Moka Pot vs French Press

Is the French press actually French? Does the Moka pot come from the city of Mocha? The answers to these questions are: it depends and definitely no. Let's look into which one makes the stronger coffee, which is easier to use, and if they both make Italian coffee.

What Is a Moka Pot?

The Moka pot is a small Italian coffee maker that was invented and patented by Alfonso Bialetti in the 1930's. Back then there was no simple or cheap way to make delicious coffee as easily at home and Bialetti knew that. He knew that the time it would take to brew a cup of coffee in a Moka pot was one of the main reasons why people would want to buy it. That's why it was initially called the Bialetti Moka Express.

People started calling it the Moka pot when Italian immigrants took their small coffee makers across the Atlantic into The US. That's also how the Moka pots spread around the world. To this day, you will find a Moka pot in nearly every Italian and South American home. It's a big part of coffee drinking culture.

The name Moka wasn't picked only because it sounds good but has a lot of history behind it. Nowadays Mocha is a small town in Yemen but back in the 15th century it was one of the crucial ports on the coffee trade routes. Even though coffee was first discovered in Africa, it was first cultivated in the Middle Eastern country. Not only that but Somali traders started importing it into Asia through the port of Mocha.

 

How Do Moka Pots Brew Coffee?

You've probably heard of a Moka pot being referred to as a stovetop espresso maker. The reason for that is that the way you brew coffee in it is very similar to how you'd do it in an espresso maker. A key difference here is that for a Moka pot you need slightly more coarsely ground coffee beans. This is because the pressure a Moka pot generates is significantly lower than the one in an espresso maker. 

The trick to that delicious Moka pot coffee flavor is the water pressure. The brewing process starts in the bottom chamber where you pour in the water. We recommend using hot water as this way you can more easily get a cup of coffee with a pleasant flavor. If you use cold water, it will need more time to heat up and get to the boiling temperature. As the Moka pot is made of metal, in that time, your coffee will additionally roast and you might end up with burnt coffee beans. This would leave you with bland coffee.

When you've poured the water into the bottom chamber, you should put your coarsely to medium ground beans in the filter. You can use any sort of coffee you like so you might want to experiment here.

After you've put the coffee and the water in the Moka pot, it's time to start brewing your coffee. When you put the Moka pot on the stove, the water will heat up and start boiling, and then turn to steam. It will then find the path of least resistance which should be the coffee. As it's going through the coffee, it will turn into liquid again, extracting flavor out of the grounds. It will then keep going up through the tower and into the top chamber. The brewing time can vary but it should be around five to eight minutes.

What Is Moka Pot Coffee Like?

Moka pots make pretty strong coffee. While it's not quite as strong as espresso, it's still enough to wake you up in the morning or to give you extra energy in the afternoon. 

The coffee from a Moka pot has a sharp and strong taste and exceptional body, reminiscent of espresso. It's also very thick and concentrated, and most coffee enthusiasts find it delicious. Despite all that it can be easy to over or under brew your coffee in a Moka pot. If you over extract it, it will be bitter and unpleasant and if it's under extracted it will simply be bland and tasteless.

What Moka Pots Are There?

As the Moka pot has been around for nearly a century, there are a few varieties you can choose from. Your coffee maker can be stainless steel, aluminum or electric.

Stainless Steel

Even though the first Moka pot was made of aluminum, stainless steel models are the better coffee makers according to many and there are a few reasons for that.

  • Stainless steel Moka stovetop espresso makers last longer. Stainless steel is a much tougher metal than aluminum and that's why a stainless steel Moka pot can last you for many years to come.

  • Stainless steel is easier to wash. You won't have to worry about using detergents that are too strong for your Moka pot. They won't ruin the metallic surface of your Moka pot and you can even throw some Moka pots in the dishwasher

  • No need for seasoning. As stainless steel won't release any particles in your coffee, you don't need to season it. This means you can make delicious coffee right out of the box.
  • Stainless steel Moka pots work on induction. As stainless steel is a magnetic metal, it will work on an induction stove without the need for an adapter. 

Stainless steel Moka pots also have a few disadvantages and even though they're minor and shouldn't affect the taste of your coffee, they're worth mentioning.

  • Stainless steel Moka pots can be more expensive. A high-quality pot like the Bialetti ones will set you back around as much as the stainless steel ones, they're generally cheaper. It's also worth investing a little bit more in a stainless steel Moka pot as this way you will make sure that it heats up evenly across the surface.
  • Stainless steel is a worse heat conductor. This means that your Moka pot will heat up and cool down more slowly compared to an aluminum one. If you want to make a few consecutive rounds of coffee this can be a good thing though, as the brewing will take less time.

 

Aluminum

The original Bialetti Moka pot was made out of aluminum. They chose that metal to make the coffee maker as it was much cheaper and easier to work with than stainless steel. Despite that, an aluminum Moka pot still has some advantages over a stainless steel one:

  • Aluminum is a better heat conductor. Because of that your first round of coffee will be brewed faster.

  • Aluminum is lighter. This will allow you to take your Moka pot with you when traveling. That can be very useful as it will allow you to take your Moka pot with you wherever you are and enjoy your delicious coffee even when camping.

  • Aluminum is cheaper. Yes, aluminum Moka pots can be cheaper but the high-quality ones are definitely not.

Disadvantages of an aluminum Moka pot:

  • You need to season an aluminum Moka pot. When you get it, you will have to brew two or three batches of coffee and throw them away. You want to do this so the aluminum gets a thin layer of coffee which will stop it from giving your brew a metallic flavor.

  • Aluminum lasts less. Aluminum is a significantly softer and more fragile metal than stainless steel which will make it last you less
  • You should be careful when washing it. Don't use any strong detergents as this will ruin the surface of the metal. A quick rinse with warm water is usually enough.
  • Doesn't work on an induction stove. An aluminum coffee pot won't work on induction stoves as aluminum is not a magnetic metal. This will make brewing take a little more time and you will need to use an adapter or a steel pan.

Electric

Electric stovetop espresso makers are the last step of the evolution of the Moka pots. Some coffee enthusiasts would say that this way The Moka pot coffee loses its charm as coffee is brewed automatically and it's not Moka anymore. Anyhow, here are some of the advantages electric stovetop espresso makers have:

  • Electric Moka pots are easier to use. You won't need a tutorial to brew Moka pot coffee here. It's all done with the press of a button and not much time after the brewing will be finished and you will have one of the best cups of coffee you can get.

  • You don't need to be around to make coffee. To brew coffee you only need to press a button and wait for a few minutes. There's basically no input required from you. Because of that you can get on with your day and save some time

Here are some disadvantages that you might want to consider when using an electric stovetop espresso maker:

  • The price. Electric Moka pots can be much more expensive than the manual models. However, this might be worth it, keeping in mind all the time you would save when brewing coffee.

  • Not as personal. One of the best things about making coffee in a Moka pot is that it's just the way you want it to be and it's all you. The whole experience is very personal. With an electric Moka pot many would say that this is lost and even though it's still good coffee, the satisfaction isn't the same.

What Is a French Press?

The French press is one of these coffee makers that have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. It offers a very personal experience when making coffee as you do everything manually.

Even though it's called a French press, it was actually first patented in 1928 by an Italian. It's called so because the first mention of this coffee maker was in the 1850's when a Frenchman accidentally brewed his coffee using what we now know as a French press.

How Do French Presses Brew Coffee?

You brew coffee in a French press by suspending coarsely ground coffee and letting it steep for a bit. Then you press the fine wire mesh at the end of the plunger into the brewing pot. This way the grounds are pushed to the bottom, apart from the coffee.

What Is French Press Coffee Like?

Coffee made in a French press has a rich flavor but not nearly as much as the one made in a Moka pot. It is richly textured, especially towards the end of the cup, as this is where the coffee grounds stay.

Moka Pot vs French Press. Which Is the Best Coffee Maker?

Brew Time

Making coffee in each coffee maker won't take more than 10 minutes. How much time your Moka pot coffee takes depends on a few key factors. One of the main is the metal your coffee maker is made of: stainless steel or aluminum. The latter will need less time to brew your coffee and will shorten the brewing time. 

Another factor is the size of the coffee maker. If you have a 9 or a 12-cup Moka pot, the water inside will need much longer to heat up. Generally, you'll be able to enjoy your coffee in around seven minutes.

French presses generally need less time than Moka pots. You will need to let your coffee steep for 3-4 minutes and then press down the plunger to filter the grind out of the coffee. The whole process should take around 5-6 minutes.

Ease of Use

The ease of use is one of the key differences between the two methods of coffee brewing. While the Moka pot has a rather steep learning curve and a few things can go wrong, the French press is straightforward. You put in the ground coffee, give it a few minutes, press it down and voilà!

Amount of Caffeine

The coffee made in a Moka pot is strong. While it's not as strong as espresso, it's still significantly stronger than drip coffee and French press coffee. According to research by the University of Newcastle 100 ml (around 3.4 ounces) of coffee made in a Moka pot has around 219 mg of caffeine, which is a lot. If you compare it to the French press which has around 74 mg of caffeine in the same amount of brew, it's around three times as much.

There's a catch, though. French presses produce a lot more coffee. An average cup of French press coffee is around 100 ml (3.4 oz) and a cup of Moka pot coffee is around 30 ml (1 oz). This means that for a single serving of coffee for each type, you get around the same amount of caffeine. 

Washing

Washing each type of coffee maker is relatively easy. For a Moka pot it's very important to make sure there are no grounds left in the safety valve as this can be potentially dangerous. If there are any grounds left anywhere else on the coffee maker, they will only give you a cup of coffee with a poor taste. The French press is even easier as there is no safety valve and even if there are any grounds left, they can only give you coffee with a bad taste.

A great advantage of high-quality stainless steel Moka pots is that you can even put them in the dishwasher without worrying about ruining them. Other than that, they're both equally simple to wash as they only have a handful of parts.

Health Effects

While Moka pot coffee has the same positive and negative effects on your health as any other coffee brewing method, the one made in a French press can be bad for you. As it's unfiltered, it's likely that you will drink some coffee grounds. 

According to a study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, drinking unfiltered coffee can increase both total and LDL cholesterol levels. The study included multiple trials over 7 years with trial groups of between 12 and 120 participants, averaging 47.

The best way to tackle that is to get an additional paper filter. They are very cheap and easy to use so that shouldn't be an issue.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Moka Pot Coffee as Strong as Espresso?

The coffee you brew in a Moka pot is strong but not as strong as espresso. The Moka pot doesn't generate as much pressure so the caffeine extraction is not as intense. That's why a cup of Moka coffee is not as strong as espresso.

Why Is You Moka Coffee Bitter?

There are many reasons why the coffee you brew in a Moka pot might be bitter. One of the most common reasons for a bitter cup of Moka coffee is brewing it for too long. Try to keep your brewing time shorter.

The reason could also be that your Moka pot is not made of high quality metals. This would lead to an uneven extraction and a bitter taste. You should always try to get the best Moka pot, for the best taste.

Can French Press Coffee Be Used in a Moka Pot?

No, you can't use French press coffee in a Moka pot. The coffee you'd used to make a cup of brew in a French press is more coarsely ground than the one you'd use in a Moka pot. 

 

 

Final Thoughts on The Moka Pot and the French Press

Now that we've looked into the differences between a Moka pot and a French press, you probably have a general idea about which one will fit your needs best. The Moka pot is very Italian and makes strong coffee, but is a little harder to use. The French press, on the other hand, makes a coffee that's not as strong but is easier to use.

If you have decided that the Moka pot is the right coffee maker for you, head over to our website and get your stainless steel stovetop espresso maker now.