Making more Moka Pot madness
Getting the most out of your mokapot
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Beaches, baches, bushwalks, books and breaks - summer is all about chilling out, taking the foot off the accelerator and reconnecting with friends, family, and, importantly, yourself.
Out of all the coffee toys and tools people might have stored in a cupboard, at home or away, the stove-top Moka Pot will be hands down, the most likely to hiding away.
Your folks have one. Your Nan has one. The bach that you went to as a kid still has one. Heck, you probably have one sitting on your stove right now.
I have some hot tips, hot takes, and cold coffee for your go to summer break brewer, but first, some history.
1933 was the year…
In the weird period of World history between the Wars, a lot of great things were happening. In 1933 alone, construction on the Golden Gate Bridge started, James Brown was born, Ponsonby won the Chatham Cup at the Basin Reserve, and the Moka Pot was invented in Italy by a dude with an amazing mustache and a great name, Alfonso Bialetti.
The early 1900s were a bit of a time for coffee, with the invention of the espresso machine, filter coffee and vacuum coffee methods all being developed and enhanced. But for most, home brewing excellent coffee was hard. Until the Moka Pot.
After some lean times due to World War 2, where aluminum and coffee became very expensive, the Moka Pot took off in the mid-1950s in part due to the success of a massive market campaign, featuring a weird cartoon dude with a killer mo.
It not only became huge in Italy, it was incredibly popular all over the world. Partly, because it was cheap, simple to use, and didn’t need any special skill.
Brewing tips for excellent coffee
Brewing with this thing is easy. But I have some tips that will make your coffee taste even better.
1 - don’t tamp the coffee
An easy trap that people fall into is thinking that the Moka Pot makes espresso. It doesn’t.
Espresso is a specific way of making coffee that requires a lot of pressure. The Moka Pot doesn’t create the sorts of pressures needed for espresso.
So, since it’s not espresso, you don’t need to treat it like espresso! That means no need to tamp down the coffee in the filter.
Pour the coffee in, give it a tap so it’s all evenly distributed, but leave it sitting there nice an fluffy.
The benefit of not tamping, is that you don’t create channels in the coffee bed. Channels are bad. Channels force water to go through a small part of the bed, instead of going through the whole bed nice and even.
Channeling can cause bitterness, sourness, and a bad time. Don’t tamp, and you remove that risk! Yum.
2 - use hot water
Use hot water in the brewer instead of cold. It’ll brew quicker (yay) and reduce the risk of the stove top burning the coffee grounds before it has a chance to get the water hot enough.
Burnt coffee grounds equals bitter coffee. Use hot water.
And when you finish brewing, put the brewer into cold water, or run the cold tap over the bottom. This stops the remaining hot steam from getting into the coffee after you remove it from the heat. If you don’t do this, your coffee could get burnt, and, you guessed it, taste bitter. Not yum.
3 - wash your Moka Pot after EVERY use
So many people let the coffee build up on the sides, thinking it seasons the pot for future use. The concept is probably sound on paper, but the remaining coffee ends up being heated over and over again after many uses, making your coffee bitter.
Clean your pot, you filthy animal. Yum.
4 - it’s not espresso! Experiment with lighter roasted coffee
Once you get your head around that fact the moka pot doesn’t make espresso, you unlock a new section of coffee to try.
You don’t need to use dark roasted espresso coffee. You can get excellent coffee from lighter roasted filter coffee. The whole world is your oyster! Yum.
5 - it’s not espresso! Back off the grind
You don’t need espresso fine grinds. You aren’t making espresso! You’ll benefit from backing off the grind a bit if you can, and be a little bit coarser.
The result will be a sweeter and more rounded coffee. Yum.
6 - summer is a great time for the moka pot
Brew a sweeeeeeeet moka pot, and pour it over some nice cold milk and some ice. It makes an incredibly refreshing cold coffee, which a big, creamy mouthfeel that will cool you right down. Yum.
7 - run out of milk? Tonic and Gin also works
Don’t knock it until you try it. Yum.
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What is your favourite Moka experience?
I remember my first Moka Pot. I had just come back from my honeymoon, where I had tried coffee for the first time. It was a sugar and whipped cream covered drink from Starbucks. I was in love.
But then a good colleague of mine introduced me to espresso, and black coffee. Without the cream. Without the sugar. I was hooked.
So I went down to Briscoes and got my first moka pot and started brewing with it. It was blue. I was happy.
I want to hear about your favorite moka pot experience. Was it hanging out at the beach on holiday? Or brewing something hot to warm you up in the middle of a cold, dark winter.
The year is off to a, well, start
Things have been weird this year, and we’re only a few weeks in.
All we can do to get through this, is keep our hands wrapped around great coffee, connect with great friends real and virtual, and watch the greatest end to the greatest test match career of New Zealand’s greatest batsman of all time.