A Moka is a simple but effective “poor man’s espresso machine.” Traditional Mokas are stovetop pots, new models are electric. Here’s how to choose the right Moka.
Though strictly speaking not an espresso machine, the coffee from a Moka tastes so good that fans claim that a Moka might as well be one. The main difference is that there is no crema (delicious creamy froth) produced, except with some designs such as the Bialetti Brikka.
A Moka is basically a two-chamber coffee pot. Water is poured into the lower chamber, and ground coffee is placed in a filter basket between the two chambers. Boiling the water causes the steam to force the water up through the coffee beans and the brewed coffee is collected in the upper chamber. A fine espresso grind from a company such as anthonysespresso.com is used for the beans. Mokas can be identified by the round steam safety valve at the top of the lower chamber. The water level should never cover the safety valve.
Mokas are small, designed to brew 1 or 2-ounce espresso-sized cups of concentrated coffee. Sizes range from 2 to 8 cups. Popular brands include Bialetti, Delonghi, Krups (Moka Brew) and Forever Espresso. Prices can be as low as $10 or $20, reaching over $100 for an electric Moka.
Aluminum Stovetop Moka Coffee Makers
Traditional Italian Mokas are aluminum stovetop pots. Many have a distinctive octagonal shape. Some advantages are:
- Proven design. It can last for decades with an occasional gasket and filter basket change every few years.
- Unique retro look.
- Claimed to make the best Moka coffee.
- Possible to control the coffee extraction rate (thereby controlling the taste) by changing the stovetop burner setting.
While some disadvantages are:
- No auto power off. It needs to be watched to prevent overheating if all the water has been boiled off.
- Requires special care. Only rinsing with water is recommended. Scrubbing with detergent is not encouraged as this is supposed to affect the taste of the coffee.
Some models have a pressure valve (for example, the Bialetti Brikka) between the two chambers. This allows only higher pressure steam to reach the coffee. An espresso-like crema is supposed to be produced this way.
Stainless steel stovetop Mokas are now available. They are more expensive but are easier to clean as detergent and scrubbing are not discouraged. Some coffee connoisseurs claim that the coffee from stainless steel Mokas doesn’t taste as good.
Electric Stainless Steel Moka Coffee Makers
Modern electric Mokas are usually made out of stainless steel. They work in the same way as stovetop Mokas, the only difference being that an internal electrical heater is used to boil the water.
- Automatic power off.
- Easy to clean.
- Not as reliable. The heating element can fail.
- Not possible to control the heating rate like with a stovetop model.
The Best Moka Coffee Maker
Electric Mokas are convenient and easy to use. Some control of the brewing process is possible by changing the coffee roast, grind size, amount of coffee, and the amount of water. Serious coffee drinkers will want the additional control provided by a stovetop Moka, where the stove’s burner setting can be changed. French Press coffee makers should also be considered. They have a good reputation, are cheap, and are easy to use.
So now that you know how to make the best cup of coffee, sit back and relax. Let it brew while reading an article from Buddhism Nature. You’ll learn to relax and enjoy coffee break moments even more!