Not everyone can afford an expensive espresso machine, but a Moka pot offers an affordable way to create an espresso-style coffee. But sometimes, sputtering in Moka pots can irritate you. While the sound is irritating, the solution for this is actually simple.
Moka pots sputter mostly because the rubber gasket got faulty or dirty and is not accumulating enough pressure inside the pot. Or it could be because of using incorrect tamping, using incorrect levels of heat, or the Moka pot reaching the end of its lifespan.
In this guide, we’ll talk about how a Moka pot works, why a pot may sputter, and the solutions.
The Anatomy of a Moka Pot
While Moka pots are very effective at making a good cup of coffee, their working principle is surprisingly simple.
A Moka pot has three parts:
- The bottom boiling chamber
- Coffee filter basket
- Top chamber
Once the water begins to heat in the boiling chamber, it creates steam, which pushes the water through the spout funnel to the coffee filter basket. The hot water brews the coffee and goes upward through another spout to the top chamber.
In the top chamber, there are two small openings where the brewed coffee comes through. And from there, the coffee can be poured.
Why Is My Moka Pot Sputtering?- A Closer Look
Moka pot sputters at two different times; at the end and at the beginning. The reason is different. At the end of the brewing, the Moka pot sputters because there is a very small amount of water remaining, and the heat is high.
All Moka pots will sputter when the brewing is complete, and the bottom boiling chamber is almost empty. This is normal. But when sputtering happens throughout the boiling and brewing process, this is a sign of something faulty with the pot.
It happens mostly because of improper sealing. Moka pot works on pressure, and if pressure escapes, and failed to generate enough pressure Moka pot will sputter. The following are the most likely causes.
1. Dirt and Mineral Build-Up Causes Sputtering
Dirt is one of the major causes of a faulty Moka pot. As the pot is meant to be perfectly sealed with the rubber gasket, any debris stuck around it will create gaps for steam to escape.
This will, in turn, cause sputtering throughout the whole brewing process.
Also, minerals will build on the walls of a Moka pot from the water and coffee grounds. These mineral gaps will create spaces around the gasket where water and steam will leave.
And as a result, there won’t be enough pressure for the water to come upwards to the coffee chamber.
The good thing is that Moka pots are easy to clean. Take a dishwashing brush and scrape the inside of the pot, gasket, funnel, and filter thoroughly.
Wash the parts off by holding them under running tap water. This process should be enough to lengthen the pot’s life.
2. Using Incorrect Heat on the Stovetop Causes Sputtering
Using too low or too high heat can create problems with pressure build-up in a Moka pot. The pot won’t be able to retain heat and pressure evenly, which will cause the pot to sputter.
Besides, the spouts are designed to ensure a slow brew of coffee. As the increased heat tries to push water upwards than the spouts allow, the water will find other holes to escape. It’ll escape through the narrow area around the gasket and create sputtering in the pot.
Moreover, brewing the coffee at a heat higher than recommended will create a bad flavor as well.
Use preheated water, in the beginning, to get rid of the sputtering problem while making a coffee in a short time.
Similar to overheating, underheating the water can also result in a lack of pressure build-up and sputtering. The best way is to keep the medium heat throughout the brewing process.
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3. Improper Tamping of the Coffee Grounds
You should never tightly pack your ground coffee once it’s poured into the coffee chamber when using a Moka pot. This is called tamping.
When you’re using tamped or finely ground coffee, water will have a hard time penetrating through the coffee filter and create air bubbles that’ll cause sputtering.
So, never tamp coffee grounds while using a Moka pot. Also, avoid using too fine coffee grounds. The recommended grind size is medium-fine coffee grounds.
4. Seal or Filter Blockage Causes Sputtering
If there’s a blockage in the seal or in the filter, there won’t be enough steam pressure to push water upwards. In that case, the pot will make bursts of sputtering noises.
In a case like this, take a small brush and scrape the filter. Make sure to remove all the stuck coffee particles. Afterward, take a paper towel and clean the outer edges of the filter. Finally, wash the filter with clean water
5. The Moka Pot Has Reached the End of Its Lifespan
Unless a Moka pot is made out of premium material and stainless steel, it’s expected to wear out slowly after a few years of use.
The edges will bend, and its body won’t be capable of keeping the steam pressure intact. This is a sign that the pot has reached the end of its life. It’s time to get a new one.
6. Moka Pot Component Parts Need to Be Replaced
Mainly two components can get faulty. One is the safety valve, and the other is the gasket. The safety valve in a Moka pot allows excess steam to escape in order to prevent increased pressure accumulation. If steam escapes through an old, faulty safety valve, the pot will sputter.
If the valve is dirty, clean it and see if the problem goes away.
If it persists, chances are the valve has gotten faulty. In this case, the best option will be to buy a new pot instead of repairing it. They’re quite affordable.
On the other hand, the gasket prevents any water or steam from escaping and forces them to go only through the spouts in the bottom and top chambers. With time, the rubber gasket will lose its elasticity, creating an improper seal between the compartments of the Moka pot.
Rubber gaskets are cheap and easily available. You can replace yours when you see a faulty gasket.
7. Coffee Ground Container Doesn’t Seal Properly
Over time, as the Moka pot ages, internal parts may damage slowly. One important piece is the ground coffee container. It seats over the water chamber and contains ground coffee.
However, if the edge of the container becomes eroded, or damaged that can result in improper sealing. And Moka pot may sputter.
You can either buy a new Moka pot or try using a temporary solution to improve the sealing. You can use Teflon tape to wrap around the edge of the container, hopefully, that will prevent sputtering.
8. Overfilling the water chamber
Overfilling the water chamber will reduce the volume of air that expands during heating, and forces the water to the top chamber. If you overfill the water chamber, the Moka pot may create a sputter as there won’t be enough pressure initially. So, the recommended level is to fill the water just under the lower end of the safety valve.
When Moka Pot Sputtering Is A Matter of Concern?
While it’s not common to see new Moka pots sputtering, it can still happen. This is likely because the gasket is of bad quality or just became old sitting on the shelf. Just replacing the rubber gasket will be enough in this case.
Sputtering is a sign of low-pressure accumulation in the pot. If the valves are okay and the gasket is good, this problem should go away. Other than these, sputtering isn’t really a matter of concern.
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Here are a few more additional questions you might be asking about Moka pot sputtering.
How Tightly Should the Moka Pot Be Closed?
It should be tight enough that no air or water can escape through the gasket. A Moka pot creates 1~2 bar pressure with a safety valve. So it’s important to ensure the pot is tightly closed with the rubber gasket since the valve will safely clear an excess pressure build-up.
Can You Ruin a Moka Pot by Sputtering?
Yes, sputtering, in the long run, will ruin your Moka pot. You should find the underlying cause (which we’ve mentioned in this guide) and take the proper steps. Preventing sputtering will lengthen the pot’s life too.
Should a Moka Pot Hiss From The Beginning?
No, it should not start from the beginning. Any hissing sound coming right after you put your Moka pot on the stove means the pot is faulty. Hissing means coffee making is complete now and should happen only once the coffee is complete. Anything before that, the pot is sputtering.
You should be able to find the problem behind the sputtering Moka pot from the issues we’ve talked about in this guide. Try our provided solutions. Chances are if you replace the gasket and close the pot tightly, sputtering won’t be an issue anymore.
If the given solutions still don’t seem to work, maybe it’s time to get a new Moka pot. Most of the time, buying a new one will be better than spending money and time replacing an old pot. Make sure to buy a good quality one so that it lasts long.
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