Stovetop coffee makers look mega cool. But how do they work?
Brains and beauty can come together – the this stovetop coffee maker proves just that!
Effortlessly stylish and oozing with sass, the moka pot is the device to insert cool art deco vibes into your kitchen. So that’s the beauty, but what about the brains? Well, the moka pot is an extremely clever, Italian-designed coffee brewer that makes beautiful coffee by pressure.
Read on to find out more as we suss out exactly how this trendy octagonal device works…
Feeling the pressure
Moka pots are pressure devices: they can handle serious heat to brew rich, syrupy coffee via pressure. There are three main pressure devices – the AeroPress, the espresso maker and the moka pot – and they work by using high pressures to force hot water through the coffee grounds and extract all the lovely flavour. Immersion and gravity are the other brewing methods. With immersion devices like cafetières, you’ll steep your grounds and water together before filtering the liquid away. With gravity devices (or drip, as they are also known), hot water is poured on the grounds from above and the force of gravity pulls the water down through the grounds and filter. The Hario V60 Coffee Dripper and the Chemex are two examples of gravity devices.
But back to pressure. Pressure devices don’t work with gravity, oh no, they defy it. Yes, Isaac Newton move aside, because pressure is here to brew top coffee minus your laws of science. Pressure allows devices like our moka pot to brew delicious coffee in far less time than immersion and gravity brewing. Pressure methods also create coffees that are richer, more concentrated and all-around awesome!
The art is in the parts
There are three main components to your stovetop coffee maker: the bottom chamber, the top chamber and the filter basket. The main body of the moka pot is made up of the two chambers which screw together. The bottom chamber is the water chamber where you pour your boiling water. Take a peek inside and you’ll see a safety valve. When adding your water, please keep ‘elf and safety happy by not adding so much water that you cover the valve. Exploding moka pots are never good!
The top chamber screws onto the bottom and collects the brewed coffee. It has a spout coming up through it; this is how your lovely coffee makes its way from the bottom half to the top.
Good things come in threes, they say. And the third part of the moka pot is very good indeed… a basket of fresh coffee. This section will house your stovetop coffee. Seriously, what could be better? You fill the filter basket with ground coffee and slot it in the water chamber before screwing on the top compartment. It’s important not to press the coffee grounds down (just give the basket a little shake to level them off) as this would leave too little space for the water to move through. If the grounds are compact, the water will spend too much time in contact with the grounds and your coffee will over-extract.
Who would have thought that three simple parts would give such great coffee?? And some pretty smart science, too…
How does a moka pot work?
Alfonso Bialetti found his inspiration for the moka pot in the design of his wife’s washing machine, believe it or not. There is a bit more to moka pot brewing than simply pressing the ‘start’ button, but it’s a whole lot more fun! And you get great coffee rather and a pile of clothes to iron, which has to be a bonus.
So, how do these three aluminium parts come together to create gorgeous coffee? Let’s take a closer look…
Simple steps and a bit of science
You’ve boiled your kettle, added the hot water to the water chamber and filled the basket with coffee grounds. Attach the top to the bottom and then next, you place your pot over a low-medium heat. This causes the air trapped in the water chamber to heat up and expand (because hot air expands – remember that from school?), which creates steam and pressure.
Eventually, the pressure becomes intense enough to force the water up through the coffee grounds. We are now (Dr Who music please…) defying gravity. Leave it for a few more minutes and, when the pressure’s sufficient, you’ll see brewed coffee start to spurt from the spout in the upper chamber.
If the coffee sprays, reduce the heat. If nothing is coming out, turn it up a notch. You should then close the lid, remove the moka pot from the hob and cool the container down by running it under cold water.
The pressure you’ve created is similar to an espresso machine. Hence, moka pots are sometimes called ‘stovetop espresso makers’. Moka pot coffee shares some of an espresso’s strength, but won’t pack the same punch. This is due to the pressure we use. Brewed at home over your cooker, a moka pot creates a pressure of one or two bars, while with an espresso machine you’ll reach at least nine bars. Not quite as strong, but still brimming with rich, syrupy flavour!
Bialetti is best
Luigi di Ponti first invented the moka pot in 1933 and it was produced after that by Alfonso Bialetti. Alfonso originally began the Bialetti company making semi-finished aluminium goods but changed to coffee devices after the instant popularity of their moka pot design. The easy-to-clean, it’ll-last-you-years model is used and loved by millions of coffee fans worldwide. A Bialetti is easy to spot – just look out for their trademark logo of a little man with a moustache. He’s very jolly ?.
Pootle over to our online shop and you’ll find the perfect Bialetti moka pot. We’re well-stocked with the 3-cup and 6-cup Bialetti Moka Express, which hold 200ml and 300ml respectively. There’s also a dinky Bialetti Moka Induction Espresso Maker; great for induction hobs as well as gas and electric, this classic Bialetti will brew great coffee year and year.
Get you, moka pot maestro – now you know just as much as Mr Bialetti himself! The science is sorted, so let’s brew some lovely moka pot coffee!
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