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moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
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Discussions > Coffee > Machines > moka / bialetti...  
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smoo
Senior Member


Joined: 3 May 2004
Posts: 4
Location: London
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Mar 30, 2013, 5:12am
Subject: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

I really like the moka method for making coffee and have played around a lot trying to optimise my technique for the best results. The problem is that the dynamics are completely different between pots of different sizes, and I just can't get the coffee I make with my 6 pot machine tasting as good as the stuff that I can get from my 3 pot one...

I always freshly grind the coffee to a consistent coarseness, which is quite fine but not as fine as you would use for proper espresso. I actually weigh out the beans to make sure the volume of coffee is consistent each time, and by always filling up to the top use that as a method of ensuring consistent "tamping". I don't actually tamp the coffee as such, but I tap the bottom of the basket repeatedly as I am filling it up to get the grounds to settle a bit.

For the 3 cup machine, I tap quite hard and the coffee ends up being packed fairly tightly. I always flatten off the grounds with the flat edge of a knife. I have experimented with the grind and quantity and can now get a really dark, strong coffee without any burnt taste. With the 6 cup on the other hand, using the same courseness of coffee, I have found that I need to use proportionately less coffee and tap it down less firmly to avoid getting a burnt taste. I can get pretty good coffee this way, but it is not as good as the stuff I get out of the 3 cup. It's less strong because of the slightly looser packing, but if I increase the packing or make the grind finer I just end up with a burned taste...

I'm wondering what my best experimental strategy would be to try to improve the coffee I get from the 6 cup. Would it be better to look at a courser grind and firmer packing, or a finer grind and looser packing?
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 719
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Sat Mar 30, 2013, 8:49am
Subject: Re: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

What about the brew ratio? Are they the same between the two sizes?

Is the time between beginning of coffee flow and end of the brew the same?
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CraigJS
Senior Member


Joined: 8 May 2011
Posts: 66
Location: Minnesota, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza M plus
Drip: filter cone, FP, Moka
Posted Sun Mar 31, 2013, 2:18pm
Subject: Re: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

Is your 6 cup compaction the same as your 3 cup ?
Is your water volume 2X in the 6 cup compared to the 3 cup ?
Is the weight of your 6 cup coffee, 2X the 3 cup ?
Seems like all else is equal..
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HLing
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HLing
Joined: 10 Dec 2010
Posts: 21
Location: NYC
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Manual Stone Quern
Roaster: stove top cast iron pan or...
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 10:05am
Subject: Re: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

This seems a perfect place to trouble shoot with something new I'd just learned (forgive me if you all have known this already) from Stumptown's website:
http://stumptowncoffee.com/brew-guides/moka-pot/

Their method for Moka pot brewing is different from what I've been taken for granted:  I use fresh COLD water to start; they use freshly HEATED water to start.  I tried it with a new pot I got whose initial brew was not tasty as it should have been.  Using the method they prescribed indeed helped.  

So, maybe, with a larger size moka pot, the time that it takes to heat the water is longer, and possibly winds up overcooking the coffee.  

I have tried three times with this new moka pot (of a mysterious brand..but that's another post):
1) 1st time: using cold water to start: muddy and muffled taste.
2) 2nd time: using just boiled water to start:  difficult and dangerous to handle the pot, though the brewing time was much swifter.
3) 3rd time: using heated but not yet boiling water to start: easier to handle filling the bottom portion,  still swift and easy flow of the brew. tasted the coffee itself, finally.  

I'd been curious if this route would help things for you.
It's been a while since I've checked in on this site, always good to be amongst coffee geeks.
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smoo
Senior Member


Joined: 3 May 2004
Posts: 4
Location: London
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Apr 6, 2013, 7:20am
Subject: Re: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

Sorry for not getting back, I was expecting an email reply notification but didn't get one for some reason. Thanks for the replies!

HLing - that's really interesting, I'd never thought of using anything other than fresh cold water. Definitely something to try!

As regards the other variables - the compaction (if you mean how tightly the grounds are compacted in the basket) is greater in the 3 cup, because if I compact to the same extent with the 6 cup the coffee ends up burnt. As a result, the weight of coffee in the 6 cup is 27g while in the 3 cup it is 17g. I'm not sure if the volume of the 6 cup basket is exactly 2x the 3 cup one however.

The time from beginning to end of coffee flow is greater with the 6 cup, as you would expect, although I have not timed them. It seems to me that the flow rate is similar for both.

The problem is that with the same amount of compaction, the greater volume of coffee in the 6 cup seems to slow the flow and make the coffee bitter. Perhaps I am just running up against the inherent limitations of the device, i.e. pressure - perhaps the pressure in the 6 cup just can't get up to a high enough level to get through the greater volume of coffee without burning it.
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jpender
Senior Member
jpender
Joined: 11 Jul 2011
Posts: 719
Location: California
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: OE LIDO
Vac Pot: S/S Moka Pot
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Sat Apr 6, 2013, 10:58am
Subject: Re: moka / bialetti - consistency between sizes
 

smoo Said:

With the 6 cup on the other hand, using the same courseness of coffee, I have found that I need to use proportionately less coffee and tap it down less firmly to avoid getting a burnt taste. I can get pretty good coffee this way, but it is not as good as the stuff I get out of the 3 cup. It's less strong because of the slightly looser packing, but if I increase the packing or make the grind finer I just end up with a burned taste...

Posted March 30, 2013 link

You said the coffee from the 6 cup moka pot is not as strong because of the looser packing but you're also using proportionally less coffee. Have you measured the brew ratios? If the extraction is proper then the strength is determined by the coffee to water ratio. If the device limits adding coffee you can reduce the amount of water (or simply stop the brew early).

In a moka pot you can deduce the brew ratio by subtracting the residual water in the bottom from the starting amount. But it's easier to just measure the coffee in the cup. Is the liquid coffee to initial coffee grounds ratio the same for both the 3 and 6 cup brewers?

Another tack you might try is grinding more coarsely for the larger pot and combining this with a lower heat setting so the coffee flows more slowly.

Like other brewing methods, the strength is determined by the brew ratio, assuming proper extraction. The extraction is determined by a more complicated balance of grind size, temperature, and flow rate. In a moka pot these variables are in turn affected by the heating rate, bed depth and density, and initial dry air. It's complicated and made worse by the fact that there is no easy way to monitor the temperature.
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