Moka pot - basic guide

November 13, 2011

Moka Pot is a nifty little brewer that makes really strong coffee. It is sometimes called a stovetop espresso maker. But espresso it is not, just strong coffee that is very close to espresso. When done right, it can give you a damn good cup if you’re tired from chasing the perfect shot from your espresso machine.

Using Moka pot can be tricky at times, as it doesn’t seem intuitive to most people. One problem that most get is bitter brew that is resulted from too high of brew temp or pressure. But with little tips and techniques, it can make a cup of decent ‘expresso’ . Moka pot works by pressurizing as the water heat up, building up steam pressure that pushes hot water up the coffee bed.

Above Picture: Water pushed by the steam over the coffee bed

Let’s proceed to make one, shall we?


First, for the grind size, use something between drip and espresso. This can be adjusted later on based on the result and tweaked from there, but it should always be between drip and espresso. If the extraction came out too slow, loosen the grind and vice versa.


Next, depending on the size of your moka pot, fill the basket up with ground coffeeFreshly roasted freshly ground is the key here. Level and tap the basketto settle the coffee ground. Coming from an espresso machine, you might be tempted to tamp, don’t. Moka pot doesn’t have enough pressure to punch through that and if you do so, you will slow the flow down and overextract, yielding bitter cup. Measure how much your moka filter basket holds and grind to exact next time so you don’t waste coffee.  

Above picture:Fill with fresh coffee ground

After that, fill the bottom chamber with clean filtered water. Fill it up to just below the pressure relief valve. Some suggested that it’s best to use off-boil hot water as not to burn your coffee. Be careful with that, as it can be very HOT! Use an oven glove if you go this route. For beginner, I would suggest just to use room temp filtered-clean water. Put the basket in and make sure the threads are clean before screwing the top in. Otherwise the pot might leak during brewing.(Nasty!)

Above picture: Fill just below the pressure relief valve

Preheatyour stovetop or your favorite heat source. Use moderate heat or heat setting that gives you the first flow at about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely when it’s brewing, especially for the first time. You don’t want your stovetop to burn (or explode) or your brew get over extracted.  If you’ve done it right, the drip will flow out slowly (not too slow) and steadilylike the video shown below. Take it off the stove to stop extraction before bubbles are gurgling (which means it’s too hot).  One neat tip here is that you could place it in cold water to immediately stop the extraction. A cold towel would work too.

Video: Moka brew

There should be plenty of water left under the bottom chamber. So don’t worry about that. But if you used up most of the water in the chamber, this means you have gone too far. Your brew is most likely to be bitter. Cut it shorter next time. Make a few times and hopefully you will get the hang of it. Last but not least, remember to pour into your cup and enjoy!

A beautifully brewed Moka:

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