Getting Good Coffee from a Stovetop Espresso Maker

A while back I found a small Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, or moka pot, at a secondhand store. It’s a nice way to make concentrated coffee. You won’t get the crema of modern espresso, but made right, you’ll still get a very good product.

“Made right” is the key. Even after reading how to use it, my coffee was ending up very bitter. The beans were freshly roasted and freshly ground, and I was turning off the heat when I saw it bubble, so I couldn’t see the problem. Then a friend whose work includes training baristas gave me a couple tips:

  1. As soon as you hear the coffee coming up, turn the heat down.
  2. Don’t use a dark roast.

These two things made a huge difference in the quality of the brew. So when you want to make great coffee with a moka pot:

  1. Get freshly roasted beans, and only grind what you need when you need it. Grind a little more coarsely than you would for espresso.
  2. Fill the lower chamber just up to the pressure valve.
  3. Don’t pack the grounds in like you would for espresso.
  4. Leave the lid open. As soon as your see the first bit of cofee come up, turn it to a low heat.
  5. When it’s almost filled, you’ll see the coffee coming out thin and/or bubble. Take the pot off of heat immediately.
  6. Serve promptly. The heated metal can cause the coffee flavor to change.

This method is great for iced coffee, since it results in a more concentrated brew. Buy one on Amazon and try it out!