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The moka pot

In 1933 Alfonso Bialetti invented a coffeemaker which he baptized "moka" from the name of the Yemenite city of Mokha, one of the areas where coffee originated.
The moka pot

The components of a moka

    The parts of a moka coffemaker are:
  • the boiler (4), equipped with a safety valve (6);
  • the coffee funnel tank (5), where the ground coffee powder is placed, which is inserted into the boiler;
  • the filter plate (2), which holds the coffee powder;
  • the rubber gasket (3), which avoids the side discharge of water and steam, mounted with the filter plate in the proper housing just under the kettle;
  • The kettle (1), which is screwed over the boiler and collects the beverage; it has a spout to pour the drink and a handle (7).
The components of a moka

Preparation of coffee with a moka

  • Fill the heater unit with cold water up to the level of the safety valve (A)
  • Insert the funnel filter into the heater unit.
  • Fill the funnel filter with ground coffee, without pressing it down, taking care not to leave coffee powder on the edge of the coffee maker (B).
  • Screw the upper part on the heater unit and tighten well, without forcing the handle.
  • Put the coffee maker on the heat source (C).
  • When the upper part is almost full with the beverage, close the heat source and wait for the coffee pot to lose some heat before removing it the from the heat source (D).
Preparation of coffee with a moka

Other things you need to know

  • Water should contain as little limestone as possible, so if tap water does not have this requirement, mineral water can be used.
  • The boiler must be filled up to the valve, never higher.
  • The coffee powder should not be pressed, but evenly distributed in the filter. The Neapolitans advise you to make "a muntagnell" (a small mountain) in the center.
  • Coffee quality depends on tastes, for a better flavour coffee beans could be ground at home before proceeding.
  • Close properly the coffee maker, and the lid as well, before putting it on the heater.
  • The flame must not go beyond the rim of the heater, and the fire must be very low, because water has to filter slowly into the ground coffee, and it must be switched off as soon as the moka begins to mumble.

Cleaning and maintenance

  • Before carrying out cleaning and maintenance, wait for the appliance to cool completely.
  • Never open or close the coffee maker using the handle.
  • After each use, wash with warm water, never in a dishwasher; do not use detergents and/or abrasive materials
  • Do not reassemble the coffee maker when storing it after washing; store when perfectly dry in all its parts and not closed.
  • Do not beat the funnel to remove the coffee, as it might get damaged or ovalized.
  • When using the coffeemaker for the first time, wash it thoroughly only with water, and make at least three preparations, discarding the beverage. The same procedure is advisable in case the coffee maker has been too long at rest.
  • Regularly perform the decalcification procedure as follows: Fill the heater with water up to the level, add two teaspoons of citric acid or vinegar, reassemble the product and, without adding the coffee powder, use once with water only, then proceed as for a first use.
  • Regularly check that the holes of the filter plate are not obstructed, otherwise open them using a delicate brush or a needle.
  • Periodically check the internal components and, in case of wearing or damage, replace them only with suitable spare parts.
  • Replace the gasket, if worn, and at least once a year.
  • Regularly inspect the safety valve, to remove any lime scale in the hole, clogging the valve: just move the small piston inside the valve along its axis when washing the coffee maker.

The moka success

Produced in millions of specimens, today the Moka is known all over the world as an Italian icon, and appears in the permanent collection of the Triennale Design Museum in Milan and the MoMA in New York. Over the years the project has undergone slight modifications, preserving the typical octagonal aluminum patented shape. The Moka quickly entered all Italian families, although in Southern Italy the Napoletana coffeemaker is still popular.