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What Is Moka? – The Ultimate Guide

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Coffee has been trending for decades, with new ways of brewing and flavoring coffee being invented by every local coffee shop you can find. 

For some, the traditional methods of brewing coffee are the only way to truly satisfy your love and craving for the caffeinated beverage. If this sounds like you, Moka coffee may be the best thing to enter your life. 

What is moka? Moka pots are traditional Italian coffee makers that brew coffee using a stovetop. The strong espresso-style coffee produced from this method is heavy, creamy, and bittersweet.

This article explains what moka coffee is and how to brew it perfectly in the comfort of your own home.

What Is Moka Coffee?

Moka is a type of traditional Italian coffee, brewed with love, a small amount of patience, and no fancy gadgets or high-tech knobs.

The moka pot is simple and classic and the coffee brewed is full of intense flavor and has a heavy consistency. Moka coffee is an experience.

And there is no chocolate involved, so it should never be confused for the American-style mocha.

What does moka mean? This type of coffee and the pots used to brew it were named for the city of Mocha, Yemen, which used to be a major supplier and exporter of coffee.

What Is a Moka Pot?

A moka pot compared to a coffee cup.

Moka pots are traditional, stovetop Italian-style coffee makers.

They’re typically quite small and they have a very distinct shape and construction that not only makes them incredibly good at making coffee, but stylish, compact, and unique as well.

There are three key pieces to every moka pot: 

  1. The cylinder, or bottom chamber where the water goes
  2. A filter funnel, where the ground coffee beans are placed
  3. A collector, where the brewed coffee is collected

Recommended: Bialetti Moka Pot

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The original moka pot was designed in the 1930s and Bialetti has continued to produce the traditional coffee maker with such style and passion that there is no reason to look anywhere else for an alternative.

You can choose the size of coffee pot that suits your home best, ranging from single cup up to 12 versions.

There are even different colors to choose from, each graced with the unique charm of the excitedly caffeinated, mustachioed Italian Bialetti man logo.

Key Features:

  • Made in Italy, from the original manufacturers of the Moka Pot
  • Has a patented safety valve to prevent injury from steam
  • Has an ergonomic handle, making pouring safe, easy, and smooth

Biggest Drawback: The painted versions are at higher risk of the color being burnt or distorted on your stovetop.

It doesn’t always happen, but with repeated use, the heat coming through the aluminum can alter the color, especially if you choose are red pot. The silver is more authentic, and a great choice to avoid this minor problem.

How to Brew Moka Coffee

A three-piece coffee maker may sound intricate and confusing, but they’re quite simple to use. If you can master a modern coffee maker, you will have no trouble with a Moka pot. 

Here’s how to make the perfect cup of moka coffee:

  1. Separate all three portions of the moka pot, making sure they’re each clean.
  2. Fill the bottom chamber with hot or boiling water.
  3. Add your coffee grinds to the filter chamber and shake it slightly to settle the grounds, but don’t tamp them down.
  4. Place filter into the bottom compartment.
  5. Screw on the collector, being careful not to touch the hot bottom cylinder. Make sure the lid is on tight.
  6. Place the entire moka pot on your stovetop over medium heat.
  7. You will know your coffee is ready when you hear a bubbling, hissing noise similar to a kettle.

Moka pots work using the pressure of the steam from the water in the bottom cylinder.

As the water continues to boil, the steam presses upwards, through the coffee grounds, and into the collection chamber where it recollects as your freshly infused coffee.

If you notice the pressure is too high and it seems to be exploding into the collection pot rather than smoothly percolating into it, your heat is too high.

On the flip side, if it is taking too long for the coffee to drip into the collection chamber, you can increase the heat slightly.

You may also want to remove the moka pot from the heat before it completely finishes, to protect the flavor of your coffee and avoid burning the coffee or your pot.

What Are Moka Coffee Beans?

You don’t need any specific type of beans for use in a moka pot, however, the size of the grounds does matter.

When you’re using a moka pot, the ground size should be approximately the same as you would use for making espresso or slightly more course.

Moka coffee is similar to espresso, which typically calls for a darker roast of bean. Darker roasts develop nuttier, more chocolatey flavor, and have much lower acidity.

They are also heavy, smooth, and thick coffees, all perfect traits for moka coffee. If you’re not sure what kind of coffee to buy, choose one that is labeled medium to dark roast.

If you can smell the beans before buying, use your nose to guide you as well. Experiment with small batches until you find a bean that is just right for you.

Is Moka Coffee Good?

Moka pot coffee is as good as the beans you buy, the grind choices you make, and the care you take in brewing the pot of coffee. Of course, it also comes down to personal taste and preference.

As with any new machine, there may be a learning curve or period of experimentation required to find the right elements for your own perfect cup of coffee. 

How much coffee grinds you use will influence how strong the coffee is, as will the size of the grounds. The coarser the grounds, the more acidic and watery your coffee will be.

The finer the grounds, the stronger and more bitter it will be, and there will also be a higher chance of burning it. If you have your moka pot on too high heat, you can also burn your coffee.

If you have all the elements right, a well-brewed pot of Moka coffee will be full-bodied and somewhat thicker than a conventional drip coffee, but smooth and well-balanced in flavor.

Moka Vs Espresso – What’s The Difference?

The coffee produced by a moka pot is very similar to an espresso made from an espresso machine, as both of them are designed to use pressure to force hot water and steam through coffee grounds to extract the flavor.

This provides a quick-brewed, heavy, intensely flavored coffee.

The biggest difference between moka and espresso is the machinery involved. Moka pots are simple, traditional coffee makers that work on a stovetop.

Espresso makers are highly complex machines with multiple settings and pieces which require special training and safety procedures to use properly.

Espresso makers will also take up a lot more space in your kitchen.

AeroPress Vs Moka Pot 

AeroPress coffee makers require some pressure to provide you with your coffee, but not in the same way moka pots or espresso machines use pressure. The AeroPress machine is more similar to a French press.

With this machine, you combine your hot water with your coffee grounds and allow them to sit for a few minutes. When you’re happy with the strength, you press the coffee through a paper filter directly into the attached cup.

An AeroPress will make a style of coffee more similar to conventional drip coffee than espresso. With each brew, you will have a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee as opposed to the thick, heavy, creamy 2-ounce serving made in a moka pot.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve answered your biggest questions about moka pots, we’ve gathered a few more frequently asked questions below for your convenience.

Do Moka Pots Need a Filter?

Moka pots don’t need additional paper filters, no.

They have a funnel designed specifically to contain the coffee grounds that allows the steam to pass through and bring the flavor into the coffee container above, while leaving the grounds themselves in the funnel.

What Size Moka Pot Should I Get For 1 Person?

This depends on how much coffee you drink as a single person. If you only have a single, Italian-sized cup per day, the single-cup size pot will be perfect for you. 

You should note, however, that each cup is an espresso-sized cup, which is 2 oz.

If you want a full, American-sized cup, you can either convert your moka coffee into an Americano by adding additional boiling water or warm milk, or you will need a larger pot.

Is Moka Pot Coffee Bitter?

Moka pot coffee can be bitter, but there are ways to avoid this. Bitterness is caused by over-extracting the coffee grounds, meaning the water was either too hot when it passed through the filter, or it was brewed for too long.

If you find your moka pot coffee is bitter, try the following:

  1. Always use boiling water to start, reducing the time required to brew the coffee.
  2. Try using slightly coarser grounds.
  3. Brew over lower heat, no higher than medium.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat or cut the heat when it is 2/3 finished brewing, allowing it to finish brewing away from direct heat.

We hope that this guide has been a valuable resource for you and that we have answered all your questions. We wish you luck on your moka pot adventures!

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