If there’s one coffee maker that Italians–and Italian coffee enthusiasts–swear by, it’s the moka pot. Characterized by its big-bodied and strong brew, this stove pot coffee maker is a classic among coffee lovers. Today, almost every kitchen in Italy owns at least one moka pot to satisfy their caffeine needs.
Known by novice enthusiasts as a home espresso machine, a moka pot creates a strong brew of coffee with a distinctive taste and texture. These days, moka pots have gained popularity as Tiktok and other enthusiasts feature it online. But how do you use a moka pot and how is it any different from other coffee makers?
Learn more about the moka pot and its nuances in this article:
What is a Moka Pot?
A moka pot is a stove top coffee maker that originates from Italy. If you’ve ever been on the coffee making side of the Internet, then chances are you’ve seen a version of this coffee maker. Over the years, the moka pot has gained a reputation for making a strong brew that many compare to espresso.
This coffee maker bears a distinct shape that contributes to its brewing process. The shape is further broken down into parts, each having its own function. While moka pots have evolved throughout the years, these parts remain the same.
A moka pot has these signature features, no matter the model or variation:
- • a stainless steel or aluminum body
- • water chamber
- • coffee basket
- • filter screen
The original moka pot was invented in 1933 by Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti. During this time, the stovetop coffee maker surprised households with its tasteful coffee that rivaled commercial espresso. To this day, the moka pot remains popular and is a staple coffee maker in homes of coffee lovers and enthusiasts.
How to Use a Moka Pot
The biggest difference between moka pots and other coffee machines for homes is that it directly brews on the stovetop. Coffee brewed using a moka pot uses intense pressure brewing, creating a unique and strong taste. The overall process is also quite therapeutic as it releases the wonderful aroma of our favorite drink.
Making coffee with a moka pot seems complicated, but it’s actually quite easy–especially when you know what to look out for. Of course, brewing with new equipment can be daunting for a beginner. Luckily, there are a thousand delicious moka pot brews online.If you’re just starting out with this brewing method, here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to use your moka pot:
Preheat the waterThe first step of making coffee with a moka pot is preparing the equipment. Temperature plays a large role in this brewing process and overheating the pot will cause a decline in the overall quality of the drink. When you preheat the pot, you prevent the overcooking of the coffee. To preheat a moka pot, simply boil the water on the kettle and then remove from heat.
Grind the coffee
It’s probably been said a million times now, but it bears repeating: fresh coffee is the best coffee. This applies to moka pot brews too. For the highest quality, opt for a medium-fine ground size. Take note that even though moka pot coffee is often compared to espresso, using very fine grounds risks the equipment. Avoid any inconveniences, such as the clogging of the filter screen, by picking the correct size for your coffee.
Add the water
Make sure to fill the brewer until the bottom line. The amount of water you’ll have to add varies depending on the size of your moka pot. Check out your pot’s brewing capacity and adjust accordingly.
Insert the filter basket
There aren't a lot of complications with this step. As long as you have a functional moka pot, then attaching the filter basket should be quite easy. Make sure to check if everything is secure so that mishaps don’t happen during the brewing process.
Fill the basket with coffee
Add your grounds in the basket and level it off with your finger. As a rule of thumb, the grounds should be slightly mounded but not overwhelming. If you’re still having some trouble, you can check out videos online to get a reference of how much coffee you should use for your brew. Once you’ve filled the basket with coffee, screw the bottom and top part together.
Start brewing on the stovetop
With the parts secured, it’s time to start brewing. Use medium-low heat when brewing on the stovetop and do not expose the handle to heat. Remember to keep the top lid open as well. A moka pot brewing process takes about 5-10 minutes. If nothing seems to be happening even after 10 minutes, turn the heat up slightly. When the coffee looks golden, remove the pot from the heat.
Enjoy your freshly brewed cup!
Aluminum vs Steel: Which is the better option?
Moka pots come in two materials: aluminum and stainless steel. Both are acceptable variations of the classic coffee maker. However, before you pick one over the other, it’s important to consider what kind of stove you have.
Aluminum moka pots are best suited for gas-operated stoves. If you own an induction stove, brewing with an aluminum variant will require extra adjustments. Generally, an aluminum moka pot will work with an induction cooker if you place a pan underneath the pot–but make sure to check the labels first!
For owners of induction stovetops, stainless steel moka pots are your best friend. There’s a variety of classic designs available on the market, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on “authenticity”. Stainless steel posts will also work for gas stovetops, but it’s best suited for induction cookers.
Can Moka Pots Brew Espresso?
A common question novice users ask is how to use a moka pot to brew espresso. After all, it’s been marketed as an espresso maker for the longest time. Unfortunately, this moniker isn’t completely accurate.
Moka pots, unfortunately, do not brew espresso shots. To create espresso, you’ll need an intense amount of pressure to extract the coffee–far more than the moka pot can create. A true espresso requires 8-10 bars of pressure, while a moka pot only makes 1-2 bars. If you’re really craving for the contemporary espresso shot, then your best friend is an espresso machine.
While moka pots don’t make espresso as we know it, the classic coffee maker does give us a glimpse of the flavors of espresso in the 1930s. Think of it as a little piece of history! Whenever you drink coffee made from a moka pot, you’re tasting what is considered strong coffee–one that’s dubbed as an espresso–decades ago.
Sustaining Coffee Brewing: How to Take Care of Your Moka Pot
Moka pots produce some of the strongest and most delicious coffee, but it requires the proper maintenance to continuously do so. Just like any equipment, maintenance is a must to ensure consistent high quality. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to take care of your moka pot.
To maintain your pot, simply make sure that it remains clean. Due to its size, the moka pot is one of the easiest coffee equipment to maintain. It also makes it one of the easiest to clean.
Cleaning a moka pot requires the following steps:
- Wait for the coffee pot to cool down. Never touch a moka pot that just finished brewing as the metal will be incredibly hot.
- Disassemble the pot and remove the used grounds. To remove the grounds, take the filter and simply dunk out the grounds. If there are any leftovers, simply use your fingers or any gentle cleaning tool to remove the debris.
- Rinse and dry the filter basket.
An important thing to note is that moka pots don’t agree with dishwashers. The harshness of most cycles degrades the pot and causes corrosion and oxidation. If you’re in love with your pot, then handwash is the way to go.
Open the Door to Italian Coffee with Moka Pots
Moka pots are an Italian staple–and for good reason!
With its rich and strong brew, drinking moka pot coffee feels as if you’re opening a door to Italy. The distinct taste highlights the European country’s unique coffee culture and brings a piece of history and adventure to your daily dose of caffeine. Whether you’re a coffee newbie or a seasoned veteran, incredible Italian coffee is an experience you shouldn’t deny yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Brew your next coffee cup with a moka pot and take a step into coffee, culture, and a taste of Italy.