Using a stovetop espresso maker really more simple than you might think.
Follow these simple instructions and your cup will be just fine:
- Fill the lower water chamber to the fill line.
- Fill the coffee grounds basket to the top with a slightly fine ground coffee, just smaller than you might regularly use for drip coffee.
- Lastly, after screwing the top chamber on, you place the entire pot on low/medium heat until the moka or stove top espresso fills the upper chamber.
Each moka pot will act a little differently and there are lots of details that I will cover lower on this page and in linked pages dedicated to specific brewing questions but the basics are all the same.
Without going into too much detail here are a few tips on getting better stovetop moka (stovetop espresso).
Don’t tamp the coffee down and make sure to use the full amount of water. You can’t expect to make a big or small batch at any given time. Each moka pot is designed to make a single amount of coffee per batch which cannot be adjusted.
Also, this is very important, make sure to keep an eye on the espresso pot while it’s on the stove. It’s not like a kettle that whistles at you when it’s done — the burner won’t turn itself off either.
You have to be there to turn off the heat right as it finishes brewing otherwise you may ruin your batch of coffee or even the rubber gasket that makes the pot work.
Stovetop espresso is very easy to make but you have to be attentive. It’s not the same as using an automatic coffee maker but the coffee on the other side will be much better so it’s worth it.
Really, everything stated above is all you really need to know about making coffee in a moka pot but I also know there are tons of people out there with burning questions on every conceivable detail of the brewing process so stick with me and I’ll cover as many of the main questions beginners to stovetop espresso have.
The Detailed Guide to Making Coffee in a Moka Pot
Just like every other method of brewing coffee there are details that if followed can make your cup of coffee taste so much better.
The following tips are relevant to all forms of coffee making and are universal to all brewing devices.
- When you use filtered water your coffee will taste it’s best. Unfiltered water contains many minerals and additives that can subtly change the flavor of your coffee.
- Do not let your coffee stay on the burner any longer than necessary as this will “burn” the coffee and quickly deteriorate the pleasant flavors you want to extract.
- Do not brew your coffee with water that is too hot! The optimal brewing temp is typically under boiling levels, between 190-205 degrees depending on brewing method and personal preference.
- Brew your coffee with beans that were roasted between 3 and 14 days prior and with beans that were ground minutes prior to brewing. As a rule of thumb roasted beans release CO2 quickly over the first few days after roasting. Beans typically make better coffee after this initial release of CO2 but start losing optimal freshness after a couple of weeks time. Once coffee beans are ground then the freshness wanes extremely fast which is why most coffee snobs grind coffee at the time they go to brew it.
And now, with those generic tips out of the way, lets look at some of the most common moka pot brewing questions that many people frequently have in greater detail.
How Does a Stovetop Espresso Maker Work?
To better understand how to make good coffee in a moka pot you should know exactly how they work. The pot itself uses three chambers and a central funnel that water and steam pass through to brew coffee. Water is heated in the lower chamber and as it turns to steam it expands and pushes the hot water up through the funnel where it comes in contact with the grind. Slowly the pressurized steam forces the coffee out of the top of the funnel where it collects in the upper chamber.
To make good stove top moka you need to use the right amount of water to achieve the correct steam pressure and extraction and your grind particle size shouldn’t be to restrictive otherwise it will take too long to brew and can result in burnt flavors in your overly extracted bitter coffee.
Make sure to see this full post on the inner workings of the moka pot for more detail.
What Grind do You Use in a Moka Pot?
You can see this post for more details on proper moka pot grind size.
How to Tell When a Moka Pot is Done Brewing
This post goes into much greater depth on the end of the moka pots brew cycle.
Do You Tamp the Coffee in a Moka Pot
Please check out this post for a lot more information on what happens when and if you tamp your coffee grind in a moka pot.
How to Clean a Moka Pot
Make sure to see this post for a full tutorial on keeping your moka pot clean and in great shape.
Did You Know That There are Electric Moka Pots Too?
One of the biggest complaints people have with the moka pot is that there are so many manual aspects to making stovetop espresso and that if you aren’t careful you can not only burn your coffee but damage the handles and gaskets on your pot.
In recent years there have been a few decent electric moka pots introduced that automate and add safety features to moka pots that can’t be duplicated on a stove’s burner.
Electric moka pots brew exactly the same way but they brew at the same temp every time and they turn themselves off automatically making sure that the pot itself isn’t damaged and that the coffee inside doesn’t burn if you walk away for an extra few minutes in the morning.
Electric models cost a bit more than classic versions but they can be a better for for some people. The best reviewed electric model is the Delonghi Alicia (EMK6) but there are a few other options to choose from too.
In future posts on this site I will be listing the best options in this space and reviewing them all individually.