Moka pot

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Moka pot
Espressokanne im Lichtzelt.jpg
Release date1933

The moka pot is a stove-top or electric coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. Named after the Yemeni city of Mocha, it was invented by an Italian engineer named Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and quickly became one of the staples of Italian culture.[1] Bialetti Industries continues to produce the same model under the name "Moka Express".

Spreading from Italy, the moka pot is today most commonly used in Europe and in Latin America. It has become an iconic design, displayed in modern industrial art and design museums such as the Wolfsonian-FIU, Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Design Museum,[2] and the London Science Museum. Moka pots come in different sizes, from one to eighteen 50 ml (2 imp fl oz; 2 US fl oz) servings.[3] The original design and many current models are made from aluminium with Bakelite handles.

Brewing coffee with a moka pot[edit]

The bottom chamber (A) contains water. When heated, steam pressure pushes the water through a basket containing ground coffee (B) into the collecting chamber (C).
Funnel with ground coffee
Moka pot brewing
Coffee being brewed

The boiler (marked A in the diagram) is filled with water almost up to the safety release valve (some models have an etched water level sign) and the funnel-shaped metal filter (B) is inserted. Finely-ground coffee is added to the filter as shown below. Then the upper part (C, which has a second metal filter at the bottom) is tightly screwed onto the base. The pot is placed on a suitable heat source, the water is brought to its boiling point, and thereby steam is created in the boiler.

A gasket ensures a tightly closed unit and allows for pressure to safely build up in the lower section, where a safety valve provides a necessary release in case this pressure should get too high (with clean filters, that should not happen).

The steam eventually reaches a high enough pressure to gradually force the surrounding boiling water up the funnel through the coffee powder and into the upper chamber (C), where the coffee is collected. Although the "boiler" on a moka pot contains steam at elevated temperature and pressure, the water forced up through the grounds is no hotter than that used in other brewing methods – up to 90 °C, depending on the stage of extraction.[4][5]

When the lower chamber is almost empty, bubbles of steam mix with the upstreaming water, producing a characteristic gurgling noise. This "strombolian phase" allows a mixture of steam and water to pass through the coffee, which leads to undesirable results, and therefore brewing should be stopped by removing the pot from the stove as soon as this stage is reached.[4]


Moka pots require periodic replacement of the rubber seal and the filters, and a check that the safety release valve is not blocked. When the rubber seal is new, it might alter the coffee taste, so a couple of "dry runs" can be made, without coffee or with used coffee grounds to "prime" it.

Moka pot dimensions[edit]

Several models of Bialetti moka pots

The moka pot comes in various sizes based on the number of 50 ml (2 imp fl oz; 2 US fl oz) espresso cups they produce. The following table are the standard sizes for the Bialetti Moka Express.

Bialetti "Moka Express"
Metric units US units
Volume (ml) height (mm) base (mm) Volume (US fl oz) height (in) base (in)
1 60 133 64 2 5 14 2 12
3 200 159 83 6 12 6 14 3 14
6 300 216 102 10 8 12 4
9 550 254 105 18 12 10 4 18
12 775 292 127 25 11 12 5

Moka coffee characteristics[edit]

The flavor of moka pot coffee depends greatly on bean variety, roast level, fineness of grind, water profile, and the level of heat used.

Moka pots are sometimes referred to as stove-top espresso makers and produce coffee with an extraction ratio similar to (but somewhat higher than) that of a conventional espresso machine.[4]

However, a typical moka coffee is extracted at relatively low pressures of 1 to 2 bar (100 to 200 kPa),[4] while standards for espresso coffee specify a pressure of 9 bar (900 kPa). Therefore, moka coffee is not considered to be an espresso and has different flavor characteristics.[6][7]

Additionally, some moka pots have a special valve which allows producing more crema.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The History - Bialetti". Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ Greenbaum, Hilary (1 September 2011). "Who Made That Moka Express?". Archived from the original on 4 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Moka Express factsheet" (PDF). Bialetti. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d Navarini, L.; Nobile, E.; Pinto, F.; Scheri, A.; Suggi-Liverani, F. "Experimental investigation of steam pressure coffee extraction in a stove-top coffee maker". Applied Thermal Engineering. 29 (5–6): 998–1004. doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2008.05.014. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017.
  5. ^ López-Galilea, Isabel; De Peña, M. Paz; Cid, Concepción. "Correlation of Selected Constituents with the Total Antioxidant Capacity of Coffee Beverages: Influence of the Brewing Procedure". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 55 (15): 6110–6117. doi:10.1021/jf070779x. PMID 17608497.
  6. ^ "Espresso Italiano Certificato" (PDF). Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  7. ^ "Espresso and classic drink Wiki". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.


  • Rombauer, Irma S.; Marion Rombauer Becker; Ethan Becker (August 1997). The Joy of Cooking. Scribner. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-684-81870-1.
  • Schnapp, Jeffrey T. (2004). "The Romance of Aluminum and Caffeine". In Brown, Bill (ed.). Things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 209–239.

External links[edit]

Media related to Moka pot at Wikimedia Commons