Moka Pot – The Cheap Espresso Maker

Not espresso lover owns an espresso machine. First of all, it is so darn expensive, a month’s salary is not enough to buy one. As a true espresso devout, I’ve spent a good amount of time-saving up enough money to get myself a beautiful espresso machine. But for the longest time, I still enjoyed that golden shot of goodness using my Moka pot.

What is a Moka Pot?

A Moka pot is a small to medium sized stovetop coffee maker, also referred to as a cheap espresso maker. It is a small specialized kettle made to brew coffee. The Moka pot is a rather simple to use yet a little hard to master. But when you do figure it out, every cup of coffee is a really rewarding experience.

coffee slowly dripping to a moka pot on a stovetop
Wait for the strong coffee to drip into the coffee chamber

Benefits of Using a Moka Pot

  • It brews rich full-bodied espresso
  • You can still extract the crema when used properly
  • Versatile drink since you can just add more water for an Americano, froth milk to make cappuccinos and latte or whip sugar to make Cuban espresso
  • Portable
  • Can be used over open fire flame

Breaking the Controversy: Can Moka Pot Really Make Espresso

We often refer to the Moka Pot as a ‘stovetop espresso maker’. In truth, you need a little more experience with the Moka Pot to produce espresso with it. The truth is, the Moka Pot produces a more concentrated coffee than a typical coffee maker.

Espresso is made when steam is forced into a fine coffee grounds tightly packed together. It needs about 8 to 10 bars of pressure to make a kickin’ shot of espresso. The Moka pot, however, only has a pressure of 1 to 2 bars. It may be hard to make espresso using a Moka pot but it is not impossible.

There is one type of Moka Pot that is specialized to make espresso, the Brikka. Like a pressure cooker, the Brikka has a valve that adds pressure to the Moka Pot producing a beautiful cup of espresso.

Moka pot taken apart
Parts of a Moka Pot

How the Moka Pot Works?

The Moka Pot has three components: water tank, filter basket, and the coffee chamber. When the water starts boiling in the water tank, a pressure is built up and rises up the filter basket (where the ground coffee is). As the water seeps through the ground coffee, it goes up the pipe and out into the coffee chamber.

Understanding the Moka Pot

One of the most common mistakes in brewing coffee using the Moka Pot is properly assembling the Moka Pot. One of the common mistakes that most would make is tamping the coffee. Tamping the coffee is a big no-no!

Tamping is compressing the coffee in the filter basket until the coffee is tightly packed together in the basket. This will result in extreme pressure build up inside your Moka Pot. When high pressure builds up, the pressure looks for a way to escape. If it can’t go through the tamped ground coffee, it will explode. This becomes a major safety hazard.

Personally, I do press my ground coffee down a bit but I make sure that the coffee is still a bit loose. This way, I can pack in more coffee for a (slightly) stronger cup of joe. It’s also best to choose the perfect espresso coffee roast when brewing.

coffee being poured from a moka pot with white refined sugar at the side
Pouring coffee from a Moka pot in a demitasse cup

Why Does Moka Pot Coffee Taste Different?

One thing is clear, coffee made in a Moka Pot has a distinct texture. It is fuller and richer with a really smooth glide. Water is one major factor that affects the taste of your coffee. It’s easy to totally mess up the taste of your coffee if you use the wrong type of water. When adding pressure to your cup of coffee, you are technically enhancing the taste as well. It is the closest brewer that can give you an espresso-like coffee.

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