If you like a good coffee tradition that harks back to the early days when coffee was more than just a daily ritualized trip to your neighborhood barista, then the moka pot may just be right up your alley.
The moka pot is a great alternative to the pricey and rather complicated home espresso machine. However, the resulting moka pot coffee has some nuances that you will not expect from a machine-pulled espresso. Still, it’s worth a try if you’re on a coffee journey and checking out all the different coffee making methods. The moka pot, when done right, can produce a full-bodied coffee with intense aromas—and you’d enjoy the sights and sounds of the process too.
Moka Pot: Know the Basics
Also known as a macchinetta in Italian, stovetop expresso, or espresso pot, the moka pot is composed of three main parts that make brewing exceptional coffee fairly simple and inexpensive. It contains the boiling chamber with a valve that holds the water, the central filtering basket where you put the coffee grounds, and the top chamber with a tube that collects the concentrated coffee extract that resembles espresso in its intense flavor and aroma.
To extract a good cup of moka pot coffee, you must know the perfect grind. Unlike in a French press coffee which requires coarser grounds, you need a finer ground when using a moka pot. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the grounds resemble fine table salt. And as always, it’s best to use a good-quality burr grinder for even results.
How to Make Moka Pot Coffee
Step 1: Boil water. In a kettle, boil your water. Once it reaches its boiling point, remove the kettle from heat. Make sure not to make your water too hot, which can overly cook the coffee and give it a metallic taste.
Step 2: Grind your coffee. As mentioned earlier, grind just enough coffee in your burr grinder, taking care to find a setting that results in coffee grounds that are as fine as table salt. You would need enough coffee grounds to fill your filter basket, which can depend on how much your moka pot serves.
Step 3: Fill the bottom chamber with water. Separate the three main components of the moka pot. Pour the freshly boiled hot water into the bottom chamber. Most moka pots have a water line that shows you just how much water you need to put in. If your model doesn’t have one, then just make sure to stop right under the edge of the pressure valve.
Step 4: Fill the filter basket with coffee. Pour your freshly ground coffee into the basket. Shake it to make sure the grounds settle evenly throughout. Don’t tamp or tightly pack the grounds into the basket. Then, level the grounds on the basket by pushing excess coffee out of the basket with your finger.
Step 5: Screw the filter basket on the bottom chamber. Make sure to wipe off loose coffee grounds on the outer and top edges of the filter basket as you screw it on the bottom chamber. The water in the chamber shouldn’t also touch the filter basket and soak the grounds.
Step 6: Screw the top-most chamber. Screw the top and bottom firmly together, taking care of the hot bottom.
At this point, there are two schools to moka pot brewing: keep the top open or closed. Truth is, either way doesn’t affect the taste or final product. Keeping the lid open just lets you see your progress as you brew your moka pot coffee.
Step 8: Watch out for the sights and sounds. The boiling water in the bottom chamber will produce a pressure that will push the steam through the coffee and up to the tube in the middle of the top-most chamber. At this point, you can see the orchestrated extraction of coffee that you will come to enjoy from your moka pot.
What you should watch out for is the even hissing and bubbling sound of a good coffee extraction. If the water explodes upward, then you water could be too hot; if it slowly burbles, then you should turn up the heat.
Also watch out for the steady stream of honey-colored coffee. The first extraction will be a deep brown steam of concentrated coffee, getting lighter as your brew progresses. When you see the lighter, honey-colored coffee, close the lid and turn off the heat.
Step 9: Stop the extraction and serve. Remove your moka pot from the heat source and set it on a chilled bar towel, or run the bottom of your pot under cold water to stop extraction. If you don’t do this last step, your coffee will run the risk of over-extracting.
Once the coffee stops bubbling out onto the top chamber, you can now start serving your fresh, delicious, and rich moka pot coffee.