If you’re like most coffee drinkers, you probably start your day with a hot cup of joe. And if you’re like most coffee drinkers, you probably brew your coffee using a standard drip method. But there is another way to make coffee that can produce an even more flavorful cup – the Moka pot.
In this article, we’re going to cover this great device and share with your exactly how to use a Moka pot for a great brew.
What is a Moka Pot?
For many people, the best way to make coffee is using the espresso machine, and since its invention in 1901 it has been the gold standard of coffee making.
However not many people can afford to have one in their home, and so there have been various creations designed to produce espresso-level coffee.
One of them is the Moka pot, first developed in Italy in 1933.
A Moka pot is a steel coffee pot, octagonal in shape, with two parts. The bottom part holds hot water and a basket with ground coffee in a filter. When the water is heated on a stovetop or by electricity the water is forced by steam through the coffee grounds and into the top part of the pot from where it can be poured out when the coffee has finished brewing.
How to use a Moka Pot
There are a number of steps in making coffee in a Moka pot. First, unscrew the top part of the pot. Remove the funnel-shaped coffee grounds holder from the bottom part. Next fill the bottom chamber with freshly boiled hot water, up to the level of the valve on the side of the pot. Then place the grounds holder back into the pot and fill it with coffee grounds.
You can then replace the top part of the pot, making sure it is screwed on tightly. You then place the pot on a stovetop at medium to low heat and wait for the water to start boiling again.
As it boils it will push a stream of coffee into the upper chamber of the pot, and you will hear a hissing, gurgling sound. At that point remove the pot from the heat and let it finish filling the top part of the pot with coffee.
You can then (carefully) pour the coffee into a cup, keeping in mind that the handle itself can get quite hot, especially when used over a gas stove.
How to clean a Moka Pot
It is important to always clean a Moka pot after use.
If not cleaned completely the old coffee oils and stains can build up and go rancid, affecting the flavor next time you use it. However, soap or dishwashing liquid should never be used because they will leave a residue inside the pot.
Also, the inside of the pot should not be scrubbed or scoured – most Moka pots have a coating on the aluminum to prevent coffee from getting a metallic taste and you should not scrub that off.
Ideally, after each use it is just a simple matter of disassembling the pot, tipping out the used grounds, and washing all parts with clean water.
However, depending on how often you use the pot it will need to be more thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis to remove any scaling of the build-up of stains. This can be done every couple of weeks, or monthly if you prefer.
The best way is to fill the bottom chamber with water as if you are brewing coffee. You can add lemon juice, white vinegar, or two to three teaspoon of baking soda. Put the empty grounds holder in, screw on the top.
First let it sit for half an hour or so, then heat the water on a stovetop as usual.
When the water has boiled, hissed, and gurgled for a while take it off the heat and let it cool down.
When it is cool take it apart again, give the parts a rinse with fresh water, and put it back together until the next time it is used.
How does a Moka Pot work?
The Moka pot is also often referred to as an espresso pot and can be described as a stove-top espresso maker. In fact, it is really an upside-down espresso maker, since espresso is normally made by boiling water forced down through coffee grounds, in a Moka pot the water is forced upwards through the grounds.
The water in the bottom chamber turns to steam and pushes up the coffee grounds under pressure extracting the oils and flavors from the grounds.
While this method will not result in a brew exactly like espresso it is a close alternative and is an inexpensive way to make a good cup of coffee.
Ideal grind size for a Moka Pot brew
The best grind size is medium to fine but not as fine as for espresso. If it is too fine the grinds will clog up all the filter mesh and create extra pressure as the steam-driven water tries to force its way through the grounds.
If the pressure is too great it is not unknown for a Moka pot to explode, which is not something you would like to have to happen in your kitchen. In the best-case scenario if the grind is too fine the water will not be able to extract all the flavor compounds resulting in a weak, burnt-tasting brew.
It is recommended that you use a grind similar to that of drip coffee or French press coffee – and never be tempted to use instant coffee, apart from not getting a good cup of coffee, it may end in disaster.
Final thoughts on using a Moka pot
Coffee lovers should always have a Moka pot in the cupboard. It may not be quite the same quality brew as espresso but it will be close, and anyway, it is another coffee gadget to play with.
Experimenting with the grind size and coffee-to-water ratio will help to get the best cup of coffee possible. Just be careful when using it, especially if you have a gas stovetop, as it can get quite hot.
The Moka pot is a great way to make a quick, easy, and inexpensive cup of coffee.