If you want an easy way to brew quality coffee in the comfort of your kitchen—or even over an open fire—learn how to use a moka pot.
Moka pots are stovetop coffee makers of Italian origin that brew with pressure. They’re not only great brewers, they also have a unique design that’s fun to have around.
Moka pots have been used for nearly a century. Alfonso Bialetti invented the moka pot in Italy in the 1930s, and they quickly became the go-to coffee brewer for families from Milan to Florence. The Bialetti brand remains a force in the moka pot world today, with a pedigree that has made their Moka Express the most popular moka pot on the planet.
Every moka pot has three chambers. The bottom chamber holds the water. The middle chamber holds your coffee grounds. The upper chamber collects the coffee.
As the water in the bottom chamber begins to boil, steam pressure is forced up through the coffee grounds and performs the extraction. Concentrated coffee rises up through a small chimney and spills into the upper chamber.
Moka pots are robust and nearly indestructible, thanks to their aluminum or stainless steel construction. They’re cost-effective, too. Plenty of good quality moka pots are available for under $100. They don’t produce any waste because they require no filters or pods. And they’re great for situations without electricity.
On the downside, they do demand that you dial in your brewing process to avoid over-extracted, slightly bitter coffee. They also brew limited quantities and offer little flexibility in portion control. You should make a full pot every time for best results.
How To Brew With a Moka Pot
The moka pot’s unusual appearance scares some people away, but once you understand how to use a moka pot, the process is actually quite simple.
- Fill the bottom chamber with water: Fill to just below the pressure-release valve. Using a scale to measure water helps determine the coffee amount needed.
- Grind the coffee: Use a medium-fine grind, between drip and espresso. If you’ve measured your water, use a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:16.
- Fill the basket: Add grounds to the basket, leveling without tamping. For a standard brew, fill the basket to two-thirds if you haven’t used a scale.
- Insert the basket: Place it into the water chamber, ensuring it fits snugly.
- Screw on the top: Align the threads of the top and bottom chambers and screw them together smoothly.
- Heat the water: Place the moka pot on a medium-low heat source, keeping the lid open and the handle away from direct heat.
- Watch the upper chamber: Monitor the brewing process. When coffee fills the upper chamber and starts to spit, the brewing is complete.
- Remove, pour, and enjoy: Take the pot off the heat. Optionally, place it on a cool, damp towel to stop extraction quickly, though this is not mandatory. Pour and serve immediately.