A Step-By-Step Guide to Making a Stovetop Espresso 

 September 12, 2019

By  moka-admin

Every year another impressive new coffee brewer hits the market. There are now so many different ways of preparing your morning cup of joe, it is almost difficult to know where to start! Despite all of the choice, I always find myself coming back to the Stovetop Moka Pot. When used properly, the Moka Pot produces delicious coffee that is just dripping with flavor and character, literally.

My History with the Stovetop Coffee Maker

It took me a while to get the hang of my Stovetop Coffee Maker. In the beginning I was so frustrated, I just couldn’t get the hang of it. However, when I eventually cracked the code and perfected the recipe, I was amazed with the quality of Moka Pot coffee. I can now safely say it is my favorite way of brewing. The Stovetop Coffee Maker is classic, stylish and affordable. The only caveat is that you have to know the right technique for this particular brewer, otherwise it is easy to accidentally burn your morning java.

Well, don’t worry. I have got you covered today with this definitive and foolproof guide to making excellent coffee with your Moka Pot; so don’t go anywhere!

What Is a Moka Pot Exactly?

A Moka Pot is a classic coffee maker of Italian design, made from aluminum or steel. Since its invention  nearly 100 years ago, this brewer has remained one of the staple ways of making home-brewed Italian coffee.

The Moka Pot is a manual brewer that simply requires a heat source to brew a cup of coffee. This can be in the form of electric stovetops, a gas stovetop or a camping  gas burner, making the Moka Pot an ideal on-the-go coffee maker. The stainless steel models are also suitable for induction stoves. This manual coffee machine comes in a variety of sizes, which is perfect if you want to brew several cups of coffee at the same time.

Despite the fact that the Moka Pot is often referred to as a stovetop espresso maker, there is debate as to whether this brewer actually produces cups of espresso due to the different bars of pressure applied during extraction. Rather, the cup of amazing coffee you get from your Moka Pot is an espresso-like coffee but with it’s own unique and complex character. 

The stovetop espresso machine is an ideal way of brewing a coffee akin to a shot of espresso at home, without having to go to a coffee shop.

What Type of Coffee Should We Use with Our Stovetop Coffee Maker?

If you like a full bodied, strong coffee, pair your coffee pot with a luscious dark roast. If you prefer a milder coffee, you can balance the intense moka coffee flavor with a light roast.

The Different Parts of a Moka Pot

Your espresso stovetop has three major components:

  • The lower chamber that holds the water, also called the boiler, is equipped with a safety valve.
  • The filter basket that holds the ground coffee, some people call it funnel. The filter basket gets inserted into the boiler.
  • The top compartment that holds the brewed espresso coffee, also called sometimes the kettle.

In fact there are a couple more smaller pieces such as the filter plate and the rubber gasket. 

Brewing Method

Brewing coffee with a Moka pot is not very complicated, but there are a few tricks that you need to know if you want to make a great cup of coffee. Follow the steps below exactly, and you will be surprised how much better your stove top espresso coffee will taste.

Step 1

Add warm water or hot water to the lower chamber and fill to just below the safety valve. The steam release valve is not to be covered as it releases pressure to stop your stovetop from blowing up. Filtered or boiled water is best as we are out to extract the flavors from the coffee bean, not the elements from our water supply.

Fill The Moka Pot With Water 800
Fill the boiler chamber up to the valve.

Step 2

Fill the filter basket with your freshly ground coffee powder. Apply gentle pressure and level the coffee in the basket. It’s important not to apply too much pressure or tamp the coffee too hard, as a firm pack will increase the steam pressure. I prefer to fill the filter basket prior to placing it in the lower chamber – just because!

Fill The Filter Funnel With Coffee 800px
Fill the funnel with ground coffee but do not tamp

Step 3

Now it’s time to piece it all together. Place the filter basket in the lower chamber and screw on the top compartment.

Screw On The Two Moka Pot Chambers 600
Put the three pieces together by screwing together the top and the bottom chambers.

Step 4

Place on medium heat over an electric hot plate or a gas stove (you will probably need a trivet if using a gas stove), turning the handle away from the heat.

Moka pot on the stove
Place on the stove on medium heat

As the steam pressure builds, the water will force its way through the coffee into the top compartment. Once the the top compartment is full, remove from the stove and pour into your pre-heated cup of choice.

Brew Moka Pot Coffee
Watch the coffee filling up the collector chamber

Once you hear a gurgling noise, it means all the water has passed into the top chamber. You need to stop the heat as soon as possible, as the longer coffee stays hot, the more bitter it becomes.

Just place the Moka pot under the tap water and run some cold water until the pot cools down a little.

Cool Down Moka Pot

Pour in cups and enjoy

Pour in Moka Pot Coffee in Cups

Moka Pot Troubleshooting

So you are following the steps but you are still not making good coffee with your Moka Pot. This could be for several reasons: First, make sure that the main body of the Moka Pot is tightly screwed onto the base. If the brewer is only loosely attached, the coffee won’t extract properly.

If your coffee is still not extracting properly, there is a likely a problem with your quantities or grind size. For example, when you overfill the basket with ground coffee you will not achieve a good extraction. If it looks like your basket is packed full, try reducing your recipe a little. Again, to reiterate, the ground coffee should not be pressed tightly together. Otherwise too much steam will build up.

Finally, if your coffee is still over-extracting, your grind size could be too fine. Grind size for a Moka Pot is quite fine, but not as fine as espresso. For best results, pair your Moka coffee pot with a decent coffee grinder. 

If coffee doesn’t come up in the collector chamber, you likely used too much coffee, and the coffee puck is too tight. Or the grind is too fine.

Not All Moka Pots Are Equal

If you are looking for a Moka pot for your kitchen, check our article where we compare the best Moka pots on the market.


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