Do you have to tamp ground coffee when using a Moka coffee maker?

While home latte art and espresso machines are relatively new, the moka pot is a stovetop coffee and espresso machine designed in 1933. Since it was one of the first products to introduce espresso refined in homes, there was some trial and error involved in the unique invention. The product has Italian roots and its longevity is a testament to the quality of this technique.

A moka pot has an hourglass shape with a handle. Water is placed in the lower compartment and a metal filter with added coffee grounds sits above it. Once the top compartment is attached, it is placed on the hot stove. As it heats, the steam infuses with the grounds, creating a pressurized funnel that allows hot coffee to fill the upper compartment.

Although the grind of the coffee and the roasting of the bean are important factors, opinions differ on whether or not you should tamp coffee grounds in a moka pot. According to Bialetti, you should never squeeze the grounds into the filter. Instead, you should fill the coffee grounds to the top, level the pile, and leave space so water can drain easily through the grounds. Likewise, others find the tamping step unnecessary due to the pressure it creates inside the pot, which could lead to an explosion of very hot coffee. Not to mention, this can overextract the beans, leaving you with bitter-tasting coffee.

Read more: Coffee Mistakes You’re Probably Making at Home

Most mocha lovers avoid stuffing

Smoking mocha pot – BELL KA PANG/Shutterstock

A medium-coarse grind of coffee beans is the ideal texture for a moka pot because it allows the water to coat each bean and absorb that full-bodied flavor. However, leaving too much air between the coffee grounds will leave you with weak coffee. Likewise, applying too much pressure to your grounds can also weaken your brew. Since a moka pot is designed to brew café-quality espresso, tamping the grounds effectively will theoretically slow down the brewing process and allow the water to retain that strong, bold flavor.

Some coffee connoisseurs also note that tamping the grounds can help create that frothy crema on top of the espresso. Ideally, gentle tamping will provide the best results for those who favor it. However, this is a controversial choice that doesn’t always lead to your best cup of coffee. A good compromise would be to tap the side of the moka pot to settle the grounds or apply minimal pressure with a spoon to form an even layer on top.

Ultimately, tamping your coffee grounds in a moka pot comes down to personal preference. Although technique changes the flavor and strength of your espresso, other factors like grinding and roasting also play a role. Therefore, experimenting with your moka pot and opting for the process that gives you your preferred flavor profile is the best approach.

Read the original article on Mashed.

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