Best Coffee for Moka Pot – Our Top 6 and Tips on How to Choose

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best coffee for moka pot

The Moka pot is the classic Italian stove-top coffee brewer. While they may not be the most fashionable way to brew your morning coffee for third-wave enthusiasts, they are perfectly serviceable for making a decent cup of coffee. They have an iconic taste that sits somewhere between a French press and an espresso. 

When looking for the best coffee for Moka pot, you should consider what you like in other brews with similar characteristics. Moka pots produce heavy-bodied and strong coffee, so think along the lines of what you might enjoy as an espresso

Conventional wisdom would recommend a classic Italian blend for the full Moka experience. But actually, you can afford to be a lot more free-ranging in your choices with this versatile brewing device. While not the obvious choice, you can certainly achieve exciting results by brewing something like a light roasted East African in your Moka pot. 

Ultimately your best coffee for Moka pot will be unique to you, informed by your personal tastes and preferences. Keep reading to get some ideas from us on what to look out for. If you want to dive straight into our recommendations and get brewing, you won’t be disappointed with this Chanchamayo Peruvian from Volcanica Coffee.

The Best Coffee for Moka Pot — A Closer Look at Our Choices

We’ve tried to keep something for every taste on our featured list here. We’ve got you covered whether you prefer a light or dark roast, a blend, or single-origin. The surest guide to success in finding a coffee you will enjoy in a Moka pot is your own preference. If you don’t generally enjoy dark roasted coffees, there is no reason to feel obliged to opt for one in your Moka pot. 

On the other hand, if you are a pure traditionalist looking for that Moka nostalgia hit, you will want something relatively dark with something close to the classic Italian profile. 

Whatever your favorites, keep reading to discover more about why we like ours and how we make sure to get the best out of them.

Volcanica Coffee – Peru Coffee – Best Overall

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Medium Roast

Origin: Peru, Chanchamayo

Flavor Profile: Lemongrass / Plum / Light Nougat

Processing Method: Washed

Volcanica’s Peruvian coffee comes from small-holder farms in the Andean mountain region of Chanchamayo. Heavy and complex, this is a challenging and well-developed coffee. The sweetness at the start is a subtle dance between an almost sharp plum skin and a slightly deeper nougat close to nutty. The stone fruit and caramelized sweetness couple to give a lingering impression of candied almonds. 

This is set against an exquisitely floral smokey backdrop reminiscent of Earl Grey tea. The finish is clear and faintly astringent, with an overwhelming sensation of herbal aromatics leaning toward citrus.

Brewed in a Moka pot, you get an intensified and deep sweetness from the body that you wouldn’t get in a pour-over. However, with this coffee, largely thanks to the washed process, there remains a clarity and a herbal bitterness.


Intelligentsia – Black Cat Espresso Blend – Best Blend

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Medium Roast

Origin: Brazil & Colombia

Flavor Profile: Stone Fruit / Dark Sugars / Dark Chocolate

If you are after the iconic Italian Moka pot experience without settling for the sort of oily dark roasted beans associated with second-wave Italian roasts, this blend from Intelligentsia is excellent. Full of all of the deep chocolate flavors and dark, complex sugars you would associate with Italian blends, this coffee rewards on several levels.

Thanks to its relatively light roast compared to more traditional Italian roast blends, the Black Cat blend retains a fruitiness that is probably closest to morello cherry jam when prepared in this fashion.

Although it is marketed as an espresso blend, this coffee from Intelligentsia works just as well in a Moka pot. It has a full body and produces a rich cup that will fit your expectations nicely if you chase that Moka nostalgia hit.


Counter Culture Coffee – Apollo – Best Light Roast

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Light Roast

Origin: Ethiopia

Flavor Profile: Citrus / Floral / Silky

A light roast might not be the typical choice for a Moka pot. But if you can get your variables dialed in just right, you will be rewarded with a uniquely interesting cup of coffee. 

In much the same way that light roast coffees can work well as an espresso shot, in the right situation, this one really shines. 

We wouldn’t recommend trying this with milk, as you will lose some more subtle floral nuances. Drunk either straight from the pot, however, or diluted like an americano you should find this as vibrant as any East African pour-over, but with a little extra body.

The flavor profile in this coffee from Counter Culture is very much what you would expect from a good Ethiopian single-origin. This is a blend from various regions of Ethiopia, though. It has a subtle sweetness evocative of lemon sherbert, transitioning into a bright hibiscus and a sharper citric acidity. 


Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Hair Bender 

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Medium Roast

Origin: Indonesia / Latin America / East Africa

Flavor Profile: Citrus / Dark Chocolate / Caramel

With components from right around the coffee belt, it is no surprise that this blend from Stumptown Coffee is a well-balanced world tour of flavor in a cup. The sweet caramel and almost milky chocolate body hit you first, classic descriptors in Central and South American coffees. Next, you will detect a bright and fruity lime zest that feels notably African. At last, you will land on the earthy cacao bitters, presumably courtesy of the Indonesian elements.

This coffee presents itself very much in the way you might expect from examining the bag. It finds a natural partner in the Moka pot where a stronger brew ratio truly allows its diverse character to take center stage. 

We’d recommend taking the grind just a little finer with this blend that you typically would for your Moka pot, stopping when the bitters begin to overpower the enhanced sweetness.


Volcanica Coffee – Ethiopian Genji Challa

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Medium Roast

Origin: Ethiopia, Oromia

Flavor Profile: Floral / Peach / Red Fruit / Tea

Processing Method: Washed

Grown at the Nano Challa Cooperative farm in Jimma within the larger Oromia region, the coffee cherries here are grown in a semi-forested production style. This means that a lot of the original biodiverse forest canopy above is preserved, and the coffee fruit ripens slowly in its shade. 

This farming method allows not only for the coffee to benefit from being shade-grown but also for the added bonus of pest protection from the forest-dwelling bats and birds living above.

The predominant flavor throughout this coffee is an almost juicy berry and sweet peach. This is offset perfectly against the aromatic bitterness, which brings the tannic qualities of black tea to the table. 


Koa Coffee – Kona Natural

At A Glance

Roast Profile: Medium Roast

Origin: Hawaii, Kona

Flavor Profile: Fruity / Floral

Processing Method: Natural

The Kona Natural from Koa Coffee is an excellent example of a highly prized bean. Grown on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, these coffee cherries benefit from rich and fertile soil. They are further benefited by the natural processing method employed to allow maximum fruity sweetness to develop in the beans as they dry in their mucilage. 

The flavor is typical for Kona coffee in some senses. Thanks to the natural process, it certainly has the sugars and fruit-forward character you would associate with Kona but with an almost fermented, tropical edge. 

Related Read: Best Kona Coffee

Naturally a thin-bodied coffee, when brewed in a Moka pot this Hawaiian from Koa takes on a much richer and deeper mouthfeel. This makes for a very interesting take on Kona coffee which is usually much lighter. It almost feels like it has been laced with allspice syrup behind the exotic fruits.


What Is a Moka Pot?

The Moka pot was invented in the 1930s by the Italian inventor Alfonso Bialetti. The fact that it is commonly known in Italian as la macchinetta (meaning the little machine) should give you a clue as to its place in Italian coffee culture. It has been an iconic symbol of simple style for decades and remains popular in thousands of kitchens all over the world today.

The Moka pot relies on the pressure created by heating water to function almost like an upside-down filter coffee machine. As the water in the lower chamber approaches the boil, the pressure in the chamber rises and forces water up through the coffee grounds. Brewed coffee then bubbles up through the stem in the center of the upper chamber, where it rests until poured. 

You will hear an unmistakable sputtering sound when the water has all left the bottom chamber, and it’s time to stop the extraction. For many, this has become not only a good indicator of brew stage but also a sensory trigger capable of bringing back memories of coffees past and the situations that surrounded them — so evocative is the little Italian stove-top coffee maker.

It is still produced by the Bialetti company today in a variety of forms, from the classic aluminum Moka Express to the Fiametta, which has a stainless steel bottom to make it compatible with induction hobs. They are also available from other manufacturers with glass tops to watch your coffee as it percolates. Arguably, though, you will get the best build quality and the full Moka experience with the original.

How To Choose the Best Coffee for Moka Pot

Any coffee that you would enjoy brewed in other ways will be a suitable choice for your Moka pot. While no one style of coffee will produce a unanimous best coffee for Moka pot, there are specific guidelines you could follow to enhance your brew.

Origin

As with all brewing methods, your choice of origin will undoubtedly impact the end result. No one origin is intrinsically more suitable for the Moka pot than any other. Being an Italian device, it is from a country of origin itself that is unsuitable for the production of coffee on a commercial scale. You will, therefore, not be doing it any disservice by straying to other parts of the globe for your beans.

Classic Italian blends of coffee don’t generally favor any one origin. Historically, they tend to include cheaper grade commodity coffee and, in many cases, quite high percentages of robusta. 

There is nothing wrong with drinking robusta. Indeed there is a lot of great specialty grade robusta being produced in areas like Uganda. As a rule of thumb, though, blends from large commercial Italian roasters tend to include robusta for two reasons. It is a cheaper way to bulk out dark roasted coffees and it produces a good stable crema.

When selecting coffee for your Moka pot crema is not a concern, you would be far better advised to stick to arabicas (although you should be encouraged to try Ugandan specialty grade robustas if the opportunity comes up).

If you are looking for something akin to the Italian blends, go for something like a Brazilian single-origin dark roast. It will have the same chocolate-heavy profile without the scorched and oily robusta. Or, if you want something vibrant and fruity, try an East African. The typical general profiles apply the same here as with most brewing methods.

Roast Profile

As we have alluded to above, the traditional coffee brewed in Moka pots in the mid-twentieth century would have been a very dark roast. The coffee beans would have been taken to this point for a more nefarious reason than modern, specialty-grade dark roasts. It could be to mask defects in the green coffee. Alternatively, a lot of coffee was (and still is) roasted dark to produce a distinct and recognizable flavor irrespective of green coffee origin to allow commodity coffee to be purchased from the cheapest source.

You have far more choices these days and should not feel constrained by this. While there is nothing wrong with a dark roast if that is your bag, any roast profile will work fine in your Moka pot.

To Blend or Not To Blend?

Again this is very much down to personal preference. Also, don’t feel like you need to pick a camp and stick to it. There is a tendency in specialty coffee, particularly for people just getting into it, to feel like blends are inferior and only light roasted single-origin coffees are worthy of your time. 

This just isn’t the case. Trying different single-origins will give you a good handle on the flavors you can expect from different growing conditions and processing methods. This knowledge can inform artfully prepared blends and your selection of them.

You should let your preferences be your guide. When you are comfortable with the way a roaster uses flavor descriptors, aim for tasting notes that sound like your sort of thing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Am I Getting Bitter Coffee From My Moka Pot?

As the brewing process is pressurized, it can be very easy to over-extract in a Moka pot. Excess bitterness can be addressed in three ways: Don’t grind too fine; run the base under the cold tap to cool off as soon as your coffee stops bubbling through; opt for a lighter roast.

Can You Make Espresso in a Moka Pot?

No. You can’t make true espresso in a Moka pot. It isn’t an espresso machine and doesn’t reach the same pressures. It is, however, a good substitute for espresso, as it’s suitable for making milk drinks that you might use espresso for.

Are Aluminum Moka Pots Safe?

Moka pots are broadly considered safe. While there are concerns over particle migration from aluminum vessels to foods and drinks, studies have found no health risks associated with the use of aluminum Moka pots. [1] Alternatively, stainless steel variants are also available.

Will My Moka Pot Explode?

Most likely, no. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when replacing parts and keep your pot clean, you will be fine. Care should be taken not to fill water beyond the pressure release valve, though, as this can lead to difficulties.

Our Verdict

When shopping for your best coffee for Moka pot, you should always follow your own tastes and preferences. Hopefully, this guide will have helped you work out what you are looking for. Pick up a sure success with this medium roast Peruvian from Volcanica Coffee. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. If you find someone who doesn’t like it, maybe don’t trust them with anything too important… 

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Author
Aidan is a former barista and coffee industry professional, turned writer and passionate home brewer. He never travels anywhere without his emergency coffee kit (hand grinder, scales, and v60).

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