Coffee: Mastering the Moka Pot
Until a little while ago, a Moka Pot wasn’t something on my radar. That little stovetop kettle thing that you see on TV or in films, or in my case, in games. I knew it was coffee-related, but had no clue what it really was.
Playing Red Dead Redemption 2 had me making coffee at camp with a coffee pot that looked like one of these steel contraptions. Since then, I’ve had to know how it worked.
So there we go. Easy, right? You press “make coffee” in a game, and it’s done. The Moka Pot must be a doddle……
Apparently not quite. Or at least not for a start.
Little did I know that this would actually be making some of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever made. The Moka Pot, is the best low-cost (compared to an espresso machine) way of making a decent coffee, in my opinion.
A bit of research….
Straight out of the gates I was checking coffee forums and sites. Reading guides and knowledge shared on Reddit. Suddenly, I was faced with a much more complex process than I’d anticipated.
Coffee making can be a little elitist. People really get a little snobby online, to the point of perhaps taking it too far? I love to absorb as much information as I can, but you really do have to side-step some of the bullshit.
It doesn’t matter, though, it’s fun! Beyond that, it’s a science, or perhaps even, an art.
I love a good coffee (hence the reviews…), but better still, I love learning new ways to make it, and trying to achieve that perfect cup to enjoy on a Sunday morning.
Without the budget for an espresso machine, nor the space to have one (as much as I’d love one!), I make do in different ways.
Generally speaking, I use a cafetiere, an Aeropress or a Hario V60 drip. With a good old percolator at work that I’ve carried with me job-to-job for years.
These have been the basis for all of my coffee reviews on this site. Different filters, different methods and different grinds to try and achieve a decent cup o’ joe.
Now, I have a Bialetti 3-cup Moka Pot and it takes making a cup of coffee to a different level. It isn’t any harder to get right than the other methods I use, but it feels more scientific.
This is the “mastering” bit.
You can’t just grind up some coffee, fill it with water and then pop it on the hob to boil. Well, you can (I did!), but there’s a bit more to it than that. Especially if you don’t want a horrible cup of coffee. Or worse still…… boiling water flying everywhere in your kitchen.
Every guide online will tell you how to do things differently, but the things I’ve learned are:
- Grind is important
It needs to be almost espresso-like. Finer than you’d do in a cafetiere. Not so fine that it isn’t porous for the water to come through it, but definitely more like a powder than you’d do in a cafetiere.
- Boil the water first
You can absolutely put cold water into your Moka Pot and let it gently boil on the stove. I found that this almost cooks the coffee though and adds a bitterness.
Pre-boil, then stick it on the stove (all tightened-up with coffee in, of course!).
- Lid open, low heat
If the heat is as low as it can go on the hob, you’re good. Keep the lid open and let it do it’s thing. You’ll soon hear the telling little “gargle” sound and see that thick, rich coffee start to pour out of the spout.
Watch the speed of the flow, though. As it heats up, the pressure builds, and you might just need to lift it off the ring for a few seconds to regulate the pressure and temperature.
- This isn’t to make a full cup……
It seems silly to me now, but I expected to get 3 cups of coffee out of my Moka Pot. The size of it would dictate otherwise, but I didn’t really think about it…..
What you’re doing here is expressing 3 shots-worth of coffee (or more/less depending on your pot). Much like an espresso (it can’t be called an espresso, because the pressure isn’t high-enough), you add water or milk to it to make your longer drinks.
Good to go!
A lot of guides and write-ups talk about the amazing crema you should get. I don’t think that all pots create it. If you get that thicker, richer shot of coffee, you’re on the right track.
I don’t know if I need to refine my methods to somehow force the crema, but I think it might be more elusive than people let on. Perhaps a different spout?
A couple of shots in a mug, with just off-the-boil water, and you have a superb Americano.
Using the Moka Pot is a bit fiddly, and you should definitely keep it clean. Look after the seal around the filter, and you’ll be set to have excellent coffee at home, whenever you like.
It’s definitely a bit of a science, and a bit of a faff. But that’s why I love it. You get out what you put in, I suppose.
I’ll be getting some more of my favourite Baytown Coffee (Albion Street is sublime!), and seeing if I can get an even better cup using the Moka.
No doubt there are better ways to do things, and yield better results. This is what I’ve learned so far, though. The coffee is smoother, and when done with boiling water, the bitterness is almost non-existent.
If you like a good coffee, like experimenting with it, and have wondered about a Moka Pot, I hope this is of some use. I’ll be making all future coffee reviews 4-stage as opposed to the traditional 3, and might re-review others using the Bialetti.
Go make some coffee, and see how it turns out.