Making coffee the Italian way: our guide to the moka pot
The moka pot has been a safe bet for coffee lovers for over 80 years and shows no signs of going out of fashion! It was invented in Italy in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, the founder of the legendary brand of cafetières. Bialetti revolutionised the art of coffee-making with a unique coffee maker : the Moka Express. Its fame quickly spread throughout the world : simply pay attention to moka pot cameo appearances in movies or TV series !
Are you looking for something stronger than a filter coffee but lighter than an espresso? With the moka pot, you can make a cup of coffee that resembles an espresso, without having to shell out for an expensive specialist machine.
But how do you know you’re choosing the right moka pot? From the size of the pot to the heating method, plus a quick run-through on how to make coffee the Italian way: it’s all in our definitive guide to the moka pot!
Choosing your moka pot
How many cups?
First and foremost, keep in mind that the standard capacity for a cup of coffee with a moka pot is 50 ml. Therefore, a 4-cup cafetière has a capacity of just 200 ml (bear in mind that a standard mug is 250ml).
Does that seem small? Well, Italy is the land of the espresso!
Your choice on the size of the cafetière will depend on the number of people in your household, how often you all drink coffee and in what quantities.
Do you regularly drink coffee with your friends and family? Then you’ll need a bigger moka pot. A one- or two-cup moka pot might be enough for everyday use, but it will quickly prove too small if you like to host coffee breaks with friends and family.
Almost all moka pots are made from one of two materials: aluminium or stainless steel.
- Aluminium: light, inexpensive and a good conductor of heat, aluminium has always been a popular choice for moka pot manufacturers. It’s suitable for all heat sources (except induction).
- Stainless steel: healthy and hardwearing, stainless steel is more resistant than aluminium to damage caused by heat, bumps or scratches. Another advantage not to be taken lightly is that, unlike with aluminium, stainless steel moka pots are dishwasher-safe. Most will be compatible with all heat sources, including induction.
Which heating method?
Obviously, if you decide to buy a moka pot, you can only choose from the models that are compatible with your kitchen facilities. For example, if you have an induction hob, you will need a cafetière that is especially designed to be compatible with induction.
Please note: a small moka pot on a larger induction plate will generate less power. Therefore, the induction element may not activate nor function properly if the cookware is too small. You will need to pay close attention to the diameter of the base.
For other heat sources (electric, glass ceramic, gas, etc…), you can choose any moka pot you like, including moka pots made for induction.
The look of the cafetière will no doubt play an important part in your choice. Depending on your personal tastes, you may prefer the retro style of the Bialetti Moka Express, the elegance of the Bialetti Kitty or even a more colourful option like the Red Moka Express.
Of course, what your cafetière looks like does not affect the quality of your coffee. So simply follow your heart’s desire! A moka pot is a small appliance, so you needn’t worry about it taking up too much of your space. You could even use it to decorate your kitchen!
Moka pots: our Top 5!
Bialetti Venus Elegance (induction safe)
Designed by Guido Bergna (a renowned designer of household objects), the Venus moka pot has an understated and elegant look with its stainless steel design. Its practical features include an anti-drip beak to pour your coffee easily and it is dishwasher-safe. Excellent value for money.
- Excellent value for money
- Induction-safe (and all other heat sources)
- Anti-drip beak
- Longer preparation time on electric hobs
Bialetti Moka Express
Invented nearly 100 years ago, the Bialetti Moka Express remains the most iconic moka pot. Made in Italy, this classic, simple and enduringly elegant cafetière is synonymous with coffee of the highest quality. As it is made of aluminium, the Moka Express must be cleaned by hand.
- Excellent value for money
- Ideal for electric or gas hobs
- Wide range of sizes
- Not dishwasher-safe
Aeternum Moka Elegance (white)
Not as well-known as Bialetti (but part of the same group), Aeternum have been bringing moka pots to the market since 1938. The design of their Elegance model is a tribute to the best traditions of the Italian moka pot. Its main advantage is its price: the Elegance is around 30% cheaper than a classic Bialetti moka pot, but still guarantees the quality that comes with several decades of experience in the industry.
- Better value for money
- Ideal for electric and gas hobs
- Classic and elegant design
- Small range of sizes
- Not dishwasher safe
Bialetti Moka Express – (induction safe)
With their new collection of Moka Express cafetières for induction hobs, Bialetti have updated their traditional Moka Express model to meet the demands of today’s consumers. And they’ve done it in style! The base of the cafetière is made of stainless steel, and is therefore dishwasher-safe, while the upper part is made of aluminium.
- Dishwasher-safe base
- Induction-safe (as well as other heat sources)
- An update on the traditional Moka Express
- Higher price
- Upper part not dishwasher safe
- Excellent quality
- Stylish design
- Higher price
Before too long, we will reach the 100th anniversary of the invention of the moka pot. And truth be told, it remains a simple and effective piece of equipment that doesn’t really need new innovations or improvements.
Nevertheless, I’ve identified two moka pots with a difference !
Recipe: how to make a great cup of coffee with a moka pot
- Fill the lower chamber with hot water just below the valve.
- Insert the funnel and fill it with ground coffee. Spread the coffee evenly but do not tamp it down. Your coffee grind should be slightly coarser than for an espresso but finer than for a French Press.
- Screw the upper part of the moka pot onto the base. Check that everything is secured. Turn on the stove and put the moka pot over the heat with its lid open.
- Attach the serving chamber to the base. Check that everything is tightly attached. Place the moka pot on the heat with the lid open
- When coffee starts to come out in the upper chamber, close the lid and remove the moka pot from the heat. Give time for the coffee to come up with the lid shut.
- Serve your coffee in a cup or a glass… and enjoy! :)
Taking care of your moka pot
You should regularly clean your moka pot to get the best results from it. And beware: if your cafetière is made of aluminium, only clean it using water.
Please note that almost all the individual parts on your moka pot can be changed:
- The gasket/joint: to be changed when you see that the filter is dry, damaged or your cafetière is leaking.
- The filter: generally sold with the gasket/joint, the filter needs to be changed as soon as you notice any rusting or limescale deposit.
- The funnel: like the filter, this needs to be changed when you notice any rusting or deposit.
- The handle: because accidents do happen! :)
You will need to use coffee ground specifically for a moka pot. If you don’t, your moka pot will not work properly.
If the ground coffee is too fine, the water will have trouble coming through, if it is too coarse, the water will pass too quickly and you will get a weak coffee.
Why not grind your own coffee for freshness? A decent manual coffee grinder will be easy to store and convenient for grinding the small amount of coffee needed for your moka pot.