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How To Use Moka Pot For Epic Espresso Without A Machine

moka pot pouring coffee into blue and white striped mug beside newspaper, how to use moka pot

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Yep, you read that right. You don’t have to spend hundreds (err, thousands) of dollars on a fancy espresso machine to enjoy espresso at home.

Sure, there are some trade-offs here. But life and brewing delicious coffee on the cheap are not without a little compromise. Here, we’ll walk you through how to use Moka Pot to make delicious espresso without a machine.

Spoiler alert: this may become your favorite way to brew coffee at home. But first, let’s take a look at the components that go into making espresso with a Moka pot.

What Is A Moka Pot?

The Moka Pot is often referred to as a stovetop espresso maker. It originated in Italy and is incredibly popular all over Europe and Latin America.

While it can’t quite replicate the pressure produced by an espresso machine (ideally 9 bars), Moka Pot does utilize 1-2 bars of pressure in the form of steam to create that unmistakable espresso flavor and mouthfeel.

Moka Pot will save you a ton of cash and is truly the next best thing to an espresso machine. Learning how to use Moka Pot to brew espresso isn’t complicated, but it may take a few tries to get it right.

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Coffee Versus Espresso

The coffee brewed in a Moka pot is often referred to as stovetop espresso. But, technically, when you use a Moka pot to brew espresso, you’re actually brewing coffee. (gasp)

The reason is that espresso brewed using a Moka pot lacks a rich layer of crema on top. This distinctive creaminess is only possible with a machine that uses a tremendous amount of pressure to extract the perfect shot of espresso.

We mentioned there’d be trade-offs, right? But fear not. Once you know how to use Moka Pot to make stovetop espresso, you won’t miss it one bit.

Grind Size

Every brewing method requires a different grind size for optimal results. A quality grinder is necessary to achieve a consistent grind for Moka Pot.

The best grind for Moka Pot espresso is fine. The consistency should resemble table salt or caster sugar. This is finer than what you would use for drip coffee and much finer than the grind size for French press or pour over.

We always recommend grinding your own beans using a high-quality burr grinder. Grinding the beans yourself will ensure consistency in the grind size, keep your beans fresher, and allow you to experiment with multiple grind sizes and brewing techniques.

Moka pot on gas stove top beside mason jar full of coffee grounds

How To Use Moka Pot

Ready to make espresso without a machine? Let’s review what you’ll need to learn how to use Moka Pot to make espresso:

  1. Moka Pot
  2. High-Quality Coffee Beans (Dark Roast)
  3. Burr Coffee Grinder
  4. Scale (to measure coffee)
  5. Kettle (gooseneck or classic)

Step 1: Pre-heat Water

Using a kettle, pre-heat the water until boiling. Remove from heat.

This step is vital to ensure that the Moka pot doesn’t get too hot during brewing, imparting a metallic taste.

Step 2: Measure And Grind Coffee

Measure 22 grams (roughly 4 ½ teaspoons) of coffee. Use your grinder to achieve a fine grind size resembling table salt.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Step 3: Add Water To Moka Pot

Add hot water to the bottom portion of your Moka Pot to the fill line. Be careful not to overfill the reservoir. 

Step 4: Add Coffee To Moka Pot

Add your ground espresso to the Moka Pot’s filter basket. Attach the spouted top portion of your Moka Pot.

Moka pot on gas stove with blue flame beneath and yellow glow behind

Step 5: Boil Water And Brew

Place your Moka Pot over a heat source with medium heat (gas burner, electric burner, induction burner, open flame, whatever you’ve got). The pre-heated water will boil pretty quickly, so don’t walk away during brewing.

When you hear a subtle hissing sound, the water is boiling, and the pressure is driving a stream of coffee into the upper chamber.

close up of moka pot brewing coffee

Step 6: Finish Brewing Stovetop Espresso

You’ll know your espresso is finished when you hear the tell-tale gurgling sound. This means the upper chamber is full of delicious stovetop espresso and is ready to be enjoyed.

Important: don’t leave your Moka Pot on the heat once the espresso is finished brewing! This will result in an over-extracted, burned flavor that nobody wants. Pour the espresso immediately upon completion.

Step 7: Sit Back, Sip, and Enjoy

You’ve earned the right to gloat a little at this stage. After all, you’ve just learned how to use Moka Pot to brew an epic espresso without a machine. Boom.

Pour your stovetop espresso over steamed milk for a frothy cappuccino, let it cool, and pour over milk and ice for a delicious iced latte, or enjoy it exactly as it is. The possibilities are endless once you know how to use Moka Pot to make espresso. It’s an easy, quick, and affordable way to make espresso (or the next best thing) at home.

Moka pot pouring coffee into glass with ice

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Moka Pot Coffee Strong?

If by strong we’re talking about caffeine content, then yes. While caffeine amounts vary dramatically across all brewing methods, ‘espresso’ made with a Moka Pot will have a comparable amount of caffeine to traditional espresso.

Moka Pot espresso is consumed in smaller quantities, like traditional espresso (2 oz), whereas regular drip coffee is consumed in 8 oz servings. A cup of coffee has about 105 mg of caffeine, and a 2 oz serving (or double shot) of espresso has about 95 mg of caffeine.

Are Moka Pots Dangerous?

Traditionally, Moka Pots are made with aluminum, which might raise concerns for people who take what they put into their bodies seriously. 

But there is not much cause for concern. Studies have demonstrated that the amount of aluminum that migrates into the coffee brewed in a Moka Pot is negligible, even when the tested Moka Pot is washed in the dishwasher (something the manufacturers strongly recommend against).

If you’re concerned about using an aluminum Moka Pot, opt for a stainless steel model (like this one) instead.

Can You Use Regular Coffee In A Moka Pot?

Absolutely! For this tutorial on how to use Moka Pot to make espresso, we opted for dark roast beans (our usual go-to for Moka Pot).

But if dark roast, espresso-style coffee isn’t your thing, swap the beans for a medium or medium-dark roast (like this one). The result will be less potent and won’t really resemble espresso, but it’ll still be a delicious cup of coffee.


Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters