I have a Bialetti Moka pot, which I used to make coffee on weekends. I have had it for a few months, but recently I am starting to notice the coffee is coming out sour and bitter. I am guessing I am doing something wrong. I was wondering what I could be missing..

  • I am filling it up with water (tap water though) till the valve level.
  • I am spooning the coffee to fill the bucket to level (I don't tamp it) .
  • I am using Lavazza coffee ground for using with a moka pot.

Any ideas??

  • How do you clean the pot? Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 17:30
  • I was told not to use soap, so just with hot water..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 16:41
  • wipe it with a cloth? Light abrasion? I'm wondering whether there could be a slight build-up of residue which could account for the sour taste; or whether you might be exposing fresh aluminium. Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 16:49
  • I generally drip dry.. Residue is a possibility cos without soap it's hard to really get the inside squeaky clean.. I will try to clean it by boiling some water later today..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 14:13
  • 2
    For cleaning I occasionally use vinegar to remove a lingering coffee smell, followed by lots of water. I recommend it. It worked when our coffee started tasting stale.
    – justkt
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 15:08

7 Answers 7


Moka coffee pots work well if you use them every day. This way the oils that the coffee leaves inside them do not have the opportunity to go rancid (all fats go rancid eventually) and impart that horrible taste to your coffee. If you use them every day, it is true that you don't really need to clean them, except to remove calcium scale buildup.

If you use it rarely, like in your case or the frequent Moka pot left at a vacation house, you need to clean it with dish detergent and a scrubby sponge, you don't need anything harsher. Make sure that you get all the coffee brown oils out. Yes, it is an unpleasant job. Make sure you rinse it well before putting it away to dry, you don't want to simply replace the bitterness with soapiness.

...and this is the Italian doctrine! :-)

  • Wow!!! This makes sense.. Cos the pot does get oily and smells a little rancid when I leave it to drip dry after washing it with just water.. I think will give this a try..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:32
  • This really helped me out.. I am getting much better coffee now.. Thanks!!
    – notthetup
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 9:10

The hardest thing I found with using moka pots is not burning the coffee. I found I always left it too long and my coffee probably reached boiling point.

Secondly, the Lavazza is probably not doing you any favours. Chances are, it is already stale when you bought it. You should find a good speciality roaster and get some fresh beans. It's best to grind them yourself, but if you can't, try and get home quick and make a coffee so you can get a good comparison to your Lavazza.

  • Yea.. Agreed. But for weekly coffee (I only do Moka on weekends, it's espresso on other days at work), I think it's a bit impractical to have fresh roasted coffee every week. I mean, if I could, I would roast it myself.. But gotta work with what I have.. :)
    – notthetup
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 13:14
  • 3
    You can purchase good quality fresh-roasted coffee and store it in the freezer. This really does work, as described in this thread from coffeegeek: coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/homeroast/514593.
    – Rick G
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 17:29
  • If you're interested in a second opinion (or three), using the freezer for storage is also mentioned in a LifeHacker article on how to improve your coffee experience: lifehacker.com/#!5778831/…
    – Rick G
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 20:13
  • Hmmm.. OK. Agreed that my source of coffee is not the optimum, but could that be the only problem? I will definitely explore a way to get freshly roasted/ground coffee, but otherwise what else could be wrong? I mean the coffee from the same source tasted fine before.
    – notthetup
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 17:47
  • I purchase Illy ground specifically for my Moka and put it in the freezer. I know putting coffee in the freezer isn't considered the best, but it is better than letting it sit out. The grind really does matter for your Moka - an expresso grind or regular coffee grind won't turn out quite right compared to the special grind.
    – justkt
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 12:34

Haven't tried this method myself, but RitualCoffee claims that starting by adding boiling (or near boiling) water to the Moka Pot results in a less bitter cup. Their video guide is here.

  • Interesting.. I will try that next..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:17
  • Thanks Michael, I tried that, and it seems to work a little (reduced the bitterness).. Maybe a combination of hot water and fresh coffee will do the trick..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 14:14

As it was said in another answer, you should clean your coffee machine with soap to remove the oils, as they get rancid and give an odd taste to the coffee you brew. You should also clean your grinder, if using one.

You could also try some steps that helped me making better coffee in a Bialetti moka pot. Some of them I found in this video. (I don't remember where I found other tricks, but they seemed quite logical by the time).

  1. Put water to boil.

    Don't heat it in the moka pot. Preheat it using a kettle, a saucepan, microwave, ...

  2. Fill the basked with frehsly grounded coffee, but do not compress it.

    The fineness of the grinding should be the right one. Nor as fine as for espresso, nor as large as for French press cafètiere .

  3. Once you have boiling water, pour it in the lower part of the pot, up to the center of the security valve.

    We want the pot to be on a heater the minimun time as possible, because we do not want heat to get to the grounded coffee. That's why we are pouring boiling water.

  4. Wait until the brewed coffee is being poured.

  5. Before the last drops of coffee will be poured, stop heating the pot and cover it's bottom part (where water is boiling) with a wet towel.

    We do not want steam passing through the coffee. So, before it will pass, we try to cool down the boiling water to lower the pressure.


Moka pot coffee is my favorite and my method is this: Pour boiling water into moka pot. Regain boil, but a slow boil to prevent hot steam from going through the grounds. Insert basket of grounds and, using oven mitt, screw on top half of pot. After about a minute, the liquid should begin to ooze out of the tube. The very best coffee comes out first, while the last will be thin and bitter (over extracted). To avoid mixing the good with the over-extracted coffee, pour off the coffee in stages into different cups. Sample coffee from each cup and discard the over-extracted coffee.


try adding a tiny bit of salt to a portion of your ground coffee to counter the bitterness

  • Hmm.. Interesting.. How much do you recommend? Like a small pinch?
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 16:33
  • 2
    blog.khymos.org/2010/03/21/a-pinch-of-salt-for-your-coffee-sir would be a good starting point, a pinch a cup would be to much (would get a salty taste, which is not what most people want), you'll likely need some experimentation to get to the amount that suits your tastebuds
    – Birki
    Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 8:42
  • 1
    I've tried this in desperation and found nothing good from this. Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 16:29

Disclaimer: I am part of the business úKu Artisan Coffee.

If you change two things in your described steps you will be able to obtain great results.

  1. Use clean pure water for your Moka Pot
  2. Use high grade coffee, similar to what the guys at úKu Coffee offer

Coffee is an important ingrediate of a great cup of coffee.

  • Thanks! I don't have access to fresh coffee (budget and location), but I will try your idea of using 'pure' water.. What do you recommend? Bottled water or is there a way to 'purify' tap water..
    – notthetup
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 14:17
  • I use water from a Brita filter (a way to filter tap water). I find that coffee made this way tastes much better than with tap water.
    – Zach
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 23:37

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