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What Is a Moka Pot? | A Complete Guide

The moka pot has been around for years and is a very popular coffee brewing device in Italy. At first glance, it looks strange and old-fashioned, and when coming to use the device, it can feel like a science experiment. Once you get the hang of using it, the moka pot can actually produce a great-tasting coffee in no time at all.

Nowadays everyone is looking for new and innovative ways to brew their coffee, although the moka pot isn’t very new, it is still a popular choice for coffee brewing at home. It is also used as a method for brewing coffee when camping, it can be opened up to be compact, and just needs to sit over heat.

Let’s have a look at some more information about the moka pot. 

What Is a Moka Pot?

A moka pot is a stovetop coffee brewing device created in Italy in the 1930s. It is made primarily of aluminum, which helps conduct and retain heat when brewing coffee.

The moka pot uses pressure, much like the Aeropress, to push boiling water through coffee grounds and extract the coffee flavors. They come in many different sizes, with some big enough to make coffee for the whole family.

The device can be easily taken apart and consist of three separate chambers. There is one for the water, one for the coffee grounds, and a final chamber where the brewed coffee is collected. 

A moka pot has become a quintessential design in modern industrial art since the 1950s that you can see one or two Moka Pots displayed in design museums such as the Museum of Modern Art. 

How to Use a Moka Pot

Using a moka pot is simple and requires very few steps, however, if done incorrectly, you can ruin the coffee. Some have complained of a “burnt” taste when using the moka pot. We have a recipe guide below, but in short, this is how to use a moka pot:

  1. Grind your coffee beans to medium-fine. Or use pre-ground coffee (more popular).
  2. Add the coffee to the smallest compartment, ensuring that the coffee doesn’t touch the top edge.
  3. Lightly spread the coffee in that compartment, don’t compress them down. 
  4. Add water to the bottom compartment and put the coffee section of the top. 
  5. Screw the top compartment on and then leave over the heat.
Credit: ChefSteps YouTube

How Does a Moka Pot Work?

A moka pot works by combining pressure and steam to create an aromatic and flavorful coffee brew. 

When placed over heat, the bottom section containing the water begins to boil. Due to the unique design, the steam produced has nowhere to go and creates pressure in the chamber. This also condenses and begins to force the water to rise up through to the top chamber, resulting in your coffee brew.

It can appear to be very complex at first, and even a little intimidating, but it is very simple to use once you try.

The Rich History of the Moka Pot

An Italian engineer heavily influenced by contemporary designers like Hoffman, Genazzi, and Puiforcat who also has a passion for metalworking, Antonio Bialetti was able to create one of the most iconic coffee-making devices in 1933. Bialetti was able to create and complete his design for the aluminum moka pot. 

The moka pot has become an iconic design that was even cited in the Guinness Book of World Records. moka pot became a game-changer not only because of its design but because of the material used. The use of aluminum to create household appliances was a new concept for people in the 1930s since it was not regarded as a traditional “domestic metal”. 

What Is a Moka Pot Used For?

Before the moka pot was invented, people turned to espresso machines to brew a strong, full-bodied cup of coffee. But because espresso machines were expensive and massive to be kept as a household appliance, drinking coffee was mostly enjoyed in local cafes. 

A moka pot is used to brew perk-me-up coffees close to espresso drinks that produce high-quality strong coffee. The process of producing coffee from a moka pot is not like the other coffee-making devices because it uses a process called percolation. 

With other coffee-making devices, water drips down through the coffee grounds but the percolation process uses the opposite. The water is heated until it boils and water is forced up by the pressure through the coffee grounds passing the filter and finally to the top chamber. 

The Inspiration for Moka Pot’s Design

Legend has it that Bialetti got his inspiration for the moka pot design from the old washing machines. Back in the day, washing machines were made out of tubes that had central conduits inside. Dirty laundry was then placed inside the tube and the central conduit would draw soapy boiling water up through the conduit and spreads it across the opening.

5 Things to Keep In Mind When Brewing In a Moka Pot

Brewing coffee is just like creating art. Not only do you have to take note of the kind of paint you use, or make sure that you have a good quality canvass and paintbrush but you also have to take note of the strokes and painting techniques you use. 

When brewing coffee using a Moka Pot, in order to create a perfect, full-bodied strong cup of coffee, you have to remember 4 things.

1. Make Sure to Use Hot Water Instead of Room Temperature Water

Why is it important to use hot or pre-heated water at room temperature? This is because you don’t want your coffee to stay in the pot for a very long time. The trouble with letting it brew for a long time is over-extraction and when coffee grounds are being over-extracted, the coffee comes out very bitter than it should be.

2. There is No Need to Tamp the Coffee Grounds

Just because some people refer to moka pot coffee as Stove-top Espresso doesn’t mean that you have to tap the grounds. The reason why there is a need to tamp the ground coffee in espresso machines is that it uses pressure to extract the coffee. With a moka pot, hot water is needed for the extraction.

3. Cold Towel Can Come in Handy

Now although a cold towel is not mandatory when using a moka pot it does its job of keeping the moka pot from over extracting and because moka pots are created from metal materials, in order to stop the coffee from still brewing you need to wrap the device with a cold towel.

4. Coffee Grounds Should Be Finer Than a Pour Over Coffee Maker

Another factor that you should keep in mind is that the coffee grounds that you use should be finer than a pour-over but coarser than an espresso machine. You want your water to be able to rise and pass through the chamber with no problem at all.

How to Make the Perfect Moka Pot Coffee

How to Make the Perfect Moka Pot Coffee

Make the perfect coffee using your moka pot and avoid making a bitter, horrible tasting brew by following this guide.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: moka, moka coffee, moka pot
Yield: 3 Cups
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Moka Pot
  • Coffee Grinder (Optional)
  • Coffee Mug

Materials

  • 12.75 Grams Coffee Grounds
  • 1 Cup Water

Instructions

  • Grind your coffee beans. Make sure to use freshly ground coffee in order to get the full-bodied flavor. Avoid using pre-ground coffee since the freshness and the full flavor of coffee is already lost, but you can if you only have that available.
  • Fill the bottom chamber with pre-heated water up to the valve. After pouring the water, place the coffee ground receptacle into the pot. In case you see water entering the receptacle, pour it out to remove the excess.
  • Once you have the coffee ground receptacle in place, fill it with coffee grounds. Make sure to just level the coffee grounds and not tamp it. 
  • Screw the top chamber in place and put the moka pot on the stove over medium heat. 
  • Wait for a gurgling or hissing sound, this means that your coffee is done. Remove the moka pot from the stove and let the coffee continue to stream up for a few seconds before covering the moka pot with a cold towel. 
  • Pour and serve the coffee.

Notes

Use a fine grind size for coffee beans.
3 cups – 12.75 g (2.0 tbsp)
4 cups – 17.00 g (2.5 tbsp)
6 cups – 34.00 g (5.0 tbsp)

The Best Moka Pots to Buy

Here are 3 of the best moka pots that you can buy to make great tasting coffee at home:

1. Coffee Gator Moka Pot Stovetop Espresso Maker

  • Includes 2 Stainless Steel 3oz Coffee Pots.
  • 6 Cup (12oz) Brewing Capacity.

2. Bialetti Express Moka Pot, 6 -Cup & Coffee, Aluminum Silver

  • Makes 9. 2 ounces of coffee.
  • Free sample pack of ground Coffee.

3. GROSCHE Milano Stovetop Espresso Maker Moka pot 3 espresso Cup

  • Available in 3 cups, 6 cups, 9 cup sizes.
  • Made in Italy.

The Final Sip

The moka pot is a unique and popular coffee-making device, especially across Europe. It originated in Europe, Italy, and is found in most households. It can be intimidating to use and seem complex, but it is a simple and easy method to brew great coffee.

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