I have a love/hate relationship with my Moka pot. It was the first implement I ever bought beyond the standard Mr. Coffee countertop dripper everyone in the USA owns. I bought mine, a little 3-cupper (more like one-cup, really) probably 11 years ago. I remembered them being a staple in every Roman household when I lived in Italy as a kid, and they pretty much remain such today. The inherent problem I’ve always had with Moka pots is that every coffee I’ve ever made in mine pretty much tastes like every other coffee I’ve ever made in it. Fresh, stale, pre-ground from a can, coarse, fine, tamped, not tamped… never matters. My Moka pots always taste like Moka pot.
Last September when we were in Rome and rented an apartment, the first thing I looked for was the requisite Moka pot in the kitchen. There were two! The alimentari on the ground floor of our apartment in Trastevere had Lavazza d’Oro, so we were in business. As much as I like a strong, black Moka, I found that adding about the same volume of hot water actually produces a bit sweeter and more interesting cup.
I stumbled across the video at the end of this post, Back to the Moka Pot, over the weekend and I decided to give the methods a shot. The video takes a while to get to the important conclusion, but my Hungarian brethren do eventually settle on data that supports how to best make a Moka pot whether you’re using with with the pressure valve thingie in it or a standard one like I have.
The common problem with Moka pots is apparently scorching the grounds. The video concludes, then, that for a standard Moka pot, you should pre-heat the water, pour into the Moka, and then put it on the burner. They found the grounds are not exposed to high heat for very long. To test this I used the mild Pearland Coffee Roasters Brazil Sitio Da Serra that I reviewed earlier this week. I would notice if tasted like Moka pot!
I also added in a couple of my own methods to what the video suggested. Once the coffee started coming up into the Moka pot I turned the temp on the burner down to get a gentle, even flow instead of pounding water through as fast as possible. I also decanted the coffee into a cup right away and then cut it with about an equal volume of hot tap water. Real classy, I know, but this is what works for me!
I found that the Brazilian coffee retained pretty much the same character as it did as a pourover and didn’t have the Moka pot flavor I’ve gotten from literally every other coffee I’ve ever used! This is the first time, ever, for me. This really brings up a lot of possibilities for the humble Moka. It still won’t be my go-to method, but it was pretty cool to be able to brew a coffee that, well, tasted the way the coffee tastes and not how the method tastes!
Here’s what I did:
- Fine grind about 25g of coffee. I had a few grams left over for my very small Moka pot.
- Boil water in my travel Bonavita boiler.
- While waiting for the water to boil, I added coffee to the little filter assembly and leveled it off, but did not tamp it, then I set it aside (balances upright perfectly in an espresso cup, FYI!). I also turned the electric burner on on my stovetop to get it nice and hot.
- Once the water boiled, I poured it into the bottom portion of the Moka pot, carefully added the filter and coffee, and then used a towel to hold the now very hot lower part and screw on the upper part.
- Put the Moka pot on the burner, which was turned to high. I didn’t time it, but I could hear it start to come up into the coffee bed within a minute, if that. At that point I turned the burner down to about 6 and varied the burner between 4-6 as coffee gently came up into the upper part. Decant right away and add some hot water.
I found the Brazilian coffee was pretty true to the pourover I’d had earlier in the day. It had a little more “bite” to it, but it was definitely the same coffee, not the probably scorched mess I’d been making in my Moka pot for the past 11 years! LOL