What’s the Deal with the Bad Reputation?
The Moka Stove-Top Pot has suffered silently with its reputation of making a bad cup of coffee. First off, if you’re looking for a standard cup of coffee the Moka isn’t going to deliver that because it’s meant to produce coffee in those tiny Italian espresso cups so yes, the coffee may taste bitter because of the cup size you’re using.
The Moka also has a reputation for being entirely too complicated for people. There’s a lot involved here even though you don’t need electricity to use most of the machines—but does the Moka really make a bad cup of coffee or is this entirely a case of people not understanding how to properly use the machine?
What Makes the Moka Stove-Top Pot Unique?
Moka machines have a lot going for them including being found around the world, but it’s the idea that all you need is a stove top, a Moka machine, water and some coffee grounds that make it unique. It’s similar to the French press in that we’re completely taking out the idea of needing electricity to create coffee, but with that being said the process becomes a bit more complex.
The Moka makes a brand of coffee unlike any other—it’s not quite an espresso since it can’t hit the number of maximum bars needed to create one, but it’s also not quite your standard cup of coffee either. It’s what I like to call a nice mix of the two types that will easily give you the caffeinated jitters if you’re not careful.
The Moka pot also has four different parts to it that most coffee machines don’t have—and all of these components make it seem incredibly complicated but once you learn the function of each part then it becomes much easier to understand the machine and how it works as a whole.
- The Bottom Chamber:This part holds your water that needs to be boiled in order to create a delicious cup of Moka coffee
- The Top Chamber and Valve:The top collects the coffee as it’s being brewed and the valve is what the coffee has to travel through so researching any safety concerns with these is extremely important. Bialetti is known for their patented safety valves so if you’re nervous to try the Moka pot method try this brand for peace of mind.
- The Basket:The Basket sits right below the valve and you place it gently on top of the bottom chamber—this is where your coffee grounds will go. Water surrounds the filter and the basket, but make sure not to submerge these important components in water when you’re making the coffee!
- The Filters: Moka pots have two filters, which is pretty nifty—one of them sits in the basket with the grounds in it and the other is located in the top of the valve.
What Are Some Cons of Switching to the Moka Stove-Top Pot Method?
The Moka can be a bit challenging to learn to use for some, and it’s that reason alone that many people steer clear of switching to this method. It took me about six months to learn how to properly use a Moka without it making those frightening gurgling sounds that make it appear to have the swamp thing living inside—turns out I didn’t have the stove top turned up high enough to reach its perfect pressure point.
Then there’s the cleaning involved with the Moka—don’t let people fool you and tell you that having old built-up coffee in your machine gives it flavor. That’s not true and that’s just a lazy person telling you that they don’t like to take the time to properly care for their coffee machines. Maybe it is true and they do like the taste of burnt coffee though. My experience is that if you want to keep your coffee machine in tip-top shape then cleaning it regularly will help it last longer and produce better quality coffee. The Moka is difficult to clean though and the filter is usually the part that takes the most time to get really spotless and free of coffee grounds.
How Are the Brewing Techniques of Other Machines Different?
The Moka machine and the percolator are probably two of the most comparable brewing techniques, which is why most people say the coffee they produce tastes similar. The Percolator requires a longer steeping process and produces what some call a bitter and almost burn flavor because the coffee starts out very weak and as the steam rises creating condensation on the top of the pot, the condensation drips to heat the water and coffee up quickly. It takes a bit longer than the Moka Stove-Top Pot method since the Moka machines often rely on very little water that needs to be heated up to the perfect temperature and you can get a cup of coffee in under 5 minutes, while a Percolator can take between 7 to 10 minutes on the stovetop.
If you’re comparing it to something like the French press, there equal in the amount of time it takes to make a cup of coffee—but that’s where the similarities end. The French press requires you to measure out the amount of coffee grounds you need, and the Moka has a pre-measured filter where you insert the coffee grounds at the bottom of the machine. Also, you add water around this filter of coffee grounds in a Moka and in the French press method you’re directly adding water to the coffee grounds and then self-filtering it out as you push the plunger down. The Moka is hands down a simpler machine, but if you’re not a fan of strong and bitter coffee then you may not appreciate it as much as the French press.
Is the Flavor of the Moka Stove-Top Pot Coffee Different?
It’s strange to try to define the flavor of a cup of coffee that comes from the Moka Stove-Top pot because it’s most unlike anything else you’ve probably ever experienced in your life. It’s a mixture of a percolator coffee that wants to be an espresso but just isn’t quite there. It’s much, much stronger than your average cup of coffee and many people like to add water or cream to lighten the extremely dark flavor it produces. I can’t say that I dislike the flavor, but it’s also one of those machines that sadly sits in my cupboard collecting dust because my guests don’t often ask for this type of coffee, and I can’t drink it since it produces a potent cup packed with caffeine.
Every now and then I’ll find myself craving an extra dose of caffeine, and I joyfully reach for my Moka pot but for the most part it’s not an everyday necessity for me. So if you like your coffee dark and bitter then this is the perfect coffee pot for you to get your hands on, and even if you just want to add water or cream to tone it down like I do—no one will judge you for it in your own kitchen.
Is a Moka Stove-Top Pot in My Budget?
This is what makes the Moka so special—you can easily find one for around $15. If you have a very low budget, then the best options are the Moka and the French Press—but the Moka is often even cheaper than the French press is. The Moka Stove-Top Pot can increase in price though costing you a pretty penny with the most expensive set topping off at $100. The average Moka pot ranges in price from $15 to $50 and is reasonable since you don’t have to worry about purchasing filters, coffee pods or K-Cups with the set.
That’s definitely one redeeming factor that the Moka has over many of its counterpart coffee machines and even if you only use it a few times a year it’ll still be worth it since it’s often much cheaper than a nice espresso machine—many people actually opt to buy a Moka pot instead of an espresso machine, and only the true coffee snobs of the universe could tell the difference between the two and the hot beverage they produce. If you’re not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for an espresso machine or you’re looking for a good gift to get a coffee lover, then the Moka is a great option.
Is the Moka Pot Truly a Coffee Machine for Everyone?
The Moka Pot is not for everyone—just like every person doesn’t like certain types of coffees or espressos. It just isn’t going to appeal to most coffee drinkers, but it does appeal to coffee lovers that enjoy a combination of espresso and percolated coffee.
This type of machine also won’t appeal to people that have busy schedules because it’s similar to the French press when it comes to being time consuming. The brewing process doesn’t take too long, at hitting the mark just under 5 minutes, but it’s the amount of time to clean and maintain the machine that may not be so alluring for every coffee drinker—especially the average coffee drinker.
Most people get confused by this machine because it looks complex, and don’t let the size fool you because it’s not meant for an American standard coffee cup. The description may say 3 cups, but that’s equal to 3 Italian cups of coffee so about the size of an espresso—if you’re buying a Moka machine always choose the biggest size if you’re planning on using a standard cup for your coffee. This is another reason the Moka doesn’t please everyone that tests out the machine.
Top 3 Machines
Best Budget Choice
Price: Ranges in prices from $19 to $40 depending on size
Lowest Price: $14.97 on Amazon
Features: Lifetime Guarantee and a comfortable handle that won’t burn your hands when pouring a cup
Cons: Customers complained of leakage on older models and the top is difficult to swivel up to see if coffee is finished brewing
Colors: Aluminum material
The Alpha Coffee Moka Pot can make as much as 6 cups of coffee, but remember that these are Italian size coffee cups so more like 2 cups of American coffee in a standard size cup. We love the low price and that we get a nice flavorful coffee without breaking the bank. The customer service has been excellent about answering questions and if there is any issue with the machine they will be sure to refund it in full or replace it. The newer models have been improved so that there’s no more leakage between the seal on the base and the top part that screw in and cleaning the machine is a breeze.
Best Overall Choice
Price: Ranges in price from $16 to $50 depending on size
Lowest Price: $16.14 on Amazon
Features: Patented safety valve that won’t be found in any other brand of Moka pot and it comes in varying sizes and colors
Cons: Not dishwasher safe and customers have complained that some models experience minor corrosion in the base chamber
Colors: Aluminum material, red, green, orange, blue and purple
The Bialetti Moka Express Espresso machine is a great investment for any true coffee lover and it comes in various colors that will be sure to fit any kitchen style. We also love that Bialetti puts safety first and has an extremely well-made valve for their coffee machine brand—it makes us more likely to trust them and purchase their machines. One of the best parts of this brand is that you can buy anything from a 1 cup size to a 12-cup size, depending on your needs. The moka pot is simple to clean out but you should be patient or else you’ll risk burning yourself during the process.
Best Premium Choice
Lowest Price: $140.19 on Amazon
Features: Large 10-cup carafe with a safety latch and automatic machine that sets temperature to the perfect 187 degrees in Fahrenheit
Cons: Loss of counter space since this is an automatic machine and you have less control over the creation process since you can’t set it on the stove top
Colors: Black and stainless steel
The KRUPS Moka Brewer Coffee Maker Machine is one of a kind and special so it’s only coffee aficionados that will really want to take on this machine—but this machine is suited for everyone. It’s one of the simplest ones since all you’re expected to do is add water to it and fill the filter up with coffee grounds then push a button and you’ll have Moka coffee before you know it. This machine is great for anyone that’s weary of trying their hand at making stove pot coffee, and you get to watch the coffee being made through the glass carafe. There are a few flaws in the machine since it’s more of a hassle to clean and it takes up quite a bit of counter space—but if you’re looking for something to make automatic moka coffee then this is perfect. We wish that KRUPS offered a longer warranty for their machines since you only have a 2-year guarantee—but having a great automatic machine for making a delicious cup of Moka coffee makes us incredibly excited! Now, if only they could have the machine in a few different color choices and it would be perfect for us.
Brewing Guide: Tips and Tricks for the Moka Stove-Top Pot
- You can either grind your own coffee beans or purchase a bag of coffee grounds to use. Remember that if you choose to grind the coffee beans, the grind setting should be set on coarse since you don’t want the coffee grounds to be too fine.
- Fill the water to right below the valve in your Moka pot—each pot has a small hole located almost in the middle of your bottom piece. Make sure that you don’t accidentally run water through your filter where your coffee grounds will be going—this piece needs to be completely taken out and saved for later.
- Take your filter, which you hopefully removed from the base of your Moka pot. Fill the top of it and lightly dust any remainder with your hand back into the coffee ground container. Be careful not to press the coffee grounds down.
- Now place the filter full of coffee grounds on top of the base and add the top portion of the Moka Stove-Top Pot back on. Make sure you have both pieces securely tightened or the water won’t heat up properly.
- Turn the stove on low and place the Moka Pot on the burner. If the setting is too high you’ll likely burn the coffee, and it’ll lose its delicious flavor. Play around with different stove settings and see which one produces the flavor you like best.
- There’s an argument circulating whether the top lid should be left up or down—and here’s what I have to say, it won’t change the flavor. I prefer to leave the top lid up though since I like to watch my coffee slowly being created. I’ll also know when the coffee is ready since it will stop flowing. It should take about 4-5 minutes until it’s finished.
- Stir the coffee in the Moka pot with a spoon and then pour it and enjoy!
Pro Tip: Make sure to use the right grind setting if you’re grinding your own beans—it should be slightly finer than what you would use with a drip coffee maker, but coarser than those used with an espresso machine. Putting it on a setting that’s somewhere right in the middle should be perfect.
Conclusion: The Moka pot works well for any type of person—even if you have very little time in the morning. If you’re a neat freak and you like to clean things right away then this might be the perfect solution since you should wait a few minutes to clean the pot out anyways, or you’ll risk burning yourself by being impatient. The machine itself is easy to clean—probably easier than most other coffee machines on the market even though it has the most components.
We love that it’s versatile and you can get a lot of coffee for a little money—brands range in offering pots that can serve as little as 1 cup of coffee to as many as 12 cups and we like that about it. It gives us variety in our life and we can definitely appreciate that.
The Moka coffee flavor might not be for everyone, but it’s the process of making it that I’ve learned to love. It feels great to be in control of what my coffee tastes like—and if it turns out to be a bad cup I can’t blame anyone other than myself and my terrible measuring ability. The taste can vary widely depending on how you like your coffee and if it’s incredibly bitter one day all it takes is a little cream and sugar to fix the problem.
Because of the Moka pots recent surge in popularity companies have been trying to make automatic machines to cater to those people that have very little time in the mornings, and although this takes away from the experience and the process of making your own Moka coffee—it allows people that love the taste but don’t have the time to get to enjoy the process as well.
Moka coffee is by far one of the most rewarding ways to make coffee and we hope that after you test the waters and make your own cup on the stove top—or with a machine that you’ll agree with us because even though the process may take a few extra minutes in the morning—it’s completely worth it!