Most of what we see today in the market is relatively new. You’ve got your Aeropress, Hario V60, and all of these coffee brewing methods that have been taking over the world of coffee because they are ideal for making coffee at home. Espresso is definitely not as popular as it was before, mostly because people have been discovering options for good coffee.
But there is one brewing method that has never gone out of fashion: the Moka pot. For all the new inventions in the world of coffee, the Moka pot has stayed as relevant in the game as it was back in 1933 in Italy. It was the first attempt at bringing espresso to you; it was designed to work by steam, much like old espresso machines, to make a coffee that’s very close to espresso. It was a boom at the moment.
It’s not certain when exactly the name “Moka” was popularized. Most coffee used to come from Mocha, Yemen; which is probably why a certain type of coffee is also called Mocha. But the actual name is macchinetta, literally “small machine” in Italian. The name “stovetop espresso maker” is somewhat popular, but technically inaccurate, so we discourage using this name.
The Moka pot is very simple to understand. It consists of three different pieces or parts: the bottom chamber, the funnel, and the upper chamber.
The bottom chamber holds water. In most models, there’s a small pressure valve that lets you know when to stop pouring water (about ⅔ of the way up).
The funnel rests on top of the bottom chamber. The funnel goes down and is not supposed to touch the water; the idea is that water will go up when we apply heat thanks to the pressure generated by the steam. On top of the funnel go our coffee grounds.
Above, and screwed to the bottom chamber, is our upper chamber. There is a spout at the center from which our coffee will come out. Be sure to keep the lid open while brewing so this chamber doesn’t overheat!
Now, we’ll walk you through how to brew coffee using a Moka pot
What you’ll need
- 18 grams coffee
- Moka pot
- Heat up water in a kettle. Ideally, the water would be 195 – 200 degrees (F).
- While the water heats up, ready a kitchen rag and lay out all the pieces of your Moka pot.
- Pour water into the bottom chamber.
- Without placing the funnel yet, add to it the coffee grounds and then place it atop the bottom chamber.
- Using a rag to cover the bottom chamber (so you don’t burn your hand), screw on the upper chamber.
- Immediately transfer to the stove and heat on the highest setting.
- Stand by and make sure you have a coffee cup close by.
- As soon as the machine starts to gurgle, take it out of the stove and into the sink.
- Run cold water on the bottom part of the Moka pot so it cools down a bit (coffee might still be extracting at this point; try not to move it around too much)
Moka Pot Tips
Now that we know the basics, how about a few tips? These tips have been acquired through experience, trial and error, and a lot of bitter coffee. Take full advantage of these!
Use Moka pot grind sizes
For the same reason some people still call it a “stovetop espresso maker”, many people think the Moka pot has to use espresso grind– this is not correct. Finer grind size means that the water takes longer to pass through the grounds, which is not ideal in this case.
Your best bet is a medium-fine grind size, much like that used in pour-overs. You might even find grind sizes specifically for Moka pot, depending on the provider.
Keep it clean
The most salient thing about the Moka pot is that it uses rubber, a material not present in any other brewing method. This rubber is to keep the heat in, and to prevent the steam from escaping in that space where the bottom and upper chambers are connected.
Rubber, however, tends to absorb smell. If you don’t keep this particular element clean, it might become stained and start distilling a strong smell that can threaten the taste and aroma of your coffee.
Don’t let it gurgle
The gurgle is very characteristic of the Moka pot, but this doesn’t mean it’s okay. In most situations, this sound means that your coffee has already been extracted, the bottom chamber overheated, and the pressure makes it spout water.
This dilutes your coffee, which we should avoid at any cost! Try to be close to your Moka pot whenever you’re brewing, and turn the stove off as soon as it starts gurgling.