Moka Pot and Paper Filters: An Experiment
Moka pots are simple devices that produce strong, robust coffee. Whilst they ordinarily would use a standard built in metal filter, some people believe a better taste can be achieved by using a paper Aeropress filter.
Coffee brewing methods that use paper filters tend to offer more clarity, a cleaner taste and less body than methods that use metal filters. =
So, I gave this experiment a try. Let’s find out whether you should be upgrading your Moka pot game with a paper filter together.
What is a Moka Pot?
A moka pot is a small coffee brewing device that sits on a stovetop and uses the heat to push pressurised, boiling water through ground coffee. This results in a strong, espresso-like coffee from this inexpensive device. Multiple chambers are used to separate the hot water at the bottom, the coffee basket in the middle, and the coffee collection chamber at the top.
However, where an espresso machine uses gravity and a downwards flow of hot water to extract coffee from the beans, a Moka pot works in the opposite direction.
Water is added to the bottom chamber of the Moka pot, with fine to medium ground coffee placed in the filter basket which sits on top. Then, the coffee collection chamber is screwed on tightly and the whole thing is placed over a hot stovetop.
The stove heats the bottom of the Moka pot (made from aluminium) which then further boils the hot water above. This generates steam which, as the water boils over, rapidly evaporates through the coffee grounds and pushes hot coffee up through the central spout of the coffee collection chamber.
According to the Moka pot Wikipedia page, the device was first invented in 1933 by Italian designer Alfonso Bialetti, of Bialetti Industries. It then became a staple in Italian kitchens and soon spread throughout Europe.
You may be wondering where the Moka pot gets its name…
Well, the Moka pot was named after the city of Mocha, in Yemen. Mocha has a rich history of being one of the original coffee trading ports and even drinks like the mocha are thought to also be named after the coastal city.
Using a Paper Filter in a Moka Pot
There are differing opinions in the coffee world as to whether you should use a paper Aeropress style filter in a Moka Pot. One side says there are clear benefits to clarity, flavour and reduced bitterness, whereas the other argues a filter takes away the Moka pot’s character and increases the chance of a kitchen explosion.
In fact, coffee roasting aficionado Scott Rao mentioned that he’s experienced an explosion himself when experimenting with paper filters in a Moka pot – Q&A COFFEE PODCAST, EPISODE 2: BREWING – 00:50.
Matteo D’Ottavio has made a great video below, explaining his thoughts on using an aeropress filter in a moka pot, check it out:
Should You Use a Paper Filter in a Moka Pot?
“Yes You Should”
If a Moka pot is the only coffee brewing device you have available at home, then by all means trying out a new technique to experience different flavour profiles is a good idea.
There’s no harm in looking to improve or upgrade your existing equipment when it comes to coffee, and generally speaking this is something I would encourage.
The Moka pot delivers a distinctive smoky, strong and full bodied cup of coffee, and therefore the beans and grind size I would normally recommend look to bring out the best of these characteristics.
Opting for a medium or dark roasted bean that exhibits tasting notes of dark chocolate, caramel or nuts would be my prefered choice.
However, if you only have a moka pot at your disposal and want to experiment with a slightly lighter roast, or a coffee that has more delicate, floral, citrus or fruity flavour notes, then perhaps adding a paper filter could help.
The idea is that the additional fines that get held back in the paper filter won’t end up in your brewing chamber, or cup.
Therefore, you’ll definitely get a cleaner, thinner, less full bodied cup of coffee, as well as perhaps a better chance of preserving those distinctive flavours.
“No You Shouldn’t”
The argument against using an aeropress paper filter in a Moka pot is pretty clear.
The main risk you run by conducting this type of experiment is your moka pot exploding, potentially damaging the device and causing a big mess in the kitchen!
In terms of taste, texture and overall drinking experience, you will find a difference between the filter and non filter moka pot coffee.
Moka pot coffee tends to be quite rich, earthy and full bodied. If this is something you enjoy, then there really is no need to mess around with paper filters.
More Moka Pot Tips
Aside from adding aeropress filters to your moka pot, here are a few tips to help you upgrade your moka pot game.
Use Filtered Water
This will give you a much purer and fresher tasting cup of coffee than regular tap water, and will also help reduce the amount of limescale in your kettle!
Add Hot Water Rather than Cold Water
This will maintain a constant temperature in the water chamber of your moka pot, meaning you won’t have to stand and wait for ages for the water to boil on the stovetop. This also helps keep the extraction of your coffee more consistent.
Don’t Pour Water About the Safety Valve
The safety valve is there for a reason. Don’t be tempted to fill up the water chamber above the valve line, as you’ll risk too much pressure building up inside. This could lead to over extracted coffee or worse, a moka pot explosion!
Make Sure to Clean Your Moka Pot Regularly
Coffee oils can build up very easily inside brewing devices, and the moka pot is no exception. These oils can go rancid pretty quickly, leading to bitter and sour tasting brews. Make sure to clean your moka pot regularly with a sponge and soapy water, but don’t be tempted to use a scourer or put it in the dishwasher, as this will damage the moka pot.
Go for Medium or Dark Roasted Coffee Beans
Since moka pots use pressure and a direct head source to brew coffee, the extraction tends to be pretty quick and intense. Therefore, using a finer grind size and medium to dark roasted coffee beans tends to work best, to make the most of the moka pot’s unique extraction method.
Brew with the Lid Open
My final tip is to brew with the lid of your moka pot open. This will help you control the flow of coffee more easily and enjoy that coffee extraction to the fullest as it shoots up the chamber!
Overall, using an aeropress filter in a moka pot is worth giving a try if you really want to experiment with different coffee bean roasts and are comfortable taking the risk of a kitchen explosion.
Personally, I’ll be sticking to my trusty V60!
Can I Make Filter Coffee in a Moka Pot?
Yes you can make filter coffee in a moka pot, but I’d recommend adjusting the brew time, grind size and perhaps experimenting with paper filters if you are comfortable doing so. Just bear in mind that you may lose some of those delicate flavour compounds in the intense moka pot extraction.
Is Aeropress Similar to Moka Pot?
Aeropress and moka pots have their similarities. They both use a fine grind size, brew coffee with pressure and tend to work best with medium to darker roasts. However, the aeropress could also fall into the category of immersion brewing, whereas the moka pot uses a direct heat source to extract those coffee oils.
Is Moka Pot the Same as Espresso?
Not exactly. Whilst both a moka pot and espresso use pressure and hot water to extract those coffee flavours, espresso uses around 9 bar of pressure to do so. Moka pots on the other hand only really get to 1 or 2 bar, so the coffee tends to be less strong and often doesn’t have that characteristic crema associated with true espresso.