18

Can I just add the coffee powder to the basket and let the the water vapour do the work or should I make use of a tamp same as with a professional Espresso machine?

15

You should not tamp the coffee in a Moka. These pots don't like excessive pressure, which tamping would produce due to increased density. This is also why the water should not cover the steam valve. In the worst case they can literally explode!

  • 1
    I think that the last part of this answer is a bit imprecise. The valve still works and opens in some specified pressure range even when covered in water. However when it opens while being covered by water, instead of emitting steam to the outside world, a stream of boiling hot water would shoots out of the valve. This is way more dangerous than the steam to nearby human tissue (and other stuff in your kitchen). – DCTLib Oct 27 '15 at 12:33
4

The general idea is that tamping with moka pots is unnecessary/harmful/dangerous because of the excessive pressure this will cause (see Ivan's answer: https://coffee.stackexchange.com/a/489).

However, we usually compact the ground coffee a bit with a spoon by slightly tapping on the grounds while making sure that there is a flat surface. This tends to give a richer flavour if, for whatever reason, you do not fill the basket to the top. (E.g. if you want to prepare a smaller serving and you don't have a smaller pot.) This is not traditional tamping, but somewhat similar.

My hypothesis is that the reason for the improvement in flavor seems to be the longer extraction time: If the basket is only half full, I mostly tend to get underextracted, somewhat sour-ish coffee. Compacting the grounds a bit results in more resistance to the hot water and, thus, a longer contact time. (Not sure if that hypothesis is correct, but the result is easy to reproduce for me.)

  • Interesting! Do you have any hypothesis as to why it improves flavour? Is it something about the fashion steam goes through the grounds? Welcome to Coffee SE :-) – Ivan Kapitonov Oct 26 '15 at 13:07
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    @IvanKapitonov Thanks! Actually I have a hypothesis that sounds kind of logical to me, so I added that to the answer. :-) – anderas Oct 26 '15 at 13:11
  • makes sense -- will try tomorrow! – Ivan Kapitonov Oct 26 '15 at 13:13
  • yeah, I guess it worked. I've got quite sour beans now though, so will keep experimenting. – Ivan Kapitonov Oct 27 '15 at 0:05

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