The Moka pot has been a staple of Italian kitchens since the 1930s, but coffee lovers often overlook it. We’re here to help you reconsider the humble stovetop coffee maker – it’s one of the best ways to get a strong tasty brew without the expense of an espresso machine.
Our Moka pot directions and tips below will help you get the most out of your stovetop espresso maker.
What You Need
- Coffee beans
- Coffee grinder
- Moka pot
- Kettle (optional)
What to expect from a Moka pot
The first thing to know is that you won’t get an authentic espresso shot out of a stovetop coffee maker (1). The Moka pot lacks the pressure required for making espresso, but you’ll still get a rich, strong coffee that’s worth mastering.
Moka pots have a bad reputation in the specialty coffee world. It’s an earned reputation, but it’s also mistaken.JavaPresse Coffee
Moka pots can produce burnt or bitter coffee, but fans of the Italian coffee maker say that’s a matter of user error. Knowing how to use a Moka pot correctly will go a long way to fixing these problems, but you also need to choose your coffee beans correctly and use filtered water if possible.
So what does a well-made Moka coffee taste like? The rich coffee you get from a stovetop coffee pot is most commonly associated with espresso. The two are pretty similar, but espresso coffee can often be complex and bright, and Moka pot coffee has more profound and darker flavors. Although it doesn’t use a paper filter, you’ll end up with less oil and sediment compared to a French press.
The best grind size for Moka pot
Moka pots might also be called stovetop espresso makers, but the way the brewing is done requires a different approach. The best grind size for a Moka pot is medium-fine, in between how you’d grind coffee beans for drip and espresso. Using the fine grid, you would for an espresso machine cause over-extraction and clog the mesh in the filter basket.
Of course, we recommend a good burr grinder to grind your beans, and this gives you a fresher flavor and ensures you have the right grind size. Pre-ground coffee is usually a medium grind, which won’t get you a rich flavor in such a short extraction time. If you must use pre-ground coffee, opt for a darker roast, and this will extract more quickly and help make up for the coarser grind size (2).
Hot vs cold water
If you read the instructions that come with your stovetop espresso maker, you’ll notice that they say to fill it with cold water. Expert coffee makers disagree. By starting with hot water, you’ll have boiling water a lot sooner, meaning that the Moka pot doesn’t spend as much time on the stovetop. The pot’s metal will begin to heat the grounds before the cold water does, resulting in a metallic taste in your brewed coffee (3).
How to Use a Stovetop Espresso Maker
Making coffee with a Moka pot is not difficult, but getting a fantastic coffee out of it requires a little care. Follow our simple steps below for the perfect stovetop espresso.
1. Grind your coffee
Grind your beans to a medium-fine grind. For a one-cup (2 oz) Moka pot, you’ll need around 8g of beans. This is a good time to boil your water if you plan to use hot water for brewing.
2. Fill with water
Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot with water up to the safety valve. As well as preventing too much pressure from building up, the safety valve tells you the perfect water level for the correct ratio. Stovetop espresso makers don’t work when only filled part of the way – don’t try to make three cups of coffee in a six-cup Moka pot.
3. Add the ground coffee
Fill the filter funnel with coffee before placing it on the base. This will prevent loose grounds from getting stuck in the screw closure. Ensure the grounds are level and without air pockets, but don’t tamp them down. Packing your coffee grounds too tightly will lead to excess steam pressure and an over-extracted brew.
4. Place on the stove
Reassemble your Moka pot and place over low to medium heat. It might be tempting to start on high, but the intense pressure from the steam can force coffee granules through into the top chamber, as well as bring a safety hazard.
Aluminum Moka pots work best with gas or electric stoves, not induction. If you’re using a gas stovetop, ensure that the handle is not directly over the flame. Leave the lid of the coffee chamber open so that you can keep an eye on the progress. You should see the coffee start to pour into the top chamber within a few minutes slowly.
5. Remove and serve
When the coffee starts to gurgle, this signifies the end of the brewing process, not the beginning. This noise is air bubbles, meaning no water in the bottom chamber. Remove your Moka coffee maker from the heat immediately and close the lid.
Once the Moka pot has stopped making noise, you can safely pour the coffee into your cup. Serve as-is for an espresso-like coffee, or dilute with hot water for a style more like regular coffee.
We hope this guide has taken some mystery out of the classic stovetop coffee maker. As you can see, it’s a simple method of brewing that delivers a delicious coffee with a minimum of fuss. Now that you know how to use a Moka pot, you can start to experiment with your choice of beans, grind size, and how you drink it.
The best Moka pot depends on what size pot you need, the kind of stovetop you have, and how portable you need it to be. We like the classic Bialetti Moka Express for its iconic design, build quality and affordable price.
The Moka pot coffee ratio is around 1:7 to 1:8 when filled correctly. Unlike other coffee brewing methods, a stovetop espresso maker does not give you the flexibility to adjust ratios due to the limited size of the bottom chamber and filter.
You clean your Moka pot by first waiting until it has cooled. Unscrew the bottom chamber and remove the filter funnel, discarding the used coffee grounds. Rinse each part in water only (no dish soap) and use a paper towel to remove any stubborn coffee residue. Ensure all the pieces are completely dry before reassembling. You should do this every time you make stovetop espresso.
- Mounts, B. (2021, May 10). Why Stovetop Espresso Is Not The Same As True Espresso. Retrieved from https://ggccoffee.com/why-stovetop-espresso-is-not-the-same-as-true-espresso/
- Riportella, K. (2021, March 06). How to Adjust Your Brewing Recipe For Coffee Roast Level. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/10/how-to-adjust-your-brewing-recipe-for-coffee-roast-level/
- Maggio, Y. (2020, July 01). The Moka Pot Is an Inexpensive Espresso Alternative. Retrieved from https://www.seriouseats.com/moka-pot-cheap-espresso-alternative
Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.