Can You Half Fill A Moka Pot? Here’re The Results!

can you half fill a moka pot?

Moka Pots are extremely popular devices that can brew coffee for multiple people. But what should you do if not everyone wants a cup of coffee? Can you half fill a Moka Pot and still get decent results?

Technically, you can fill a Moka Pot halfway, but the results won’t be ideal. Moka Pots are designed with the correct water to coffee ratio, so a filled Moka Pot has the best extraction. Moka Pots also use vapor pressure to brew coffee, so the lower the water level, the less they’re able to brew.

However, it’s understandable that you don’t always need to brew a full pot of coffee. So, your best option is to get a smaller Moka Pot.

If you’ve got a 6-cup Moka Pot, consider going for the 3-cup or 1-cup version. (Our favorite brand is Bialetti. The links will take you to the respective size on Amazon.)

If you want to learn more about why it’s not a good idea to half-fill your Moka Pot, keep reading!

What Happens When You Half Fill A Moka Pot?

There are two ways to half fill a Moka Pot.

  • half fill the lower chamber with water
  • half fill the filter basket with coffee grinds

The results you’ll get depend on whether you’re reducing the amount of water or the amount of coffee grinds.

Let’s take a look at each scenario.

Half Filling Your Moka Pot With Water

When you half fill your Moka Pot with water, you’re doing two things:

  • reducing its ability to brew coffee and
  • reducing the brew temperature of your coffee.

can you half fill a moka pot

Less Water Reduces Your Moka Pots Ability To Brew Coffee

This may seem like an obvious conclusion; less water means less coffee. But it’s even worse than you think.

Here’s why.

Moka Pots use vapor pressure to brew coffee. As the water is heated, the vapor pressure in the pot increases. Eventually, the pressure becomes so great that it can push the water up into the top chamber.

However, if you use half the amount of water, it’s harder for the Moka Pot to build the pressure. So, it’s not able to brew a large portion of the water.

Recommended Moka Pots

Brand Size Image
Bialetti Moka Pot 6 Cups
Rosche Milano Stovetop 3 Cups
Primula Stovetop Moka Pot1 Cup
Zulay Moka Pot5 Cups

Less Water Lowers The Brewing Temperature

As we’ve mentioned, Moka Pots use vapor pressure to brew coffee. The problem here is that the temperature doesn’t need to be very high to create that vapor pressure.

So, when the water reaches the coffee grinds, it’s lower than the ideal 195-205°F. (This is the ideal temperature according to the National Coffee Association.)

This could result in under-extracted coffee, but because the Moka Pot remains on the heat, the temperature continues to increase while brewing. So the first bit of coffee is under-extracted but as brewing continues the extraction improves.

However, if you use less water, the coffee finishes brewing before the ideal temperature is reached so it’ll remain mostly under-extracted.

(If you’d like to read more about getting the ideal brew temperature with your Moka Pot, check out our article Hot or Cold Water In a Moka Pot.)

can you half fill a moka pot

Half Filling A Moka Pot With Coffee Grinds

Consider that the water in your Moka Pot is under pressure. This means it will shoot up through the filter basket with a lot of force.

If your filter basket is only half-filled with grinds, they won’t be dense enough to slow the water down and allow for even extraction.

Instead what will happen is that the water will quickly shoot through the center of the basket and possibly over-extract from the grinds that it’s in contact with.

However, the grinds near the edges of the basket won’t have much contact with the water and will be under-extracted.

Cooper's single-origin coffee whole bean  ad banner

How Much Coffee Will Actually Brew If I Half Fill My Moka Pot

We know that half-filling your Moka Pot isn’t the best option because we’ve done it before. And we’ve actually noticed that a large portion of water remains in the brewer.

But to show you, we brewed a few pots of coffee and measured the amount of

  • water we poured into the Moka Pot,
  • coffee that was brewed
  • water that remained in the Moka Pot’s bottom chamber

Here’s what

we found.

Amount of Coffee From A Moka Pot Half Filled With Water

We filled our 6-cup Moka Pot with 6 oz of water. We got about 4 oz of brewed coffee and 2 oz of water was left in the Moka Pot.

So, 66% of the water used became coffee.

can i Half fill a moka pot

Amount Of Coffee From A Moka Pot Filled With Water

When we filled the same Moka Pot with 12 oz of water. This resulted in about 10 oz of brewed coffee while 2 oz of water remained in the Moka Pot.

So, 83% of the original water became coffee.

Half Filling Your Moka Pot Will Change The Coffee To Water Ratio

Each brewing method has an ideal coffee-to-water ratio. If this ratio is off, your coffee could turn out too sour, too bitter, or too watery.

The great thing about Moka Pots is that they’re designed with the ideal ratio in mind. So just filling your brewer with water and with coffee grinds should give you the best results.

Someone might say that by reducing both the water and coffee grinds by half, you can maintain your ratio. But that’s not the case.

Keep in mind that reducing the water also reduces the pressure generated. So, when you reduce the water by half, the amount of coffee that’s brewed will be even less.

coffee whiskey barrel coffee gift ad banner image

What’s The Best Way To Brew Coffee With A Moka Pot?

According to Bialetti, the best way to brew coffee with a Moka Pot is to fill it with water until the water level is right below the safety valve.

Then fill the filter basket with coffee grinds. Level them gently to make sure there are no air bubbles in the grinds but don’t tamp them.

(Filling the Moka Pot past the safety valve or tamping could result in your Moka Pot exploding. Read more about that in our post “Can A Moka Pot Explode?”)

This will give you the best results in terms of water to grind ratio, but keep in mind that the heat level on your stove also plays an important part in your results.

(To learn more about the ideal heat level for your coffee, read our post “Ideal Moka Pot Temperature: How Hot Should My Stove Be?”)

can you half fill a moka pot

How To Brew Less Coffee If My Moka Pot Is Too Large

You’ve got a large Moka Pot but not everyone wants coffee, and we don’t recommend brewing a Moka Pot that’s only half full.

So, in the end, what do you do?

Instead of figuring out a way to make less coffee with a large Moka Pot, your best option is to buy a smaller Moka Pot. In fact, they make Moka Pots in several sizes for this very reason.

If you’ve got a 6-cup Moka Pot, consider buying a 3-cup Moka Pot or the 1-cup version.

Related Posts:

What Size Moka Pot Should I Get For One Person?

A Moka Pot’s cup size actually corresponds to an espresso cup size.

This means

  • 1-cup Moka Pots brew 1-2 ounces
  • 3-cup Moka Pots brew 3-6 ounces
  • 6-cup Moka Pots brew 6-12 ounces

And because Moka Pot coffee is pretty strong, you don’t need too much for a single person.

If you like to drink a decent-sized cup, we’d recommend a 3-cup Moka Pot for a single person. However, if you’d prefer small-sized coffees, we’d recommend going with the 1-cup for a single person.

Key Takeaways

  • Half filling your Moka Pot with water will reduce its pressure and result in under-extracted coffee
  • Using half the coffee grinds will create uneven extraction and affect the flavor
  • The best way to brew smaller amounts of coffee is to buy a smaller Moka Pot

Cheers Coffee Lovers!

Idalmis Holmes