Best Coffee for Moka Pots (You’ll Be Surprised at the Difference It Makes)
Are you about to give up on your Moka pot after one too many bitter brews? Well, hold on just one second, because we’re about to blow your mind.
It’s not about the Moka pot; it’s about the coffee.
Let us help you find the perfect beans to rekindle your love for this convenient stovetop brewer.
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How to Choose the Best Coffee for Moka Pots
Moka pots have an undeserved reputation for producing bitter coffee, but that need not be the case. According to coffee expert James Hoffmann, it’s all about choosing the right coffee and preparing it correctly, no matter the type or brand of moka pot you’re using.
Put good coffee in, use it right, and you get a delicious drink.
So just what qualifies as “good coffee”? This buyer’s guide has the answers.
The right grind is essential.
As with any coffee maker, the right grind is the key to optimal extraction. Too coarse, and you’ll end up with weak, watery, and overly acidic coffee. Too fine, and your coffee will taste bitter and burnt.
The best grind for a Moka pot coffee is medium to medium-fine, coarser than you’d use for an espresso machine but finer than for a drip coffee maker.
To achieve this, we recommend buying whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself. This helps make sure that you can dial in just the right grind and guarantees that your coffee is always fresh.
That said, the Moka pot is a pretty forgiving brewer. Even if you buy pre-ground coffee that isn’t exactly the perfect size, the right beans will still brew up a tasty cup.
You can watch our fun and educational guide on brewing coffee in Moka pot here:
Opt for a roast you enjoy.
There’s a reason the Moka pot is also known as a stovetop espresso maker; it brews a concentrated coffee similar to a shot of espresso. For this reason, the same roast levels do well in both Moka pots and espresso machines.
Typically, this means a medium to dark roast. These deeper roasts feature rich flavors of chocolate or toasted nuts, low acidity, a heavy body, and creamy mouthfeel. All of which is nicely highlighted by an espresso-style brew.
Because light roasts have a higher acidity, experts tend to shy away from their use in Moka pots, prone to uneven extraction (1).
Uneven extraction tends to highlight that acidity even more than normal, which may leave you with a coffee that’s too bright for your preference.
However, if you love the bright acidity and crisp flavors of a light roast, there’s no reason not to try it in your Moka pot. Use the best possible grinder to make sure that the grind size is consistent, and pack the filter basket as evenly as possible.
Consider an Italian brand.
The Moka pot is an iconic Italian coffee maker, found in nearly every household across the country. It has become such a symbol of Italy’s coffee culture that you can find it even in modern art and design museums around the world (2).
So if you’re still unsure about the most appropriate coffee for your Moka pot, consider opting for an Italian brand, such as Lavazza or Illy. You can trust that they’ve had plenty of experience brewing stovetop espresso coffee.
Our Favorite Coffees for Moka Pot
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|Koa Coffee Kona Estate Dark Roast||
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|Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend||
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|Coffee Bros. Espresso Roast||
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|Gimme! Leftist Espresso||
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A Moka pot brews up a strong, concentrated shot of coffee that can tend towards bitter with the wrong beans. We suggest a richly-flavored coffee, with a hint of sweetness or spice to temper any bitter notes, and we’ve got three great options.
Sulawesi Kalossi coffee is a single-origin arabica bean grown exclusively on the small Indonesian island of Sulawesi, near the town of Kaloss. You might also find it labeled as Celebes Kalossi coffee, as Celebes is the Dutch colonial name of the island. The coffee trees on the island are ancient, over 250 years, and produce only a limited supply each year.
The resulting Sulawesi Kalossi coffee has a heavy body and creamy texture, with a lighter flavor profile than the usual Indonesian coffee.
With this classic medium roast, you’ll taste predominantly fruit, nuts, and chocolate. A slight earthiness backs this, but less so than typical Sumatran beans.
Roasting for espresso is more than just achieving the right color; it’s about manipulating the roasting process to yield a porous and richly sweet coffee bean. The brothers behind Coffee Bros. understand this and give special attention to their small-batch espresso roasts, and it shows in this outstanding example.
While a lot of espresso beans skew dark, bordering on charred, this medium roast is a uniquely vibrant example that stands out from the crowd. Featuring a blend of 100% Arabica beans from Colombia and Ethiopia, It’s as bold and sweet as you’d expect from an espresso roast, but with a brighter flavor profile of strawberry, vanilla, and sugarcane.
I’ve always been a fan of brands that opt to do one thing and do it well, and that’s Koa Coffee in a nutshell. They specialize in high-end Hawaiian coffee, including the famed Kona beans and equally tasty lesser known varietals. As a result, they know exactly how to best showcase the unique character of these specialty coffees.
Their Kona Estate Dark Roast is 100% Kona coffee, all sourced from a single estate high on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, where the rich volcanic soils and ideal climate ensure that premium Kona flavor. With this darker roast, you’ll taste primarily sweet milk chocolate and toasted nuts, but the tropical fruit notes unique to Kona beans are still present.
Lifeboost is known for growing, processing, and roasting exceptionally healthy and high-quality 100% arabica coffee. It’s all grown on a single estate, nestled high in the mountains of Nicaragua. Only the best beans are hand-picked, processed in spring water, and then hand-roasted in small batches. Each bag is certified organic, fair trade, and mycotoxin-free.
The Espresso Roast is Lifeboost’s darkest coffee, but it never approaches a charred flavor. Instead, this rich and bold brew is dominated by chocolate and caramel notes, with just a hint of fruit character that really makes it something special.
The natural sweetness is perfect for moka pot or espresso, and the heavy body holds up really nicely to the addition of milk, if a latte happens to be your drink of choice.
Read our Lifeboost Coffee review to learn more.
The original goal of Peet’s was to bring high-quality, European-style dark roast coffee to the American market. So it’s no surprise that they continue to craft excellent examples of the genre. In fact, the dark roast Major Dickason’s Blend is their best selling coffee of all time and the one they consider to epitomize the brand.
This isn’t a coffee for the faint of heart; you’re in for a wallop of coffee flavor. Fortunately, that flavor is fantastic, a perfect showcase of what dark roast can be.
Major Dicakson’s Blend is rich, bold, spicy, and complex, with a full body and syrupy mouthfeel. The dominant flavor is dark chocolate, but it’s backed by cardamom spice and a touch of red berries to keep things interesting. It’s nicely sweet, making for a fantastic espresso shot or moka pot.
Best of all, they offer to grind their beans for your particular use.
More than anything, a great blend should be balanced. By combining different origins, skilled roasters can make something better than the sum of its parts. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with this espresso blend from Gimme! coffee roasters.
You’ll find sweet flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and brown sugar; brighter notes of ripe fruit; and a spiced finish that will leave you wanting more. A combination no single origin can master by itself. With a medium body and clean cup, this is an easy-drinking coffee to enjoy all day long.
By being both bold flavored and well-balanced, this coffee makes an ideal Moka Pot brew. It’s delicious when consumed black, but it also takes well to milk. Some say its chocolate notes are so strong that using this coffee in a latte almost feels like drinking a mocha. Yum!
The Moka pot’s reputation for bitter brews is entirely undeserved. You just need the right coffee. Our top pick is Sulawesi Kalossi coffee, a single origin from Indonesia with rich chocolate and fruit flavors and a creamy body.
If you’ve banished your Moka pot to the back of your cupboards, pick up a bag of these beans, and bring it back from exile. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
No, you shouldn’t tamp a Moka pot because the pressure is much lower than in an espresso machine. If the grounds are too compact, the hot water will make its way through too slowly, resulting in over-extraction.
Moka pot coffee can be bitter for several reasons. The most common are low-grade or stale coffee beans and over-extraction.
Espresso beans are still just coffee beans, but you can roast them in a way that makes them well suited to espresso. You can safely use espresso beans for coffee and coffee beans for espresso.
- Coffee Talk: Our Coffee Expert Says. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drinktrade.com/coffee/best-brewed-with/moka-pot
- Storr, T. (2019, November 8). How The Moka Pot Influenced Coffee Consumption. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/11/how-the-moka-pot-influenced-coffee-consumption/