Grind size is just as important as choosing the brewing method, water temperature, and type of beans, even when you're using a Moka pot.
If you don't get the grind size right it can ruin the flavor and leave you with an awful coffee.
Read this guide to find out the right Moka Pot grind size and ensure you brew the perfect coffee every morning.
Moka Pot Coffee (Stovetop Brewing Overview)
The Moka Pot is an Italian-based brewing device invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933.
It is a stovetop coffee maker that works using steam, which produces an intense coffee that tastes and looks like it was made with a traditional Espresso Machine.
However, many espresso lovers will argue that the coffee produced by a Moka Pot is not real espresso.
This is because espresso machines use water at very high pressure and temperature, forcing it to move through a compressed base of finely ground coffee (an espresso grind) to extract the intense flavor and aroma from each grind.
On the other hand, Moka Pot, also called a Stovetop Espresso Maker, doesn’t use high pressure and temperature. Instead, it utilizes the natural pressure produced by the steam from the pot.
This creates a well-extracted cup of coffee compared to other manual brewing methods.
At the same time, it’s also an affordable way to extract the intense flavors from your favorite coffee bean.
How A Moka Pot Coffee Maker Works
A Moka Pot has three chambers: the top, middle, and bottom chambers:
The top section holds the final product of the brewed coffee after the brewing process is finished.
The middle chamber is where the funnel or the coffee basket holds the ground and roasted coffee.
The bottom part is where the water is placed before the brewing process. This also usually has a pressure valve.
These three chambers are responsible for creating an intensely flavorful coffee.
Since the water is stored in the first chamber, which is mainly sealed, it creates a lot of pressure.
The pressure the water produces shoots up water vapor to the coffee grounds, starting the brewing process. But that’s not the whole thing.
The same pressure forces the liquid coffee to the top chamber from the middle part. The water is no longer pressurized when it spills out from the funnel, filling the chamber smoothly.
This then leaves you with a strong coffee to enjoy.
What Does A Moka Pot Coffee Taste Like?
A Moka pot makes strong, robust coffee.
It's a bit like strong, Turkish coffee, but the less sophisticated brewing method makes it a bit rougher. It's a lot stronger than drip coffee and bolder than French press.
Because of the strong cup of coffee it produces, many people prefer this brewing device.
Which Type Of Moka Pot Is Best?
Moka pots come in a range of sizes. You can get individual stovetop espresso makers, or larger units that make up to 12 cups of coffee.
No matter what size you want, always get a stainless steel Moka pot compared to aluminum.
These are more expensive, but give you a more consistently good tasting brew. Plus, they should last longer.
The brewing method remains the same for all of them and you should still use the same grind size.
What Grind Size Is Best For A Moka Pot?
To brew the best coffee cup from your Moka Pot, you need to use the right grind size for the beans.
Moka pots work best with a medium fine coffee grind. If you look at a grind size chart you can see the exact size, but it's around the same as table salt.
This is a slightly more coarse grind than you would use for an espresso machine, but you can make use slightly more finely ground coffee for a Moka pot if that's all you have.
There is no hard and fast rule for Moka pot coffee, and everyone has different preferences.
This means there isn’t an exact grind size that will magically brew your perfect cup.
If you have a grinder it's worth experimenting with your coffee beans to see which works best for you.
If you're using pre-ground coffee beans then you may want to try a few different sizes out.
Grinding Your Own Coffee Beans
Grinding your own coffee beans at home is one of best ways to get them to the exact right size.
There are two main types of coffee grinder to use:
- Burr coffee grinder (some times called conical burr grinder)
- Blade grinder
To get a more accurate grind you're better with a burr grinder, as you have much more control over the mechanism. However, blade coffee grinders are cheaper and easier to use.
You can use burr grinders or blade grinders for a Moka pot coffee because you don't have to be super accurate.
If you are grinding your own coffee you should set it to one of the most refined settings.
For lower quality grinders that can’t achieve the superfine espresso grounds, you can set it to the almost finest setting.
For high-quality grinders, always set it to medium fine, or even a medium coarse grind which is about the same size as table salt.
You can always consult the coffee grind chart that comes with your grinder for more information.
Remember, you can also buy pre ground coffee beans if you don't want the hassle of grinding them yourself.
Why Does Grind Size Matter For Moka Coffee Brewing?
Grind size is really important for creating a coffee that tastes amazing.
Whether you're making drip coffee or Moka coffee - grind size should be just as much of a consideration as the coffee beans themselves.
The grind size you need isn't just determined by the brewing device. It's impacted by the brewing process extraction rate, contact time, and flow rate:
The extraction rate refers to how long it takes to absorb the flavors of the coffee beans, and this is impacted by the surface area of the coffee grounds.
A finer grind covers more surface area, so the extraction rate is higher. Coarser grounds have less surface area, which will have a slower extraction rate.
A Moka Pot coffee requires an intermediate extraction rate, which is why a medium-fine grind size is a good choice.
Contact time is how long the coffee grounds are in the hot water. The longer you expose the grounds to the hot water, the more extraction will occur.
A shorter contact time extracts less coffee.
Drip coffee and Moka pot coffee have a medium contact time, which is why they need a medium grind size.
Flow rate is how quickly hot water passes through the coffee filter during the extraction stage.
Controlling the speed of the flow will allow you to extract as much flavor as you can from the grounds.
If you use a finer grind or 'espresso grind', the flow rate will be slower since it has to pass through denser-packed coffee grounds.
What Happens If You Use The Wrong Grind Size?
Basically, a fine grind will extract the coffee flavor faster, so they should be used for brewing methods requiring a shorter period.In comparison, coarse coffee grinds are better for immersive brewing since you need to steep the coffee for several minutes.
A Moka pot has a reasonably short brewing time so you need to use a relatively fine/ medium fine grind to allow it to extract enough flavor.
If you use a coarser grind then it won't absorb the flavor. This will leave you with a weak, watery, and sour tasting cup of coffee.
If you use too fine a grind then there will be over extraction. This will leave your Moka pot coffee tasting bitter and burnt.
The best way to control and experiment with flavors is to use coffee grinders to grind your own beans so you can find the perfect grind size to meet your tastes.
Moka Pot Grind Size FAQs
Is espresso grind too fine for a Moka Pot?
Yes, espresso grinds are way too fine for Moka Pots. If you use this type of grind for your Moka Pot, you'll produce an overly bitter-tasting cup.
What is the Moka pot grind size at Starbucks?
You need to look for a fine grind size if you want to use a Moka pot with your Starbucks beans.
Is Moka grind the same as espresso?
No, they’re not. While most people think these two are similar, espresso requires finer grinds than Moka pots.
Can you grind coffee in a Moka pot?
No, you can’t. You need a separate grinder if you want to grind your own coffee.
Moka Pots undoubtedly produce great-tasting flavor coffee cups. However, if you think that your cup of coffee is missing some flavors, your grind size may be the reason why.
That's why it's essential to use the correct grind size for your Moka Pot, or you'll be wasting the potential of your brewing device.