How to Make Coffee in a Moka Pot: A Guide for the Beginner
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.
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What is a Moka Pot and Where Did It Come From?
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 belong...in 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:
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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.
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:
- a moka pot
- freshly ground strong coffee
- a milk steamer/frother
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
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.
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.
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.
Next, screw the upper chamber of the Moka pot onto the base and make sure it’s on there tightly.
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.
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
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!
- Bradshaw International
- Bialetti 6-Cup
- Moka Express
- Barista-Approved Coffee: Our classic moka pot stainless steel expresso machine makes the best homemade, traditional Italian coffee you can get
- Versatile Recipes: Our stovetop espresso coffee maker makes 2floz of rich, velvety perculator style coffee. Say ciao to delicious espresso, Americano, cappuccino, and latte at home
- Easy & Dependable: Brew the best tasting Italian espresso with utmost ease, whether you have a gas stove, an electric range, or even a camping stove
- Safe & Hassle Free: Crafted from premium cast stainless steel, our aluminum espresso maker is complete with a cool-touch handle and safety valve to release excess steam
- Quick & Convenient: Take a short-cut to incredible tasting coffee with a velvety crema at your fingertips. Our expresso makers for home are a staple in every coffee lover's kitchen
- 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
- HISTORY OF ESPRESSO: Espresso is a specialty coffee brewed by forcing small amounts of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso is generally more highly concentrated than coffee brewed by other methods, often featuring a rich flavor and a creamy foam on top.
- EXCEPTIONAL DESIGN: The Primula 6-Cup Aluminum Espresso Maker features a modern, stylish design with a high-quality aluminum body. The handle is made from a heat resistant plastic that not only provides you with a firm and reliable grip, but also allows your hand to stay cool during use. Its efficient layout forces pressurized water through coffee grounds, and deposits a rich, full bodied espresso blend into the serving chamber.
- ESPRESSO IS VERSATILE: Espresso is one of the most popular ways to consume coffee, and this espresso maker can be used to make popular and delicious coffee recipes like cappuccinos, lattes, americanos, macchiatos and mochas. Espresso can also be enjoyed as a shot for those who enjoy fuller flavored coffee.
- EASY TO USE INSTRUCTIONS: Unscrew the top and remove the filter funnel from the base. Fill the base with fresh water up to the level of the safety valve and insert the filter funnel. Fill the filter funnel with finely ground coffee (do not press down), and screw the top firmly to the base.
- USE & CARE: Easy to clean and easy to use. Place the espresso maker on low to medium heat, and within 3-5 minutes, delicious espresso will fill the serving chamber. Serve immediately.
- 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
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.