How To Make Perfect Stovetop Espresso Coffee with a Bialetti Moka Pot
Easy, quick, unfussy: Moka Pot Stovetop espresso is my coffee of choice every morning. From Italy – home of some of the best coffee in the world – the stovetop espresso maker is an inexpensive way to get wonderful, delicious coffee every time.
Although stovetop espresso is not strictly a real espresso - the pressure reached by the pot is not great enough to properly class it as such - the coffee it produces is fabulous, and some afficionados think it is even better. Certainly many Italian homes wouldn't be without their Moka Pot.
If you're new to moka pot coffee, and aren't sure how to make your classic coffee house favourites, I've written a quick and easy coffee guide that will take you through creatng wonderful lattes, Americanos, mochas, and even the swish and velvety Irish coffee with your moka pot brew.
A Note on Troubleshooting Your Moka Pot
If you follow the steps below, and you're still having trouble with your pot, I've also written a guide on how to get round some of the most common problems of using a Bialetti - most of them are easily fixed.
Season Your New Moka Pot
The metal and protective factory coating on your new Moka Pot will make the first few cups of coffee taste foul, so if you don’t properly season your new pot before you start drinking the brew you make, you might get the (very wrong!) impression that stovetop espresso is less than beautiful. Seasoning your pot is easy – all you need to do is make a few pots using cheap coffee grounds and throw those first ‘trial run’ pots of coffee away.
First, wash the new pot thoroughly, with hot soapy water, and rinse it out.
Get some cheap espresso-grind ground coffee – you won’t be drinking this, so go for the cheapest you can find, and follow the instructions below to make several pots with this – four or five in succession, throwing the coffee away afterwards, and giving the pot a quick rinse in hot water between each pot.
Only ever rinse your Moka Pot, and use the soft ‘sponge’ side of a dish sponge when you clean it – using the abrasive side will scrub and scrape off your seasoning and you’ll be back to square one! Over time, the inside of the pot will acquire a dark coating of coffee, and this is exactly what you want.
Making a Pot of Stovetop Espresso
- Rinse the pot out with hot water, including the underside of the ‘jug’ part of the pot where coffee grounds will stick to the filter. Make sure the threads on the jug and the reservoir section are clear of grounds, or the two parts of your pot won’t join properly and your pot can start to spit and hiss when it’s on the stove.
- Fill the reservoir with water up to the fill-line. If your pot doesn’t have a fill-line, or you can’t see it, fill the reservoir to about half a centimetre below the safety valve.
- Place the basket in the reservoir and spoon coffee grounds into it. You want the coffee to be quite loose, so don’t tamp it down – coffee expands when it gets damp, so it needs a bit of room to do this. Fill the basket about three-quarters full.
- Screw the jug part of the pot back onto the base, and put the pot on a low heat on the hob. If you turn up the heat too high, the coffee will boil in the pot and taste bitter.
- My own 6-cup Moka Pot takes about five minutes or so to make the coffee. Many people recommend taking the pot off the heat as soon as it starts to make gurgling noises, but if you use a very low heat, you may find that removing the pot too soon leaves the reservoir half full and the pot half empty. Using a low heat means that the coffee never boils, so you won’t have to worry about the coffee tasting bitter.
Tips on Getting the Best from your Moka Pot
- Use the best espresso grind coffee you can. I use Illy’s Dark Roast espresso for a lovely full flavour, but try a few different ones to find the taste you like. There are also special ‘Moka’ grinds of coffee that are not quite as finely ground as espresso, but these can be difficult to get in supermarkets, and espresso grind is perfectly acceptable.
- A Moka pot is perfect for you if you drink coffee every day. With less regular use, because you’re cleaning it only with hot water and perhaps a gentle rub with a sponge, if it’s a few weeks between uses, the coffee coating that builds up in the jug can become a little stale. If you only use your Moka Pot once a month or so, give it a gentle clean with soap, hot water and a sponge before each use.
- If, like me, you live in a hard-water area, be aware that the safety valve on the water reservoir can get clogged over time with mineral deposits. I’ve not been able to buy the reservoir separately as a replacement part, so it might be worth buying a water filter: Britta do an excellent range of counter-top filter jugs and pitchers for around £20-£30 ($20-$40).
- Decaffeinated Coffee: If you fancy giving up or cutting down on caffeine but you love the taste of coffee, a high quality decaf espresso grind tastes wonderful made in a Moka Pot. I’ve found that Illy’s decaf espresso is the only one that tastes like a ‘real’ cup of coffee, but I’d love to know if anyone else has found any other delicious decafs.
- Replacement parts: Over time the rubber gasket seal will deteriorate, and the filter on the jug will become clogged so you’ll need to replace these. Packs of gaskets + filters are about £/$6-7.