Should You Tamp A Moka Pot? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Should I tamped M Moka pot

We often hear Moka Pots referred to as Stovetop Espresso Makers. This leads many people to wonder if you should tamp a Moka Pot like a regular espresso maker.

As a rule, you should not tamp the coffee grinds in your Moka Pot. Moka Pots don’t generate enough pressure to force water through compacted coffee grounds. Because of this, tamping may increase the internal pressure of your Moka Pot to the point that it becomes damaged or even explodes.

While that may sound extreme, it’s been known to happen. However, there are several other reasons you shouldn’t tamp your Moka Pot.

Should You Tamp A Moka Pot?

You should not tamp the grounds in your Moka Pot. Simply fill the filter basket with coffee grounds and level it off.

This question often comes up because there are some similarities between Moka Pots and espresso makers. Even so, Moka Pots should never be tamped.

True espresso makers are complex machines built to generate 9 bars of pressure. However, Moka Pots are a lot less complex and only generate around 2 bars of pressure.

Since Espresso makers generate so much pressure, the grounds have to be tamped so the water doesn’t immediately shoot through them.

By tamping, you create resistance, which gives the water more time to interact with the coffee grounds. The result is more extraction and a fuller flavor.

But because Moka Pots don’t generate as much pressure, they’re not able to push water through tamped grounds like true espresso makers.

single-origin coffee whole bean ground cooper's ad banner

What Happens If You Tamp A Moka Pot?

Moka Pots don’t generate enough pressure to force water through tamped coffee. As a result, tamping could have several unintended consequences, such as:

  • Over-extracting your coffee
  • Loss of water through the safety valve or by leaking
  • Exploding Moka Pot

But before we talk about how tamping causes all this, we first need to talk about how a Moka Pot works.

A Moka Pot’s bottom chamber (the boiler) holds water. As the water is heated, some of it turns into steam which increases the pressure inside the chamber.

This steam pressure then pushes the liquid water up the filter basket, through the ground coffee beans, and out into the top chamber (the collector).

Normally, this process works without any issues, but let’s see what happens when you tamp your coffee.

Should you tamp a Moka pot

Tamping A Moka Pot May Result In Over Extracted Coffee

If you tamp your Moka Pot and the water is still able to push its way through the coffee grounds, you’ll end up with over-extracted coffee.

Since tamping increases the density of the coffee grounds, the water moves slower and is in contact with the coffee beans for a longer time. This results in more bitter flavors being extracted from the beans.

But even if the water can still force its way through, the increased pressure may cause the steam to look for other ways to escape.

Tamping May Cause Your Moka Pot To Leak

In some cases, tamping may cause water to leak from the sides or for steam to come through the safety valve.

This all really depends on how tight the seal on your Moka Pot is.

For example, if the water can’t force its way through the coffee grinds, and your Moka Pot isn’t tightly sealed, the water might be able to squeeze its way through the sides of the Moka Pot.

On the other hand, if the collector is screwed tightly onto the boiler you may find that steam is coming out through the safety valve.

If this happens, it means your Moka Pot is under way too much pressure. And that pressure has nowhere to go except through the valve.

Should you tamp a Moka pot

Tamping Could Cause Your Moka Pot To Explode

If you tamp your coffee grounds with enough force that the water can’t pass through, and the pressure has nowhere else to go, your Moka Pot could very well explode.

You may think that the safety valve will prevent this from happening, but there are a few reasons a Moka Pot could still explode even with the safety valve.

First, the valve may be clogged with coffee grounds or limescale.

spirit animal add banner image

Unless you clean your Moka Pot every day limescale could build up in the boiler or in the safety valve. Or if fine coffee grounds fell into the valve they could be clogging it as well.

In these cases, a buildup of pressure could easily cause your Moka Pot to explode.

Second, you may have overfilled the boiler. If the water in the bottom chamber comes above the safety valve, there will be no escape for the pressure and, again, your Moka Pot may explode.

Finally, even if the safety valve is working as expected, it still may not be able to relieve enough pressure in time to prevent the Moka Pot from blowing up.

So, just don’t tamp.

whiskey barrel coffee gift. Copper's coffee ad banner

Why Do Some People Recommend Tamping A Moka Pot

Despite the risks, there are some people who recommend tamping your Moka Pot.

The main reason for tamping your Moka Pot has to do with increased richness and flavor quality.

While tamping does allow you to fit more grinds in the Moka Pot and extract more coffee, I don’t believe the risk is worth the additional extraction. Besides, tamped coffee is more likely to be over-extracted and have a lower flavor quality.

Instead of tamping, consider using a darker roast in your Moka Pot. Coffee oils and flavors are extracted easier from darker roasts, which will result in a richer cup without the additional risks.

Related Posts:

Key Takeaways

Don’t tamp coffee grounds in your Moka Pot.

While Moka Pots can make coffee similar to espresso, they’re very different machines. Moka Pots generate a lot less pressure than espresso machines, so tamping hinders the extraction process and creates a few issues.

  • Your coffee will be over-extracted
  • Your Moka Pot will leak or lose steam through the safety valve
  • The Moka Pot may explode if the pressure has nowhere to go

Despite this, some people like to tamp their Moka Pots for increased extraction. However, we recommend that you don’t tamp your grounds and instead choose a darker roast if you want a richer cup.

Cheers Coffee Lovers!

Idalmis Holmes