how to use a Moka pot: silver coffee maker on table

How To Use a Moka Pot in 7 Steps

how to use a Moka pot: silver coffee maker on table

Do you want the rich, dark flavors of espresso coffee without the expense or hassle of owning an espresso machine? While it isn’t quite the same as a traditional espresso, Moka pot coffee is a solid option for coffee aficionados who love to sip on bold flavors.

Of course, if you say “mocha,” most people in the U.S. assume you’re talking about a chocolate coffee drink. But to the Italians, Moka pot coffee is a tasty way to get more out of your coffee beans without the work required to make espresso. Check out this brewing guide to learn how to use a Moka pot.

What Is a Moka Pot?

how to use a Moka pot: steam coming out of a coffee maker

Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti invented the Moka pot in 1933. He named it after the city of Mocha in Yemen, which was a famous epicenter of coffee culture. Bialetti’s company still manufactures Moka pots to this very day, with prices ranging from $30 to $50 per pot.

A Moka pot — also called a stovetop espresso maker,  is a two-chambered pot made out of stainless steel or aluminum. It has a bottom chamber, a filter funnel, and a top chamber that’s held in place with a rubber gasket. Moka pots come either electric, which is self-heating, or manual, which you need to heat on the stove.

A traditional coffee maker percolates coffee downwards into a container, but learning how to use a Moka pot is a little different. Moka pots are unique because they use pressure to push coffee upward through a funnel and into the top chamber. The lower chamber heats the water and the vapor pushes through the filter and coffee to fill the upper chamber with sweet, sweet coffee.

What’s Special About Moka Pot Coffee?

Woman holding mint green Moka pot

Although they’re trendy in Italy, Moka pots aren’t as well known in other areas of the world, but they’re steadily gaining popularity among coffee lovers. 

It’s worth learning how to use a Moka pot because it can make espresso-level coffee without the fuss of making real espresso. In fact, the coffee tastes so much like espresso that people also call Moka pots “stovetop espresso machines”. It’s a great coffee brewing method if you want to make espresso drinks and lattes without dropping hundreds of bucks on an espresso machine. It’s popular for DIY cappuccinos, affogatos, and even espresso martinis.

Of course, we would be lying if we said this brewing process was identical to espresso. Moka pot coffee is closer to an Americano than an authentic espresso. The flavor isn’t as rich and you won’t get the foamy crema of an espresso. Even so, Moka pot coffee is stronger than anything you’d get with drip coffee, a French press, or cold brew. Plus, the metal filter ensures that you get less sediment in your coffee, which is always a bonus.

How To Use a Moka Pot

open coffee maker

On average, you can expect it to take seven minutes to brew a pot of coffee with a Moka pot. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and much easier to maintain than an espresso machine — however, learning how to use a Moka pot comes with a bit of a learning curve. Follow this step-by-step guide to master brewing coffee with a Moka pot like a barista in just seven steps.

Step 1: Gather the Right Equipment

First, you’ll need equipment to brew with a Moka pot: 

  • Coffee: Start with a dark roast or an espresso roast. You should always start with whole-bean coffee to make the best coffee.
  • Coffee grinder: You’ll need a grinder to grind whole beans. An electric burr grinder is the quickest way to do that. You’ll need to do a coarse grind on your beans for Moka pot coffee. If the grind is too fine, you risk clogging the Moka pot, and you definitely don’t want that.
  • Scale: Volumetric measuring spoons are okay, but a scale will help you pour the same amount of beans every time for a consistent cup of joe.
  • Filtered water: This isn’t mandatory, but you’ll get better flavor and predictability when you use filtered water. Plus, you won’t have to descale your Moka pot as often. 
  • Moka pot: Bialetti sells Moka pots in different sizes, so purchase the size that makes the most sense for you. If you’re brewing for one person, a one-cup Moka pot will probably suffice. If you’re brewing java for a crowd, you can get a 12-cup Moka pot to brew three eight-ounce cups of coffee at once.

Step 2: Prepare Your Beans

The amount of coffee you need to use will depend on the size of your Moka pot. As a general rule of thumb: 

  • Use 17 grams of coffee for a four-cup Moka pot.
  • Use 40 grams of coffee for a six-cup Moka pot.
  • Use 55 grams of coffee for a nine-cup Moka pot.

Don’t worry: The Moka pot you purchase will come with directions telling you how much coffee you need to use

Once you know how much coffee you need, weigh it on your scale. Place it in the grinder and grind the beans to a coarse texture.

Step 3: Assemble the Moka Pot

Add cold water to the bottom chamber until it reaches just below the release valve. Next, place the coffee grounds into the filter basket of the Moka pot and place it on top of the bottom chamber. Do not tamp down the grounds. The Moka pot works under pressure, so it could cause a coffee explosion if you pack the grounds too tightly. 

Place the filter into the center of the pot and screw the two chambers together, ensuring that the rubber gasket is secure. 

Step 4: Start Brewing

Place the Moka pot on a heat source, like a gas stove, over medium heat. If you heat it too much, the coffee will spurt out of the top (or produce burnt-tasting coffee), so it’s best to start low and increase the heat as needed. Unfortunately, you’ll need a little trial and error here to figure out what level of heat works best for your stove and Moka pot. 

Step 5: Remove From the Heat

Let the coffee brew for five to seven minutes. The water will boil upwards through the coffee and fill the top chamber. When you start to hear it bubbling, remove the Moka pot from the heat source so you don’t overheat the beans in the boiling water. Don’t worry, the residual heat will continue brewing the coffee.

Your Moka pot coffee is done brewing when you hear a loud gurgling sound. Carefully check the top chamber to make sure it’s full of liquid coffee. If it isn’t, put it back on the heat to continue brewing. If it still isn’t coming through, you might have used too fine a grind or packed the filter with too much coffee. 

Step 6: Enjoy Immediately

Moka pot coffee is best enjoyed fresh out of the pot, but if you don’t plan on drinking it immediately, it’s still best to pour the coffee out into another vessel. If you don’t, the coffee might continue brewing and taste burnt. For delicious coffee, make sure to drink it immediately or at least pour it out of the pot right away if you’re planning on brewing it as an iced coffee.

Step 7: Clean the Moka Pot

Always wait for your Moka pot to completely cool before disassembling and cleaning it. You’ll need to unscrew the pot and remove the coffee grinds and filter to do that.

Moka pots aren’t dishwasher safe, so it’s best to wash the pot by hand. You might need to use angled brushes to get into all of the nooks and crannies. We also recommend avoiding scented soap; the pot can pick up the soapy taste, and you definitely don’t want your coffee to taste like Dawn dish soap. Instead, rinse the Moka pot with hot water and a clean sponge.

Over time, you might see coffee residue building up inside the Moka pot. You can get rid of it by wiping down the inside of the pot with a rag or paper towel. You may need to descale your Moka pot a few times a year, too.

Master How To Use a Moka Pot for Seriously Good Coffee

Person pouring coffee from jug into a mug

Learning how to use a Moka pot or stovetop coffee maker might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it’s no more complicated than your standard coffee brewer. If you love the idea of making espresso-ish coffee at home for less than $50, the Moka pot is a solid addition to any coffee lover’s kitchen. Plus, it’s a great option for people who love the strong taste of pour-over coffee and are looking for something new to try.

Want more coffee tips? Check out Cup & Bean’s guides for making Americano coffee, the best glass of affogato, and everything in between.