Nowadays matcha lattes and coconut chais are sweeping the nation, much likes espresso was sweeping Italy in the 1930s. Now a lot of things have changed in between those two movements, for better or for worse, but there remains one major similarity: everyone wants to make them at home. That’s where the Moka Pot began its time in the spotlight, when Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti created it. The Moka Pot provided Italians with espresso-like coffee in their own homes, and from there it became a staple in any coffee-lover’s kitchen.
It’s a classic piece of coffee machinery, and the simple look of it shows that. As long as it has been around, it has still managed to remain one of the more unique coffee pots out there.
How a Moka Pot Works
In summary, the Moka Pot pushes hot water up through the grinds then into the chamber on top. It’s important to know before you start that you need to be ready to take the Moka Pot off the stove as soon as some bubbles start to come out the top stem. This will help ensure that you do not over extract the coffee.
There are several different ways to make coffee with any general Moka Pot like this. It’s popular among coffee enthusiasts to boil the water separately then put the filter in and screw the top on. Just be extra careful not to burn yourself that way.
How to use a Moka Pot for Coffee
It only requires a few steps to make great coffee with a Moka, and here they are:
- Add the boiled water to the bottom of the Moka. Be careful from now on when touching this part of the Moka—it’s gonna be hot!
- Add the ground coffee to the filter (do NOT pack it) and place it in the bottom compartment.
- Screw on the top and place the entire Moka Pot on the stove set to medium heat. Now it brews! Blue Bottle Coffee put it well when they explained “If it explodes upward, your water’s too hot, if it burbles lethargically, turn up your flame”..
- This is when you look (and listen) for those bubbles coming form the top, because that means it’s done! It may not take too long considering that the water started off hot, so be sure not to step away from your Moka because the timing will depend on your stove
- Take off the stove ASAP, and be sure to just let the coffee cool a bit before you try it.
Does that Mean… It’s Espresso?
All of those years ago, the small Moka pot came to be known as a “stovetop espresso maker”. Even the filter resembles an actual basket found on a portafilter. An element of classic espresso is that it receives steam pressure, which makes sense as to why the Moka would be given that nickname, but that still does not mean it will be giving you that straight double espresso you like. Espresso receives 8-10 bars of pressure, while the Moka pot only creates 1-2 bars of pressure. That difference is small enough to create a similar flavor in the resulting drink but large enough to not be enough pressure to create the classic crema of an espresso. It depends on who you talk to as to how important that cream is (and not just for its gorgeous aesthetic).
This confusion has led a lot of coffee shops and enthusiasts not to use a Moka Pot. On top of not being “real” espresso, having to heat the grinds and the water at the same time often causes the grinds to burn. While we do understand the issue in this, it is possible to brew the perfect cup if you time it right. Once you master the Moka, create espresso beverages at home—even if it is not technically espresso. Iced lattes in bed here we come!
What Grind to Use in a Moka Pot
You’ll want to use a pretty fine grind in a Moka Pot. Although it is not espresso, think of it as espresso when it comes to how fine the grind is. That is another element that helps give it the espresso-like flavor. A 4-cup Bialetti Moka Pot will hold 15-17 grams, but you do not always need to be super exact with a Moka Pot. It does not require extreme specificity so a lot of people can use it.
Where To Get Your Hands On A Moka
Several department stores will carry a Moka Pot, but you cannot always depend on them having it in stock considering it is not the most popular item. Almost 90 years after his creation, Bialetti would probably love to know his name is still on the company that sells the most popular Moka Pot out there. Now you’ll know exactly what you’re buying when places advertise the Moka Pot as an espresso maker (we’ll let you decide for yourself if that is in fact what it is).