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Moka Pot

The coffee world is no stranger to the age of nostalgia and reboots that we currently live in. Take for instance the Moka Pot. What was once a kitchen staple, in the homes of most coffee drinkers across the world, was recently being threatened with extinction, as technology began changing the coffee industry. With many new coffee shops and coffee tools being developed to make coffee drinking easy and convenient, the rudimentary Moka Pot was banished to the back of pantries and storage closets. Modernists thought they had won, but they forgot one thing: never underestimate the power of hipsters

In reality, the recent increase in popularity and focused attention that the coffee industry has received actually likely helped bring back the Moka Pot. It is once again returning to the forefront of people’s stovetops, and I’d like to imagine, their hearts as well. You’ve probably seen it, but do you know it’s history? And more importantly, how to use it? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Best of Both Worlds

As with every European invention, there’s a “legend has it” story. And as with every “legend has it” story, it’s vague and not confirmed. In this case, the story goes that the Moka Pot inspiration came from a laundry boiler. In any case, the idea stems from the espresso machine, in particular the La Pavoni, which was the pioneer espresso machine that launched the whole espresso craze back in 1906 at the World’s Fair in Milan. The espresso machine is actually very similar to the Moka Pot, they both brew coffee with pressurized water

In 1918, aluminum production and crafting was just in its infancy. Metalworker Alfonso Bialetti returned home after a decade of working with aluminum and decided to open a shop crafting lightweight pots and pans from aluminum. At the time, a small coffee tool called the Napoletana was popular, which had a very similar three-chamber build to the Moka Pot. The middle chamber is loaded with coffee grounds, the bottom chamber is filled with water and heated, and then the device is turned upside down to allow the hot water to flow through the grounds and into the third chamber.
Modern Espresso Machine

Being the brilliant innovator that Bialetti was, he decided to make a device that combined the best of both worlds: pressure brewing from the espresso machine and the three chamber design of the Napoletana. And thus the Moka Pot was born. Apparently he nailed the design from the beginning, because the signature 8-sided hourglass shape is still used to this day. Back then, it was called the Bialetti Moka Express, with Moka stemming from the city of Mocha, in Yemen, just like the Mocha drink. 

Should I Try It?

Moka Pots are like espresso, but not. They’re concentrated, but coffee snobs will be quick to point out that espresso machines brew coffee at a much higher pressure than Moka Pots, so the resulting flavor profile is a bit different. If you’re looking for a strong, espresso-like, coffee, this method is for you!

Fool Proof Guide

Step 1
Fill the bottom chamber with cold water up to the fill line, just below the where the chamber begins to turn into the screw part.
Pro Tip: If you really want to get that perfect cup, boil water in a kettle first. Then, add the heated water to the bottom chamber to avoid cooking your coffee and giving off a metallic taste.

Step 2
Grind your beans on the drip setting. You’re looking for grounds that are about as fine as table salt. Place the filter basket on top of the bottom chamber and fill it with coffee grounds to the top and level off the top with your finger.

Step 3
Screw the top to the bottom and place the Moka Pot on the stove. Use moderate heat, the lower the better as long as you have time, to avoid burning it and getting the metallic taste. Leave the lid open.

Step 4
As the water heats up and the coffee begins to brew, you’ll hear puffing and gurgling, and see a rich brown liquid rise up. The process is complete once this liquid turns to a honey color and begins to just start foaming. Once you’re experienced, you’ll know how to catch it before the foam even begins!

Step 5
Pour the coffee into a cup! Add hot water to dilute or enjoy as-is for a concentrated flavor profile.