Kitchen & Cooking

How to use a moka pot

Everything you need to know to make delicious stovetop coffee.

Two rows of illustrated moka pot coffee makers in the following order top to bottom and left to right: yellow, blue, red, green, mustard yellow, and teal. Credit: Getty Images / de-kay

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There are plenty of ways to make coffee—drip coffee, pour over coffee, French press, espresso, and cold brew will all get you caffeinated. The moka pot is a lesser known coffee maker in the U.S., but it’s been a popular brewing method in Europe since Alfonso Bialetti designed the first Moka Express in 1933.

What is a moka pot?

Named for the Yemen city of Mocha where Bialetti first encountered this sort of device, a moka pot is a special kitchen tool that brews coffee by passing boiling water, pressurized by steam, through coffee grounds. It produces coffee somewhere in between drip and espresso—I like to think of it as coffee plus. It makes a great americano or short cup of strong coffee.

There may be easier ways to make coffee, but there's a special sense of accomplishment when you master the moka pot. I was a barista for four years and have made countless bad cups of coffee so you don’t have to; here’s how to make a great cup of moka pot coffee.

What you’ll need

pour
Credit: Getty Images / weerawat jumnong

Moka pots come in a variety of sizes, from small 1-cup pots to the 6-cup moka pots we love.

Step by step

coffee grounds
Credit: Getty Images / MaRRitch

Don't tamp your coffee grounds as you would for espresso; they should be relatively loose.

Step 1: Place kitchen towel in freezer

This might sound crazy, but the real first step to using a moka pot is to put a kitchen towel in the freezer. This will be instrumental in making a great cup of coffee and saving your hands from burning.

Step 2: Heat your water

Fill your kettle with water and heat to 212°F.

Step 3: Measure out your coffee

Grab your kitchen scale and set it to grams. Place a small bowl on your scale and tear it, then measure out 20 to 22 grams of finely ground coffee.

Step 4: Fill the filter basket

Carefully fill the pot’s filter basket with coffee grounds using a spoon or by gently pouring directly from the bowl. There’s no need to tamp your grounds once you’ve transferred them—unlike making espresso, loose grounds are better here because they allow the water to push through to the top of the moka pot.

Pro tip: Open the top of your moka pot and rest the full filter basket inside until you’re ready to drop it in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to balance the basket on the countertop and it’s tipped over. This trick totally eliminates that possibility!

Step 5: Assemble to moka pot

Turn your stove burner to medium heat. When the water in your kettle comes to temperature, fill the bottom chamber of the moka pot with water until the water sits just beneath the vent. Place the filter basket on top of the bottom chamber, use the dish towel to grip the bottom container filled with piping hot water, and screw on the top compartment.

brewing
Credit: Getty Images / Farion_O

You'll know your stove is set to the right temperature when there's a steady stream of coffee coming out of your moka pot.

Step 6: Brew your coffee

Place the moka pot on the stove-top, open the lid, and wait patiently about five to seven minutes until you see the wonderful coffee coming out of the spout. It should be a slow, steady trickle. If it starts to sputter, this means the heat is on too high; If it looks like it's not coming out at all, the heat is on too low.

Step 6: Serve

You’ll know the coffee is done brewing when the stream slows and stops bubbling out. Remove from heat, pour some coffee into your mug, and place the moka pot on a trivet or that cold kitchen towel you used before.

Enjoy your coffee as is for an intense, almost espresso-like experience, or dilute with more hot water for an americano.

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