Best Coffee for Moka Pots (You’ll Be Surprised at the Difference It Makes)
Even though drip coffee makers & high-tech espresso machines are more ubiquitous, the joys of brewing a perfect cup of espresso the old fashioned way – over a stove top – have not faded.
Since its introduction back in the 1930’s, the stovetop espresso maker (AKA 'the Moka pot' or the 'cowboy coffee') is still used to brew coffee in many cafes and (home or commercial) all over the world.
Why? Because it's simply an easy and quick way to brew a damn strong cup of joe.
So what's the secret to brewing a perfect cuppa Joe using a Moka pot?
Easy - besides a few lessons in technique, it comes down to using the right type of coffee & the perfect grind!
What Makes The Moka Pot?
Before we answer that it would help to understand the design of a Moka pot, and how it works.
Using that knowledge will help you to understand how you can achieve best results when using one of these devices.
At first glance, a stove top espresso maker is very much like a traditional percolator that is used in many homes on electric or gas-lit stoves to brew their espresso or any blend of coffee. It has four main components:
- The Bottom Chamber: In which it holds the water that will be boiled to create the coffee
- The Top Chamber and Tube: Which comprises of a tube and chamber that collects the coffee once it's brewed
- The Tube and Basket: The basket is positioned above the bottom chamber, and holds the grounds, with a tube that goes down to the lower chamber where the water resides
- The Filters: Yes, plural! A Moka pot comprises of two filters – one in the basket which has the grounds in it, and the other in the top tube
All of these individual components of the Moka pot work together to push the brewing process forward. Once placed on a stove top, the pot uses steam, which is produced by the boiling water, to transform the coffee grounds of your choice into your favorite coffee or espresso brew.
After all the boiling and bubbling is done, water from the bottom chamber "magically" appears as coffee in the top chamber, leaving soaked grounds in the basket. Both filters act to prevent stray grounds from entering into the coffee that’s been brewed.
So Then What Makes the Perfect Brew?
There’s more to brewing that perfect cup of coffee using your stove top espresso maker.
And while some of that lies in the science of what makes the Moka pot itself (its construction), a large part of Moka success lies in the art of choosing the perfect grind.
Achieving The Perfect Grind
So what type of coffee grind is the best for brewing great cup of coffee on a stovetop espresso maker?
The Perfect Coffee for your Moka Pot:
- The rule of thumb is to make use of grinds that are slightly finer than that used by a drip coffee maker, but coarser than that used to feed an espresso machine. This is the type that’s best suited for the Moka pot design discussed earlier.
- Moka pot espresso-making is not an exact science, so you will need to go through a "discovery" process. Start with grounds that are less than 250 grams, and then experiment from there.
- A 5 pound bag of Sulawesi Kalossi (Whole Bean Coffee) is a great choice if you are craving for dark roast coffee that’s strong and full-bodied. It’s low acidity makes it ideal for best results using in a stove top espresso maker.
- If you are in the mood for decaf, then consider using Lavazza Gran Filtro Decaffeinated - Whole Bean Coffee. Using a stovetop espresso maker you’ll produce coffee that offers an intense, sweet and smooth flavor.
- For your every-day, no-frills coffee experience, try Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground with your Moka pot. You’ll experience a strong yet naturally sweetish flavour that’s rich and well rounded
What you don’t want to do is use a grind that’s been sitting around on your kitchen shelf for too long.
If you are aiming for that perfect cuppa, then make sure your coffee – whatever beans you end up choosing – is not pre-ground for too long before it gets into the moka pot.
Ideally, use coffee that’s been ground immediately before using it. That’ll give your brew a fresh and flavourful taste. You’ll even salivate with the aroma of freshly ground coffee as you wait patiently for the moka pot to do its thing.
Occasionally, you may also use coffee that’s been ground within a day or two of its use. Any longer than that and your espresso will inherit a stale and bitter taste.
The trick is to ensure you store the pre-ground coffee in a cool, dark place, and use a moisture-proof, air-tight container.