What You’ll Need:
- Coffee ground to espresso setting or slightly coarser
- Dish towel or oven mitt
- Kettle or electric water boiler
Step One: Boiling (optional but strongly recommended)
Boil enough water to fill the Moka Pot boiler up to its release valve. Starting with boiled water is beneficial to the extraction process – it limits the possibility of burning the coffee grounds, which produces off-flavors. But it is not wrong to just fill the Moka Pot boiler straight away with water of any temperature, it will just take slightly longer for the water to get to steaming temperature inside the mechanism. IF YOU USE PRE-BOILED WATER, THE OUTSIDE OF THE BOILER WILL BE VERY HOT. USE A DISH TOWEL OR OVEN MITT FOR ALL CONTACT WITH THE BOILER.
Step Two: Filling the Boiler
Fill boiler with water up to, but not beyond, the midway point of the release valve
Fill the Moka Pot boiler up to the midway point of its release valve, but no higher, with pre-boiled water. Overfilling will cause displaced water to leach into the basket containing the coffee grounds, water-logging them when the object is to extract solely through steam passing through the grounds. The water-log caused by overfilling will lead to off-flavors and an imbalanced extraction.
Step Three: Loading the Grounds
Fill basket with coffee grounds, level out, and place inside the boiler
Fill the basket with coffee of your choice, ground to an espresso setting or just slightly coarser. You want the volume of the basket to be filled evenly. Once you’ve scooped enough coffee grounds to fill the chamber, lightly level out the surface of the coffee so it is flush with the lip of the basket. DO NOT TAMP THE COFFEE! The Moka Pot is equipped to withhold only a moderate amount of pressure, and tamping the coffee grounds can impede the movement of steam from the boiler through the basket and into the chamber. This will cause an uneven extraction at least, and at worst the results can be, literally, explosive. So just brush off the excess grounds, wipe away any that are clinging to the outside surface of the basket as well, and place the basket into its snug resting place inside the boiler.
Step Four: Closing the System
Screw chamber onto boiler until just tight – then give an extra quarter turn
Screw on the chamber until just tight, then screw another quarter rotation to firm up its connection to the boiler to avoid any pressure leaks. Remember the outside of the boiler will be hot if you’ve used pre-boiled water, so hold only with a dish towel or oven mitt. Once the chamber is screwed on, be sure to pop open the lid so you can monitor the upcoming action!
Step Five: Heating
Put your Moka Pot on medium-low heat
Place your Moka Pot on the stove-top and heat on medium-low. Be mindful of the placement of the handle, which is plastic – accidentally melting this is a tragic sensory compromise that strongly overshadows the coffee aroma you were hoping for, and the burnt plastic smell will linger in your kitchen for hours or even days. I always turn the handle to the outside of the burner.
Step Six: Extracting
Watch Your Coffee!
As the water in the boiler turns to steam, pressure forces it to rise up into the basket. It continues through the basket, extracting vitamins, oils, caffeine, and all the flavors that are soluble at that temperature range from the coffee grounds. It rises into the small, dual-opening channel within the chamber, recondensed into liquid form as coffee!
The extraction occurs in a few stages: the first bit of coffee that escapes into the chamber is typically a bubbly, light-hazel honey colored foam. Quickly after this first spurt, the coffee will begin to stream through both openings, running down the channel in the chamber as a thin, cherry-dark, syrupy ink with a thoughtful constancy. Coffee will stream through like this and at this pace for almost the entire extraction process. As the extraction nears its end, the coffee begins to thin significantly and become pale, almost straw-colored.
Step Seven: Stop Extraction
Remove Moka Pot from heat, run boiler under cold water to halt extraction
Learning when to stop the extraction is the true art of the Moka Pot. The extraction will continue until all of the water from the boiler has passed through the grounds into the chamber. But the flavors change dramatically toward the end of the process, and knowing what taste profile you desire will inform how long you allow the coffee to extract. As a general rule, cutting your extraction short, as the coffee is still prominently dark and streaming, before or just as it becomes light in color and puffing bubbles through the channel, will produce a rich, robust, concentrated drink. BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED: THE EXTRACTION WILL NOT STOP JUST BY REMOVING THE MOKA POT FROM HEAT. To stop extraction, you must cool the boiler rapidly. I blast the bottom of the pot – the boiler component – under cold water for 5 seconds or so, until coffee stops passing through into the chamber. For more pure volume, you can allow the extraction to go longer, knowing that the tail of the extraction period is pulling less and different soluble components out of the beans. This will water down the overall flavor of your drink and can produce a less delicate, balanced tone in your coffee. Whichever way you choose, enjoy your drink!