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How hot should do you set your stove to make good moka pot coffee? It’s actually more important to get the right temperature than you think? Let’s find out.
Put your moka pot on a stovetop set to a medium heat. Once the coffee starts flowing reduce the heat by 50%. This will ensure a good flow of coffee by creating and managing the pressure in the boiler. You can speed up the brewing process starting with hot instead of cold water in the moka pot.
Don’t want to bother with figuring out how hot to set your stove? Get a moka pot with built in heating element. Just push the button and the rest is done for you. This De’Longhi electric moka pot (Amazon) is an easy way to not need a stove at all.
Why use medium heat and some surprising benefits of not using high heat can be found below.
Every stove is different. Setting ‘5’ is not the same for every stove. For some it might be the max setting while for others it’s only halfway there. And other stoves have completely different indicators of the power setting altogether.
That’s why I’m not going to give you a specific setting. It’s pointless.
Just set the stove to a medium heat which is going to be about halfway through the range. However your stove tells you the setting, set it to the middle one. That should be hot enough where you get the brewing process started pretty quickly without burning the coffee.
Medium heat on most stoves will be quite similar but of course some stoves have a higher heat output than others. So some experimentation might be necessary. Scroll down a little to find out how you can check if you’ve got your stove set to the right temperature for a moka pot.
If you’re not yet 100% sure on how to brew good coffee with a moka pot. click here to find a step by step guide.
Why not high heat?
Why shouldn’t you just set the stove to the highest setting? Water doesn’t burn and it will get up to temperature quicker.
There’s a good reason why that’s not the best approach;
- While water doesn’t burn coffee can. From the heat source (stove) to the coffee grounds is all metal. In most cases its aluminum. Metal conducts heat quite well. That means heat from the stove can actually go ‘around’ the water and heat up the coffee grounds. If the coffee grounds become too hot, you will have some negative taste effects. Try to keep the heat at the coffee grounds to a minimum while just boiling the water.
- If you set the heat too high, the water turns into steam too quickly. While the water is just warming up, there is no problem. However, once the water hits the boiling point, steam starts forming quickly. And with higher heat, steam forms quicker. That means there is a lot of pressure in the boiler. This pressure is relieved through the coffee grounds. However, if the pressure is too high, the extraction of the grounds is not right which results in bitter coffee.
- If the pressure becomes too high too quickly, the steam has to go somewhere. The safety valve is there for a reason but they can malfunction. Then you’re risking something more than bad coffee. If you use medium heat, it’s easier to judge if things are going alright.
So just have a little patience and don’t use maximum heat and you’ll be rewarded with better coffee and no mess to clean up in your kitchen.
How do you know the setting is right?
Unless you’re a real coffee nerd (not that that’s a bad thing), you’re unlikely to bust out your infrared thermometer and keep track of the temperature to the degree.
So what can you look for to know if you’re on the right track? How do you know if your stove is at the correct heat for a moka pot? Here are a few clues;
- Leave the top lid open so you can see what’s going on inside the collector.
- The coffee should flow evenly out of the top of the tower into the collector. If it shoots out, the pressure rises too quickly and thus the temperature is too high.
- Be ready to close the lid quickly if the coffee shoots out. If this happens, it’s likely that It’ll not land inside the moka pot with the lid open and your coffee is all over your kitchen. So keep an eye on things at all times.
- If you’ve got the correct temperature, you should be able to keep the lid open without spilling coffee everywhere.
- After the coffee starts flowing, adjust the temperature down. The goal is to keep the flow as even as possible. If you keep the heat under the moka pot at the same temperature, the pressure will usually get higher and higher so you have to compensate for this by lowering the heat on the stove.
As you might understand, this can take some experimentation. Take advantage of the break in procedure to get an idea of which setting on your stove creates the results outlined above without wasting too much of your good coffee.
Also, don’t forget to turn down the heat once the coffee start flowing through the tower. Once the water is at the boiling point, you don’t need as much heat to keep it going. On some stovetops like electric and infrared ones, you can just turn it off as soon as the coffee starts flowing because the residual heat in the hob will be enough to finish brewing your moka pot.
Start with hot water
Ok, you’re in a hurry in the morning and want to get your caffeine quickly. At medium heat it takes a while to brew coffee in a moka pot. Of course high heat would be faster but there are some drawbacks to it. So what can you do to speed up the brewing process?
The easiest thing you can do is to start with hot water. You’ll likely have an electric kettle in your kitchen. Just put the water you need in it and it should be boiling very quickly. In the meantime you can grind your beans and get all the parts of your moka pot together.
Starting with hot water will cut out a lot of the time that is otherwise required to just heating up the water.
A moka pot brews coffee when the water turns into steam and creates enough pressure to move through the grounds. So the brewing process actually starts when the water starts turning into steam. This happens at 212 degrees F. or 100 degrees C. That means all the warm up time is just that. There is no coffee brewing going on when there is no steam.
That means by heating up the water before pouring it into the moka pot you cut out big part of the time that otherwise would just be used warming up the water to the boiling point. If you do this, a medium heat should boil the water pretty quickly.
Can you use a moka pot on an induction stovetop? No, moka pots are made from aluminum which is a material which an induction hob doesn’t have any effect on. It’s possible to get moka pots that work with an induction plate or a adaptor plate. Other types of electric and gas stoves will work fine with any moka pot.
Favorite Moka Pot Products
You don’t need many things to brew good coffee with a Moka pot. Here are the few things you need to make the best possible coffee.
- Moka Pot: Just buy a high quality Moka pot from the get go. The cheaper ones can be messy when brewing. Bialetti is the original and still one of the best with it’s classic looks. They cost a bit more than the cheap ones but these can last for decades and the parts that wear out are easily available for the Bialetti Moka pots. The 3 cup size is good for a single person (Amazon)
- Beans: Good coffee starts with good beans. You can’t make bad beans taste good. Espresso roast beans are good for a Moka pot and will get you closer to that typical espresso taste. Peet’s coffee does a great 100$ Arabica espresso roast. Give it a try, you can get it here on Amazon
- Grinder: Using whole beans means you need to grind them at home. This improves the taste because the grounds are much fresher. A Hario Slim (Amazon) is a great starting point for the starting home barista. If you want a good hand grinder for a good price, check out the TimeMore C2 (Amazon)
- Scales: To get consistent results, a set of accurate scales is essential. Check out this Apexstone scale (Amazon). I’ve been using it for more than a year and while it doesn’t look the sleekest, it’s cheap and just as accurate as more expensive coffee scales. It just reacts a little slower.