Moka pots are considered one of the best Espresso machine alternatives and for good reasons. While there is a lot of fuss as to the fact that they make coffee that is bitter to the taste, it still ranks as one of the top ways to prepare coffee.
Since this is your first time brewing coffee in a Moka pot or you’re looking for professional help after making a lot of mistakes, we’re going to take you through how to make a tasty cup of coffee using a Moka pot and everything you should know about using a Moka pot.
What is a Moka Pot?
The Moka Pot is a stovetop coffee maker designed to bring espresso-like coffee to the average home. It was created by Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti and was quickly adopted all over Italy.
It soon spread to other parts of Europe, and then North America. Currently, there are tons of Moka Pot companies using different technologies to perfect the coffee maker but you can still get a Bialetti-designed Moka pot which is still one of the best selling products on the market.
What Makes the Moka Pot Great for Making Coffee?
Moka Pot makes coffee by pressurized brewing which leads to a type of espresso coffee that should cost you a small fortune if you were to purchase in-store.
To make coffee, the water is heated in a sealed chamber which creates a lot of pressure. This pressure releases water vapor which initiates the brewing. The pressure then forces the liquid coffee up through the machine’s funnel. The liquid coffee loses pressure as it spills out into the upper chamber so it calmly enters the chamber. The end result is coffee that is typically twice as strong as normal coffee.
Getting the best out of your Moka pot is all about taking preparation steps.
You can start by choosing the right size Moka pot. You should buy just the exact size that would serve you or anyone else that would require coffee. Note that when buying a Moka pot, you should go for the exact size that is needed. Moka pots only work well when filled appropriately so if you need to make 3 cups worth of coffee every now and then, you will need a 3-cup Moka pot.
Another preparation tip to have in mind is to go for fine to medium-fine grind size. Avoid going for espresso-fine grinds as they could clog the filter screen and end up generating a serious amount of pressure.
The last preparation step is to use the right type of water. Aim for water with a low calcium content as it would give your coffee a better taste. Also, pre-heat your water to help save time. This could also help keep the flavor of the coffee at its best and prevent bitterness.
How to Make Coffee in a Moka Pot: Step-by-Step Guide
- Freshly Roasted Coffee
- Hot Water
- Burr Coffee Grinder
- Cold Towel
Start by grinding enough coffee to completely fill the coffee basket to a fine to medium-fine setting. Ensure the grounds are leveled (you can do that with a knife. Do not tamp the grounds)
Fill the water chamber of the Moka pot with boiling and ensure it reaches the very bottom of the release valve. Avoid covering the valve so it doesn’t fail in the event of a pressure emergency.
Place a damp kitchen towel in the freezer
Next, assemble the Moka Pot by screwing the pieces together. While doing so, ensure that no grounds are on the ridges. This is quite common and if it happens, the stuck grounds will prevent a full seal and you’d end up with a bad taste.
Set the Moka pot on your stovetop and turn it on to medium-low heat. Avoid placing the Moka pot fully on the stovetop but rather move it to the edge of the burner to avoid the handle becoming too hot.
Start a timer and wait it out. Give the Moka pot about 10 minutes to start brewing. If nothing happens after that time, then turn up the heat just by a little.
After a while, the coffee should start oozing into the pot’s upper chamber. If it is spewing, then you should turn down the heat. The oozing means the pressure is just right and you will end up with a great tasting coffee.
When the coffee looks like golden honey, turn off the burner and place the Moka pot right under the cold towel. This should help the pot cool rapidly and save you the bitter liquid that would funnel to the coffee.
Pour the coffee into your favorite mug and you’re good to go.
Moka Pot Maintenance Tips
To keep your Moka pot functioning properly, you will need to maintain it. Most Moka pots don’t need much maintenance, however, some users find themselves shopping for replacements after a few years of use.
This only happens when you follow maintenance tips like putting the Moka pot in the dishwasher.
To take care of your Moka pot, rinse and dry after every brew. Ensure that the Moka pot cools, then disassemble it and remove its filter basket.
Get rid of spent grounds and thoroughly rinse and dry all parts including the filter basket. Get a paper towel and wipe dry the pot. Also, check for any stubborn grounds stuck to the basket or seal.
Avoid putting your Moka pot in the dishwasher or scrubbing it with an abrasive material. Aluminum Moka pots feature a protective coating that prevents your coffee from coming out with a metallic taste. Using harsh or abrasive materials might scrub off this coating.
FAQs on Moka Pots
Why Is My Coffee Bitter?
This is one of the big problems with Moka pot coffee. You might end up with bitter coffee. In reality, the problem isn’t actually with the Moka pot but rather your brewing skills.
If your coffee tastes bitter, it usually means you over-extracted from the grounds. To solve this, you only need to grind on a coarser setting and avoid brewing for too long. This is why it is advised to use pre-heated water or a higher heat setting to reduce the time spent brewing.
Is the Cold Towel Necessary?
The cold towel is needed to rapidly cool down the Moka pot once you’ve finished brewing and while you might have other ways to handle that, using a cold towel is more efficient.
Moka pots are made of metal and when metal gets too hot, it could mess with the flavor. The cold towel will ensure that the extracted coffee doesn’t continue rising by cutting off brewing. It also keeps the pot from creating off-flavors.
Is Hot Water Really Necessary
If you’re on a clock, then you should go for hot, pre-boiled water as it will save you time to brew the coffee. Even if you have all the time in the world, hot water is still recommended as it keeps the Moka pot from getting too hot that it cooks the grounds before brewing. This ends up giving a bitter taste.
What Size Is Best?
The Moka pot size cannot be adjusted so you should go for something that will meet your immediate needs. The 3-cup Moka pot will brew 3 cups of coffee. Note that you can’t use a 3-cup Moka pot to brew 2 cups of coffee as you will have to fill the coffee to the top of the basket. While you could use less, this is not recommended as it could result in over-extraction.
There are many questions and comparisons being done with Moka pots and other coffee makers. Moka pots have been compared with Espresso machines and percolators. The simple answer to every comparison is that they are actually different devices. A Moka pot is considered a good alternative to Espresso machines and should help you brew the great-tasting coffee in no time.