The secrets for preparing a perfect coffee with moka are part of the heritage of Italian traditions. Each family has its own method, a legacy of habits handed down for generations, given that the legendary coffee maker will be 90 years old in 2023.
Some steps are consolidated in the daily routine of each of us and make coffee preparation one of the most important moments of the day. It is a succession of small rules that all together constitute a precise ritual, to be followed carefully to obtain the perfect cup of coffee.
With mocha you get a stronger coffee than espresso, but with less caffeine. Since its introduction on international markets, more than 300 million copies have been sold, representing, throughout the world, one of the symbols of Italian savoir-vivre.
The history of the moka coffee maker
The moka is the coffee machine most used in Italy. Also commonly and familiarly called machine, this iconic coffee maker was invented by the engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 and was immediately considered a revolutionary instrument destined to change radically the coffee consumption habits of Italians.
Considered a purely handcrafted product, at first the mocha was made in small quantities. Only in 1946 the coffee maker was marketed on a larger scale, under the impulse of Renato Bialetti, son of Alfonso. In a year, more than a million machines were sold and the moka, in a short time, managed to dethrone the antagonist Neapolitan coffee maker, also known as cuccumella which still enjoys the preference of some passionate admirers.
It is said that the engineer Bialetti had the idea that led to the invention of the moka by observing the Neapolitan washerwomen doing laundry in large basins with a tube in the center from which hot water and soap. This particular procedure was the decisive starting point for his innovative project.
In the moka pot, in fact, the water contained in the base heats up and the pressure of the steam leads it from the filter tube to the ground coffee.
Over time, especially in the last twenty years, innovations in this field have increased, with investments by other brands and dedicated teams such as Alessi, which has reinvented the design thanks to the architect David Chipperfield and introduced a flat lid on the Moka to place the cups to be heated.
There are also different variants of the classic Moka, such as the Moka induction coffee makers.
How the moka pot works
The moka is made up of three parts, a water tank in the lower part, a funnel-shaped filter in the center that contains the coffee powder and a jug in the upper part that collects the coffee after preparation.
The lower tank, which is filled with water, contains both water and air. When water heats up, it emits water vapor which heats the air. When heated, water and air expand, taking up more space. With the heat, the pressure in the lower tank also gradually increases.
When the pressure inside the lower chamber becomes very strong, it pushes the water vapor into the filter which contains the coffee powder. In this way, each droplet of vaporized water is infused with the aroma of coffee.
The steam, now perfectly flavored, rises to the top until it reaches the jug where the cooler temperature condenses it into a delicious liquid coffee.
Coffee made with moka is not technically an espresso which is extracted, instead, at very high pressures (around 9 bars). The mocha is not made to withstand such high pressures: the coffee is usually extracted only at one or two bars, enough to prepare an excellent drink at home and without specialized and expensive equipment.
How to prepare coffee with mocha
Here are the steps to prepare a good espresso with the state-of-the-art mocha coffee maker:
- Fill the base with water up to the level of the safety valve. Exceeding this level will result in a slightly longer coffee.
- Insert the filter into the base and fill the filter with coffee, without compacting it, but forming a small mound without spreading the dust on the edges.
- Screw the two parts tightly.
- Place the coffee pot on the stove, over low heat: a slow boil will allow you to obtain a better coffee. Lift the lid when you hear the coffee rise to prevent the cloud of steam from altering the taste.
- Remove the coffee pot from the heat before the coffee has completely risen in the carafe to preserve its more intense aromas and avoid boiling it: if the coffee boils it takes on a bitter burnt taste, particularly unpleasant.
- Stir the coffee directly in the coffee pot with a teaspoon to adjust its density.
- Pour the coffee into the cup. If you prefer, you can sweeten it with sugar to taste, although purists prefer to enjoy it without.
- Enjoy a great coffee!
A few more tips for preparing coffee with moka
If the coffee maker is new, it is best to use it empty, with water only, at least three times: this step is used to eliminate the metallic taste and to test the pressure of the mocha.
It is suggested to choose natural mineral water low in calcium for a better quality of coffee.
The water must necessarily be cold: hot water, in fact, accelerates the infusion process and alters the taste of the drink.
If you use a cremiera per caffè remember to use the right quantities so as not to spoil the flavor of the coffee.
Always choose a medium ground coffee, neither too fine (as for espresso) nor too grainy as for the filter coffee maker. The brand is just a matter of personal taste.
The moka must be removed from the heat when the carafe is filled up to about 80%: at that point, the best aromas have been extracted from the coffee and further extraction would ruin it irreparably the taste. If you often forget your coffee on the fire, you might find a innovative coffee maker with interruption of delivery.
Once the package has been opened, the coffee powder should be consumed quickly, preferably within 15 days. Home-ground coffee beans keep longer than the powder from prepackaged packages.
Regarding where to store ground coffee, there are two different schools of thought. Some recommend keeping it in a dry place, away from light, with a temperature not exceeding 15°; others recommend, however, even the refrigerator, in an airtight container to protect it from the odors of other foods.
Remember to change the gasket and filter regularly.
Last and very important tip: always wash the mocha with hot water and, from time to time, with baking soda, but never with dish detergent to avoid the risk of drinking flavored coffee with soap!