Moka pot

The moka pot is a stove-top or electric coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water pressurised by steam through ground coffee. Named after the Yemeni city of Mocha, it was invented by Italian engineer 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".

Moka pot
Espressokanne im Lichtzelt.jpg
Release date1933

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 including 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, making 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.

Variations and brandsEdit

Moka pots are used over a flame or electric range and are traditionally made of aluminium, though they are sometimes made out of stainless steel or other alloys.

"Brikka" is a modified moka pot manufactured by Bialetti. It incorporates a weighted valve as a pressure regulator on top of the nozzle that allows pressure to build up inside the water tank in a manner similar to a pressure cooker. As pressure builds up more quickly in this method (since there is much less leakage of vapour) compared to the standard moka pot, it reaches the level required for water to rise through the ground coffee in a shorter time. However, the weighted valve allows pressure to accumulate and temperature to rise somewhat further before the liquid bursts through the nozzle. The result is coffee brewed at a higher pressure and temperature than the standard pot, making it more similar to espresso and therefore with more visible crema.[citation needed]

How the moka pot works

"Mukka Express" is a modified moka pot also manufactured by Bialetti that allows milk to be frothed and mixed with the coffee during brewing. The name, "Mukka", is a pun on the Italian for milk-cow, mucca. Bialetti also manufactures several stainless steel moka pots, e.g., Musa, Class, and Venus.

Alessi is an Italian kitchenware manufacturer known for their moka pots. Cuisinox also markets several models of moka pots in both aluminium and stainless steel.[4]

Also the design-oriented Italian kitchenware manufacturer Serafino Zani is known for his moka pots: "Finlandia" designed by Tapio Wirkkala, "Mach" designed by Isao Hosoe and awarded with the Good Design Award (Chicago) 1993, "Thema" in stainless steel with titanium, and "Genesis" in stainless steel and copper, both designed by Tarcisio Zani.

Neutron beam video of a moka pot in use

Vev Viganò is an Italian manufacturer that specialises in stainless steel moka pots. Their product lines include Kontessa, Itaca, Vespress, and Carioca. In 2004 they produced a caffettiera 'UFO' designed by Vinod Gangotra. Two espresso cups sit in recesses in the upper half of the machine and collect the coffee directly as it's brewed. The upper part is made from cast aluminium whilst the lower is stainless steel.

Bellman makes a stainless steel moka pot, the "CX-25 Series", operating at higher pressure and capable of creating a crema. It also has a wand to steam liquids, such as milk for cappuccino.[5]

The brand Volturno has been manufacturing moka pots in Argentina for many decades;[6] the name Volturno is sometimes used synonymously with moka pot there.[7]

Top Moka, another Italian manufacturer, offers two different styles of moka pots in a wide variety of colours. The more traditional Top Moka pot comes in sizes varying from two- to six-shot boilers. They also make mini moka pots in one- and two-shot sizes that use dispensing arcs rather than the standard collection chamber. Both are available with aluminium boilers for standard cooktops or titanium-alloy boilers for induction stoves.[8]

G.A.T. is also an Italian company based in Brescia involved in the production of Italian moka coffee-makers since 1986. The range of coffee-makers that G.A.T. proposes is wide and complete (more than 50 models), allowing one to choose among various products, materials, and prices, following the different market needs or personal liking.

After the Second World War, the Italian moka expanded all over the South Europe and it became the standard way of domestically making coffee. Its popularity led to non-Italian South European manufacturers making copies or new designs inspired in the original Italian design.

Another part of the world the Italian moka reached after the Second World War was Australia. Most post-war Italian migrants used the moka pot in their homes which eventually led to many Australians of non-Italian backgrounds to also use the pot in their homes. It is widely available in many of the Italian-style delis and supermarkets that exist in Australia.

Brewing coffee with a moka potEdit

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. Hot water from a kettle is preferable to cold water because it both shortens the time that the coffee is exposed to heat (thereby avoiding bitterness), and raises the temperature of the water during the extraction.[9] Finely-ground coffee is added to the filter as shown below. The coffee should not be compressed in any way to ensure that the hot water passes easily through the coffee grounds. 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.

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.[10][11]

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.[10]

Counterintuitively, adding more water to the lower chamber will not allow more coffee to be extracted; in fact, in typical operating conditions the volume of coffee is proportional to the volume of air in the lower chamber.[9] On the other hand, the volume of coffee obviously cannot be much greater than the initial volume of water. The recommended "just under the safety valve" fill level thus produces near-maximum yield.


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. It is an urban myth that leaving coffee stains in a moka pot is preferable - the rancid coffee should be scrubbed out of all parts of the pot.

Moka pot dimensionsEdit

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 characteristicsEdit

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.[10]

However, a typical moka coffee is extracted at relatively low pressures of 1 to 2 bar (100 to 200 kPa),[10] 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.[12][13]

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

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ "Moka Pot". Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Bellman Cappuccino Maker reviewed". Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  6. ^ "Volturno - Cafeteras Express" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  7. ^ "Familia de Artistas". Página/12 (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 September 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010. sirven café de una cafeterita Volturno
  8. ^ "Company home page". Top Moka. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  9. ^ a b King, Warren D (2008). "The physics of a stove-top espresso machine". American Journal of Physics. 76 (6): 558. doi:10.1119/1.2870524.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Espresso Italiano Certificato" (PDF). Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  13. ^ "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 linksEdit

  Media related to Moka pot at Wikimedia Commons