Growing up in an automatic-drip-coffee-maker household, I had never seen a Moka pot before going to college. I probably first saw a version of it at my older brother’s house and I just drank the dense coffee and thought nothing of it. Well, now I am thinking about it. I recently bought a Moka pot because I saw that it was a low-tech way to make strong coffee at home – an “almost espresso machine”.
The Moka pot does not make espresso! There is a similar method of pressure and steam but the pressure in an espresso machine is 5-10 times higher than that of a Moka pot. If you are expecting an espresso shot, you will be disappointed. The Moka pot makes a brew thicker and richer than drip coffee but not an espresso. Brewing great coffee from a Moka pot is not as easy as some of the other home brewing methods – french press, drip, cold brew – so be patient with yourself and be prepared to try many times.
My first try…failure
Because I had never used a Moka pot, I did not know if I wanted to invest in a nice one, so I bought the 550฿ offering from Lazada. When it arrived, I was so excited I ground up some coffee right away to try it out. To my utter disappointment, the coffee that I managed to extract was terrible! It was so bitter and almost muddy. The Moka pot sat neglected on my countertop for at least two weeks after that.
After the taste of that awful coffee finally left, I researched tips and methods regarding that little silver pot. It seems I made a couple of beginner mistakes:
- I ground the coffee to a fineness like an espresso grind.
- Thinking this was like an espresso machine, I packed the grounds in the basket like an espresso puck.
- I put the pot on high heat.
Those three mistakes are what gave me an undrinkable coffee – yup, hard to admit but I threw it down the drain.
A new hope
Here is a quick video to help you not make the same mistakes I made. So dust off your new Moka pot and give it another chance.
Key Moka pot tips
- Adjust your grind size. [how to choose a grinder]
- If your coffee is taking forever to brew, then your grind size may be too fine.
- If your coffee is very bitter, then your grind size is too fine.
- Don’t pack the grounds.
- Use a low heat and wait.
- If your brew starts to spit out the top then your heat is too high.
Steps to make a great Moka pot at home
Step 1 – grind freshly roasted coffee
Like I said above, get your grind right (don’t be afraid to adjust this but start with the suggested grind size).
Step 2 – fill the bottom with hot water
Do not use room temperature water it messes with the extraction process.
Step 3 – fill the basket
Don’t tamp down the grounds like I did my first and second times! Just fill the basket and level.
Step 4 – screw the top on the bottom tightly – be careful it’s hot!
Step 5 – place the Moka pot on the heat with the lid open.
This is where I went wrong many times. You need to place the Moka pot to where the heat is only hitting the bottom of the pot and not the sides. Furthermore, I found that I had to put my stove on the lowest it could be because if not the coffee would just shoot out.
Step 6 – the coffee should start to gently bubble out and fill the top part rather quickly.
As it gets closer to filling close the lid and take it off the heat.
Then cool down the bottom chamber with a cold towel or by running it under a faucet. This will stop the brewing process.
Step 7 – pour and enjoy
The resulting brew will be thicker and less clean than a pour over. I recommend not pouring all the way to the end because that is where a lot of sediment will be. I usually do not mix milk with my drinks but when I make a Moka pot I go for a café au lait – I think this brewing method needs a little milk.
A work in progress
I’m still adjusting my technique to brew better coffee in the Moka pot, and it has not replaced my pour over or cold brew routine, but I do really enjoy the process and look of the Moka pot.
Other things that I need to try:
- Some sites suggested tamping the grounds about 30% down.
- Trying to pour and brew a pot that gets crema like espresso.