Moka: origin and how to brew coffee properly

I maestri della tostatura media
Do you know the origin story of mocha? Do you know how to best use it to extract the best coffee possible?

Find out all this and more, such as: which coffee maker to choose or which coffee to buy?

Let’s start with his birth!

The moka pot is a coffee maker designed by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933 in Crusinallo di Omegna, Piedmont, and subsequently produced in more than 105 million units.

It is a world-famous Italian industrial design product, and featured in the permanent collection of the Triennale Design Museum in Milan and MoMa in New York.

The design has undergone only slight changes in form over the years, remaining virtually unchanged over time. The typical octagonal shape is one of the product’s distinctive and original features.

To this day, Moka is recognized worldwide as an icon of Made in Italy.

In fact, we at Caffè Ernani have also produced our own personal Moka, a 100% Made in Italy product and designed to extract only the best of our coffee.

There are several legends about the birth of the coffee maker, but the most popular one says that Bialetti came up with the idea for the moka pot around the 1920s, watching washerwomen doing laundry in a particular tub, with a tube in the center from which hot water and soap leaked out and were distributed over the clothes. This procedure of boiling and distributing water is the basis of the whole project.

It only became widespread at the mass level in the 1950s, do you know why?

It became mass-market thanks to the economic boom and Carousel!

During these years, advertising began to spread, and with one of them the little man with a mustache, the icon of the Bialetti coffee maker, became famous.

The famous character is none other than Renato Bialetti, Alfonso’s son, who in early advertisements read, “It sounds simple, but it’s not, feeling is not enough, it also takes experience and care and a good coffee maker!”

Here he immediately presented the essentials for the perfect mocha: a good coffee pot, care and experience, to which I would only add the selection of good coffee.

The coffee maker consists of 4 aluminum elements:
  1. Boiler
  2. Spring-loaded valve calibrated to avoid excessive pressure increases that could cause the mocha to explode
  3. Filter
  4. Reservoir, i.e., the collection tank

To which are added a replaceable food-grade silicone gasket and a bakelite handle with heat-insulating characteristics.

Finally, the name echoes the famous port of Mokha in Yemen, one of the earliest and most important coffee production and distribution areas until the 19th century, particularly of the finest Arabica quality.

Now that you know how and where mocha originated, are you curious to find out how to prepare it properly?

We all actually know how to use the coffee maker, we learn it from a very young age: you pour water up to the level of the valve, then fill the filter with ground coffee, put it on the stove, and the steam pressure will do the rest!

But how would a real expert do it?

There are actually definite proportions to be used:

  • 140g of coffee
  • per 1lt of water

In this case I have a 3-cup mocha, so I will pour 150g of water for 21g of mince, with a dose of 7g per person.


The coffee should be ground to a medium level, neither as fine as for espresso, nor as wide as for a filter coffee or for methods and infusion.

And now the process:
  1. Pour the 150g of water into the boiler. Two small tips: use bottled water and preferably room temperature or even preheated. This is because the hotter the water is, the less time the coffee pot will have to remain on the stove for extraction, and thus the ground coffee will have less contact with the heat, avoiding burning and making the coffee bitter;
  2. Insert the filter and fill it with medium ground coffee, without mounding or pressing it, but leveling it out;
  3. Close the mocha well by screwing the reservoir in;
  4. Light the flame and check that the diameter of the fire is smaller than the diameter of the base of the coffee pot;
  5. When the extracted coffee reaches the middle of the binder, turn off the flame and wait for the extraction to finish by itself. You should never get to bubbling, a symptom of over-extraction, meaning you are overheating your coffee and extracting the bitterness, which you will then find in the cup;
  6. Stir the coffee with a teaspoon to blend all the flavors and serve!

Another small tip: Pour 10ml, or a drop, of cold bottled water into the reservoir to prevent the first few drops of extracted coffee from touching the hot walls of the binder and burning, bringing additional bitterness to the cup.

The last step is maintenance, which should never be underestimated!

In fact, it is important to rinse the mocha with lukewarm water after each use. Be sure not to use soap!

While once a week it is good to do a more thorough washing: disassemble the moka pot, including the gasket, and soak all its parts in a container with hot water and baking soda or vinegar overnight. After that, remove all dirt residue with a nonabrasive sponge and dry it thoroughly.

Once a year you will also need to change the gasket. When it becomes dark and dry, it absolutely must be replaced, both because it no longer does its job well and because it can start to crumble and end up in your coffee!

It can be found in all supermarkets.

Of course, all this loses importance if you use an unsuitable tool or buy bad coffee. In this case all the talk about paying attention to temperature and process so as not to extract bitterness and make the coffee aromatic no longer applies.

That’s why we at Caffè Ernani have selected a double-bottomed moka pot with a heat diffuser and a filter designed specifically to extract only the best. All enclosed within a 100 percent Made in Italy mocha.

For other doubts write to us!

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager
Coffee Lover


Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager Coffee Lover

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