There are many methods of extraction that reflect the coffee culture of the country in which they were created. Drip coffee, lattes, pour over and cold brew are all preferred by certain groups of people for their different flavor characteristics.
The moka pot, a stovetop espresso maker, was conceived in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti in Crusinallo di Omegna, a small village in the north of Italy. Its real rise in popularity began in the 1950s, during the period of economic recovery after World War II. Moka pots are made of either aluminum or stainless steel.
All About the Moka Pot
Unlike an espresso machine, the moka pot is practical and easy to use: just put water in the bottom chamber and coffee grounds in the filter, assemble the parts, and place the whole device on a heat source.
The strong coffee produced by the moka pot resembles espresso, the beverage most loved by Italians, but unlike an espresso machine, it cannot produce crema.
In the last 20 years, the rapid pace of life has led to a different type of coffee consumption: many consumers now want a cup of coffee as quickly as possible (often in the form of coffee pods). The idea of a coffee ritual, where coffee is slowly brewed and savored, has begun to fall by the wayside.
The mainstream craze for a shorter coffee break has led to some great innovations, and new and improved coffee brewing methods have been developed. These new methods to brew coffee are not only easier to use, but also produce better tasting coffee.
In 2005, a totally new coffee brewing method, the AeroPress Original coffee maker, debuted in California. Fed up with the difficulty of brewing just one delicious cup of coffee at home, AeroPress inventor Alan Adler created nearly 40 prototypes before he settled on the final design still in use today. Like Alan’s previous invention, the Aerobie flying ring, the AeroPress Original coffee maker is incredibly lightweight and tough, so it is one of the easiest brewing methods to take with you wherever you go.
Coffee prepared by AeroPress coffee makers is similar to the coffee that is brewed by moka pots in that it too is full-bodied and intense. However, there are fundamental differences between the two methods.
AeroPress vs Moka Pot: Key Differences
Different types of pressure:
The moka pot is a percolator powered by steam pressure: the water vapor produced by the heat forces the water to rise upwards and extract the flavor from the coffee grounds at high temperatures. This leads to approximately 1-2 bars of pressure (compared to real espresso, which is produced using around 9 bars of pressure). The brewed coffee bubbles upward through a spout into the top chamber of the moka pot.
In the AeroPress brewing process, the user applies pressure manually, pushing the plunger into the chamber by hand, forcing water through the grounds and brewed coffee into the cup. This leads to approximately 2 bars of pressure. The user has full control over the coffee strength and the speed of brewing.
With the moka pot, it is very difficult for the user to control the water temperature. With AeroPress coffee makers, it is easy for the user to choose the water temperature. Different coffees may taste better when brewed at different temperatures, and AeroPress coffee makers make it easy to “dial in" specific coffees to the user’s taste.
Differences in cup clarity:
AeroPress paper micro-filters and the AeroPress reusable metal filter allow you to filter out grit. This leads to a cleaner cup and a more enjoyable tasting experience. By contrast, coffee prepared via moka pot can be muddy.
Preparation with AeroPress coffee makers is fun:
The versatility of AeroPress coffee makers allows you to be hands-on and to prepare coffee in many different ways. Using AeroPress coffee makers, you can brew espresso style coffee that is then used in Americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and other espresso based drinks. You can also make cold brew, Japanese flash brewed iced coffee, or regular coffee. There are two major brewing method styles when brewing with an AeroPress coffee maker: standard and inverted.
Brewing with the Standard Method:
The standard method of brewing is based off of Alan Adler’s original recipe. This method allows you to get full-bodied shots of espresso-like coffee, similar to the coffee brewed by moka pots. You can brew up to three shots of espresso style coffee using AeroPress coffee makers, and then decide how you’d like to consume them: in a more concentrated form, or a more delicate, diluted form.
Brewing with the Inverted Method:
In the AeroPress inverted method, the ground coffee beans remain in contact with the hot water, steeping in the brewing chamber for as long as you choose, depending on your personal preference.
The inverted method is ideal for those who love French Press or V60: it produces a clean full-bodied drink. Compared to the standard method, it allows you to increase the amount of acidity in your brewed coffee.
While with the moka pot, the only way to avoid using boiling water is through the use of small measures (for example, by removing the moka pot from the heat before it makes its characteristic bubbling sound), with AeroPress coffee makers you have complete control of temperature and other brewing variables like brew time and grind size.
This means that it’s ideal for any type of coffee lover, from home coffee enthusiasts to expert baristas, as it allows you to prepare coffee according to your own unique tastes.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
AeroPress coffee makers are very easy to clean thanks to their design and materials. After popping out the puck of used grounds, just rinse your AeroPress coffee maker for a few seconds. You can also clean it in the top rack of your dishwasher. By contrast, moka pots require disassembly to clean. An added danger is that if you do not clean your moka pot properly, the safety valve can become clogged, leading to a potential explosion during use.
Why I Choose AeroPress Coffee Makers:
AeroPress coffee makers are my favorite brewing method to bring with me during my trips around the world. AeroPress brewed coffee is also my favorite coffee to prepare for my Italian friends and parents because it bridges the tastes of different generations from traditional to modern!
Bonus Recipe: Making Moka Pot Style Coffee with Your AeroPress Coffee Maker
See below for a recipe to help you brew moka pot style coffee using your AeroPress coffee maker!
Moka Pot Style Coffee with Your AeroPress Coffee Maker
Is it possible to brew moka pot style coffee with AeroPress coffee makers? Yes, let’s do it! Here you can find one of my favorite coffee recipes. I’ve taught this recipe to my friends and my trainees!
Filter: AeroPress paper filter or AeroPress metal filter - either will work.
Orientation: Standard method.
Type and amount of coffee: Use good quality coffee ground to espresso fineness (8 clicks, if using the Comandante grinder). Use 1 AeroPress scoop or 14-15 grams of coffee.
1. Heat water to desired temperature (I recommend 198-200°F/92-93°C for a medium roast and 201-203°F/94°C-95°C for a light roast.)
2. Add the coffee to the brew chamber, then pour in the hot water up to the number 2. Gently stir 5 times.
3. Insert the plunger into the top of the AeroPress chamber to a depth of about half an inch or 2 centimeters. This allows you to keep the ground coffee in contact with the water for as long as you like. (This good tip was suggested to me by my dear friend Luciano, who works for Nowhere, a cool specialty coffee shop in Milan.)
4. After one minute, start to press gently. If you use a medium roast, you can start pressing sooner than that.
Note: The most important differences between coffee brewed via moka pot and coffee brewed via AeroPress coffee makers concerns the length of brew time and how clean the resulting coffee is. You will spend less time making a cup of coffee with an AeroPress coffee maker, and you will always get a cleaner cup than you get when brewing with a moka pot!