Not totally convinced the Moka pot’s reputation for brewing bitter coffee is deserved? Neither are we. While it can be a little tricky, achieving a tasty brew with these unique little contraptions is certainly possible. Read on for our picks for the best coffee to use with a Moka pot as well as a few tips on how to improve your brew strategy.
Meet the Moka Pot
Let’s start by talking about what exactly a Moka pot is. This neat brewer is a traditional Italian coffee maker, originally designed by Luigi De Ponti for Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. For many, using a Moka pot was the only way to achieve an espresso-like beverage from their own home.
How it Works
Moka pots are built to last. So if you are looking for an affordable, durable tool to help you brew your espresso, this might be the best choice for you. These pots are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum so that they can withstand the high heat of your stove and avoid water damage and rusting.
At the bottom of the pot is the water chamber (also called the bottom chamber). The bottom chamber is situated closest to the heat source so the water will heat up and evaporate into steam to enter the coffee basket. This process creates a fair amount of pressure, which is why this brew is often likened to espresso. Don’t worry though, Moka pots come with safety valves to release excess pressure.
As the name suggests, the coffee basket is where your grounds are stored. Above it, a filter screen blocks any grounds and allows the coffee to flow through a funnel and into the upper chamber. This dispels the built-up pressure and enables the Moka pot to collect the brewed coffee and keep it calm and ready for you to pour.
If you are concerned about the upkeep involved with espresso machines, going with a Moka pot is a great alternative for you. Honestly, it is almost as simple as an Aeropress. All you have to do is disassemble the components described above, dump out the grounds, rinse, and towel dry. No soap, dishwasher, or descaling needed!
Choosing Your Moka Pot Coffee
Before we jump into our coffee recommendations, let’s discuss some of the key factors we are looking for in case you want to go off-script.
The main thing to look for is the grind. As with every coffee maker, choosing the right grind size can greatly impact the end result of your brew. For a Moka pot, you are going to want a medium to a medium-fine grind*. That will be slightly finer than what you’d throw in a drip coffee maker, but not the powder-like texture you would use in a real-deal espresso machine.
You want enough surface area for full flavor extraction, but you don’t want the grind to be so fine that the water will not be able to properly flow through. While it is easier to grind your own beans to achieve this in-between size, Moka pots are pretty forgiving.
*With all of that said, we do want to note that some people prefer a coarser grind (similar to what one would use for pour-over coffee) while others prefer a full-blown espresso grind. Our team tends to lean towards the middle ground, but keep in mind that there is some wiggle room here. Overall, we think it’s best to grind your own beans rather than buying already ground coffee so you can experiment a bit.
Many people tend to opt for darker roasted coffee beans to pair with their Moka pot. Dark roasts or medium-dark roast are commonly used for espresso drinks in general because they offer rich, deep flavors that stand up well to the pressurized brewing process.
Best Coffees For Moka Pot
Coffee Bean Direct Dark Sulawesi Kalossi
These Indonesian coffee beans are some of our top recommended Sulawesi coffees. And we think they’re a great choice for Moka pot brewing.
The Dark Sulawesi Kalossi is an earthy dark roast with a heavy body. It features a blend of sweet and spicy flavors with notes of black pepper and cinnamon and a bright, berry finish under a chocolatey aroma. The beans are 100% Arabica and the coffee has notably low acidity.
The richness of the flavors in this coffee helps it rise well above your average pot coffee. Though Moka pot coffee is often criticized for not being strong enough, these beans are certain to give your brew that extra punch. Plus, it’s available as whole bean coffee, so you can nail that ground size!
Nicoletti Coffee Espresso Roast
Next up, we have a full-blown espresso, but this blend is anything but standard.
While the name says “Espresso Roast” this blend of Brazilian, Indian, Costa Rican & Guatemalan coffee beans is actually a medium-light roast. The blend if 75% Arabica and 25% Robust, so even if it is a little lighter than your usual brew, the Arabica will give you the extra caffeine you need.
All of these beans are freshly roasted in small batches in Brooklyn, NY. Each bag as a roast date stamp on it, so you can make extra sure you’re using fresh beans for a perfectly tasty Moka pot brew.
Equator Dark Roast Jaguar Espresso
Now back to your regularly scheduled dark roast! This is another espresso blend, but this one will bring your Moka pot coffee a little closer to the traditional espresso flavor profile.
The Jaguar Espresso blend uses Organic and Fair Trade certified coffees from Latin America, Sumatra, and Ethiopia. After you get that hot water moving, you get a rich brew with notes of chocolate, spices, apricot, and hazelnut. Basically, if you want to bring the comforting, familiar taste of a classic espresso into your home, these are the best beans for you.
Aromistico Medium-Dark Roma Selection
Lastly, if you would prefer a flavorful middle ground coffee, Aromistico’s Roman Selection is a nice, mellow medium-dark roast that might be best suited for your palette.
This coffee belongs in your Moka pot. The coffee has a luxurious yet sharp nutty flavor with a smooth aroma. The beans come from El Salvador and Guatemala and the blend of arabica and robusta lend it both high-quality flavor and a serious caffeine kick. Before arriving in your Moka pot, these coffee beans are small-batch, hand-roasted in Lake Garda, Italy.
Aromistico’s coffee is produced by the Pelliconi Family of Italian Artisan Roasters, so you know you’ll be brewing coffee with a special touch.
If you want something with a less traditional taste, consider opting for the lighter, Venezia selection, which has a sweet, berry-like flavor.
Tips for Brewing
Brewing Best Practices
If you are looking for the full low-down on how to make Moka pot coffee, check out our full article on the process here. For those of you who just want the quick and dirty version, here it is:
- Fill the bottom chamber with water
- Grind the coffee (if applicable)
- Add ground coffee to the coffee basket
- Assemble the device (upper chamber, filter screen, etc.)
- Put the brewer on your stove and heat things up
- Check coffee levels and stir your brew
- Steam milk if you want to get fancy
- Serve and enjoy your best at-home coffee!
As you may know, brewing with a Moka pot comes with a few unique, but not insurmountable challenges. Below, we go through a couple of the common pitfalls you might face before nailing the perfect coffee routine, plus some tips on how to avoid them.
Bitterness in coffee is a common complaint across a number of brewing methods, and it is most frequently a result of over-extraction. Over-extracting your coffee means the grounds were exposed to too much hot water or brewed too long, causing the flavor to degrade.
If you are having trouble getting your brew out in time there are a couple of different things you can try:
- Preheat your water. This will reduce the amount of time your Moka pot is actually on the stove.
- Reduce brew time. In a similar vein, you can try simply reducing how long you keep the Moka pot on your stove.
- Go coarser. As we mentioned before, your grind matters; if you notice things are leaning a bit bitter for your taste, try coarser grounds to reduce surface area and slow down extraction.
- Reduce heat. You may be brewing a too hot; try using a lower heat setting on your stove.
On the opposite side of over-extraction is coffee that is too weak. So that means that you mostly just need to apply the opposite strategies to some of the ones described above. In particular, you may want to increase brew time or go for a finer grind. Also, double-check to make sure your grounds are evenly distributed in the coffee basket.
One of the most concerning issues you can run into is a leaky pressure release valve. If steam starts seeping out of the valve, that is an indication that the device has built up too much pressure. This issue can be for several reasons from an overfilled coffee chamber, compressed (or tamped) grounds, or too much heat.
If you notice a leaky valve, remove your device from the heat and try adjusting your grounds to prevent pressure build-up.
So is the Moka pot the right brewing tool for you? Consider these questions:
- Are you looking for a tool that makes espresso-like brews for your morning cup, but you aren’t an espresso purist?
- Do you want to save some money instead of dropping all your cash on a real-deal espresso machine?
- Are you worried that other tools might fill too much counter space or you won’t be able to find a place for them in your kitchen?
If you said yes to any of the above questions, then a Moka pot might be a good choice to up your coffee game! In that case, we hope this guide has helped you choose the best coffee to pair with your shiny new tool (or in achieving better Moka pot coffee).