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Mokapot stalls, what else can I tweak?
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aphroditeatlas
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Joined: 8 Sep 2010
Posts: 11
Location: GMT-6
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Aug 30, 2012, 8:02am
Subject: Mokapot stalls, what else can I tweak?
 

A few days ago I soaked my mokapot in degreaser, gave it a thorough scrubbing, and replaced the gasket.  To brew I use faucet-temp water, grind about twice as coarsely as for espresso, put the mokapot on a moderate flame until the coffee is flowing well, then drop the flame to "simmer" to finish.

The first brew with the new gasket stalled at less than halfway finished.

I dialled in a somewhat coarser grind (commercial "drip grind", approximately) for the next brew, which stalled at maybe 5/8 done.

This morning I ground more coarsely - grounds somewhat larger than typical commercial "drip grind" in a can - and instead of stalling, the mokapot spewed almost instantly.  I saw the first foam at the top of the stem, then it spewed.

I have checked that the gasket and filter plate are installed correctly, and I made sure the pressure relief valve was clear of obstructions.  At this point I'm at a loss - what other things can I tweak here?  I've *never* had this happen in the past with a mere gasket change and cleaning.
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svyerkgeniiy
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 380
Location: New York City, NY
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: (-ish) Bialetti moka pot
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Vac Pot: Yama (large 8-cup)
Drip: Technivorm KBT; Clever...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Aug 30, 2012, 9:06am
Subject: Re: Mokapot stalls, what else can I tweak?
 

I doubt that the gasket is the cause of your stalling.  If it were leaking, that might be the cause, but stalling?

Some ideas:
  • Did you perhaps also clean your grinder at the same time?  Usually a stalled brew would be from plugging up caused by extra fines after the grounds start swelling up.  If your cleaning caused a misalignment, or perhaps something made the grind go funny, that could be a cause.  Or maybe a rock in the beans chipped a burr.
  • Did your gasket come with a new filter plate?  Bialetti recently started including filter plates in their gasket packages (why, I don't know), but maybe the new plate is not like the old.  One I got recently actually had a slight height difference in the plate, provided me with a red herring to chase down when the new gasket started leaking.  Anyway, if the new plate is not like the old, that could be a source.
  • Have you tried turning up the flame?  More flame = more pressure = faster brew.  I use more than a simmer, but with finer grounds because my grinder is good at not producing too many fines.  Don't know if you can do that.
  • Do you still have the old gasket?  Try it with the old and see if you still have the problem, not likely but worth a try.
  • Are you overfilling the basket?  Too much ground coffee can squeeze the particles together, slowing the brew.
  • Or are you tamping the grinds down?  Similar effect as the previous point.  It is tempting to tamp the coffee bed, but I've always heard not to and my experience also says this is not necessary.

The last two may not apply, it sounds like you are continuing your existing practice so you already know your grinder and coffee amounts.  Including them just in case.

  • Late edit: if the new gasket is leaking steam, this could reduce pressure and stall the pot.  You would hear the steam leaking, or at least see hot water dripping out.  Also presuming you would have noticed that.

 
Donald Varona
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TrabucoDom
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Joined: 5 Apr 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Trabuco Canyon
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CXE-25 , moka pots
Grinder: Baratza Maestro
Vac Pot: aeropress / french presses
Posted Thu Aug 30, 2012, 9:06pm
Subject: Re: Mokapot stalls, what else can I tweak?
 

I am thinking along the lines of what the previous poster said about increasing the flame...he had lots of good suggestions...but maybe you have a change in your stove where the simmer is less than it was in the past....I would try the finer grind that you did in the past and but keep the flame slightly higher.

When I brew I use a higher flame until the flow begins...then I reduce the flame by half until the pot is about 1/2 full, then I reduce the flame more or remove the pot completely from the burner until it has finished filling. I also keep a bowl of cold water nearby to set the pot in before the anticipated final rush of clearer brew flows.  

What size pot are you using? For a larger pot you might need the flame throughout the whole brewing cycle but on a 2-3 tass pot you can remove from the flame earlier, sometimes at 1/3 full and the brew will still flow until complete. It sounds like maybe you are using  a 6-tass or larger pot?
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aphroditeatlas
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Sep 2010
Posts: 11
Location: GMT-6
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sat Sep 1, 2012, 7:22am
Subject: Re: Mokapot stalls, what else can I tweak?
 

I've been using this mokapot for about 5 years.  I have to tweak the grind to suit the beans (oily/dark = larger grind) but my basic brew method hasn't changed since I figured it out: measure beans using the grounds basket for the mokapot, fill the basket level with ground coffee and clean the edges, medium-high heat until the brewed coffee is flowing well, then down to simmer to finish.

Until I changed the gasket earlier week this method has been pretty much fool-proof, as long as the fool paid attention to the pot and turned down the flame at the right time.

I did not clean the grinder. I'm doing that this weekend and may finally change the blades.  Rocky is reliable, but perhaps after 8 years of daily use (up to 45g daily, depending on demand) he may be ready for new blades.

Yes, my new gasket came with a new filter plate.  I did not install the new filter plate when I replaced the gasket.  I *did* do that this morning after catching up on email - you're correct that the old and new plates are not identical.  I also dialled the grind size back to "something smaller than commercial drip grind".  Today's brew was better - didn't stall, spewed at about 3/4 finished.

Who knew the filter plate would make a difference?  Tomorrow I'll tighten up the grind a bit more and see if I can get back to normal.

Thanks for the tips.
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