Are you new to moka pots? If so then a common question has to do with the finish.
When is the moka pot done brewing anyway?
This question is more common than you think.
First of all let me start by saying this: A typical aluminum moka pot is prepared and placed on a heat source. In the home this is usually a gas or electric burner.
If you have an induction stove then be sure to buy a stainless steel moka pot as aluminum doesn’t work on induction burners. I’ve got a list of my favorite stainless steel moka pots here.
After that there is no magic number of minutes to keep the moka pot on the burner either – the time it takes to brew has everything to do with how hot you set the burner to.
If you’re still a little unfamiliar with using moka pots then make sure to see this awesome post over at Top Off My Coofee on how to use a moka pot or just see my guide here but I’ll get to brew time expectations a little further down this page.
You’ve Got to Get the Timing Right to Make Good Coffee in a Moka Pot
The trick to getting good moka is actually simple.
You have to wait and listen to the moka pot.
You really only know it’s done by the sound and smell of the pot.
Depending on how low you have your burner set to after 2-15 minutes your moka pot will all of a sudden start making gurgling and bubbling noises and the smell of coffee will be strong.
This is when the coffee is done.
Unless you buy a fancy electric moka pot then you just have to be near it to know to take the pot off the heat.
How Long Does a Moka Pot Take to Make Coffee
People who have watched a moka pot in action know that it is like watching paint dry for a few minutes followed by a slow release of moka into the upper chamber of the pot (as shown in the picture above). If you use a higher temperature heat source however the coffee can almost explode out the top so keep that lid closed!
If you set the heat to high then it may only take a couple minutes to brew. For the low setting on your stove your moka will probably taste better but the brew time might get as high as 15 minutes.
Another point to consider is the size of your coffee maker. Small moka pots may brew in half the time as large moka pots just because it’s easier to heat a small amount of water compared to a larger portion.
After the slow release of coffee into the upper chamber there is usually a much faster release of the last bit of moka espresso.
This last release sometimes sprays out of the inner funnel. If the lid is not on I have actually had my moka spray onto my stovetop before!
After the pot fills you can usually hear a gurgling sound coming from the pot. This is the last bit of water and steam and it is an indicator that the pot is done.
The gurgling happens seconds after the last bit of espresso enters the top chamber.
This is the best indicator that your moka pot is finished brewing so you have to be present to hear it otherwise your coffee might slowly burn before you get to taking it off the heat.
If you leave the pot on the heat after the gurgle nothing major will happen at first but eventually the espresso will start to boil and burn and the rubber gasket sealing the upper and lower chambers will may start to compromise.
Over time this gasket can wear out early if the pot is left on the heat too long and too often.
Of course you do need to replace the gasket every now and then to keep the airtight seal intact but no one wants to buy even a cheap replacement part more often than they need to.
So Should You Use High or Low Heat with a Moka Pot
Now that you know a little bit more about how moka pots work the question of low heat vs high heat is a tough one to overcome.
Since you have to be near the pot to know that it’s done and the best moka comes from low heat it would make sense to brew on low but no one has the time to stand around their kitchen for 10-15 minutes every morning.
Personally I have experimented enough to know that if I set my stovetop dial to medium low my coffee will be done in about 8-9 minutes. That’s usually how much time it takes me to do a few chores in the morning like take the dog outside and go to the bathroom.
Usually I set the pot on medium low and then come back after five minutes or so. I then make a bowl of cereal and then pour my finished moka when its done a minute or two later.
I also have learned that in the unlikely event of me forgetting that the moka pot is on the stove this temperature isn’t a danger to the pot itself. The handle won’t melt, the gaskets won’t get damaged as easily, and the coffee doesn’t burn so much if it stays at this temperature for a long time.
Overall I think brewing on low is a much better route because high heat may give you drinkable coffee sooner but it won’t be as good and the risks are higher.
What About Strength?
No matter how high or low the temp, I make my moka strength about the same every time. It all has to do with:
- grind size,
- the amount of grind used,
- and using the correct amount of water.
High heat (too high) can sometimes makes your stovetop espresso taste burnt but the coffee itself is always just as strong.
Moka for the most part is always going to be a lot stronger than drip coffee, a little stronger than percolator coffee, and slightly less strong as espresso.
Lots of people call moka stovetop espresso because it’s pretty similar.
Espresso is brewed under greater pressure so the strength is increased and crema forms.
Moka isn’t quite as strong. It’s serving size however is similar to espresso shots and I’ve never made substantial crema in any stovetop espresso.
Having said that the strength can be increased or decreased a little bit by altering grind size.
What Grind to Use for a Moka Pot
Normally I use a regular drip coffee or pour over grind when I make moka. This is not because it’s better though, I do it because it’s easier.
I frequently make espresso and pour over coffee so I’m regularly switching between the two grind sizes.
A lot of the time I just use a regular medium coarse grind for my moka because it does just fine.
If however I’m trying to make the best moka possible for a guest then I’ll dial in the grinder settings to a medium fine grind. I don’t get to a fine espresso grind but a small particle size does produce a bit more pressure while brewing and a slightly better extraction.
Dropping the particle size down will slow the brewing time a bit but not substantially.
If you want to learn more about moka grind size then see this post: Getting the Right Grind for a Moka Pot.
So What’s Best?
If you read this article carefully you probably noticed that I regularly make drip coffee, espresso, moka, and pour over. Well I also make french press coffee too!
That’s the great thing about coffee – it can be made in many different ways and they all have their own advantages. After you experiment with brewing coffee in many different ways you’ll start to understand what you like and what you don’t and when you like one brewing method over another.
For complete newbies to alternative coffee brewing methods I do have a few articles on this site that you might be interested in reading.
Please check them out and then have fun with your coffee.