How to prepare coffee with a Moka pot

The engineer Mario Bialetti created the first Moka pot in 1933. For this simple design, Bialetti was inspired by the functioning of the first washing machines, giving rise to an icon of Italian culture.

The Moka pot is one of the world’s best-known and most widely used coffee-making methods. However, not all people use it correctly, or they do not take full advantage of this little engineering work. This article will give you the basics to prepare the best possible coffee with a Moka pot.

The ideal proportion of coffee and water for the Moka pot

The amount of coffee to use in a Moka pot is determined by the size of the coffee maker since we should fill the basket to the maximum of its capacity. This is done by pouring the ground coffee into the basket and filling it with the finger, but without compacting it.

The ratio that we should use is 10 grams of water for each gram of coffee. Much less than the 16 grams of water we used per gram of coffee in the filtered methods we saw when studying the Chemex and the Hario V60.

As a result, we will obtain a beverage with more body and a more intense flavor than in the manual drip methods mentioned above. Therefore, for the final product, you can add a little hot water to soften it or add a little milk and prepare a cappuccino.

Type of grind for Moka pots

To make coffee in a Moka coffee maker, the coffee beans should be ground to a medium/fine size. The ground coffee should have a size similar to that of sugar, a little coarser than the Siphon method.

Medium - fine grind ideal for Italian coffee makers
Medium / fine grind – ideal for Moka pots
  • We must be careful not to grind too fine because, in this case, it will be difficult for the water to pass through the coffee, and we will have an over-extraction. An over-extraction with a Moka pot produces a bitter taste in the final beverage.
  • If we grind too coarse, the water will pass through the coffee too quickly and will not be able to extract well, resulting in an under-extraction and a watery and bitter final flavor.

Add as much coffee as you can fit in the basket

Place as much coffee as possible in the funnel basket without pressing it, distributing it evenly with your finger to obtain an even extraction.

We fill the basket of the funnel up to the level but without compacting it
We fill the basket of the funnel up to the level but without compacting it

If you always use the same Moka pot, weigh the coffee beans before grinding them until you know exactly how many grams the basket of your coffee maker holds. This way, you will not waste coffee whenever you have to fill the basket.

Adding boiling water to the reservoir of the Moka pot

After many tests, I have concluded that the best way to add water to the reservoir of the Moka pot is to do it with boiling water. This way, we reduce the time the coffee maker (and the coffee) remains on the fire before starting the extraction.

If the water is cold, all the aluminum in the coffee maker will heat up until the water begins to evaporate. This overheating also occurs in the basket where the coffee rests. Although the coffee will not be roasted more than it already is, the overheating will cause the coffee to release unpleasant flavors in the final beverage.

We fill the tank to just below the safety valve
We fill the water reservoir to just below the safety valve

As we said before, we must fill the water with a 1:10 ratio, which usually coincides just below the safety valve. As in the case of ground coffee, if you always use the same Moka pot, you can calculate the amount of water once and then remember the measure for future occasions.

Place the Moka pot on the smallest fire

Once we have added the hot water and have the basket full of coffee, with the help of a cloth, we will join all the parts of the Moka pot. Be very careful because the base is now hot due to the temperature of the water inside.

Make sure to screw the upper part tightly to the lower part, preventing pressure loss and possibly hot water splashing.

Place the Moka pot on the smallest stove you have, with the flame at a minimum, and lift the lid to observe the coffee. As the temperature increases, the water evaporates in the reservoir, increasing the pressure that makes the water circulate through the funnel through the ground coffee.

The fluid flow of coffee during the extraction process
The fluid flow of coffee during the extraction process

We begin to see the extraction process as a fluid liquid stream. If the coffee comes out spitting or exploding, you had the fire too high, so it is important to put the flame to a minimum from the beginning.

You must stop the extraction quickly

I always remember my mother leaving the Moka pot on the stove (with the flame off) once all the coffee had been extracted. But you could still hear a bubbling sound coming from the coffee pot, even though all the coffee had already been extracted.

What was happening there was over-extraction; every new drop of coffee that fell on the already brewed coffee was adding bitter and acidic flavors. For this reason, I always recommend taking the coffee maker carefully to a cold water faucet to stop the extraction.

We stop coffee extraction by cooling the base of the coffee maker with cold water
We stop coffee extraction by cooling the base of the coffee maker with cold water

Conclusion

When in direct contact with fire, Moka pots are predisposed to “burn the coffee” and obtain a cup with a bitter and very strong flavor. With the advice of this guide and a little practice, you can obtain a very good result with your Moka pot.

A step that contributes a lot to the final flavor of the coffee is cleaning the equipment; cleaning the coffee maker after each use is very important. And not only the three visible parts but also the rubber gasket that needs to be changed from time to time and the filter.

Do not forget that it is essential to use good coffee to obtain a great result with the Moka pot. We have also elaborated a more advanced guide to preparing a perfect coffee with the Moka pot all the time.

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