We take a closer look at the Professional Moka Challenge, a coffee competition that seeks to showcase the potential of the classic Moka pot.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Martina Lupi
From the editor: This week we’re celebrating everything Moka-pot coffee. Tune in to read about the Professional Moka Challenge, the winners, and the specialty Moka pot itself.
The Professional Moka Challenge is an annual event that occurs in Italy. It is a barista competition with a difference—instead of using espresso machines, participants must use Moka pots to make their coffee.
It’s, of course, no surprise that this event is held in Italy. The Moka pot was invented there in 1933 by Alfonso Bialetti, and it has been a staple of Italian homes ever since. So what makes this competition so special? We asked this question and more to Martina Lupi, who co-founded the Professional Moka Challenge with Vittorio Verzotti.
Dispelling the Myth of Uneven Extraction
If you have used a Moka pot, then you know it produces a small, concentrated shot of coffee that’s neither an espresso nor the filter coffee most of us are used to. With the rise of other home brewers like the AeroPress and V60 in recent years, the Moka pot has somewhat taken a backseat. Some even think it does not always produce an even extraction.
However, the Professional Moka Challenge showcases that with the right recipe, technique, and dose, a Moka pot can make an excellent coffee. ”The Professional Moka Challenge is a competition born from the desire to share as much knowledge as possible about the Moka pot. It’s high time we dispel the myth that it produces a bad extraction,” Martina says.
The competition was first held in the summer of 2018 in Peschiera del Garda during an art exhibition event. Martina explains that at the time it was just a fun event between coffee lovers. ”I remember the very first time we held it, it was such a beautiful event and so full of sharing, that we decided to structure it as a real challenge for coffee lovers and professionals alike.”
So what actually goes down during the Professional Moka Challenge? Well, the rules are pretty simple. Competitors must use the same water, coffee beans, grinder, equipment, and Moka pot to brew the coffee during the same amount of time.
The only thing that changes is the competitor’s technique. ”We also ask each competitor to share with us a story, a memory, a past moment they had while preparing the coffee,” Martina says.
Sharing Knowledge and Passion
In 2020, just before the pandemic hit, the three winners of the Professional Moka Challenge—Alberto Polojac (2018), Andrea Panizzardi (2019), and Lorenzo Baffi (2020)—competed against each other at the Super Moka Challenge during the Sigep Expo in Rimini.
What’s more, inspired by the success of the Professional Moka Challenge, a similar event was held in Croatia during the Zagreb Coffee Break festival. Unfortunately, COVID-19 halted any events planned for the next two years, but Martina and her team are already planning the next edition of the Professional Moka Challenge.
“The pandemic did not only put a stop to the Professional Moka Challenge, but the possibility of being together and sharing common passions and knowledge. This is what the competition was born for. But, soon we will be back reorganizing the competition, this time with new collaborations with Sevengrams and Lot Zero specialty coffee,” she says.
From our side, we can’t wait to see how the Professional Moka Challenge will progress, and what new innovations the coffee community will bring to this classic brewing method.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.