How long should it take to get coffee from a moka pot? Are you taking too long and are there any shortcuts? Here’s what you want to know.
Total time to brew coffee in a 3 cup moka pot from start to finish is anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes. Of that total time 2’-4’ is preparation and 3’-4’ is brew time/time on the stove. Bigger or smaller pots can take a bit longer or shorter. If using pre-ground coffee, the prep time will be shorter.
I’ll go into the details below and also some ways you save time.
Moka Pot Brew Time
So what is the brew time in a moka pot? That depends on a few factors. There are also a few ways you can look at the time spent.
The two ways are;
- The actual brew time. With a moka pot that would be from the moment you put the pot on the stove until it’s done brewing.
- From starting the preparations until the coffee is finished.
Or another way of looking at it, with or without prep time. You might be interested in one, the other or both so let’s look at the two parts separately. Let’s look at the prep time you need to prepare your moka pot first and the actual brew time later on.
Want to know how to actually use percolators to make good coffee? click here.
A lot of the time spent on brewing coffee in a moka pot are actually spent preparing everything. This is the amount of time spent preparing everything up until the point of putting the moka pot on the stove. That means; a moka pot filled with water and coffee grounds and assembled.
While you might not consider the preparations part of the brew time, it does certainly play a role in how long it takes you from starting to taking your first sip. It’s also the part where you can make the biggest difference in the final result.
Here’s the quick rundown, you can find more detailed steps below:
- Fill an electric kettle and boil enough water
- Disassemble the moka pot
- Grind coffee (if applicable)
- Fill the boiler with hot water (add a pre-heat cycle if you want)
- Fill the filter basket with grounds
- Drop the basket in the boiler
- Screw the collector on the boiler
This process should take about 2-3 minutes or a bit less if using pre-ground coffee.
First fill the kettle with the amount of water you need and turn it on. You want to start with hot water because it’s going to result in a better tasting brew and it’s faster in the end. Starting with hot water means the stove doesn’t have to do as much work and usually an electric kettle is faster than the stove.
Filling the kettle is an action that takes 1 second to maybe 30 seconds but it cuts more than that off the brew time later on so it’s worth it. And you can do other preparations while the water heats up so you don’t lose that time.
To cut the actual brew time even more, you can do a preheat cycle. That means fill the boiler with boiling water, let it sit for about 20 seconds and then throw it out. After which you immediately fill the boiler with hot water again. The metal of the moka pot cools down the first water and by doing a pre-heat cycle, you start with the hottest water possible which means the coffee brews faster after putting it on the stove.
Disassemble Your Stovetop Espresso Maker
If your moka pot is still dirty from yesterday, clean it now. It’s better to clean it shortly after use but hey, it happens. Quickly cleaning it out and washing it shouldn’t take long since just rinsing with water is usually enough. It’s not recommended to wash your moka pot with a detergent regularly.
If you cleaned it yesterday, just grabbing everything from a cabinet takes about 5 seconds.
You probably put it away assembled so it takes another 10 seconds to unscrew the two parts and take out the filter basket.
Let’s call it 15 seconds in total.
Here we get to the important part, the actual coffee. Grinding fresh beans is almost always going to yield better results.
Using a Hario Skerton grinder it takes me roughly 1-1:30 minutes to grind enough coffee for my 3 cup pot (14 grams of medium-finely ground coffee). However, with a TimeMore C2 it only takes about 30 seconds. Add to that 30 seconds for getting the beans and pouring them into the grinder.
That means weighing, filling the grinder and grinding the coffee takes 1.5 -2 minutes with a slow grinder and 1 minute with a quick grinder.
If you have an electric grinder or use pre-ground coffee, this will take quite a bit shorter or almost eliminate this time. However, if you use pre-ground coffee, you’ll still have to wait for your kettle to boil. Usually I grind my coffee in the time the water is heating up.
Filling and Assembling Pot
During the grinding, the water has likely boiled so is ready for use. Now we have all the parts, hot water and ground coffee so it’s time for assembly.
- Pour the hot water into the boiler
- Fill the filter basket
- Mount filter basket in the pot
- Screw top and bottom parts of moka pot together.
In total, this should take about a minute once you’ve done it a few times.
Total prep time
That means that prepping everything you have to before you can put your moka pot on the stove will take 2.5 to 4 minutes. The first times you’ll be on the longer end of that scale but it’ll be on the lower end after a few times.
If you use pre ground coffee, it can be done under 2 minutes. If you choose to use cold water you could probably do all the preparations in about a minute. However, as said before, using hot water is worth it because it reduces the ‘actual’ brew time quite a bit. Using freshly ground coffee is almost always worth the extra time unless you don’t care about the taste of your coffee much.
Now here’s the answer you’re likely looking for. From the time everything is filled and assembled and you put the pot on the stove, how long does it take before you have coffee?
These are general guidelines because there are quite a few factors at play here. How hot is the water in the moka pot? How big is it? And how hot is your stove?
Starting with hot water and setting the stove to high heat it should take about 2 to 3 minutes before the first coffee flows into the collector and then another 30-45 seconds until the collector is filled (depends on the size moka pot you’re using as well).
I use a 3 cup moka pot. If you want more information about sizes; What’s the best size moka pot for one person?
If you start with cold water, the time on the stove is going to be increased. More energy has to be put into the water for it to get up to temperature so it will take longer.
Of course the exact times depend a lot on many other factors;
- Grind size: A finer grind size provides more resistance so more pressure has to be built up.
- What ‘average’ is on your stove: Not all stoves will have the same heat at the middle setting.
- Size of the moka pot: The larger the pot is, the longer everything takes; Grinding, boiling, etc.
- Starting temperature of the water: The hotter water is when you start the less time the stove needs to heat it up to the right temperature/pressure.
What if it takes too long?
So what if your brew time is way outside of the times listed above? There are few things going on.
- The stove isn’t hot enough: Every stove is different and the high setting on different stoves is going to be different. Turn it up as high as it goes and see if it does anything. However, if it sounds like the water is boiling but still nothing is coming out, something could be off.
- Check if there aren’t any leaks: If the moka pot leaks in the middle, the pressure will leak out this way and there might not be enough left to push the water through the grounds. Screw the parts together tighter (careful, hot!). If that doesn’t work, inspect the silicone gasket for wear/cracks.
- Grind is too fine: It’s not very common but a very fine grind will increase the resistance of the coffee bed. Because of the extra resistance, more pressure is required for the water to push through it. The higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point of water which means it takes longer. The pressure could get too high though. If the water really can’t get through the coffee bed, it will relieve the pressure through the safety valve.
- The filter is blocked: If the stove is hot enough but still nothing is happening. The filter could be clogged up. That means no water can get through, at least not with the amount of pressure a moka pot can (safely) create. If you know the stove is set high enough and nothing is happening after it should, take the pot off the heat, let it cool down and clean out the filter. If the filter is fine, use slightly coarser coffee grounds.
If really no liquid is coming out either through the top, through the sides or through the safety valve, it’s a good idea to take the moka pot off the stove because the safety valve might be malfunctioning. Especially if you start with hot water, 5 minutes should be the absolute longest it takes to see something happening.
Moka Pot Time savers
Although it doesn’t take too long to brew coffee with a moka pot, you might want to cut the time it takes even further. There are a few things you can do but there are tradeoffs you have to accept if you want to use them.
Ready to go: One of the most obvious ways to save time is to have your moka pot clean and ready to go. Wash it after the last use and not before your next use. This is better for hygiene reasons anyways because there is less chance for mold and other nasty things to grow. Most people will already do this but if you don’t, you know what to do.
Just opening a cabinet and taking the pot out takes about 5 seconds so no time at all. Don’t screw the parts together tightly. Just loosely so they stay together and it doesn’t take any effort to get the parts separated.
Also, put the pot away dry before putting the parts back together to minimize mold growth.
Pre-ground coffee: Especially if you use a hand grinder, you can gain some time by using pre-ground coffee. The obvious tradeoff here is that freshly ground beans (of similar quality) will taste much better than pre-ground coffee.
Hand grinding coffee for a 3 cup moka pot takes me about 1.5-2 minutes, (only 30 seconds with a good grinder) including pouring the beans in hopper. However, for part of this time the water is still heating up. If you boil a small amount of water it doesn’t take long but still about a minute. That means you save about 30-60 seconds off the total time. A decent time savings but if it’s worth the taste difference is up to you.
Boil a little water: An electric kettle that’s filled to the max takes a few minutes to boil. Putting just the amount of water you need in the kettle saves a good amount of time and energy. No need to measure exactly the amount of water you put in, just a little bit more than you think you need will be fine. It’s better to boil a little extra than not enough.
A 3 cup moka pot only takes about 120 ml of water. This should boil very quickly. No need to boil a liter or more.
Hot water: One time saver already included in the process outlined above is using hot water. It has some taste benefits but if you’re looking for time you should really do this. You might think just going in with cold water saves you time but this isn’t the case. You will spend that time waiting for the stove to boil that water which often takes longer than waiting for an electric kettle.
An electric kettle will heat up the amount of water in the pot quicker than on the stove. You do have to wait a little for the kettle to boil but this is time you use for other preparations so it’s not really lost time. By using hot water you knock about 1-2 minutes of the brew time.
Pre-heat cycle: Pre-heat the metal of the moka pot by pouring in boiling water, letting it sit for 20 seconds and then throw it out. Then immediately pour in hot water again. The first batch is cooled down quite a bit by the cold metal. For the second batch, the metal is already hot(ter) so it won’t cool down the water much.
It’s a bit of a hassle but it cuts another +-30 seconds of the time on the stove and I’ve gotten better taste from using this procedure.
Preheat the stove: Especially on an electric stove, the hobs need a bit of time to heat up. You want the water to steam as quickly as possible so turning on the hob about 30 seconds before you put the moka pot on it will help reduce the brew time.
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 its 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.