Ciao! Picture the scene. A rugged Italian kitchen. An Italian mamma kneading dough. Sun-soaked cobbles warming outside the window…
Oh, and what’s that bubbling cheekily on the stove? And smelling so lovely?
It’s a stovetop brewing device called a moka pot – the iconic Italian equipment you need for simply bellissimo coffee!
So, a moka pot? First thing to clear up – we’re not making a mocha. Also called a stovetop, caffettiera or macchinetta, the moka pot is the classic Italian device that brews strong coffee by pressure. Pressure methods (the AeroPress and the espresso machine are also part of the gang) work by using high pressure to force water through your coffee grounds. This speeds up the brew time and creates a cup that is full-bodied, more concentrated and smack bang awesome!
The moka pot can be a bit daunting at first, but don’t panic. If you like espresso-strong coffee with oodles of flavour, then stick with us!
Moka memoir: where did the moka pot come from?
The moka pot was invented by Luigi di Ponti and produced by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. The Bialetti company produced aluminium products but revolutionised Italy’s coffee-drinking habits with the release of their moka pot model. It marked a significant cultural shift, whereby Italians could start brewing espresso-like coffee at home rather than needing to visit the coffee bar on the corner. Italy very quickly fell in love with strong moka pot coffee and, by the 50s, so had much of Europe.
Lots of companies are making moka pots today, but the Bialetti remains the most iconic. Top-quality and sassily octagonal, Bialetti models are your go-to for stylish moka pot coffee. They are easy to spot – just look out for their cartoon mascot printed on the side. He’s the l’omino con i baffi (‘the moustachioed little man’) and has his hand up to order another coffee. He’s been waiting some time, bless him. ?
Fancy owning an iconic Bialetti moka pot? We’ve got a super-sophisticated one right here!
How does a moka pot work?
Most moka pots are made from aluminium and include three main parts. There’s the metal coffee basket that holds the grounds and then the main body, which divides into two sections. The water chamber sits on the bottom and holds the water, and the coffee collection chamber sits on top. It’s a double-decker of deliciousness!
Ready to brew some great coffee? Moka pot brewing takes a bit of trial and error but once you’ve got it, oh my, you’ve GOT IT!
First of all you need to get your coffee. If you are grinding at home then go for a grind that’s coarser than an espresso grind – moka pot coffee should resemble rough sugar. Fill the basket with your coffee but don’t press it down; just shake to level off.
Pop the kettle on. Unlike other brewing methods, you don’t need to wait for your water to cool slightly. Using hot water will reduce the amount of time the moka pot spends on the stove and allow the coffee to maintain some of its natural sweetness. Fill the water chamber with water (surprise surprise…) but don’t pour in so much that you cover the safety valve. We want an explosive coffee, but we don’t want any explosions…
Insert the basket into the water chamber and screw the top (coffee collection) chamber in place. Be careful when you screw the top chamber in place as the base will be hot.
And now we brew! Put your moka pot on the stove over a medium-low heat, leaving the lid up. After about 60-90 seconds, you should hear a gurgling, hissing sound. You’ll also see coffee start to spurt from the spout as the pressure pushes the hot water upwards. This is your cue to take the pot off the heat. It’s also a good idea to run the moka pot under cool running water to stop your lovely coffee from over-extracting and turning bitter. Because fresh is best, but bitter isn’t better.
Why we’ve got a soft spot for our moka pot
You want great coffee, of course you do. But you also want to look cool. Well, the moka pot is your answer. Its iconic octagonal shape will bring serious art deco vibes to your kitchen, while the full-bodied flavour of its coffee satisfies all your caffeine cravings. The finished product is versatile; you can sip it on its own like you would an espresso or take the intensity down a notch by enjoying with steamed milk or in a mocha (maybe we are making a mocha after all!).
The basic method is simple to grasp as you don’t need to worry too much about ratios – just fill up your basket with fresh coffee and get brewing. We can’t give you a cut and dried measurement for the amount of coffee you’ll need because moka pots vary in size, so just make sure you have enough grounds to fill up the basket. The device can be a little cheeky, and the flavour of your coffee might alter with each brew, but that’s fine – just give you and your moka pot time to get to know each other!
Finally, why does the AeroPress get all the attention for being good fun? Gurgling, spouting and stamped with a jolly coffee man, the moka pot is always up for a good time!
What does moka pot coffee taste like?
Pressure brewing methods create coffees that are fuller, heavier and more concentrated. Alongside this, you’ve got a high coffee to water ratio, meaning that moka pot coffee always packs a punch. If you like an espresso, try a moka pot. You won’t regret it. It’s at least two times stronger than filter coffee – pow! That said, your coffee will also have a lovely, syrupy texture and flavourful balance. Some coffee fans steer clear of moka pots because they find the coffee too bitter. The high temperature of the brew does create a slight bitterness but if you want to reduce this, try shortening the brew time.
Looking for intense coffee that’s still wonderfully flavoured? Here’s your answer – Italiano style!
See all the coffees