Brewing coffee at home that in some way resembles an espresso can seem quite difficult if you’re not willing to invest in an expensive high-pressure espresso machine.Luckily the Moka Pot, often referred to also as a stovetop coffeemaker, can help you prepare a nice cup of black coffee with a good body and definitely a nice strong kick, something quite similar to espresso but – to be perfectly clear – not exactly identical!
The coffee you’ll brew will be rich, intense, and really full of flavors if made with the right beans; but at the same time, it won’t be as strong as the coffee extracted with an espresso machine. That’s because most Moka pots reach about 1.5 bars of pressure, while Espresso machine reaches around 9 bars.
What is a Moka Pot?
The Moka Pot became quite trendy in the last few years, but it’s almost one century old, being invented in 1933 by an Italian named Alfonso Bialetti. His intention was to devise as a cheap way to brew coffee at home that would be similar to the ones the Italians were already accustomed to drink at bars.
It basically consists of three chambers: from the bottom up, you can find one for water, one for ground coffee and the upper one for the coffee that we’ll be brewed at the end.
How Does it Work?
When the Moka Pot is heated properly, pressure builds up inside the little handheld tank, forcing the water through the grinds to make an intense and flavorful shot of coffee.
First, you load your Moka pot with ground coffee and hot water. Traditionally, in Italy the water used was cold. This was not good for coffee because it led to a super long extraction that burned the coffee.
Then you simply put your Moka pot on the stove, and in a short time the water heats up and starts to turn into steam: this steam is what adds pressure to the chamber that pumps water up into the coffee.
This pressure then pushes the brewed coffee through the grounds and into the top chamber, where your shot will start to brew, passing through the little spout.
How to Brew an Amazing Coffee with a Moka Pot
As we already saw briefly, even if making coffee with a Moka pot can be relatively easy, doing it properly can be more complicated.
Here’s a simple routine that can help you brew an amazing coffee, every time. First, keep in mind that is important to start with all the parts of the Moka pot nice and clean, to avoid unwanted bitterness.
Grind Properly: use the right grinding size, something slightly coarser than a usual espresso grind, will help with both the lower pressure and the longer brew time.
Add the Coffee: you need to fill the middle section, without tamping it (to avoid the risk of explosions). As a starting point, choose a ratio of one part of coffee to seven parts of water.
Add the Water: when you add it to the base of the pot, it should already be pre-heated. It will help to shorten the time of the whole brewing process which prevents over-extracting and burning the coffee.
Be Careful While Filling: Fill the base of the pot just up to the valve! Going any higher could potentially be dangerous, preventing excess pressure from escaping.
Assemble & Start the Brew: Put together the parts of the Moka Pot, seal it up and instantly transfer it onto the stove. You’ll soon hear the pressure working while it pushes the coffee upwards.
Stop the Brew & Enjoy it: When the coffee starts to come out, you’ll soon hear a gurgling sound, that will let you know that the coffee is ready! At this point, just run the bottom of the pot under some cold water: it will help cool it down very quickly, getting rid of the steam and stopping the brewing process from continuing. This small step is really important: skip it and the steam still present in the pot could ruin your perfectly brewed coffee.
Other Small tips to Brew an Amazing Coffee with your Moka Pot
Tamping: there’s no need for tamping in a Moka pot, because it doesn’t have as much pressure as an espresso machine, so it can’t properly push through tamped grinds.
Cleanliness: as in all the coffee brewers, the Moka Pot needs a proper clearing, or the flavors (and with it all the bitter and rancid oils) of the previous brews will be carried over into your next brew. For everyday cleaning, use just warm water and a simple cloth; and leave it to dry completely before the next use. Long term, you should clean off all residue from the inside of each compartment using a soft brush.
How to Serve your Coffee: it can be served straight up, like you would do with an espresso; adding the same amount of water to dilute it a little bit (like an Americano); or as the base for a milk drink.
Avoid a Potential Explosion: Can a Moka Pot explode? Yep, but just if treated completely incorrectly. Avoid overfilling the pot with water, remove it from the heat when done, and never overfill with coffee and tamp down. This allows the pressure to escape as it should, and keeps things running perfectly.
Finding the Right Moka Pot: there are many different types of Moka Pots, different in brand, size, material, etc. Usually, a 3-cup Moka Pot is the right starting point, and it’s also important that the Moka Pot is made out of decent materials.
Pros and Cons of a Moka Pot: as pros, the Moka Pot is affordable, simple to clean, and quite easy to get a nice result. The cons are- it's quite easy to over-extract with a Moka Pot, with the risk of having a bitter brew.