffee maker] will work on all gas and electric stove top and propane camping stoves as well. It will make moka coffee on glass top induction stoves but will heat very slowly since its not magnetic. It is a type of easy to use stovetop espresso maker, coffee perculator, or expresso coffee maker stovetop. Its also called a Moka pot, Moka coffe maker, or Cafetera Cubana.
  • ⭐ [Highest quality stove top espresso at home] You can easily make a moka coffee, also called a low pressure stovetop espresso at home with the Milano Moka Stovetop Espresso maker. Add milk from a milk steamer or milk frother to make lattes or cappuccino at home with ease with this coffee percolator stovetop at home. With premium silicone moka pot gasket. Uses standard 9 cup stovetop espresso maker gasket size.
  • ⭐ [Made in Italy Safety Valve for maximum safety] We studied all brands of moka expresso stovetop espresso makers and improved on them in many ways. We gave the Milano Stovetop Espresso maker a larger soft touch handle with a burn guard for your finger, addressing a common complaint of hot handles and burnt fingers! Also, the Italian Safety Valve in this stove top espresso coffee maker keeps you safe from high pressure buildup.
  • ⭐ [Super espresso cafeteras with style - Also use as a Greek Greca coffee maker] With a silicone gasket, and colors and styles to boot, the Milano coffee pot is the home espresso machine coffee maker and moka pot every one should have. Try it with your favorite coffee and double walled glass espresso cups. This is the coffee cup every coffee lover should enjoy.

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!