If you’re looking to make short, strong shots of coffee, you’ve got more options at your disposal than the default choice of an Italian espresso machine.
In a world of convenience on demand and seemingly automated, it’s easy to overlook traditional methods. With coffee in particular, getting back to basics and immersing yourself in a hands-on brewing method is all part of the fun.
Today, we’ll be focusing on stovetop espresso makers, also known as moka pots. These simple but highly effective brewers are the precursor of the contemporary machine so what are they and how do you use them?
What Is a Moka Pot?
A moka pot is a stovetop coffee maker. Despite not making genuine espresso, these moka pots are commonly referred to as stovetop espresso makers. Why is that?
Well, a moka pot uses steam pressure combined with an external heat source to produce a rich and deep coffee concentrate with roughly a 1:7 coffee/water ratio.
The result of moka pot coffee is much like espresso. Unlike espresso machines kicking out a minimum of 9 bars of pressure, you typically achieve only 1 to 2 bars with a moka pot. This is still far more than you could generate by hand but far short of the required minimum for genuine espresso.
Here at La Mano Coffee, we’re not purists. We won’t pretend moka pot coffee is real espresso because it isn’t. What it is comes very close, though.
One of the most common stumbling blocks when beginners look at a moka pot on the shelves is the belief that using one is complex. Rethink that.
All you need is the foresight to invest in some simple equipment, the willpower to seek out then grind your own beans and a few minutes waiting while your kitchen becomes enveloped with the tantalizing smell of your favorite beans being brought to you in fine style.
Luckily, using a moka pot couldn’t be much easier. We’ll walk you through how to brew up using the standard design of a Bialetti. You might need to make minor adjustments depending on the stovetop espresso maker you’re using.
What You Need
How To Use a Moka Pot
Moka pots come in different shapes and sizes but the core functionality is broadly similar.
For the purposes of today, we’ll be using one of our favorite moka pots, the iconic Bialetti 06800.
As with all aspects of brewing truly great coffee, you need to get things started the right way…
Before you break out your new moka pot, you should focus on the two most critical elements of making any type of coffee:
- High quality water
- Fresh coffee beans
With the vast bulk of the contents of your drink consisting of water, it makes sense to use the best. If you drink bottled water, distilled water makes a smart choice. This has the inbuilt advantage of producing very little by the way of sediment that scales up equipment and spoils the taste of your coffee.
If you use water from the faucet, chances are its high in calcium and other mineral content. Filter your water and you’ll enjoy a crisper and cleaner taste when you brew up.
With the water taken care of, we can’t overstate the importance of the next preparatory step…
Head out and pick up some fresh, whole coffee beans. The success or failure of your drink depends largely on whether or not you take the time and trouble to grind your own beans.
You might be tempted to buy some pre-ground when you’re scoping out coffee. Avoid this temptation. Coffee degrades so quickly once ground that you’ll be doing yourself a disservice.
Although you won’t be making a genuine espresso, you should look for beans intended for espresso.
Invest in the best grinder you can afford whether electric or manual. Ceramic burr grinders make the best overall choice.
With that groundwork laid, it’s time to break out your moka pot and fill the kitchen with the scent of freshly roasted coffee brewing. How do you do that, though?
How To Make Coffee Using a Bialetti Stovetop Maker
- Grind your beans to a medium-fine grind
- Here, you would do well to disregard Bialetti’s instructions to use cold water. In our opinion, using hot water stops any overheating while still allowing you to enjoy the full flavor
- Fill the lower chamber with off-boiling water. Wait perhaps 30 seconds after your kettle has boiled then top up your moka pot. You should pour in water until it reaches the level of the valve
- Insert the funnel so it sits on the lower chamber above the water. Fill this with your finely-ground coffee but do not tamp it down. Use your finger to level it off if necessary. Make sure there are no coffee grounds surrounding the edge of the funnel
- Screw the upper and lower chambers of your moka pot together. You should make sure it’s firmly attached and then place on the stovetop under medium heat
- As you’ve already used hot water, you won’t need to worry about boiling your water. By maintaining a medium heat and packing a little patience, you’ll end up with the tastiest espresso-style drink without any danger of burning or scorching it
- When you hear a hissing and gurgling sound, your coffee is nearly done. Expect brewing time to take between 3 and 5 minutes. As with all aspects of experimenting with coffee, feel free to dial in the time according to your taste
- Remove the moka pot from the heat. Take care when you’re doing this as the handle can become hot if you’ve been cooking with the flame from a gas stove
- Open the lid of your moka pit
- Stir the upper chamber with a chopstick. This will ensure the coffee is perfectly equalized and you’ll thank yourself for imparting that final flourish
- Serve and enjoy a rich, velvety coffee very similar to espresso and the perfect way to start your day.
We hope by now you’ve got a sound overview of just how easy it is to rustle up outstanding espresso-like coffee even if you don’t have a machine at home.
Like all manual methods of brewing coffee, you get complete freedom to customize brewing to taste. Tweak the grind size, type of coffee beans, temperature, timing and water/coffee ratio until you have the shot of your dreams. We advise using a notebook or journal to record the results. It also makes sense to tweak just one variable at a time. Once you’re done, you can easily replicate the results and take full advantage of a cheap but highly effective moka pot.
Bookmark our site here at La Mano Coffee and come back soon. We continually refresh our content and we’re always looking to bring you as much helpful guidance as possible about getting creative with coffee. See you soon!