Moka Pot Brew Guide: From First Use To Good Coffee

Got a new moka pot but aren’t sure how to properly use it to brew coffee? Here’s the process from start to finish. Using a percolator is not difficult but there are some tips and tricks to get in mind. Let’s get right into it. Here are the steps;

  • Clean and prepare
  • Boil water
  • Prepare coffee grounds
  • Pour water in the boiler
  • Put grounds in filter basket
  • Put filter basket in the boiler
  • Screw collector on the boiler
  • Put on stove
  • Wait for the Moka pot to start making a bubbling sound from the collector

You can find a detailed explanation of all the steps below.

What Do You Need?

To brew good percolator coffee, you need a few things:

  • Moka pot
  • Heat source
  • Fine to medium finely ground coffee
  • Water
  • Optional: Scale
  • Optional: Aeropress filter

The heat source should work for your moka pot. The only thing you really have to know is that induction doesn’t work with aluminum moka pots but it does with stainless steel ones. All other heat sources work with all types of percolators.

The scale is optional. It allows you to follow a recipe a lot more accurately and consistently every time. However, with a moka pot, you can actually get quite close to the right ratio by eyeballing it. It’s much easier than with other brew methods.

The Aeropress filter changes the coffee from a percolator quite a bit. It filters out all the residue and coffee oils which means a thinner feeling cup. On the other hand it increases the brew pressure a little which increases extraction making it stronger. A cup completely free of sediment is also a plus.

How To Brew Good Percolator Coffee

Here are my steps to making good coffee in a percolator. Peoples process can differ a little but this is what works for me. A moka pot can be a bit finicky to get good coffee out of. If the first time doesn’t work out well, don’t give up immediately.

1.    Clean and prepare

To start off with, all the parts of the percolator should be clean and ready to go. Here’s what you need;

  • Moka pot. (With boiler, filter basket, filter lid, silicone gasket and collector)
  • Coffee (pre-ground or fresh beans)
  • Grinder (if using whole beans)
  • Kettle
  • Kitchen scale (not necessary but makes your coffee more consistent)

It’s a good idea to somewhat disassemble the moka pot so you have three parts:

  • Boiler (bottom part)
  • Filter basket (where the coffee goes)
  • Collector with filter screen and gasket installed (top part)

If you have a new moka pot, it’s a good idea to break it in first. This basically just means brewing a few batches of coffee and throwing it out. This way the natural oils in the coffee cover the metal preventing any metallic taste.

Click here to find the full procedure and reasons for breaking in a moka pot.

2.    Boil Water

Whether you boil your water in an electric kettle, on the stove or on an open fire, now is the time to get it going. This will give you some time to prepare your coffee grounds. The water will probably be boiling by the time you have your coffee prepared.

It’s better to start with hot water in a moka pot. This will result in better tasting coffee because there is less chance of it being burnt, resulting in bitter coffee. That’s why having hot water there when you’re ready with everything else will help you get a good cup. Especially if you’ve got an electric kettle its really easy to just push the button and get some water up to temperature.

The time savings also makes the process a bit more efficient. If you don’t have anything else to heat up water except your moka pot or just want to keep it easy, you can skip this step but it might impact taste.

3.    Prepare The Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds

Here we get to probably the most important part of brewing coffee and that is the grounds. You can’t make coffee without it. It’s also where a big part of the taste comes from. Good coffee beans make better coffee than bad beans.

There are two choices;

  • Pre ground coffee
  • Whole beans.

Both will work fine but freshly ground whole beans are much more likely to brew good tasting coffee. So if you can, use fresh beans. You’ll need a grinder to turn them into grounds though.

a.     Weigh your coffee

Whether you’re using fresh or pre ground coffee, it’s a good idea to weigh how much you’re putting in. Sure moka pots are designed to get roughly the right ratio if you just fill the filter basket flush to the top and the water to just below the safety valve. If you don’t have a scale, just go by eye.

However, that’s just a guideline and not super accurate. If you want to get exactly the ratio correct, weighing the grounds is essential. Because different coffees (grind size, roast) can have different weights per volume, weighing is more precise than just going by volume.

How much grounds you need depends on how much coffee you want to brew and that is largely dictated by the size of the moka pot. Since there are many different sizes, it’s easier to go by ratio. For a moka pot the ratio ranges from 1:7 to 1:8. That means 1 gram of coffee grounds for every 7 to 8 grams of water. Although that’s a starting point, you can adjust from there.

Read more about the correct ratio for moka pot coffee in this post.

b.    Grind

If you use whole beans, they have to be ground before using of course. For a moka pot you want to use a medium-fine grind. Just grind a bit coarser than you would use for espresso but finer than for pour over drip coffee.

Click here to find out more about the best grind size for a moka pot.

4.    Pour Water In The Boiler

By now, your water should have come to a boil and be ready to use. The next step is to pour the hot water into the boiler (the lower part of the moka pot). There are two ways you can decide how much water to pour in your moka pot;

  • Just fill the pot until to +-2 millimeter under the lowest part of the safety valve. This gets you in the ballpark of a good ratio (if you combine this with just filling the filter basket flush to the top)
  • Weigh. Put the boiler on a scale, reset to zero and pour in the desired amount of water. Of course the desired amount of water also depends on the amount of grounds and the ratio you want to use. However, you still want to be in the ballpark of 2 millimeters below the safety valve. So if you want to know exactly how much coffee to use, it’s a good idea to measure how much water fits in your moka pot first.

Tip: If you find that your moka pot takes a long time to start brewing (more than +-1.5 minute), even when starting with hot water, add an extra preheat cycle to the process. Pour hot water in the boiler, let it sit for about 20 seconds. Then throw it out (carefully) and add freshly boiled water immediately. this will preheat the metal more so it doesn’t soak up as much heat and it’ll brew quicker.

5.    Put Grounds In The Filter Basket

Untamped grounds in a moka pot

I like to fill the basket first and then put the basket in the boiler. Your experience may be different but filling the basket while holding it in my hand is easier for me. It’s also easier to clean up if any grounds manage to not get into the basket.

Just get the grounds in the basket. Pour, scoop, throw, whatever you like. Use the method that gets the grounds in the basket without spilling any coffee.

In the end, you don’t want a little mountain of coffee in the basket though. You want a flat bed of coffee grounds. Just take your finger and smooth out the mound of coffee without pushing the grounds and compacting them. You really don’t want to compact the grounds because this could cause the pressure in the moka pot to become too high and you ending up without coffee.

6.    Mount The Basket In The Boiler

Now the grounds are in the basket and the water is in the boiler you’re almost ready to go. Just put the filter basket in the boiler. It should sit nicely in the boiler. There are no tricks here, just make sure that you don’t spill any grounds while doing this.

Some people like to scoop the grounds into the basket while the basket is already in the boiler. This is usually messier for me but your milage may vary. Just do what you prefer.

If you want to add an Aeropress filter, put it on top of the basket now.

7.    Make Sure The Filter Lid Is In Place

It’s a small thing but the filter lid is an important part. Mount the filter lid in the collector before you go any further. You should have three parts of the moka pot left;

  • Collector
  • Filter lid
  • Silicone gasket

Take the collector and hold it upside down. Then put the filter lid in place. The indented part of the lid should point down when everything is assembled. After that, put the silicone gasket in place. The gasket just goes above the screw thread and holds the lid in place. The inner hole in the gasket should be filled up with the intent of the filter lid.  

8.    Screw On The Collector

Now screw the top collector onto the lower boiler.

BE CAREFUL: Because you used hot water in the boiler, you can’t touch the outside of it anymore. Use a towel or oven glove to grip the lower part. The top part is still cool of course so you can screw it on with your bare hands.

Screw it on tight but not extremely. Don’t twist the collector by the handle but you can wedge your fingers against the side of the pouring spout and the mount of the handle to get a better grip.

If your moka pot leaks from the seam, twist it on a bit tigher or click here to find a solution.

9.    Put The Percolator On The Heat

Now everything is assembled and the water and grounds are in the right place. It’s time to start brewing. And to do that you have to put the moka pot on the heat. Although you already heated up the water, you need steam. To keep creating steam, you need more heat.

Put the moka pot on a medium heat and keep the lid open.

Can you use a moka pot on an electric stove? Find out here.

10. Wait until the coffee is done

After a few minutes the coffee will start flowing out of the tower into the collector.  The coffee should flow and not shoot out like a jet. If it shoots out, the heat is too high.

It’s usually necessary to manage the heat to keep the flow rate similar throughout the brew process. After the coffee starts flowing, turn the stove to the lowest setting or even turn it off completely and boil the rest of the water off the residual heat.

Once the flow becomes light in color and the tower starts bubbling and hissing, the coffee is done.

Find out more about how to know when your moka pot is done brewing by clicking here.

11.  Serve

That’s it, your coffee is done. All that’s left is to serve and enjoy. Moka pot coffee is quite strong so a mug is probably not the right vessel to drink this brew.

A smaller cup is a better option. An espresso cup could do the trick but it depends how much you want to drink in one go.

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.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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