Also known as macchinetta—“small machine” in the tongue of its Italian inventor, Luigi De Ponti—the Moka pot hasn’t changed much since its invention in 1933. The simplicity of this stove-top marvel, which makes coffee by pressurizing boiling water and passing it through coffee grounds, has made it a classic.
Nevertheless, while a darling in Europe and South America, this delightful contraption is only now picking up steam in the United States.
Best of Both Worlds
With its iconic design, the Moka pot manages to combine convenience with the feel of luxury—one possible explanation for its growing popularity.
“People enjoy being able to make something that resembles espresso at home without fancy equipment,” says Benjamin Brewer, Blue Bottle’s Director of Quality Control. “It produces a thick, viscous coffee liqueur similar to espresso. This is partly due to the extraction ratio of water to coffee; the coffee that’s extracted can have more oils and volatiles present than coffee prepared in pour over, for example.”
Keep an Eye on Temperature
Users should be aware that with the Moka pot, it is possible to actually cook your coffee, thereby ruining its flavor.
“Coffee that has been exposed to excessive heat (outside of traditional brewing temperatures, or ninety-six degrees Celsius and above) is some of the most offensive coffee I have ever tasted,” says Benjamin. “So you do have to be aware of that with the Moka pot. There is this very fine line if you are not careful with this method.”
Can I Use the Moka Pot?
This shouldn’t prevent newcomers from trying their hand at this brewing method. Even if you don’t have espresso experience or equipment, learning how to use the Moka pot doesn’t take long.
“If you follow the instructions, and keep an eye on the temperature, it’s fairly easy, even for beginners, to produce delicious results with this method,” Benjamin says.
Even a device this straightforward has its subtleties. “Learning about the nuances in heat application and water temperature will take practice, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from using this method," Benjamin says. "Our Brew Guides are one resource that can help new users navigate these issues and learn to make great coffee reliably.”
Moka Pot Brew Guide
What You Do:
- Step 2: Fill the bottom half of your Moka pot with water that’s fresh off the boil.
- Step 3: Fill the pot’s filter basket with the ground coffee, and give it a shake to settle the grounds evenly. Place it into the bottom compartment.
- Step 4: Screw on the Moka pot’s spouted top.
- Step 5: Place the pot on a stove set to medium heat.
- Step 6: When the water in the bottom chamber approaches a boil, the pressure will push a stream of coffee slowly and methodically through the upper chamber. If it explodes upward, your water’s too hot. If it burbles lethargically, turn up your flame. You'll know it’s done when you hear a hissing, bubbling sound.
Find the full Moka Pot Brew Guide on our website.