Make the Perfect Moka Pot: Our Machina Guide

Moka Pots, stove tops, espresso machines, metal thing, Italian coffee maker? Call it what you will, but millions of people use them, and they make a very unique style of coffee that is loved by some and loathed by others.

We’re not judgey here.

Sure, they are a pretty old school way of making coffee, but you like what you like right? So, to hell with them, if they don’t like it.

What started in Italy with early Italian coffee culture, is now common across the globe, as it is a cheap, accessible and relatively easy way of making ‘espresso-style’ coffee.

Named after the Yemeni city of Mocha, it was invented by an Italian engineer named Alfonso Bialetti in 1933. They work by the simple mechanism of passing boiling water pressurised by steam over the ground coffee. Simple, but effective.

Since Alfonso created this little piece of coffee history, there have been various other brands to produce stove tops including Alessi, Jocca, Gator, La Cafetiere, Bonvivo & Pezzetti. Some good, some bad and some are just unnecessarily expensive.


Is it really espresso?

By definition, no. As espresso requires a set pressure (7-10 bars) and temperature (90-96c) to result in proper espresso, in the same format you find from actual espresso machines. Moka Pots can only produce 1-2 bars of actual pressure. That said, many consider this style of coffee to be espresso, and who are we to argue?

Moka Pot / Stove Top coffee is usually very strong, viscous and often a little harsh, but that is just the nature of how it is prepared and the (lack of) control that the device provides over both pressure and temperature.

What can you do to make it better?

There are actually loads of tricks that you can use to make your Moka Pot coffee better, and thankfully none of it is rocket science. Here are our top tips for improving:

  1. Fill the bottom of the unit up with off boiling water, NOT cold. If you add cold water, as it comes up to boiling point it draws metallic tastes out of the unit and makes your coffee taste like metal. That’s bad.
  2. Don’t press your coffee down, or tamp, like you would with coffee in an espresso machine portafilter. It doesn’t help it or improve your coffee in any way. If anything, it causes blockage and stops your water hitting the coffee early and can often overheat and burn it.
  3. Leave your lid open when you are heating up your water. Once you see your coffee start to bubble out of the middle, turn your gas off completely. If you leave it on, you are just boiling your water and burning your coffee. Not good.

How should I clean my Moka Pot?

There is mixed opinion about how you should maintain your moka pot.  Some claim that you should not use soap at all as it removes the oils that contribute towards the overall taste, while others suggest you can clean them really well without any form of cleaning agent. We suggest not using any form of soap but do clean them well to remove all residue.  Do put them through the dishwasher, as this helps remove all the build-up of residue.

Good coffee tastes much better when it comes from a clean vessel and Moka Pots are no different.


1. Make sure your Moka Pot is clean and ready to use (in 3 pieces).

2. Put your kettle on to boil. If you have a temp control kettle, set it too 80c.

3. Grind your coffee to slightly courser than espresso BUT not much courser or the outcome will generate bitterness. That’s bad.

Or, if you don’t have a grinder (get one!) dose your pre-ground coffee into the chamber till it’s full. Level off the coffee using a knife or flat tool.

4. Don’t tap down to level it as that sends fines to the bottom and impacts extraction.

5. Fill the bottom chamber with off boiling water, but not past the safety valve.

6. Using a cold cloth or t-towel, hold the bottom chamber firmly and place the filter basket into the top of the base, and then the screw the top section on firmly.

Don’t over tighten the screw top as it can damage the seal.

Make sure there are no loose grounds in the thread, as this can also impact the quality of the seal.

7. Place on the gas and put on a medium heat. We suggest a 5 on a 1-10 scale.

8. Leave the lid OPEN so you can see what is happening with your coffee.

9. In around 4 mins you should see your first bubbles of coffee coming from the middle spout. When you see this drop your temp down from 5 to about 1/2.

If it is spurting or making lots of noise, your heat is too high, so turn it down quickly.

You have generated enough pressure to prepare all the coffee in the pot, but it just needs time to push it all through the coffee into the top chamber.

10. When it is looking 75% full, turn your gas OFF completely.


TIP 1: Remember that Moka Pot coffee is around 2-3 times more concentrated than traditional espresso.  You can still drink it in small volumes in the same format as espresso, but typically people add water and or milk to it to thin it down.
TIP 2: Replace your seal with a silicon one, as it will last for ages and seals better. Rubber ones get brittle fast due to the constant moving from hot/cold and wet/dry.