The Moka Pot
While Italian influence pervades throughout coffee shop culture, how Italians drink coffee at home is a far lesser well-known fact. So is this a best-kept secret or something best to keep secret? Let’s find out!
You might expect something like a Gaggia or La Pavoni espresso maker to adorn the kitchen of every Italian home, but, in fact, it’s the humble moka pot which takes pride of place. Somehow, despite Italians remaining fiercely loyal to this coffee making contraption, not everyone has heard of, yet alone tried a coffee brewed from a moka pot. So…
What is a moka pot?
A moka pot is a stovetop device for making coffee. There are two chambers between which sits a filter basket for coffee grounds. Water is added to the lower chamber and heating forces steam from the lower chamber through the coffee before it collects in the upper chamber.
Who invented the moka pot?
The moka pot was designed in 1933 by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti, who chose to name it after after the city of Mocha in Yemen.
The iconic piece of Italian design is still in production by Bialetti Industies, you can check out their website here
Where to buy a moka pot?
You are likely to find the occasional one hiding amongst the homeware in the isles of your local supermarket. If you have ever been in a kitchenware shop you’ve no doubt passed by a moka pot or two. And of course they are available to buy online. Expect to pay between £10 -£20.
What is moka coffee like?
It was designed to roughly emulate the espresso machines of Italian coffee bars, in a small and simple device which could be used in any home.
A true espresso requires at least 9 bars of pressure. While the moka pot manages only around 2-3 bars of pressure.
The resulting coffee is thick, strong, murky. If you are using coffee roasted dark, the Italian way, it can be rather bitter if taken black. Personally, though, I love it so if you have never tried it give it a go.
5 Moka coffee tips...
Following these guidelines will help to make the most of your moka coffee experience:
- Don’t burn yourself. Use a cloth to protect your hand. Moka pots get ridiculously hot. If I had a penny for every time I’ve burnt myself!
- If you are using the pot over a gas hob concentrate the flames on the base of the pot. Don’t let the flames go up the sides of the pot, eventually you will melt the handle that way.
- Use a relatively fine to medium-fine ground coffee. As for an espresso.
- Keep it clean. Coffee oils can gather inside the pot, making your coffee bitter. Completely dismantle the pot after each use and wash it thoroughly. It’s also wise to clean out the spouts with a mini brush once in a while.
- Keep an eye on it. We know what they say about watching a kettle, but a pot is not a kettle, it will boil while you are watching it, eventually. Should you happen to take your eye off it, the damn thing will boil immediately and your coffee will rapidly evaporate into mud. Just be patient. If it seems to be taking forever, move it back and forth a little it will magically speed up the process, but be careful not to scratch the stovetop!