How to Use a Moka Pot to Brew Better Coffee

Espresso is pivotal in Italian culture. Walk into a small shop in Italy and order a coffee, or un café, and you will receive a delightful, strong, traditional cup of espresso. But what happens when you want espresso at home, but you also don’t have a lot of counter space?

Enter the Moka Pot! Fill this small, quirky device with water and coffee, set it on the stove, and it will deliver bold, espresso-like coffee in just a few minutes.

I find zen in my morning coffee routine. Using a pour over to turn water into liquid energy is a tradition I rarely miss. But my afternoon jolt usually involves something a little more spirited and exciting. This is when I open my cupboard and pull down the eight-sided wonder. Invented by Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, this stovetop brewer helps me to prepare all my favorite café specialty drinks at home.

Whether you just bought this Italian marvel, or found your Nonna’s in an old cabinet, learning how to use a Moka Pot is a worthy endeavor.

What is a Moka Pot?

What are the Parts of a Moka Pot?

The body is made to withstand high heat, constructed from either steel or aluminum. The bottom chamber holds water that, when heated, turns into steam. It also has a pressure safety valve that I never plan to test.

Fitting within the bottom chamber is a coffee basket that holds the grounds. It has tiny holes allowing steam to travel upward through the coffee grounds and extract all the substances that turn water into coffee.

On the underside of the upper chamber is a filter screen held in place by a rubber gasket. The gasket ensures a proper seal so the pot can build pressure, while the filter prevents any grounds from turning your brew into a chewy mess.

The top section is made up of a few parts. Coffee rises upward through the funnel, spurts out of the spout, and cascades down into the top chamber. Without this section, there wouldn’t be any pressure, thus defeating the purpose of a Moka Pot.

How does a Moka Pot work?

The stovetop espresso maker uses pressure to brew. Instead of gravity pulling water down through the coffee grounds, this device uses heat to create pressure that drives steam upward. This pressurized water vapor extracts the oils, acids, and flavors from the beans faster than a drip coffee maker.

After becoming steam, the water continues upward through the funnel until it reaches the spout. Here it loses pressure and gently spills down into the top chamber, filling with the flavorful brew.

Does a Moka Pot Make Espresso?

Stovetop espresso is not true espresso, sorry. Espresso has a few requirements that a Moka Pot simply can’t provide. However, it is a close second, which is better than a participation trophy.

Espresso uses 9 bars of pressure to force hot water through finely ground coffee. Stovetop espresso is only capable of creating 2 bars of pressure during its brewing process. Espresso brews a 40 mL shot in under 20 seconds. Our friendly Moka Pot takes its time filling up that top chamber, approximately 5-10 minutes.

Stovetop espresso provides double the caffeine compared to standard brewing methods. That amount is still less than what you get from an espresso machine. The overall taste is similar, but the lack of crema makes the biggest difference when drinking it straight. Crema is the reddish-brown froth that rests on top of a shot of espresso.

Espresso or not, nobody will complain about the difference after adding some frothed milk and sweetener.

How to Brew With a Moka Pot

What You’ll Need to Brew

  • Fresh Coffee Beans (25 grams)
  • Filtered Water (300 mL)
  • Stovetop Espresso Maker (6 Cup Moka Pot)
  • Heat Source (Gas or Electric)
  • Coffee Grinder

Steps to Brew

Step 1:

Grind your fresh beans. You want your grounds to be finer than drip coffee but not as fine as needed for making espresso.

Step 2:

Preheat your filtered water. Fill the bottom chamber until it is level with the bottom of the release valve. Some Moka Pots will have a fill line to make it a little easier.

Step 3:

Place the filter basket into the bottom chamber and fill it with your grounds. Use your finger (or a knife) to level off the top. Do not tamp the grounds. I find tapping the sides before you level it off can help the grounds lay more even.

Step 4:

Wipe off any extra grounds that may be on the rim. This will ensure a solid seal, which is necessary to build pressure.

Step 5:

Screw on the top chamber. Make sure it is on tight, but don’t strain yourself here.

Step 6:

Place your assembled Moka Pot on your heat source over medium heat and lift the lid. For a gas stove, make sure the flames do not go past the edge of the bottom of the pot. If your electric stove only has large heating elements, place the pot near the edge to prevent the handle from getting hot.

Step 7:

Wait patiently, but don’t walk away. You will hear a hissing sound when the coffee starts coming out of the spout.

Step 8:

Close the lid and remove from the heat when the coffee stream turns the color of honey and makes gurgling sounds.

Step 9:

Stop the brewing process by running the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot under cool water or wrap it with a cold, wet towel. This process prevents bitter flavors from being extracted into your brew.

Step 10:

Serve! Make sure to enjoy your achievement. You deserve it!

Make a simple latte after learning how to use a Moka Pot.

Moka Pot Tips

Seasoning the Pot

Before you brew your first official pot of java, make sure to brew three throw away pots. Seasoning the equipment removes any residue left over from the production process and prepares it for future brews.

What Kind of Coffee?

Medium and dark roasts are recommended to get that classic espresso flavor. But really, the Moka Pot is capable of brewing any style of beans. If you prefer light, complex notes over dark, rich flavors, then you brew you.

What Kind of Water?

Your coffee is 98.75% water. Because of that, we will always recommend using filtered (not distilled) water for your brew.

Can I brew half a Pot?

Moka Pots are designed to brew an entire pot every time. Don’t buy a 6 cup Moka Pot thinking you can brew half the amount on occasion.

What Stove Will Work?

Gas or electric stoves will work for a standard Moka Pot. A handful of special Moka Pots are created to work with induction stovetops if you are that kind of fancy. If you have an induction stovetop but a standard Moka Pot, get yourself a cooking induction adapter.

How to Clean a Moka Pot

After your Moka Pot has cooled down, unscrew the top from the bottom. Remove the filter basket and throw away any grounds. Don’t forget that the filter and gasket underneath the top section should also be removed and cleaned. Use hot water to rinse all the different parts. I also use a soft brush to remove any remaining residue, making sure not to scrub the pot too vigorously.

A word of caution! Do not use an abrasive scouring pad, soap, or dishwasher. Dishwashers and harsh scrubbing can remove the shiny outer coating and ruin your new favorite brewing device. Soap can taint the aluminum and thereby ruin your next coffee brew.

Traditional Brewing Method

Traditional Moka Pot brewing does not involve any preheating or post-cooling steps. Simply add water to the bottom chamber, brew like normal, and then take off the heat when you hear that famous gurgling sound.

The extra heating and cooling steps are a more recent adaptation. Why all the extra work then? The Moka Pot has made a resurgence alongside third wave coffee. This renewed interest has lead enthusiasts to experiment and discover innovative ways to brew even better coffee with the nostalgic metal pot.

What Size Moka Pot Should You buy?

When looking at Moka Pots, you probably asked yourself the same question many of us have asked, “How much coffee does one cup make?” The answer isn’t complicated. One cup from a Moka Pot is 40 mL (or 1.35 fl. oz.). Espresso lovers will immediately recognize that volume as the size of an espresso cup. Not surprising, considering the Moka Pot was invented in Italy to make espresso-like coffee at home.

So, what size Moka Pot for 1 person, 2 people, or 18 people? Yes, they come in an 18 cup! Check out the table below to answer your question.

Moka Pot SizeMillilitersFluid Ounces
1 cup40 mL1.35 fl. oz.
2 cup80 mL2.7 fl. oz.
3 cup120 mL4 fl. oz.
4 cup160 mL5.4 fl. oz.
6 cup240 mL8 fl. oz.
9 cup360 mL12 fl. oz.
12 cup480 mL16 fl. oz.
18 cup720 mL24 fl. oz.

Simple Iced Latte Recipe

Nearly every time I brew with my Moka Pot, I make a variation of an iced latte. It’s easy, delicious, and my wife’s favorite. You know what they say about happy wives. 😉

Ingredients

  • 120 mL Stovetop Espresso
  • 240 mL Milk
  • 100 mL Ice
  • Sweetener of Choice (Simple Syrups Work Best)

Put it All Together

Step 1

Fill a tall glass with ice, then pour in your milk.

Step 2

In a separate container add a sweetener to your freshly brewed espresso and mix together with a spoon.

Step 3

Pour the freshly brewed coffee over your iced milk.

Step 4

Serve, sip, and enjoy!

Final Thoughts

If you don’t already have a Moka Pot, I highly recommend adding it to your repertoire of brewing devices. Making strong, espresso-like coffee on a whim is a great way to mix up your home brewing experience.

There is a slight learning curve getting started, and some people have apprehension when they hear it’s a pressurized device. That said, I adore this Italian commodity. Its small size and affordable price make the Moka Pot worth exploring.

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