So you want to make espresso style coffee, but can’t justify an espresso machine? Wish that you could produce espresso cheaply, but don’t know how to use a Moka Pot? With a little effort and understanding you can make great espresso using a stovetop coffee maker at a fraction of the price. Read on and we will tell you exactly how to brew a great espresso pot for less.
The Bialetti Moka Pot is the Italian coffee maker. You’ll find one in nine out of ten Italian kitchens: but they work just as well in Australia. Invented in the 1930s by Alfonso Bialetti, and popularised during Mussolini’s reign in Italy, the Moka Pot became the go-to home coffee maker for cash-strapped Italians. Bialetti himself said that “without requiring any ability whatsoever” one could enjoy “an espresso in the home just like one in the bar”.
The Moka Pot is an aluminum or stainless steel construction made of three chambers. Using a percolation system, the hot water in the lower chamber is forced up through a tube when heated and into the tightly packed ground coffee, which in turn expands and forces the coffee up into the third chamber, producing thick, dark espresso style coffee. For a more scientific breakdown, here’s a great explainer.
So you know the history and how they work, but why should you get a Moka Pot? Obviously, there’s the price. With home coffee machines ranging from $300 – $1000, it’s no wonder that you might be questioning the spend, just like the Italians did.
You may also find that with a bit of experimentation you can learn to add nuances in flavour that you may not be able to achieve otherwise. Although not as strong as Espresso, when used correctly Moka Pots produce a “beautifully bittersweet, extremely concentrated cup of percolated coffee”.
If you are “process driven” or enjoy the science behind coffee making, you might also find a Moka Pot more satisfying. Stovetop brewing is more hands-on, and requires you to observe the process. By changing the variables (more/less coffee/heat/brew time) and with a bit of trial and error, you could soon be brewing coffee exactly how you like it. And don’t forget, if you add a stovetop steamer to your setup, then lattes and flat whites are yours too.
It is essential to pre-heat the water to prevent burning the coffee – burning will infuse your brew with harsh metallic undertones. Using freshly filtered water, boil the water separately in a coffee kettle. Hot tip: If you will be using an electric stovetop or hotplate to heat your Moka Pot, it’s a good idea to start heating the element while the water is boiling so it is heated in time.
You will need to grind enough coffee beans to fill the filter basket chamber. Begin with a coarseness that is a bit sandier than what you would use for espresso and a bit coarser than what you would use for pour over.
Gently pack the filter basket chamber with the freshly ground coffee. Settle the grounds by gently tapping the basket on the bench top, then use your finger to level off the surface. Do not tamp down tightly: this may result in an over-extracted and bitter brew. Be sure to brush away any loose grounds that are around the edges of the filter basket. Set the basket aside.
Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka Pot with boiling water, stop when it reaches the indicator line, or just below the steam nozzle.
Carefully place the filter basket chamber filled with ground coffee on top of the bottom chamber. The bottom chamber will be very hot from the boiling water so we recommend holding the bottom of the Moka Pot with a towel. Keep the Moka Pot upright during this process and avoid over-tightening the chambers.
Now it’s time to place the Moka Pot on moderate heat. The process should take about five minutes. Leave the lid open at this stage to observe the coffee is extracting correctly. You want to see water gurgling slowly and evenly into the chamber, as is forced up through the ground coffee. Do not boil the water, heat just enough to force up through the coffee. If it rushes through too fast, you may have the heat too high. Once the chamber is full, or the coffee has stopped trickling out, remove it from the stove top and close the lid. Wrap the bottom of the Moka Pot in a cold towel, which will stop the extraction process and result in a sweeter, more full-bodied brew.
Once there is no more coffee being released, pour the coffee into espresso cups. Avoid leaving any excess coffee in the Moka Pot as it will become astringent if left for too long.
So with this guide, we’ve simplified the process and shown you that Moka Pot coffee is not only cost effective but simple, and a fun way of getting hands-on with your brew. Choosing a Moka Pot is not a compromise, it’s a choice. Whether you just want to save cash or get more involved, and whether it’s for you or the whole family, why not try one of our Moka Pots for yourself and start making world-class espresso on your stovetop right away?
The classic aluminum Bialetti Moka Pot with its iconic design can be ordered up to 18 cups in size so no size worries here. The classic style is also available in a smaller size and in different styles, versions. Love having a pop of colour in your kitchen? Get the Bialetti Fiammetta Colours. If you have an induction hob, however, get the Bialetti Moka Induction.
The Bialetti Venus Moka Pot is a stylish designer option if you’re brewing for many on convection or normal stove top. Or for something smaller, the Bialetti Mini Express 1-cup and Bialetti Mini Express 2-cup might be more your thing. No stove? How about the Cilio Classico Electric Coffee Maker? Whatever you choose, we know you will find the Moka Pot is the answer to your espresso problems.
Enjoyed this post? We think you’ll like our French Press Brewing Guide.