I have a 6 cup Moka Pot that I use pretty much every morning to make Cappuccinos for my wife and I.
But then came a day where my wife didn’t want one and I did, so I was left wondering…
Can you half fill a Moka Pot? I did some research to find out.
You can physically half fill a Moka Pot and it will produce coffee but the coffee will not be great. That’s why Moka Pots come in different sizes because they’re designed to make coffee at that volume.
Nothing bad will happen, it won’t cause the Moka Pot to explode or anything of the sort.
This is definitely a drawback about the Moka Pot and is the reason some people actually own multiple ones of different sizes.
I myself have been eyeing up an even bigger size because I can get 3 good cappuccinos out of a 6 cup size but I always seem to need to make 4 when people come over.
All that said, if you really want to only partially use your Moka Pots capacity I have a technique for doing it, just read on.
Why You Shouldn’t Half Fill A Moka Pot
The problems come from two places when you only partially fill a Moka Pot, too much air in the water chamber, and not tightly enough packed grounds.
There is a whole load of science involved in this, when I was doing research I was amazed at how detailed people have gone with this, and I love it.
But it’s not what we’re about here, you’ve got us to learn and understand all this then pass on to you the need-to-know information.
Not enough water
This is the case if there isn’t enough air in the bottom chamber, the pressure increases quickly and the water gets to your coffee faster. This sounds like a good thing but the water isn’t necessarily hot enough when it reaches the grounds and that can lead to under extraction.
Interestingly if you overfill it the opposite happens and the water gets to your coffee far hotter than it should be, giving you a burnt or bitter taste.
Not enough coffee
The second problem is when you don’t have enough coffee grounds. If the coffee basket is only half full, what happens is the water can pass through the grounds too quickly leaving you with a weak and watery cup of coffee.
Because while you shouldn’t tamp down the coffee because it can stop water passing through, it needs to be full so that it’s quite a compact disk of coffee and the water really has to push to get through.
And when the water pushes slowly through the coffee grounds it extracts all the lovely flavor.
How To Use a Half Full Moka Pot
With that all said, what can you do?
Well there is one thing you can do, and the coffee it makes won’t taste the same as a full top but it will be good enough, perhaps even Above Average!
Step 1. Half Fill the Coffee Basket
This is a little hand-wavy as to how much coffee will half fill it, if you have a scale and already measure your coffee you can weigh a full basket and then half it. Otherwise, just use your best guess.
I know, I know guessing and coffee don’t normally go hand in hand but if you want to use half a Moka Pot you’re going to have to lean into it.
Step 2. Completely Fill Water Chamber
This is the secret step if you’ve half-filled with coffee you’re going to want to still completely fill the bottom water chamber with water.
I’d also recommend filling it with hot water if you aren’t already because it will give you a better cup of coffee. See more Moka Pot tips here.
This stops any of the pressure problems you get by having too much air in the chamber, but if you let it brew too long you’re going to get left with a very weak cup of coffee so you’re going to need to stop the brewing process halfway.
Step 3. Brew With Lid Open & Stop Half Way
This is an important step when you’re only using it half full because you need to be able to see the coffee coming out so that you know what to stop the process.
As I said, when you’re only using half the coffee you’re going to want to use all the water but stop it halfway, how do you know when that is?
Well, unfortunately, there’s no solid gauge for this, you’re just going to have to keep an eye on it with the lid open, and when it looks to be about half full take it off the heat.
It’ll take a little practice to get it consistent but it can be done.
Or of course, you buy yourself a second smaller Moka Pot, it’d be a lot easier!
And you can support this blog by going to Amazon and buying it through this link.
Moka Pot Dividers – How To Use Them
Now, this is something you can’t seem to buy as a standalone item, so if you don’t already own one you’re out of luck.
But some Moka Pots come with a little piece of metal that’s a divider for the coffee basket. This is definitely the most efficient way to use a partially full Moka Pot but it doesn’t come with instructions.
Luckily it’s really simple.
- Place divider inside basket before coffee grounds have gone in, make sure it’s in properly and won’t wobble
- Put coffee grounds on top and fill to the top of the basket as you would normally.
- Fully fill the water chamber with hot water.
- Brew with the lid open and keep an eye on it for the coffee coming out.
- Remove from heat once the coffee chamber is half full.
And if you can’t get it to work don’t worry about it, it’s not a very common item because they don’t work the best.
Consider a different method for making less coffee or buy a second smaller Moka Pot
If you’ve figured out a different tactic for making coffee in a half-full Moka Pot then please let me know below. This is a method I use but it isn’t bulletproof by any means.
And would I recommend it? Probably not, it’s a lot of hassle for not great returns but I am nothing if not a trier so I wanted to share what I found.