Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by John Moretti
There’s nothing quite like espresso to get you going in the morning. But if you can’t afford an espresso machine and don’t like going to coffee shops, a Moka Pot can do the job for you in a pinch. The Moka Pot provides coffee drinkers with a fun and inexpensive way to make high-quality coffee.
That said, it is essential to know if you’re getting an authentic espresso with this tool. Understanding these factors can help you decide if a Moka Pot or espresso machine is right for you.
Moka Pot uses a straightforward brewing method, one that emulates that of an espresso machine. Still, you are not getting an authentic espresso when you use a Moka Pot, as the intensity of the concentration is much lower with a Moka Pot than it is with espresso.
Let’s take a deep dive into the nature of this excellent little brewing machine to help you understand its operation better.
Can a Moka Pot Make Espresso?
The unique nature of a Moka Pot makes it a fascinating potential alternative to an espresso machine. First, however, it is crucial to understand what you are getting with your pot. That’s because you’re (spoiler) not getting an authentic espresso when you use a Moka Pot.
However, you are getting a drink that’s very close to one, and (with a bit of work) you can make a very flavorful and high-quality coffee. All you need to do is steam or froth milk at home to dress up your Moka Pot drink.
Why Your Moka Pot Drink Isn’t An Actual Espresso?
Here’s the thing: most people drinking a brew from their Moka Pot will probably find it tastes very close to espresso. That’s because the brewing method is relatively similar. The pressure-based process produces a very similar taste.
However, the intensity of the concentration is much lower with a Moka Pot than it is with espresso. So how much less concentrated is it?
First, let’s break down the kind of pressure used to produce a brew in a Moka Pot and in an espresso machine. The term used to measure these pressure bars is a brewing term used throughout the business. The Moka Pot produces around 1-2 bars of pressure while brewing, a level that is higher than a standard drip machine but relatively lower than an actual espresso machine.
That’s because a standard espresso machine uses around 8-10 bars of pressure to produce a drink. Basic math shows that it’s 8-10 times higher than that of a Moka Pot. This means that the resulting drink is much more concentrated in espresso than in a Moka Pot drink. As a result, the taste will be more potent and the caffeine level higher in espresso than in a Moka Pot brew.
Does that mean that you should throw away your Moka Pot and invest in an espresso machine? Not at all!
Moka Pots still produce a very high-quality drink, one that is close to espresso in texture. In addition, they cost a fraction of the price of an espresso machine (we’re talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars less here) and provide a very easy-to-use design that makes them more than worth your investment.
Just understand that you’re not getting an authentic espresso in taste or concentration. If you’re okay with that, you can probably do just fine with a Moka Pot. Even better, you can produce a very espresso-like drink using your Moka Pot by steaming a little milk and adding it to your drink.
What is a Moka Pot?
Luigi di Ponti invented the Moka Pot in 1933 as a new and inexpensive way to pressure-brew coffee. Ponti’s little pot caught on quickly and, with the help of metal machinist Alfonso Bialetti, the Moka Pot soon began mass production.
An almost instant hit in Italy and throughout Europe, Bialetti’s fledgling company became the leading manufacturer of Moka Pots and remains so today.
The Moka Pot’s success lay primarily in two different elements:
- Low cost-the aluminum body of Bialetti’s design was inexpensive, allowing them to sell the Moka Pot as a low-cost alternative to other, more expensive brewing methods.
- Easy to use– the Moka Pot was straightforward to use. Inspired by early clothes-washing machines, it used heat to force hot water up through coffee grounds.
The design’s ingenuous use of pressure allows brewed coffee to pass up and away from the grounds. In this way, there’s no need for a filter, cutting back on costs even more.
And while modern Moka Pots have been upgraded in many ways (including a new stainless steel design and more streamlined design), the essential operation of this brewing device has remained unchanged since 1933.
Let’s take a look at this essential operation to give you a better idea of using your Moka Pot.
How To Use Your Moka Pot?
Using your Moka Pot is incredibly simple. Even if you don’t have the instruction manual or access to YouTube tutorial videos (for some reason), you can probably figure out a Moka Pot all by yourself.
That said, it is perhaps best to know the complete process to give yourself an easier time using it. So let’s break down each of these steps below to provide you with a better understanding:
- Fill the Bottom Chamber With Water – Detach the bottom chamber of your Moka pot and fill it with hot water. Use hot water to speed up the brewing process. There should be a fill line on your brewer that lets you know when to stop adding water. Fill to this point and move on to the next step.
- Add the Grounds – Place the grounds filter into place on the bottom chamber and fill it with your favorite coffee grounds. Use a spoon or your finger to level off the top and remove any loose grounds from the edges of the basket. Do not put pressure on the coffee. Screw your chamber back onto the pot.
- Heat the Pot – Turn your stove onto medium heat and place your Moka Pot on top. Adjust the flame until it covers the bottom of the pot to produce a more even heating environment. Leave the lid open on top of the pot and wait: the fun part is about to happen.
- Watch the Brew – Sit and watch your brew to ensure you don’t have too much heat. You should see a slow and steady stream of coffee moving through the pot. If you see it spurting, it’s much too hot. Turn down the heat and make sure it stays at a steady stream. You’re just about done.
- Finish Up – When your coffee is brewing at a reasonably light brown color, you’re just about done. Wait until the coffee starts sputtering out and brewing much slower. Then, take your pot from the heat and perform the last step before serving your brew for breakfast, lunch, or other meals.
- Cooling Your Bottom Chamber – Here’s a clever trick that helps to minimize the risk of a metallic brew. Remove the bottom chamber and tilt it while running it under cold water. This stops the extraction and reduces the risk of the metallic aftertaste some experience with Moka Pots.
Your coffee drink is now ready to serve. Pour it hot and sip slowly to get the best results. You should notice a vibrant and flavorful blend that tastes very close to espresso. Here’s how you can steam milk at home and add it to all of your Moka Pot drinks for maximum flavor.
Steaming Milk to Produce an Espresso-Like Drink
Steaming milk helps to make your Moka Pot drink more authentic and tasty. Purchase a steaming wand and a metal milk pitcher, and you can follow the steps below to create steamed milk as close to espresso as possible:
- Fill your metal milk pitcher with milk, but not to the top, as the milk will expand
- Place a steam wand just below the surface of the milk to begin steaming
- Wait five seconds before moving the wand one-fifth of an inch below the surface
- Adjust the position of the steam wand until the milk starts to bubble and spin
- Test the temperature and stop steaming once you’ve read 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pour your milk into your Moka pot drink
If you don’t have a steaming wand and don’t plan on buying one, you can also froth your milk by shaking it in a jar, whisking it, mixing it with an electric mixer, blending it, or using a pump frother.
You might not get the pure volume you’d get with steaming, but you can usually save yourself money by not having to buy a steam wand. You probably have many of these items at home already.
Should You Get a Moka Pot or Espresso Machine?
Your purchasing decision should be based on a few different factors. First, what kind of machine can you afford? If you have a reasonably high budget and want a very high-quality espresso, then you should get an espresso machine.
On the other hand, you can often find low-budget options for as low as $500-1,000. Or you can go all out and buy a sizeable high-pressure espresso machine for your home instead.
By contrast, if you have a much smaller budget and need to watch your spending, a Moka Pot is a much better investment.
It’s not going to produce authentic espresso, but the quality of its drink remains very high. Most people can probably get by with one, honestly. However, it is worth trying out a few different models to feel which is suitable for your needs. Doing so will ensure you are satisfied.
Using Moka Pot is a fun and easy way to make high-quality coffee, and it can be a potential alternative to an espresso machine. As you figured out by reading this article, you can’t actually make authentic espresso with Moka pot. Still, the quality of the drink remains very high, and, depending on your budget, I think Moa Pot is a good investment.