I would argue that every household in Italy has at least one Moka pot. The 8-sided coffee maker is iconic because it is simple but so very good at making strong, stove-top coffee. Most households have more than one! A small two-shot Moka for single servings, going up to 8- or 12- for when you need to make coffee for a full table after a big homecooked meal. But every Italian also knows that you never wash a Moka Pot with soap.
Of course, you want to keep your Moka Pot clean so you should thoroughly rinse all three pieces and set them to dry separately after every use. Leaving coffee or grounds sitting in the Moka will lead to lots of residue, which is harder to get off when soap is out of the question. If you leave old coffee oils in the Moka, it can also make all the coffee you brew from there on out taste rancid. Gross.
But caustic soap will discolor the outside of the aluminum coffee maker, leaving spots that are nearly impossible to remove. What is worse, the chemical soap smell is likely to stick around for several batches, changing the flavor of the coffee. Naturally, this means that you don’t want to put your Moka in the dishwasher either – this is a handwash-only situation! You can use a soft cloth instead of a sponge to be sure you don’t damage the finish.
If you really want to be able to use soap on your Moka pot, be sure to buy a stainless steel model instead of the traditional aluminum pot. With the case of stainless steel, you can use mild dish soap when you handwash.
If you do use soap accidentally on your Moka, be sure to wash it with lots of fresh water and dry it immediately. Then let it sit disassembled in order to be sure it is very dry. Don’t drink the first coffee you brew in the Moka post-soapy wash. You want to throw that batch away because it is the most likely to have tainted flavor from the suds.
In fact, you also want to throw away the first couple of brews you make in a brand new Moka pot as well.
Here are some more tips from Bialetti, the most famous Moka brand (and the inventor of the coffee maker style).
Interested in more Italian food tips? Well, you should never put fresh mozzarella in the fridge! And if you really want to cook pasta like an Italian nonna, here are the 10 commandments to keep in your kitchen. Don’t even think about putting salad cream in your Bolognese recipe.
*Yes, that is my Moka in the main photo. My husband is not a coffee drinker and put it in the dishwasher. I have come to terms with it.
I love coffee and tend to drink it out in Rome whenever I can. Here is my guide to the best coffee in the city.