What's the Best Coffee Beans for a Moka Pot: Our Top 7 Shortlist

The Moka pot was invented in 1933 in Italy. It was born at the turning point for Italy when the entire world was going through the Great Depression, and Italy was settling into its fascist politics. Alfonso Bialetti, the genius engineer that designed the first Moka pot, would see the success of his creation and the spread of the Moka pot across the globe.

Since 1933, people have debated several topics surrounding the Moka pot — when do you take it off the stove, do you add cold or hot water, and what’s the best bean to use with a Moka pot?

We’ll reveal the answers to this, and we’ll also show you how it works and how to use one.

What is a Moka Pot?

It’s simplicity. This coffee maker was made when simple designs ruled, and because of the quality of coffee it produces, it has stayed in coffee culture for nearly 90 years.

Unlike popular devices nowadays like drip machines, Moka pots use steam to saturate the coffee grounds and produce a full-bodied coffee with all the right notes.

Pots have three essential components:

  • Top chamber — Doubles as the filter and where the coffee collects
  • Funnel — Holds the coffee grounds.
  • Bottom chamber — Holds clean water.

A Moka pot is a cheap alternative to more expensive electric machines. It’s versatile, ultra-portable, and an excellent choice for making coffee in the great outdoors. These types of pots are common in Europe and Latin America, however, they’re available everywhere.

We feel like these little pots don’t get enough credit — after all they were marketed to make espresso at home. To be honest, they don’t quite reach espresso-level quality. Nevertheless, coffee made this way is as versatile as the device — great for any coffee drink type.

How it Works And Maintenance

There are no real secrets to how a Moka pot works — it’s very basic. If you’ve ever steamed vegetables, a Moka pot works remarkably similarly. Except when cooking vegetables, we don’t collect the steamy vegetable water to drink :)

As we said previously, a Moka pot has three parts: an upper chamber, funnel and lower section. As the water heats up in the bottom, it begins to turn to steam, which builds up in the vacuum you create by securing the upper chamber and base. The trapped moisture saturates the coffee grounds and eventually finds its way into the upper chamber, where it spews out like a geyser — as delicious coffee.

Making coffee in a Moka pot isn’t time-consuming, and it’s super easy.

Step-by-step process on how to make coffee with a Moka pot:

  1. To make coffee, you first have to unscrew the bottom from the upper chamber.
  2. Then, you grind your coffee beans or get your ground coffee ready.
  3. The next step is to pour clean water up to the little valve inside the bottom chamber, put the funnel in and pour the grounds into the funnel (Important: do not press or compact the grounds).
  4. If you pre-heated the water in Step 3, use a towel to hold the bottom while you screw on the upper chamber. If you didn’t pre-heat the water, the towel is optional.
  5. Wait until you first hear a spitting/gurgling sound — that’s your cue to take the Moka pot off the stove/heat source.

What can go wrong with making coffee in a Moka pot?

Now, let’s go through each step to see what can go wrong (and why the kind of coffee bean used in a Moka pot is not the most critical factor for making good coffee.

Troubleshooting Step 1; Not much can go wrong with taking apart the pot vunless you used too much force to tighten it. Or, if you don’t clean your Moka pot properly, you’ll get nasty-tasting coffee even if you get the rest of the steps right.

Action points:

  • Be careful when unscrewing the pot after it has been used. The pot retains heat well and will likely be too hot to touch with your bare hands.
  • Clean and maintain your Moka pot regularly.

Troubleshooting Step 2: The type of coffee beans does matter. Also, the grind makes a big difference. When grinding your beans, use a burr grinder, it gives you a more consistent grind.

Action points:

  • Adjust the grind if you notice the coffee is not to your liking (most sources say to use a medium to medium-fine grind.
  • Preferably, use fresh whole beans.

Troubleshooting Step 3; Obviously, use clean water and not unfiltered tap water. Some people claim pre-heating water to the boiling point makes a more aromatic cup of coffee, and we agree. When pouring in the coffee grounds, do not compress the grounds, instead, lightly pat and spread it so that they fil the funnel.

Action points:

  • Use pre-heated, clean water.
  • Do not overfill the water chamber (just under the water valve is perfect) or the funnel for the grounds.

Troubleshooting Step 4; When screwing on the upper chamber, pay attention to how tight you screw it on. Doing it too loosely won’t allow the steam to build up, and doing it too tightly will make it difficult to unscrew later.

Action point:

  • Be careful when putting the pot together if you pre-heated your water as the metal quickly heats up and may cause injury.

Troubleshooting Step 5; Depending on if you used cold or hot water, the time it takes for the coffee to be ready may differ. Our advice would be to keep your ears open. Professional baristas say that the first gurgling or sputtering sound you hear is your cue to remove the Moka pot from the heat source.

Action points:

  • Don’t leave the Moka pot unattended.
  • Don’t wait until all the water comes out of the bottom chamber.
  • Remove the Moka pot as soon as you hear it gurgle for cleaner-tasting coffee.

How to clean a Moka pot

Contrary to popular belief, you can and should clean your Moka pot with soap and water. Even the best coffee brands for Moka pots won’t be enough to outweigh caked-on coffee residue. Unlike a cast-iron pan, which you don’t want to clean each time, a Moka pot must be cleaned regularly, especially if you don’t give it a rinse after making coffee.

Cleaning is important because the cleanliness of your Moka pot has a direct effect on the taste of the coffee. If you didn’t know, coffee naturally contains essential oils. These oils build up on every part of the Moka pot that comes into contact with the steam and coffee — which is every part.

  • Use a non-abrasive cloth or sponge and any type of food-grade soap. Scrub down every surface, making sure to completely remove the oily film.

Just an FYI, you will probably need to use your fingers to remove the pesky coffee grounds that get stuck in the Moka pot.

Best Coffee Beans for Moka Pots

We recommend these Top-7 beans for Moka pots based on three principles: 1) whole bean over ground coffee 2) higher rating over lower rating, and 3) throw in a decaf option for coffee lovers on a caffeine diet.

Your choice is your personal preference. But first, get your Moka brewing game down to a science before exploring other types of coffee beans.

Here’s our Top-7 list:

  1. Coffee Bean Direct Dark Sulawesi Kalossi
  2. Lifeboost Espresso Coffee
  3. Mayorga Organics Café Cubano, Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee
  4. Illy Coffee, Moka Ground, Classico Medium Roast, 100% Arabica Bean Signature Italian Blend
  5. Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground
  6. Bialetti Coffee, Moka Ground, Dark Roast, Napoli, Italy
  7. Lavazza Dek Filtro Decaf

The full breakdown:

Mayorga Organics Café Cubano, Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

Mayorga Organics Café Cubano, Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

  • Origin: Latin America (Perú, Honduras and Nicaragua)
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Whole beans
  • Flavor notes: Sweet and smoky
  • Sustainability: Certified USDA Organic, Kosher, Fair Trade.

Description: Despite the name, this coffee is not Cuban in origin. It’s a dark roast, whole bean coffee that comes in three different sized bags: 12 oz, 2lb and 5lb. This coffee is also available in ground form, with three grinds available: coarse, medium and fine. Mayorga recommends a fine ground for use with Moka pots.

Coffee Bean Direct Dark Sulawesi Kalossi

Coffee Bean Direct Dark Sulawesi Kalossi

  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Whole beans
  • Flavor notes: Earthy, spicy
  • Sustainability: Unknown

Description: This is a single-origin coffee that has a rich, bold flavor with low acidity. It’s a dark roast, so it’s perfect for Moka pots. It comes in two sizes: 2.5lb and 5lb and is also available in ground form.

Lifeboost Espresso Coffee

Lifeboost Espresso Coffee

  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Whole beans
  • Flavor notes: Bold
  • Sustainability: Certified USDA Organic, Fair Trade

Description: Lifeboost coffee comes in one size: 12 oz whole bean or ground. The company says they handpick their coffee in mountain-shaded regions of Nicaragua. The coffee produced using these beans pops with flavor and is smooth.

Illy Coffee, Moka Ground, Classico Medium Roast, 100% Arabica Bean Signature Italian Blend

Illy Coffee, Moka Ground, Classico Medium Roast, 100% Arabica Bean Signature Italian Blend

  • Origin: Blend of 100% arabica beans
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Moka ground
  • Flavor notes: Caramel, chocolate
  • Sustainability: Unknown

Description: The first ready-to-use coffee on our list. Arrives in a vacuum-sealed package, stays fresh for longer. This coffee is fairly expensive, and our recommendation would be to buy a small container to test it before buying a big tin.

Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground

Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground

  • Origin: Blend of Brazilian Arabica and African/Southeast Asian Robusta beans
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Ground
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate
  • Sustainability: Unknown, but Lavazza has been voted the most ethical brand in Europe

Description: Lavazza is a major player in the coffee game in Europe. Originating in Italy, the company scours the globe to source its beans ethically. The unique blend is smooth and produces an excellent mouthfeel.

Bialetti Coffee, Moka Ground, Dark Roast, Napoli, Italy

Bialetti Coffee, Moka Ground, Dark Roast, Napoli, Italy

  • Origin: 70/30 blend of Robusta/Arabica
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Moka ground
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate
  • Sustainability: Unknown

Description: Ground coffee roasted by the same company that mass-produced the first Moka pot. You can be sure that if you have a Bialetti Moka pot and buy this blended ground coffee, every flavor note will shine through. Ground just right to extract the most out of the coffee.

Lavazza Dek Filtro Decaf

Lavazza Dek Filtro Decaf

  • Origin: 60/40 blend of Arabica/Robusta
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole beans
  • Flavor notes: Nutty, spicy
  • Sustainability: Unknown, but Lavazza has been voted the most ethical brand in Europe

Description: The only decaf coffee on our list, but we felt it was important to include because not everyone is crazy about caffeine. Green coffee is decaffeinated.

Tips for Brewing with a Moka Pot

So, you’ve just bought your first Moka pot, and you have no idea how to use it. Don’t stress out — here’s our quick start guide to getting you up and brewing.

Before use:

  • Take apart the device and give it a good soapy wash and rinse.
  • Bialetti, the godfathers of Moka pots, recommend discarding the first 2-3 brews.

The first cup of Moka pot coffee:

  • Fill the bottom chamber with water up to the valve.
  • Insert the funnel and fill it with coffee grounds so that it’s level (do not compress or use a tamp).
  • Turn your heat source on to low-medium heat.
  • Screw on the upper chamber and place it on the heat source
  • Listen for the gurgle and remove from heat source.
  • Enjoy your first cup of Moka pot coffee.

Tips:

  • Experiment with using cold and hot water — some people prefer either one or the other.
  • If your coffee is too bitter, this could be because you’re using low-quality beans, not taking the pot off the heat source as soon as it gurgles, or the grind is too coarse or too fine.
  • There’s a rubber ring gasket that tends to deteriorate and become brittle over time — make sure the rubber seal is intact.
  • To prolong the life of you Moka pot, clean, dry and store the parts separately.

Kind of grind

Grinding coffee beans for Moka pots is a talking point among Moka pot aficionados. What most sources say is to use a medium-medium fine grind. The Bialetti company recommends an espresso-fine grind. So, who’s right? Well, it depends on your definition of medium and fine.

We wouldn’t worry too much about the grind as long as it’s at least medium or more fine. Since Moka pots are designed to be used with a full funnel of grounds and a full chamber of water, the grind and brand of coffee beans must be on point. The whole beans and ground coffee on our list is marketed for Moka pots, so if you’re unsure, buy Moka ground coffee first to see what grind you like. Then, you can use the same grind if you switch to whole beans of the same brand.

Roasting types

While Moka pots don’t reach the high-pressures like real espresso machines, most baristas and pros recommend using espresso beans. The reason is these types of pots were designed to get espresso-like flavor at home. Since most espresso beans are a darker roast (usually medium or dark), it makes sense that the best beans for Moka pots are espresso beans.

Darker roasts combined with the Moka-making process produce full-bodied, bold coffee that’s infused with essential oils, adding to the aroma and taste. While we’ve never tried a light roast in a Moka pot, there’s no reason that you can’t try it. It should turn out great using any type of roast.

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/03/31

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

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