Camp-spresso: The Moka Pot

The Bialetti Moka

It’s Overland Journal’s fault. I’ve long appreciated the pleasures of the morning coffee ritual, an easy vice to maintain in the city, but one that is typically tolerable at best in camp. Working in an office with a well-stocked espresso bar has sharpened the addiction to such a point the instant solutions often served tent-side simply won’t do. As Scott Brady reflected while showing me how to work the espresso machine “Life’s too short for bad coffee.”

Espresso is without a doubt the ultimate form of coffee, imbued with three key features we strive to find in our gear: versatility, durability, and performance. It’s concentrated nature makes for the maximum quantity on a minimum of water, with the right tools it’s nearly impossible to ruin espresso, and from espresso you can make practically any coffee drink (including the good ole hot cup of joe—just add water). Thanks to Luigi de Ponti, espresso can be a hassle- and mess-free pleasure in camp.

Most commonly used on the stovetop at home, the Moka pot is equally capable of brewing on the trail with a backpacking stove, larger camp stove, or even over charcoal with care. Unlike the variety of portable espresso makers out there, the Moka doesn’t require special fuels, tools, or filters. In fact, you only need three things to run a Moka: water, fire, and coffee grounds. The Moka pot isn’t picky about the type of grounds you feed it either. A fine grind (slightly more coarse than espresso) works best, but even “percolator ground” beans will yield an excellent (though weaker) result. Espresso purists may point out that a Moka pot is incapable of reaching the precise 9 bar of pressure required for “true” espresso, but the end result is indistinguishable.

Use is simple, just fill the base to the fill line with water (about an inch from the top), drop in the basket and fill it with grounds, then twist on the pot and place it over heat. In about five minutes you’ll have a pot of flavorful espresso. Clean up is just as easy—the brewing process tends to draw out most of the moisture, leaving a solid clump of grounds easily tapped out into the trash. Rinse out the few remaining grounds, dry the pot, and pack it away.

Filling up the Moka Pot Filling up the Basket Freshly-brewed Espresso

The Moka is available as small as a 1-shot, but I find the 6-shot variety well worth the extra space (about the size of a 1-liter Nalgene)—the expression of your fellow campers when you offer them fresh-brewed espresso is priceless. Bialetti, makers of the original Moka pot, also makes a variation called the MokaCrém for those who simply can’t do without the crema.

Bialetti’s Moka and MokaCrém can be purchased new from $20-45.

About the Author

Chazz Layne is an adventurer, designer, and photographer based in Prescott, Arizona. Since early childhood he’s had a passion for travel and exploration, a passion which continues to fuel both his creativity and modern nomadic lifestyle. In addition to his work in design and photography, Chazz is a regular contributor to Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. You can connect with Chazz or learn more about his activities at chazzlayne.com.

The Yokaro TPMS is rated 3.4 out of 5 stars from 134 cusomter reviews on Amazon.

I’m a designer, photographer, author, and adventurist. I’m the lead creative at Layne Studio. I shoot photos for clients in the adventure, automotive, and outdoor industries. I write articles for travel and adventure publications. I make stuff in the Layne Workshop. I’m based out of Prescott, Arizona, but I prefer wanderlust over the comforts of home.