By far and away the most commonly purchased Moka Pot is the Bialetti Moka Express Pots like those I reviewed a while back and gave away last month soon thereafter but there are plenty of other similar pots out there made both by Bialetti as well as other top brands.
The Xresso Stove-top moka pot by Cuisaid is very popular as is the more expensive Brikka and Venus models by Bialetti. Additionally there are countless off-brands that make essentially unbranded and “generic” moka pots.
Although each of these pots are slightly different in build and some are sturdier than others they all generally work the same and their instructions for use are almost identical.
- You put water in the bottom up to a fill line.
- You put coffee grounds in the middle filter basket.
- You put the assembled pot on the stovetop on medium to low temperature and wait for coffee.
If you’ve ever seen one of these things in action then you can probably get a feel for working them yourself in virtually no time. Honestly just watching a YouTube video is probably all you need too.
How To Use A Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
Even if you watched the video there are some important things to know that aren’t covered int he video.
To summarize the process just know that on a Moka Express or similar stove-top espresso pot you need to fill the water to the fill line every time. You never use less and you never use more. It is built for one level of water.
Some models have an identifiable fill line but models such as the Bialetti Moka Express and Brikka the fill line is not indicated by anything other than the pressure release valve. In short the release valve is the fill line and you never fill above it – always fill to just shy of the valve as depicted in the picture at left.
Another point of use to keep in mind is that all Moka pots have a basket sized perfectly for the quantity of water you put in the base. You need to fill this all the way to the rim and keep it mostly flat.
There is more wiggle room for this point that the water fill line – you can put slightly less grounds in the basket but not too much less. The grounds act to increase the pressure in the brewing process. If you have less grind in the basket the brew will come out weak and fast.
On the flip side overfilling will cause the brew to be bitter and slow to produce. If you really go to high then you may even clog the upper filter screen leading to the coffee basin.
I tend to fill mine to just barely heaping and then flatten it out with my finger. This results in a full basket that is not mounded in the middle and shallow on the sides.
Some people tamp the grind down but you do not need to do this and tamping it down too much can increase the pressure in the pot more than is safe or ideal for best flavor.
Lastly the brewing process takes place on a stove top (or a boiler plate with a few select models). The best brew will come from a moka pot set to medium low heat. The slower you heat the water the better the brew will come out the top side.
Yes, brewing on high will result in a faster cup but you run the risk of making bitter coffee, burning the handle, breaking down the rubber gasket that seals the top of the pot to the bottom, and even releasing the pressure valve on models that have such devices.
High temperatures are also more likely to result in boiling coffee on the top side which is not good either. If your coffee comes out the top and starts boiling before you turn off the heat then it will reduce, burn, and generally lose that awesome flavor you’re going for. After all, why else would you use a moka pot if you didn’t care for the best coffee flavor you could possibly produce.
As for grind size, some people prefer fine grind others prefer medium to coarse grind. In all honesty it really doesn’t matter that much. I’ve used all different kinds of grind size. So long as you don’t tamp your grind too much the brew will come out great on the other side. Experiment and find what you prefer best. For me it’s something between espresso and drip.
If you are new to brewing with moka pots and found this post useful then make sure to read the following post on cleaning a moka pot.
If you end up liking your moka pot a lot then make sure to look at these insulated espresso mugs which keep your moka hotter a lot longer.