A Coffee Competition All About Moka Pot

We examine the Professional Moka Challenge, a coffee competition that aims to demonstrate how powerful the traditional Moka pot.



Photos from Martina Lupi

From the editor This week, we’re celebrating everything Moka-pot. Watch for the latest news about the Professional Moka Challenge, the winners, and the special Moka pot itself.

The Professional Moka Challenge is an annual event that takes place in Italy. It is a barista contest that is different in that instead of espresso machines, competitors must make use of Moka pots to prepare their coffee.

It’s no surprise that this celebration occurs in Italy. The Moka pot was invented in Italy in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, and it has been a staple in Italian homes since then. What makes this contest so unique? This question was posed by us and many more to Martina Lupi, who co-founded the Professional Moka Challenge with Vittorio Verzotti.

All the participants use the same equipment during the competition.

The Myth of Uneven Extraction

If you’ve utilized a Moka pot you’re aware that it produces a tiny intense shot of espresso that isn’t an espresso or the filter coffee that most of us use to. With the popularity of other home-brewers such as V60 and AeroPress, AeroPress and V60 in recent times the Moka pot has taken an offence. Some even believe it is not always producing the same amount of alcohol.

However the Professional Moka Challenge showcases that with the proper recipe, technique, and dosage the Moka pot can produce an excellent cup of coffee. “The Professional Moka Challenge is an event that was born out of the desire to disseminate as much information as we can concerning the Moka pot. It’s about time we eliminate the notion that it creates poor extraction.” Martina says.

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The first time the competition was held was during the summer of 2018, in Peschiera del Garda, during an art exhibit. Martina says that in the beginning, it was a simple event for coffee lovers. “I remember the first time we had it. It was an incredible event, and so full of sharing so we decided to organize the event as a true test for professional and coffee drinkers alike.”

What exactly happens when you participate in the Professional Moka Challenge? The rules are fairly simple. Competitors must make use of the same coffee beans, water grinder, equipment, as well as a Moka pots to make the coffee for the same time.

The only thing that has changed is the technique of the competitor. “We also request that each competitor tell us about the story, a memory or a memorable moment they experienced while making the coffee” Martina says.

The E&B Lab Moka pot is the official Moka pot sponsor of the event.

Sharing knowledge and sharing passion

In 2020, just prior to the pandemic struck the country, the three winners of the Moka Challenge Professional–Alberto Polojac (2018) Andrea Panizzardi (2019) and Lorenzo Baffi (2020)–competed against each one another in the Super Moka Challenge during the Sigep Expo in Rimini.

In addition In the spirit of the popularity of the Professional Moka Challenge, a similar event was also held in Croatia during the Zagreb Coffee Break festival. However, COVID-19 halted any events scheduled for the next two years, however Martina and her team have already started working on an upcoming edition of the Professional Moka Challenge.

“The pandemic did not just end the Professional Moka Challenge, but the possibility of sharing the same passions and experiences. This is the reason the contest was designed to do. However, in the near future, we’ll be back to reorganizing the contest and this time with brand new partnerships with Sevengrams and Lot Zero specialty coffee,” she says.

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From our perspective we are eager to learn what the Professional Moka Challenge will progress and what new developments the coffee community can bring to this traditional method of brewing.

About the Author

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a an emphasis on the coffee industry. She is also a volunteer copywriter for I’M NOT A BARISTA Non-Profit Organization, which provides information to help people learn about baristas and the work they do. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

This article was first published at Barista Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to baristas and coffee professionals.