COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOKA POT COFFEE

by Dan

It is more than likely that you have seen or come across a moka pot somewhere on your travels. Whether in a friend’s kitchen, a hotel or even a museum, its iconic distinctive design is hard to pass by without wondering how it works and does it produce a great cup of coffee. With a number of moka pots on the market today, we will be taking a closer look at the range produced by Bialetti.

What is moka pot coffee?

The characteristics of moka pot-brewed coffee, like the product of any other brewing equipment or methods depend mainly on bean variety, roast level, fineness of grind, water profile, and the level of heat used. Moka pots are referred to as stove-top espresso makers because the early models were designed to sit on a stove to derive heat from the flame.

How does a moka pot work?

The moka stove-top espresso maker produces strong aromatic coffee. A typical moka coffee is extracted at a pressure of 1 to 2 bars (100 to 200 kPa), while a standard large Espresso machine extracts coffee at a pressure of 9 bars (900 kPa). Therefore, moka coffee is not strictly a typical espresso.

However, because of the simplicity of the Moka Express maker and its ability to produce quality cups of coffee, it became known as a stove-top espresso maker. It has become a staple in many households for decades due to the ease in using it and its affordable cost compared to an espresso machine. 

The moka pot is a stove top or electric hob coffee maker that brews coffee by making boiling water pressurised by steam pass through ground coffee. It was named after the Yemeni city of Mocha by its Italian inventor engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. Its original design and many of its current models are manufactured from aluminium. Bialetti Industries continues to produce the same model under the name “Moka Express”.

The most notable and distinctive features of a Bialetti Moka Espresso are its iconic and distinctive shape and design and manufactured from aluminium in most cases. It stands to reason that this model represents the typical characteristics of the Bialetti product line.

The moka pot consists of three chambers. It brews espresso in accordance with the basic principles of physics. Its bottom chamber is designed to contain water, it’s middle chamber serves as the filter basket and the ground coffee receptacle. The top chamber receives and dispenses the brewed coffee. 

How to use a moka pot?

  1. Temporarily separate the three components by unscrewing the top and bottom parts. The ground coffee receptacle lies between the two main parts.
  2. Place cold water in the lower chamber below the valve level.
  3. Place your freshly ground coffee granules on the ground coffee receptacle. To be sure that your coffee granules are fresh, you may use a hand-held coffee grinder. Use medium-fine ground coffee particle size. Overly fine particle size tends to clog your equipment. Coarsely ground particles tend to yield unseemly bitter-tasting brew. Head over to our article on grinders if you are looking for more information on this subject.
  4. Carefully put in place the ground coffee receptacle and screw together the bottom and top parts. 
  5. Prepare the stove, turn on the heat, and bring the brew to a boil. As water diminishes at the lower chamber, you’ll hear a gurgling water sound caused by steam mixing with rising water.
  6. As all the brew settles at the top chamber, the equipment spews out aromatic water vapour and the boiling coffee pushes the equipment’s top cover. Remove the equipment from the stove. You may stir your brew before pouring your first cup and enjoy it.
moka steps

Can I use a moka pot on an induction hob?

The early Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker was designed to be heated by a gas stove or over a flame. However, manufacturers have introduced upgrades to enable the current models to be compatible with electric or induction cooking.

A typical induction hob model efficiently heats cooking vessels made of or that sufficiently contains, a ferrous metal like cast iron or stainless steel. The iron in the pot’s body concentrates the current to produce heat in it. But if your pot doesn’t contain sufficient iron, heating will not be effective. Your cookware must support the magnetic field. An easy test to carry out is to use a magnet, if it sticks to your pot it should work with an induction hob.

Be warned that copper or aluminium vessels are not suitable for induction cooking. The magnetic fields of these elements can’t produce concentrated current. However, any vessel made of those elements can be heated in an induction hob if placed on a suitable metal disk which functions as a conventional hotplate. Bialetti make a product that solves this problem, the Induction Saucer Adapter 

  • A metal plate for the use of coffee makers and pots on induction hobs.
  • It’s made of a thick steel body to enable optimum heat transmission for aluminium, non-ferrous metal, non-magnetic stainless steel, or small vessels that couldn’t directly activate the induction hob.
  • This model measures 10.04 x 5.12 x 2.17 inches and weighs 10.6 ounces. It’s suitable for coffee makers up to 6 cups and small pots.

The introduction of the Bialetti Moka Induction Saucer Adapter has enabled all Bialetti pot models to be heated on an induction hob. This has enhanced the utility of the modified version of the Bialetti Espresso Maker.

induction saucer

Does a moka pot produce crema?

The Bialetti Company has not only maintained and enlarged its captive market. It upgraded its signature products like the Moka pot to maintain its valued customers. By enabling the regular Moka pot to produce the famous crema’, it introduced the Bialetti Brikka Espresso Maker 

The Brikka is a modified moka pot manufactured by Bialetti. It has a weighted-valve serving as a pressure regulator on top of its nozzle. This allows pressure to build up inside the water tank like what happens in a pressure cooker.

As pressure builds up more quickly, unlike in a standard Moka pot, the Brikka is able to drive water to rise through the ground coffee in a shorter time. But since the weighted-valve allows pressure to accumulate, the temperature rises to a much higher level before liquid bursts through the nozzle. This yields a coffee brew made at a higher pressure and temperature than the standard pot produces. This type of brew comes with a ’crema’; therefore, the brew could be considered a real espresso.

Bialetti Brikka

Should you buy a moka pot?

Moka pots can be found worldwide in various sizes, colors, and styles to suit all tastes and heat sources. There are some notable advantages and disadvantages. The gas hob version is nominally the cheapest while the induction hob model is the costliest.

Things to consider before purchasing would be;

  • The cup quantities are measured in espresso shot sizes rather than a full cup. So a 4 cup vessel would produce four espresso shots.
  • The Britta model from Bialetti would definitely be worth considering as this has been designed to produce a more traditional espresso like shot with a crema. Whereas the original Moka Express produces a shot of coffee without.

Pros and Cons of the Bialetti Moka Express?

Pros

  • Makes a rich, thick, and strong coffee.
  • The aluminium body efficiently retains heat.
  • It’s convenient and easy to operate.
  • It’s portable and light to carry.
  • It’s easy to clean, having few parts.
  • It’s purchase price is affordable.

Cons

  • It requires a good burr grinder to produce a medium-fine particle texture.
  • Unlike a smart coffee maker, you can’t automatically control brewing time and coffee quality (regular or strong).
  • Its rubber seal and filters need to be replaced from time to time. A new rubber seal initially alters the coffee taste; you need to do a couple of simulated runs to prime the equipment. Although these parts are readily available. You can check the price on amazon here.
  • The original moka pots were designed to be heated over a flame and weren’t compatible with induction hobs. However Bialetti now manufactures an adapter to rectify this.

Overall we hope you feel better informed about moka pot coffee and some of the key features of the models available from Bialetti. Aside from it’s iconic design the moka pot still remains a versatile and adaptive way to brew a cup of coffee, whether you’re at home, camping or at the beach.

We’ve said it many times in many of our posts – coffee is hugely subjective. Not everyone has the same preferences for each individual part of the coffee-making process. Therefore, there is no real right or wrong.

With that in mind, happy brewing and if you choose one of these moka pots, we highlighted, we hope it serves you well!

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