Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by John Moretti
If you enjoy the unique character of espresso and espresso-based drinks like lattes, you may want to make espresso at home. But the only way for most of us to have an espresso machine of sorts at home is to use a Moka pot. A question that arises is: how does one grind coffee for a Moka pot?
Traditionally, a fine grind was used for Moka pots; however, such a grind can lead to over-extraction and be a safety hazard by blocking the release valve. The recommended grind is one between that for espresso and that for drip coffee. This allows safe extraction of a robust, flavorful cup.
Getting the grind size right will enable you to enjoy an energizing morning cup of joe in safety. There are various aspects to getting the perfect grind for your Moka pot, and you may have some questions. I’ve got you covered!
The Ideal Grind For A Moka Pot
The flavor of coffee brewed in a Moka pot depends on various factors such as water profile, level of heat used, variety of coffee beans, roast level, and the fineness of the grind.
This last factor that we shall examine in this post to determine the ideal grind for a Moka pot.
The traditional grind is relatively fine, only slightly larger than that for espresso. However, such finely ground coffee tends to over-extract and results in a bitter cup.
If you use a coarser grind than necessary, you will wind up with under-extracted coffee, which is watery and overly acidic.
I recommend a ground consistency finer than that for drip coffee but coarser than espresso. If in doubt, err toward the grind consistency of drip coffee.
Experiment with different grind settings until you find a flavor profile that suits you.
Be sure not to tamp the coffee in your Moka pot.
Why Does A Finer Grind Cause Problems?
Too fine a grind can cause the filter to become clogged, which will cause your brew process to slow down or even stop. The result is over-extracted, bitter coffee.
A clogged filter is also a safety hazard and can cause your Moka pot to explode.
A finer grind can also cause the safety valve to clog with coffee grounds. If the safety valve isn’t able to release steam, you’re going to end up with your Moka pot going bang and depositing coffee on the ceiling. I’m guessing this is not the result you want.
What Tools Should I Use To Grind Coffee For A Moka Pot?
As you want to get a relatively coarse yet even grind, I do not recommend that you use an electric grinder with blades. These chop the beans rather than grinding them, with the blades gradually slicing them into smaller, quite uneven pieces.
I recommend using a burr grinder for grinding for a Moka pot, whether a manually operated one or an electrically powered one. Doing so will get a consistent grind of the desired fineness.
Try different settings until you get the right size (about the size of refined table salt). Remember that it doesn’t have to be exact, and there is room for experimentation.
Can I Use Pre-Ground Coffee For A Moka Pot?
If you do not have your own grinder, you can use pre-ground coffee in a Moka pot. While some sites may recommend espresso coffees, I cannot get behind this as the grind size may be too fine.
I recommend instead that you buy regular filter coffee, preferably of a robust flavor and darker roast to match the output of the Moka pot brewing method.
How A Moka Pot Works
The Moka pot has three chambers: the boiler at the bottom, the filter for the coffee grounds, and a collection chamber for the finished product.
You fill the boiler with water below the safety release valve (your model may have a water level sign etched into the metal). Then insert the funnel-shaped metal filter.
Italians do not usually preheat the water, but several established baristas recommend using preheated water.
Physicist Warren King ran simulations that showed that cold water resulted in the coffee extracting at too low a temperature, and boiling water resulted in the temperature being too high. He, therefore, recommends water at 70°C for the best results.
You then add ground coffee to the coffee basket. This basket contains the grounds and has small holes on the bottom that allow hot water vapor to rise, extract oils and acids from the coffee grounds, and transport them into the final brew.
How tightly you pack it will affect how quickly the coffee extracts.
Place the Moka pot on an appropriate heat source such as an electric stove or a fire to heat the water.
A gasket seals the unit tightly and lets pressure build up in the lower section in safety. A safety valve in the boiler can release steam should the pressure get too high as a further precaution.
As the boiler heats, the enclosed air expands, and the vapor pressure of the gradually heated water increases.
At a certain point, the pressure becomes high enough to force water up the funnel through the coffee grounds, and coffee begins pouring through the filter into the upper chamber.
Boiling the water is neither necessary nor desirable to produce enough pressure to brew the coffee, and the extraction temperature is not usually higher than with other brewing methods.
How do you know when your coffeee is ready?
When the boiler is almost empty, steam bubbles mix with the water streaming upwards, making a distinctive gurgling noise.
As this indicates that a mixture of highly heated water and steam is about to pass through the coffee, you should immediately remove the pot from the heat. Otherwise, rapid over-extraction and an undesirable bitterness will result.
The result is a complex, rich and robust coffee. However, although it can substitute for espresso, it is not technically espresso, which by definition is brewed at 9 bars of pressure or more. Moka pots create only 1 – 1.5 bars of pressure.
The Moka pot is a fantastic little tool for brewing a strong and rich cup of coffee. Be sure to use a grind size between that for espresso and that for drip coffee, erring toward the coarser side, and you’ll be able to enjoy a highly flavorful cup of joe.