Moka Pot, Italian Stove-Top Espresso Maker

Learn About Moka Pots – How to Make Coffee With a Moka Pot


Moka PotA Moka Pot is an Italian steam-based stovetop espresso maker that produces a dark coffee almost as strong as that from a conventional espresso maker.  Sometimes called the poor man’s espresso and also known as stove-top espresso.  These moka espresso makers were invented in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti.

This coffee is not espresso in the true sense of the word, as real espresso is produced using machines that can produce very high pressure water at just the right temperature.  Moka coffee is produced using only steam’s natural pressure.  If you are looking for an inexpensive way to produce espresso, this is the pot and technique for you!

 Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Moka pots.  Aluminum Moka Pots are more affordable, but be aware of the quality difference compared to stainless steel and the proper way to clean aluminum. Since aluminum has a more porous surface it can get coffee and oils stuck on the surface over time. Aluminum should only be cleaned with hot water and a dish towel for best longevity. If soap or an abrasive cleaner is used on the aluminum, you run the risk of small particales of aluminum loosening and tainting the coffee with a metallic flavor. Rust can also develop on aluminum over time with the exposure to acid from the coffee and oxygen. In comparision, Stainless Steel Moka Pots may be more expensive, but the metal is more durable.  It will not get scratches and the surface is non-porous making it easier to clean with soap and water. There is also no worry of stainless steel rusting. Stainless steel can also be used on an induction cooktop where aluminum is not compatible.  Overall a stainless steel Moka Pot will last a lifetime and is worth the investment.


Moka pots are three-chambered metal pots.  These pots are available in 2-, 4-, and 6-cup sizes and all come in three parts:

  • Bottom chamber holds fresh water and usually has a pressure valve.
  • Middle is a perforated coffee basket or funnel to hold the grounds, which should be lightly packed.
  • The top chamber is where the brewed coffee ends up.


Before using your new Moka Pot for the first time, fill the bottom chamber with cool fresh water up to the level of the pressure relief valve.  Put some unwanted old used coffee grounds in the filter basket, attach the top, and allow it to brew.  The first pot of coffee you brew in this should be thrown away.  The intent is just to clean the machine out before using it for the first time and to make sure the pressure relief valve is working ok.


How to brew coffee using a Moka pot:

There is an art to making coffee in a Moka Pot that includes the amount of water, the amount and grind of the coffee, the compactness of the coffee grounds in the filter, and the heat of the water used to brew it.  It is possible to make excellent coffee without any acidity or bitterness in a moka pot if you follow the simple procedures listed below:

Place your kettle of cold water on your stove burner and heat water until hot.  Depending on the quality of your water, you may find that using filtered water significantly improves the taste of your coffee.  A lot of directions for using the moka pot recommend using cold water.  I find that using hot water is much quicker, and it also reduces the amount of time the seal and coffee grinds are exposed to the heat, resulting in a less bitter brew and a longer lasting seal!  Your choice if you want to use cold or hot water.

Grind your coffee a little coarser than for an espresso machine (fine, espresso grind of dark roasted coffee).  Just coarse enough so it doesn’t go through the upper filter holes or block them.  If you find there is sediment in your brew, choose a slightly coarser grind, but still finer than you would use for a filter coffee machine.

Place hot water in the bottom section of the pot up to the level of the safety valve.

Insert the filter basket.  Fill the filter basket with ground coffee until it is level and then level off with a knife.  Do not compact the coffee, because as the water reaches the grounds they will expand effectively tamping your coffee for you.  Each individual Moka pot makes a set amount of coffee.  You should not try to make less coffee by under-filling the basket, or to make more by over-filling and compacting too tightly.  This will affect the extraction process and may result in either bitter or weak coffee.  If you need a different number of cups, you should buy the appropriately sized Moka pot.

Make sure the filter disk and gasket are in place in the top portion of the pot.  Screw the top section onto the bottom section of the pot and tighten to obtain a perfect seal.  If using a stove-top Moka pot, place it on the stove on medium to medium-high heat. When hot, the air and water trapped inside the bottom tank expand due to the heat being applied the device.  As this happens, it pushes the hot water up a tube, through the coffee grinds, and out of the spout into the top chamber of the pot.

When the water in the tank has been exhausted, that’s when you hear the ‘gurgle’ that signifies the drink is ready to pour (approximately 4 to 5 minutes).  Remove the Moka pot from the stove.  Brewing is completed when all the water has been percolated into the top chamber.  Brewing should take approximately 5 minutes. If it takes longer use a slightly higher heat.

Pour into an espresso cup and enjoy.

Do not put in the dishwasher.  Wash the pot in mild detergent and water and dry thoroughly after each use.  Always keep your Moka pot scrupulously clean.  Disassemble the Moka pot after every use and clean the filter and top pot, being sure that you clean the underside of the top pot.  Every few weeks, run some vinegar through the Moka Pot as if you were brewing coffee to get rid of any mineral deposits left behind by hard water.


Trouble Shooting:

If the coffee is not brewing properly, check to see if any steam is escaping from the area where the top and bottom parts screw together.  If you see steam escaping, this can be the sign of two things.

If the grind of the coffee is too fine or the coffee is too compacted, the steam cannot force its way through the coffee.

You need to screw the top and bottom together more tightly.



Check out more great coffee articles:

Coffee – Java Talk – Learn all about the history of coffee, how to taste coffee, and making coffee.

Coffee Drink Calories – How much damage can your favorite coffee drink do in additional calories added to your diet?  The fancier the drink, the fancier the calories – especially when you opt for the whipped topping.  An extra 200 calories a day can add up to 21 extra pounds added to your body per year!

How To Store Coffee Beans – Coffee bean’s two greatest enemies are air and moisture. Ideally, coffee should be ground, brewed, and consumed quickly to obtain the best flavor.

How To Use a French Press – The most popular coffee maker in Europe and Australia is the classy French Press.  Also known as the plunger pot, coffee press, or press-pot.  This stylish coffee maker is making in-roads in America, and coffee addicts swear by it.

Irish Coffee – It might sound like an ancient recipe, but Irish coffee was a 20th Century invention.  Learn the history of this spirited coffee and how it is made.  Also check out the easy-to-make authentic recipe.




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Comments and Reviews

4 Responses to “Moka Pot, Italian Stove-Top Espresso Maker”

  1. Frank

    Aluminum is not a “cheap” version of the Moka Pot. Aluminum has been the material of choice for decades because of it’s fast transfer of heat. Season your Moka Pot first to avoid metallic flavors – kinda like a cast iron skillet except aluminum doesn’t rust. It’s all in the manual about what to do.

  2. Derek

    I’m confused by the article statement that one should not purchase a “cheap aluminum Moka pot”. Aren’t all Bialetti Moka Express pots made from aluminum? Did you mean that some types of pots are made of inferior aluminum or…? Can you clarify?

    • Whats Cooking America

      I have expanded on the comparisions between aluminum and stainless steel Moka Pots. Since Aluminum has a porous surface it can easily accumulate coffee and oils into the surface. If the pots are cleaned with soapy water or abrasive cleaners, bits of aluminum material can fall off over time and taint the coffee flavor with a metallic taste, aluminum can also rust over time. Stainless steel is non-porous and it will not rust, so it can be the better investment and last a lifetime.

  3. Celinda Pantera

    Fantastic site. Plenty of useful information here. I am sending it to a few pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks to your effort!


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